What Happens to Your Credit Card Points When You Close a Card?
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What Happens to Your Points 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 card – a partnership between an airline or hotel and a bank like the Delta American Express 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, or Citi, you may need to have a plan for your points before you cancel.

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 American Express Card or hotel cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, you don’t have to worry.

Your points are safe and sound in your 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 – deposit 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.

 

what happens to my points

 

And while we only used Delta and Marriott Bonvoy credit cards in this example, 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 Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the Platinum Card® from American Express, and the American Express® Gold Card.

 

what happens to my points

 

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 in the Amex Platinum card.

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 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 would be safe and sound. Chase would be unable to claw them back once you closed your Sapphire account.

Read More: The Master List of Credit Card Transfer Partners

 

Co-Branded Card Cancelation 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 $30 each way to check a bag, we only have to make two round trips each year to come out ahead on the annual fee. That’s because the card has a $0 introductory annual fee and then just $99 each year after that (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 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 Cancelation 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 points 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.

 

Bottom Line

Whether or not you will lose your points 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.

4 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.

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