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This is one of those really sad tales that frankly, is a little bit embarrassing to write.  It actually happened a few months ago but I’ve been putting off writing about it.  But I want to share it more as a cautionary tale to remind people how important it is to track your bonuses and if you’re not organized it can really cost you!

Backstory: The signup

I’ve often said that credit card signup bonuses can be one of the best way to get lots of miles and points.  So periodically my wife and I will sign up for new credit cards, primarily (though not completely) for the signup bonuses

A few months ago, I signed up for the Barclay Arrival card, which had a signup bonus of 40,000 points after spending $3000 in the first 90 days.  While Arrival points are not nearly as useful as they once were given the recent changes to the Arrival card, my general philosophy is that nearly all cards are worth getting for the signup bonus.

My system for making sure I get bonuses

The system I use to track my spending and credit card signup bonuses is a giant Excel spreadsheet.  On most Saturdays, I will spend a bit of time, log in to each of my accounts

I also have a separate tab with each of my recently applied for cards, the date I applied for them, the signup bonus and requirement.  Each month when I get my credit card statement, I enter the charges on the statement into my spreadsheet and make sure that I’m still on track

(SEE ALSO: Do annual fees count towards meeting minimum spend?)

Credit card rewards are one of the best ways to get free travel. But don't do what I did and throw away a $400 bonus!

What happened?

Clearly there is something wrong with my system however! In this case, I think it was a combination of being busy with real life on several Saturdays in a row coupled with not being good enough at keeping on top of things.  In any case, I woke up one day and found that my 90 day spending timeline had passed!

I tried to call / email in to Barclay to get a few extra days, but they denied me (as was expected).  I tried a couple of times but still got denied.  I had actually almost had this happen to me before, but I got 50,000 surprise American Express points a few months later.

Now I know that “technically” I didn’t actually lose $400, since I never really had it in the first place, but it sure still felt like it.

Have you ever missed out on a signup bonus by not meeting the spending target?  Any suggestions for how to make sure you get them?

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