Can you keep your credit card points when returning a purchase?

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The quick answer? Generally no.


Key points

  • It’s natural to buy things, but then change your mind.
  • It’s important to understand how this might affect your credit card rewards.
  • In most cases, you will lose accumulated reward points if you return a credit card purchase.

One of the biggest benefits of using credit cards is being able to earn rewards for the purchases you make. If you regularly spend $800 a month at the supermarket, paying for your groceries with a credit card rather than cash could mean getting a percentage of that money back, either as cash back or rewards you can redeem for. different options.

But what if you make a purchase, see your rewards balance increase, and then make the decision to return the item in question? Will you lose the reward points associated with this purchase?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes. And this is an important thing to keep in mind if you are looking for a credit card sign up bonus.

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How reward points work

When you make purchases that qualify for rewards, those rewards are usually credited to your balance after you pay the associated bill. But if you then return an item on which you’ve accumulated rewards points, just as you’ll get your money back from the retailer in question, you should also expect to see those rewards points deducted from your balance.

Exactly how these reward points are subtracted from your balance will depend on your specific credit card. In some cases, you may see these reward points deducted immediately. In other cases, this rewards point deduction may not appear until your next billing cycle.

How returns could impact a sign-up bonus

Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that allow cardholders to earn extra cash back or rewards for meeting certain spending requirements. For example, you could get a new credit card that offers $250 cash back for spending $2,500 within three months of opening your account.

If you are only just able to meet this spending requirement, you will need to be very careful when returning items you have purchased with this card. Let’s say you change your mind about a $100 kitchen gadget and decide to take it back to the store. If that $100 return puts your expenses at $2,400 for the first three months after opening your card, it could actually cost you $250.

Should you make purchases for the express purpose of earning rewards?

This is generally a reckless idea. What you rack up in rewards may be only a fraction of the cost of an item you don’t like so much. Or, to put it another way, you shouldn’t force yourself to spend $100 to earn $2 in rewards points.

However, if you’re about to land a sign-up bonus, you might want to do things differently. Going back to our example, let’s say you’re nearing the end of your three-month period and you’ve only spent $2,400 during that time. You have to spend another $100 to get a salary of $250. In this case, actually Is pay to buy something for $100 so you can get all that money back.

But that doesn’t mean you have to waste that $100 on nonsense. If you have decent storage space at home, buy $100 worth of non-perishable essentials, like tissues and toilet paper. These are items that you will eventually need and therefore should not feel compelled to return.

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