Card rewards to maximize or use before end of 2015

With 2016 in sight, we recommend taking stock of your cards – especially because some may have rewards and benefits that will expire at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2015.

There’s still time to maximize these benefits, so look up your card in the chart below and start planning. New year

Benefits that expire

If your card has one of the following benefits, check your terms and see if there’s a Dec. 31 expiration date:

  1. Travel statement credits: Some cards offer an allowance for incidental travel fees, such as checked baggage, in-flight meals and, sometimes, resort services. Each time you make an eligible purchase, you get a statement credit, up to the allowed limit. For example, the Premier Rewards Gold and Platinum cards from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) offer a $100 and $200 airline fee credit, respectively.

    This benefit is use-it-or-lose it, meaning if you don’t use the full allowance in a calendar year, you forfeit the remaining amount.

    How to maximize it while there’s still time: If you’re taking a trip before the end of the year (during the holidays, for example), bring your card and use it for baggage fees or buy some drinks on the plane. The Citi Prestige card even allows you to use your $200 in allotted credits toward airfare, so keep that in mind when booking holiday travel.

  2. Elite status boosts: If you spend enough on certain airline or hotel co-branded cards in a calendar year, you’ll be granted elite status in the affiliated program for the following year. The deadline for making that spending goal is usually Dec. 31.

    How to maximize it while there’s still time: If you have an airline or hotel card with this perk, log in to your account and see how close you are to reaching the elite-status spending threshold. If it’s within reach, concentrate more spending on that card for the rest of the year.

Cards with benefits that expire at the end of the year

This chart contains cards with the benefits listed above, as well as some benefits that are going away for good at the end of this year (so you can use them while you can).


Card benefits and rewards that expire at the end of the year (2015)
CardExpiring benefitExpiration date
American ExpressPlatinum and Business Platinum$200 airline incidentals credit for qualifying airline.Credit expires Dec. 31. Must select airline in January.
Premier Rewards Gold$100 airline incidentals credit for qualifying airline.
Delta Reserve cardMilles Boost – 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $30,000 in a calendar year; another 15,000 miles and 15,000 MQMs after spending $60,000 in a calendar year.Spending threshold must be met by Dec. 31.
Delta Platinum SkyMiles cardMilles Boost – 10,000 bonus miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $25,000 in a calendar year; another 10,000 miles and 10,000 MQMs after spending $50,000 in a calendar year.Spending threshold must be met by Dec. 31.
Hilton HHonors SurpassDiamond status for following year after $40,000 in spendingSpending threshold must be reached before end of year. Diamond status is valid through end of year in which it was earned, and for the following calendar year.
Any cards in Membership Rewards programBest Western as transfer partnerBest Western will be removed as a transfer partner after Dec. 31.
ChaseRitz-Carlton Rewards card$300 travel incidentals creditExpires Dec. 31.

To use it, you must contact J.P. Morgan Priority Services at the number on the back of your card.
Chase Freedom and Sapphire Preferred1 extra point (for a total of 3 points) per $1 on airfares and hotel rooms booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.No extra point after 12/31/2015.
British Airways cardTravel Together companion ticket after $30,000 in spending in a calendar year.Purchases must post by end of calendar year. Only 1 Travel Together ticket can be earned per calendar year.
Hyatt Credit Card2 stays and 5 nights toward Diamond status after spending $20k in a year; additional 3 stays and 5 nights toward Diamond status after spending $40k in a year.Purchases must post by end of calendar year.
CitiCiti Prestige$250 air travel credit (includes airfare and incidental fees)Credit must be used by end of December billing cycle.
Citi/AAdvantage Executive card10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000Qualifying purchases must post by Dec. billing statement.
Hilton HHonors ReserveDiamond elite status after $40,000 in purchasesSpending threshold must be reached before end of year. Diamond status is valid through end of year in which it was earned, and for the following calendar year.
 
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Wow! I had no idea I had a checked baggage fee benefit on my credit card. Thanks!