Different credit cards have different policies when it comes to whether or not you can retain your points or miles when you cancel the card. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi Thank You points are lost when you cancel the credit card associated with the account. The same goes for American Express Membership rewards. However, the airline cards, like Chase’s United Explorer card, allow you to keep your points accumulated even if you close the credit card.
What’s the Difference?
The main difference in whether or not you lose points or miles when you close a credit card may lie in how the points or miles are being held. If the rewards account is through the bank, then when you close that credit card, you will no longer have access to the rewards account. If the points or miles are held by the hotel or airline loyalty program, then you can usually retain them if you close your credit card. You cannot continue to earn points if you were getting them from the credit card, unless you open another credit card associated with similar rewards for the same partner.
What About Points That Haven’t Posted?
If you close a credit card before the points you have earned are transferred into your hotel or airline account, then you will lose those points. Often rewards accounts are credited at the time of the credit card statement, but some partners take up to 60 days to register those new points.
Know When The Miles Expire!
Because you may not be actively earning points for the rewards account anymore, once you close the credit card associated with the rewards, you need to pay attention to when they expire. For example, United points will expire 18 months after the last earning or redemption. If you have a large number of points, all you have to do is make the occasional redemption to reset your 18-month expiration date, so you can make them last longer.
If you truly want to avoid losing any points, or losing points that have not posted, then keeping your card open is certainly the best option. Paying your annual fee is enough to keep the account open and the miles fresh—and free from expiring. But, the only thing that definitely expires when you close the card is your ability to add miles.
Consider the options carefully, especially if you have a large number of miles on one airline or with one hotel change. And, consider how long you have had the card and what your history is with that card—keeping it open, even if you do not regularly use it, can be healthy for your credit score.