Why won’t Chase give me the 50,000 miles I was promised?

Gary Brauch checked his Chase credit card statement. He had charged $2,000 of purchases to his new account and was therefore supposed to receive 50,000 United Airlines frequent flyer miles at this point, according to the promotion that induced him to open his account with Chase. But the miles weren’t there.

“Where were the miles?” Brauch wondered.

As Brauch was to discover, Chase had associated his account with another promotion, and he did not qualify at that time for the miles. His story is a warning to consumers to document all promotions they apply for, to keep the documentation of those promotions, and to report any problems immediately. These precautions may make the difference between receiving and not receiving promised rewards.

Brauch had seen an advertisement by Chase, offering 50,000 bonus miles to new United MileagePlus Explorer Visa cardholders who charged $2,000 of purchases within the first three months after opening their accounts. Inspired by this offer, Brauch applied for the card and made the purchases.

When Brauch realized that he hadn’t received the miles, he called Chase’s customer service on multiple occasions. Chase’s representatives told Brauch that his account had been coded with another promotion – one that required him to charge $3,000 within the first three months of the accounts’ existence to qualify for the bonus miles. The representatives told Brauch that they could not help him obtain the miles. Brauch also called United, which referred him back to Chase.

As Brauch notes, “In every conversation, the Chase rep says this could have been resolved if I had contacted them within 90 days of opening the account, but of course I had no inkling there was any problem until after the 90 days passed and I noticed I did not have the 50,000 miles in my account.”

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Three months passed as Brauch tried to resolve the problem. He tried using our executive contacts for Chase to request assistance, but when he received no response, he asked our advocates for help.

We reached out to Chase on Brauch’s behalf, and were told that he had not actually applied for the promotion awarding 50,000 miles after purchasing $2,000 within the first three months of opening his account. According to Chase, he had applied for the promotion with the $3,000 purchase requirement.

Our advocate asked Brauch whether he was certain he had applied for the $2,000 promotion, and Brauch insisted that he was positive that he had. He provided us with a brochure advertising the $2,000 promotion, but he did not have documentation of his contacts with Chase.

Unfortunately, Chase responded that:

We always have multiple offers in the marketplace. Mr. Brauch applied online through an offer that did not match the brochure he had. We tracked the source of the application and found that the offer Mr. Brauch clicked on online was the one I shared this morning (Earn 50K bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months). Hope that helps.

And a look at Chase’s website shows a promotion with different terms.

Chase’s United MileagePlus Explorer Card Rewards Program Agreement indicates that

Chase may make changes to this program and the terms of this agreement at any time. For example, we may:

  • add new terms or delete terms
  • change how you earn miles in this program

So in the end, Brauch did not qualify for the reward under the terms of the promotion he actually applied for. And he waited too long to complain to Chase, which informed us that it is standing firm in its decision not to award Brauch the miles. We can only warn consumers to keep all documentation of promotions and to act immediately when filing a complaint. Otherwise, companies may do as Chase has and insist that they are not obligated to issue the promised rewards.

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Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • HeyYouKidsGetOffMyLawn

    Chase sucks, in every interaction, in every possible way.

  • Kevin Nash

    That is why I always triple check the links when I apply for a card.

    There are different promotions all the time and if you click on the wrong link, you may ended up getting burned like OP did.

  • DChamp56

    Can you say “Bait & Switch”?

  • BubbaJoe123

    Screenshots are key when applying for promotions like this.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Really? I find them generally great to deal with. Also, the $1k in credit card promo value I get from them every year doesn’t hurt.

  • Hanope

    I had signed up for a Delta sky miles account. A month or so later when I called Delta about an issue, they offered me 30,000 miles to sign up for an Amex card if I spent $3,000 in 3 months. I said yes and they transferred me to Amex to apply for the card. I was approved. A month after that, I got an offer in the mail for the same Amex card, but this time offering 50,000 miles for the same $3,000 purchase. I was a bit annoyed at the “loss” of 20,000 miles. I did spend my $3,000 and got my 30,000 miles, but still a bit miffed. I didn’t complain to Amex or Delta, I just presumed that since I accepted the first offer, that was that.

  • Kevin Nash

    How is it bait and switch if OP applied for the wrong promotion?

  • taxed2themax

    Sure… but was it in fact that? It sounds like what he actually signed up for is what Chase held him to. As such, I don’t think this was bait and switch. Now, that said, I do think that perhaps Chase could have done more at the time of sign-up, to make sure the applicant knows what the promos is/are that apply, (I didn’t see what was displayed so I hold out the possibility that this did in fact occur or not) and if not correct, give the applicant a change to stop the process before it’s accepted.

  • I agree. I had multiple problems with them on my mortgage (sold to them). I had to report them to the CFPB before they would give me my promissory note back – after I paid my mortgage. They claimed that taking their name off the property was “good enough” evidence I had paid off the loan. Sorry. Nope.

  • Michael__K

    With only screenshots, how can you refute the claim that you ultimately clicked on a different link? Almost like you need screen capture video of the whole process.

  • BubbaJoe123

    It’s not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” but if you can show a screenshot of the promo screen, that’s pretty good evidence that you then clicked on the apply now link on that screen. Typically, the applications include, after you’ve entered your information, a “here’s your personal information, and here’s the card benefits, including the promo, click here to submit your application” screen, and that’s what I screencap.

  • jsn55

    I am extremely happy with Chase over the last few years … credit cards, checking and savings accounts. I have switched nearly everything to Chase Sapphire Reserve from AmEx and am delighted with the customer service and generous bonus programs. When AmEx removed the ability to ask simple questions online, I looked for another CC company and Chase more than fills the bill. PLUS, when you need to call them, they ANSWER the phone!!

    I did learn a lesson years ago when calling a bank about a CC promotion … they needed to know exactly what promotion I had applied for. I didn’t know and they couldn’t figure it out. I’ve always been super-careful to be sure I’m applying for the right promotion, but now I make detailed notes of the product and the rewards And, most importantly, the deadlines for everything. I want to see those points immediately on qualifying, so I check often until all is well.

  • jsn55

    Bubba, what kind of $1k cc promo value do you get annually?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    We have dealt with Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America as well as regional banks. Chase is the best.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    If your PC has Windows 10, you can use the Xbox video feature to record your transactions, etc.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Last year was the Sapphire Reserve, previously the Mileage Plus card x2, for example.

  • Rob Kane

    Yes. Same experience with a Citi MC for American Advantage. I answered a promo which was charge $X amount & get mileage PLUS coupons for free access to Admirals Club. I spent the required amount but did not get access coupons. When I called they said because I was already a CITI customer prior to this I did not qualify for the coupons. After complaining with both CITI & Advantage (and I love American / Advantage) I got enough added miles to purchase a 1 year membership in Admirals Club. Better then a couple coupons! I also have a unused Chase Card I wanted to change over to United but they will not accommodate me & when re-applied they point out I already have a card so screw United & Chase!

  • joycexyz

    Very confusing to have multiple offers, and too easy for the credit card company to play “Gotcha!”.

  • cscasi

    Perhaps you can enlighten us here? I am sure many of us would like to know why.

  • cscasi

    I love Chase a lot better than I ever did when I was a customer of Wells Fargo and Bank of America. I was just a number at Bank of America and Wells Fargo was never as friendly as it could have been. Besides, Chase seems to have some pretty decent credit cards (for those who want cards to earn rewards, travel, etc.)

  • cscasi

    Good point!

  • cscasi

    Sorry that happened. I have changed credit cards with Chase several times over my years of experience with it. I want to downgrade this card to the one with no fee (as in the United card). No problem and even transferred my credit line to the new no fee card. I am going ot cancel this Chase card because I am not using it. Can I get you to transfer the credit limit I have on it to another of my Chase cards so I do not reduce my credit line? Yes; no problem.
    Having said the above, I can only speak for me and my experiences. However, I do believe that Chase deals pretty fairly with its customers and is pretty helpful, most of the time because it wants to keep its customers.

  • KanExplore

    One of the few companies where when I need to call, a real, knowledgeable human being picks up in less than 30 seconds. Granted, that might not be true in all kinds of transactions, but for my particularly credit card it is.

  • KanExplore

    What likely happened is that he saw an ad somewhere for a $2,000 promotion, then went online to apply but instead applied for a card with a $3,000 promotion offer. He didn’t notice he had the wrong offer, even though the landing page undoubtedly did clearly state the terms. It is also possible that the $2,000 offer expired between the time he saw it and the time he actually made the application.

  • KanExplore

    It makes sense to make different offers based on different applicants. Some people have great credit, some have none. Some people have high incomes, some don’t. Some people have an existing relationship with the company, some don’t. One thing that you can do is give them a call at the number on the credit card when you receive it, and ask them to review the terms of the offer that you signed up for. If it isn’t what you thought it was, you can ask if they’ll match you to the better offer, cancel the entire transaction, or accept the terms that are stated to you, and then at least know what the requirements for spending are so you won’t be caught unaware.

  • Noah Kimmel

    and I usually also call along the way to confirm the promo and verify I have met the spend, so that just in case something goes wrong I try to have time to make it work.

  • DChamp56

    Because I’ve seen promotions like this, when you click on the actual promotion, it takes you to a page where the promotion is less than it was on the previous page.
    I’ll tend to believe they changed the perk hoping the OP wouldn’t notice it.

  • Kevin Nash

    I have applied for over 25 credit cards in my life and have never seen a situation where a major credit card company (Amex, Chase, Citi, etc.) changed the terms of a promotion after I clicked on a link.

    Maybe you are clicking on referral links through bloggers who want to get the commission?

  • DChamp56

    No Kevin, mainly through a promotion I see usually from the CC company.

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