Hey Chase, where are those 20,000 points you promised?

When Chelsea Kaufman signs up for a Chase credit card, it offers her 60,000 points if she spends $2,000 within the first three months. Why did it only give her 40,000 points?

Question: This summer, I started researching airline credit cards, since my boyfriend is moving to San Francisco from Los Angeles for grad school and I’ll be traveling a lot to see him. I was interested in the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa credit card, since Southwest has a lot of flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco. When I saw that they were having a “60,000 bonus points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months” offer, I pulled the trigger.

I even took a screenshot of the offer page so I could show my boyfriend. I spent the $2,000 on the card within the first month of having it, but for some reason only received 40,000 bonus miles.

The card is through Chase bank, so I called them to inquire. They essentially told me that they weren’t aware of any 60,000 bonus point offer having existed, yet I’m staring at the screenshot I took with the offer spelled out. I even spoke with a supervisor and offered to send the screenshot multiple times. All she did was keep me on hold for a long time before telling me she would pass the inquiry on to their marketing team for review and someone would give me a call within seven days.

I would like Chase to resolve this for me by issuing another 20,000 points to my Southwest account, to bring the total bonus points to the original 60,000 that was offered when I applied for the card. — Chelsea Kaufman, Los Angeles

Answer: As you probably know, I’m a frequent critic of loyalty programs. But in your situation, where you plan to fly often from Los Angeles to San Francisco, participating in a loyalty program looks like a good idea. After all, you’ll be flying anyway — why not reap the rewards?

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There’s one thing about your story that I have a problem with. You said you spent $2,000 on the card in an effort to collect your 60,000 points. That’s wrong. You want to be able to say, “I’m going to spend $2,000 anyway, so I might as well get the points for it.” I followed up with you after this case was resolved, and you assured me you would have spent the two grand, anyway.

With most companies, the loyalty doesn’t go both ways. You’re loyal to it, but it doesn’t really reciprocate. But when you spend $2,000 just for the points, you are engaging in an activity that only benefits the company over the long term. Take this “anything-for-the-miles” approach, and next thing you’ll know, you’re on one of those mileage hacking sites, looking for new ways to manufacture more spending in order to collect points. You don’t want to go there.

Still, if Chase promised you 60,000 points, it should send them to you. Nice work keeping screen shots, by the way. It suggests to me that you either suspected the offer was a little too good to be true (it wasn’t) or you didn’t trust Chase (with good reason, it turns out).

But what happened after that? You got on the phone, which is exactly what the company wants you to do. It can record every conversation, but you have no record of it. That’s not quite fair. You should have put your complaint in writing, and if Chase ignored it, appealed to someone higher up the corporate ladder. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Chase’s executives on my consumer advocacy site.

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I contacted Chase on your behalf. It credited your account with the 20,000 miles, as promised.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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