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What Happens to Your Points & Miles When You Close a Credit Card?

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It's a question that comes up for everybody who has ever opened a travel credit card: “What happens to my points and miles after I close a credit card?”

The answer? It depends. Exactly what happens to your points and miles depends on the specific credit card and which airline, hotel or points program it's associated with.

If you're closing a co-branded credit card – a partnership between an airline or hotel and a bank like the American Express Delta SkyMiles cards, the Citi American Airlines cards, or the Chase Marriott cards – your points are safe no matter what you do with your card.

But if the card in question is issued directly from a bank like Chase, American Express, Capital One, or Citi, you need to have a plan for your points before you cancel.

While we always recommend downgrading your credit card instead of canceling to keep that credit line open, there are some instances where it makes the most sense for you to cut up that card completely. 

Let's dive in. 


The Basics of Canceling a Co-Branded Credit Card

If you are canceling a co-branded airline card like the *delta skymiles gold card* or hotel cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, you don't have to worry.

Your points or miles are safe and sound in your frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program account once you earn them, even if you choose to close the account. Once the card-issuing bank – in these examples, American Express or Chase – deposits the points into either your Delta SkyMiles account or your Marriott Bonvoy account, they cannot claw the points back after you decide to close the credit card.

They are yours to keep until you use them or they expire – and in the case of Delta SkyMiles, they never expire, period.

Read more: When Will My Airline Miles Expire?


what happens to my points


This same principle will hold true no matter the hotel or airline credit card you are referring to. Once they're in your hotel or airline account, they are safe.


The Basics of Canceling a Flexible Points Credit Card

While there is no risk of losing your points when canceling a co-branded credit card, that's not the case when referring to a flexible points credit card issued directly from a bank.

A few popular examples include the *chase sapphire preferred*, the *venture x*, *amex platinum*, and the *amex gold*.


premium card showdown


If you have points in your account and you decide to cancel flexible points cards like these, you may forfeit any and all remaining points in your account. But there are a few ways around that. First, if you still have another card open that earns the same points, your points should be safe.

For example, let's say you hold both the American Express Platinum and American Express Gold cards and decide to cancel the Gold card, you will not forfeit any points because you still have a card open that earns Amex Membership Rewards points with the Amex Platinum card. Those points will remain in your Membership Rewards account. 

Additionally, since these points are flexible and can be transferred to airline and hotel partners, you could transfer your points out before closing your card. For example, if you wanted to cancel a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve Card and still had 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points remaining on the card, you could transfer them to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio (one Chase point equals one Hyatt point). 

And once those points hit your Hyatt account, they will be safe and sound. Chase would be unable to claw them back once you closed your Sapphire account.

See our master list of credit card transfer partners!


Co-Branded Credit Card Cancellation Considerations

Because losing your points should not be a deciding factor in whether or not to close a co-branded credit card, we always recommend weighing the annual fee against the benefits the card provides when deciding whether or not to keep the card open. That's why we tell readers to think twice before canceling a card.

For example, I often fly with Delta, and having kids at home means we typically check a bag when we travel with them.

I carry the Delta SkyMiles Gold Card simply because it provides a free checked bag every time we travel. Considering that Delta charges $35 each way to check a bag, my family only has to make two round trips each year with one checked bag to come out ahead on the annual fee. That's because the card has a $150 each year (see rates & fees). For that reason alone, we keep the card open – even though we don't spend much money on the card.

The same can be said for the many hotel credit cards in my wallet – especially the World of Hyatt Credit Card. While I could cancel the card and my World of Hyatt points would be safe and sound, I keep it open for the annual free night certificate it provides at hundreds of Hyatt properties around the world. Again, I have no problem getting three to four times more value than the annual fee costs ($95) out of this benefit.


Flexible Points Card Cancellation Considerations

Because you will lose any points left in your account upon canceling a flexible currency credit card, it's important to have a game plan before canceling. 

If you absolutely need to cancel the card, you can transfer many of these points to hotel and airline transfer partners as mentioned above. Once these points reach the loyalty account of the airline or hotel program, they will be safe and sound if you decide to cancel the card.

But remember that all of these point transfers are one way. This means that once you send them from Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt for example, there is no going back. You can't turn those Hyatt points back into Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

That's why it's always a good idea to transfer the points to programs where you know you will use the points.

You can also use your points to book a flight, hotel, rental car, or other travel experience booking through the travel portal associated with your card. Even if you later cancel the card, your bookings should not be impacted.


Bottom Line

Whether or not you will lose your points and miles after canceling a credit card depends on the type of travel rewards credit card you are considering canceling.

If the card in question is a flexible points credit card issued directly from a bank, think twice: You'll forfeit any points left in your account upon cancelation.

If you are dealing with a co-branded credit card (a card with an airline or hotel partnering with a bank), your points should be safe if you decide to cancel the card.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

27 Responses

  • What happens to your mileage points when both spouses have accounts with the same airline and one spouse passes away. Can they be transferred to the surviving spouse in a community property state.

    • Hi John,

      It totally depends on what airline or hotel program you are talking about. Some allow beneficiary transfers like this and some do not.

  • Hi Nick,

    I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly, but if I earned the 100K points with AMEX Platnium, can I transfer them to Delta before cancelling the card? I also have the Delta AMEX Platnium card.

    Also, if I redeem the points via AMEX before cancelling, then will they able to charge me the point value upon cancelling?

    • Hi Emily,

      You can absolutely transfer your points to Delta before closing the card. YOu can also redeem them before closing the card. The only scenario that would result in you forfeiting your points is leaving the balance as Membership Rewards points before closing the card.

  • Hi,

    What if I redeem my points to Hilton and cancel my amex the same day? Will I still get the points for Hilton?

  • I know you say you an close your card after a year. Does that mean pay the yearly fee at the end of the year or close the account at month 11?

    • Close the card before the annual fee hits. That being said, most banks will give you up to 30 days to cancel and get a refund once your annual fee is actually charged.

  • I have the delta gold card but want to cancel to get the delta platinum card to get the added bonuses as well as the other sign on bonus after spending the amount of money in 3 months. By cancelling the gold card will that make the rewards I’ve earned with delta dissappear?

    • No. They will not disappear. As the article states, co-branded cards won’t forfeit any points or miles.

  • I have a amex gold card with 200000 points . I fell into fiancial hardship due to covid. so i could not make complete payment .i entered into apayment plan with amex.and paid off complete balance. im told my points were forfitted . is this legal

  • I just want to make sure I am understanding this correctly. If I get both of the American Airlines cards to gain over 100,000 points, can I cancel one of them after earning the points, keep the other and still have the points I earned from both cards?

    Is this what co-branded is, a points CC for a company that is through the bank but not just a straight credit card from the bank that earns travel points?

    • That is correct. Just make sure you associate the same American Airlines account number with both cards. Also, you shouldn’t close the card until your annual fee is due for year 2.

  • We have two credit cards with B of A. They intend to increase our yearly fee $20.00 each. I have been told we could lose our credit rating, down to a much lower amount, true? The cards are part of Alaska Air thru B of A and the other issues would or could we lose our accumulated air miles, true?
    Some have suggested we contact B of A and try to negotiate a Lower Rate, is that a possibility? We have or I have been on the Alaska pleas for 40+ years.

    Thank Zyou

    • It’s always a possibility to negotiate a lower rate or have them waive it altogether. However, with Alaska, you will not lose any accumulated miles if you decide to close the card.

    • Just received a new co branded Amex Business Card with a welcome offer. Have been reading cautionary tales of AM Ex clawbacks or forfeiture of points due to “card being used for unintended purposes”. If points from this co branded AM EX business card are posted to my (hotel) awards account, are they safe? Or, can AM EX decide that if they want to close the this business card account, can they clawback the posted points?

  • If I close my chase, sapphire preferred card, but still have a chase freedom unlimited card, will the miles/points I have accrued with the chase sapphire transfer to the freedom unlimited? Thanks

  • I have a Frontier / Barclays Master Card. Can I close out my credit card and not loose accumulated Frontier miles?

  • My B of A free spirit credit card was closed a year ago. I just booked a spirit flight with points I’ve had in my account for next month so I assumed the points are still mine to use. I got a confirmation and all that from Spirit airlines. However when I log in to my free spirit account it doesn’t show any activity for the flight. It does show my updated points less what I used for the flight. Can I assume my flight is ok, and valid or should I get someone from Spirit to confirm. Thanks

  • Hi. I have a miles and more credit card – with Barclay. Today I wanted to cancel and they told me I would lose all my miles with cancellation. I have already applied them to a Lufthansa flight that happens right after the period that I could get my annual fee back. I despise the card with passion as they are impossible to search for award tickets. Have you heard of Miles and More with Barclay clawing them back? Can they do that if I already have redeemed the miles? Thanks.

  • Hello, I have a Hilton Honors Amex card and IHG One Rewards Credit Cards and would like to cancel these cards? Will I lose all my unused points for both program? Thank you so much for your help.

  • I have an American Airlines AAdvantage card and have met all requirements and flights miles are posted to my AA account. Can I close this card before it’s annual fee is due and shortly reapply for another AAdvantage card for extra points? . . . and is there a lag time between applications?

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