Yes, cash back rewards can expire with credit cards from 9 of the 10 biggest credit card companies. It’s most common for cash back credit card rewards to expire after the cardholder or issuer closes the account, or after a certain period of account inactivity. In general, you can avoid losing cash back rewards by redeeming often, using your card regularly, and keeping your account open and in good standing.
When Cash Back Can Expire, by Major Credit Card Company:
American Express: Cash back rewards won’t expire unless you or Amex cancels your credit card account. However, American Express cardholders will not earn rewards during any billing period where a late payment occurs.
Bank of America: Cash back does not expire as long as your account remains in good standing. This means your account must be open and must have charging privileges.
Barclays: Cash back rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open and in good standing.
Capital One: Cash back rewards won’t expire unless you or Capital One cancels your credit card account.
Chase: Cash back rewards won’t expire unless you or Chase cancels your credit card account.
Citi: Cash back rewards expire if you don’t earn cash back on the card for 12 months.
Discover: Cash back never expires. If your account is closed or you haven’t used the card in 18 months, Discover credits your account with your cash back balance.
USAA: Cash back rewards expire 90 calendar days after your account closes for any reason. You can redeem cash back during this 90-day period by calling 800-980-8722.
U.S. Bank: Cash back expires 36 months after the billing cycle in which it is earned.
Wells Fargo: Cash back does not expire as long as the credit card account remains open.
It’s important to read the expiration policy thoroughly before you apply for a cash back credit card. Many of these rewards structures can change at any time, too, so be sure to keep an eye out for policy changes even after you have the card.
The best way to redeem the cash back from a credit card is usually via statement credit, but it depends on the card and its issuer.
Other ways you can redeem the cash back are as a check, in the form of gift cards, merchandise, charity or special experiences.
You can usually do this online, on your bank's website or by phone once you have enough cash back available. Most credit cards will have you redeem it in certain denominations (e.g. multiples of $25).… read full answer
The difference between cash back and points is that the former is the most versatile type of credit card rewards, as it can be redeemed for anything, and there’s never any doubt about how much it’s worth. Points, on the other hand, have a value set by the credit card company and tend to be worth the most when redeemed for travel. Credit card companies won’t always clearly disclose points values, and those values can change over time. It’s possible that points could be worth 1 cent apiece one day and 0.8 cents each the next.… read full answer
You can spend points for many different things. Usually, you can trade them for travel, gift cards, unique experiences, charitable donations or even cash. There are no restrictions on what you can use cash for. You can typically redeem cash back for a statement credit, paper check, or direct deposit to a bank account. One thing credit card shoppers should watch out for are cards advertised as offering cash back that really provide points. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers “5% cash back” in certain bonus categories. But what it actually gives is 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1, which cardholders can then trade for cash back at a rate of 1 cent each.
Earning rate: Usually at least 1% cash back or 1 point per $1 spent.
Devaluation: Points can be devalued by the issuer, while cash back can’t.
Redemption options: Statement credit, check or deposit for cash. Travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash and more for points.
When it’s the best choice: Points for frequent travelers. Cash back for everyone else.
Let’s take a look at two high-profile cards in a battle of cash back vs. points.
Citi Double Cash Card tops the cash back offerings with 2% cash back on all purchases and an introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, with a balance transfer fee of 3% intro fee ($5 min) for each transfer in first 4 months, after that 5% ($5 min) for each transfer. It also chases a $0 annual fee and requires good credit to get.
But if you’re a frequent traveler, Chase Sapphire Preferred is a more attractive option. It gives 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, 3 points per $1 on dining and online grocery purchases, 3 points per $1 on select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. It has an initial bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card’s points are worth 1 cent each toward cash back or gift cards or 1.25 cents each toward travel. There’s a $95 annual fee and the card requires good credit.
For both cash back and points cards, you can expect to lose your rewards if your account closes for any reason. Most cards don’t let your rewards expire over time. But Citi Double Cash Card’s cash back expires if you don’t use your card for 12 months. And on points cards alone, your points can be devalued if the issuer decides to charge more points for its rewards. So, frequent redemption is essential.
So, the bottom line is that frequent travelers should check out points cards. Otherwise, cash is king.
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