$1,500 in Travel and a Vacation to Hawaii – Here’s What I Missed by Not Signing Up for Credit Cards in Time
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
INSIDER SECRET: Mistakes happen. Take a lesson and move on. If you are active in the miles and points hobby, watch your deadlines. Sign up for the card you need for your dream vacation and don’t delay on spending your miles and points!
Have you ever missed a limited-time offer by not signing up for a credit card in time?
Or didn’t sign up for a credit card in time to receive the welcome bonus you were relying on for your unforgettable vacation? Both have happened to me.
But we’re not here to dwell on the past; we’re here to learn from it!
Let’s look at a few of the lessons learned from my mistakes and how to avoid those mistakes in the future.
Lessons Learned: Not Signing Up for a Credit Card in Time
How I Missed a Limited-Time Offer but Ended Up With the Best Credit Card for Beginners
Let’s rewind the clock to the winter of 2017 and when I was learning about miles and points.
Mind you, I had a few credit cards but I never had taken the step past cash back, so miles and points were foreign to me.
I had a big expense in my future – an engagement ring – and I wanted to get a return on my purchase, so I researched travel credit cards that earned miles and points.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve had a limited-time welcome bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements (this bonus is no longer available). As a beginner to the whole idea of miles and points, I was hesitant to sign up for the card and missed out on the welcome bonus valued at $1,000 cash back or at least $1,500 in travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
Part of the reason I hesitated, was the $450 annual fee but knowing what I know now, you can easily recoup the annual fee for certain cards. There’s no reason to avoid a card just because it has an annual fee. Do the math and see if the benefits and perks offset or outweigh the yearly cost.
I ended up with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and received a smaller welcome bonus. Did I miss out on a higher limited-time welcome bonus? Yeah, but I ended up with the best first travel credit card for beginners and learned one valuable lesson.
How I Missed a Dream Vacation to Hawaii by Not Signing Up for a Credit Card in Time
Okay, so fast-forward to winter of 2019 and I made another, albeit different, “not signing up for a credit card in time” mistake.
My sister got engaged and informed us that she was getting married in Hawaii — with only four months advance notice to arrange flights and accommodations. It’s not easy to get to Hawaii from Boston but there are some great options such as the new non-stop Hawaiian Airlines flight and Southwest’s new routes to Hawaii from California.
I looked at the (old) Hawaiian Airlines Award Chart and round-trip award flights from Boston to Hawaii, which started at 25,000 points. If I signed up for the business credit card, I could earn enough points for two round-trip tickets, plus taxes and fees! But I didn’t sign-up for the credit card in time to meet minimum spending requirements, have the points post to my account, and use the points before the award availability disappeared and the award chart pricing changed. Two round-trip flights cost over $1,500, and that’s no easy pill to swallow if you’re paying cash.
A lot of key things went wrong here and even with a strategy, sometimes things don’t work out in our favor. For example, you generally earn the welcome bonus shortly after your billing cycle ends after meeting the minimum spending requirements.
So, if you meet spending requirements the day after your billing cycle ends, plan on waiting until the end of your current billing cycle to earn your reward. Even if you plan ahead and meet minimum spending requirements within a day of opening the card, you generally still need to wait for your first statement to post before earning the reward. This is extremely important to know when signing up for a credit card, all good things come to those who wait!
It’s important to have a plan when you apply for a credit card. Have a reason for getting the card, a plan to spend the welcome bonus, and an understanding of how the card fits into your long-term credit card strategy. You’ll want to plan around things like the Chase 5/24 rule and the Amex once-per-lifetime rule.
It’s easy to make mistakes in the miles and points hobby. Not signing up for a credit card in time can be a common one.
You could miss out on a limited-time offer or not give yourself enough time to earn and spend the welcome bonus if you fail to plan ahead.
Make a plan. Don’t be too discouraged if you make a mistake, that’s how we learn best!
Do you have any lessons that you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed on limited-time offers so you don’t miss out like I did!
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)