I love the “set it and forget it” automatic savings and convenience of card-linked offers like Trim Savings, Drop and airline dining programs. The only problem that arises is if you forget to update your accounts with new card numbers, as I recently discovered.
But first, a bit about how these card-linked programs work:
For instance, earlier this summer, Trim offered $10 cash back for spending $20 or more at a U.S. movie theater using a linked Visa card. Meanwhile, Drop has an offer in which users can earn 75,000 points (the equivalent of $75 in gift cards) when you fund a new Wealthsimple investment account with at least $500.
The pitch for these programs is that you add your credit card once and earn cash back or other rewards beyond what your own credit card offers, essentially double- or triple-dipping on your rewards. (Card issuers, too, such as American Express, have card-linked offers.)
When a card-linked program or your issuer notes that you’ve made a purchase that is linked to your card, it credits you cash back or other rewards automatically.
The problem? As I learned this summer, if you get a replacement card number due to fraudulent activity, you must remember to update your card number with all of these programs or you may miss out on free money.
Here’s what happened to me
Before getting a replacement Visa card, I earned the $10 cash back from movie theaters through Trim. Trim was also offering up to 10 $1 credits for spending $5 or more at restaurants, which I planned to earn once I got my new Visa card.
I had assumed that because my account was synced with my account online and I didn’t get any syncing error messages, Trim would know when I got a new card number. But after contacting customer service to ask about missing credits, I discovered that this isn’t the case.
With most third-party services, you need to update the card number in your account. However, card-linked offers provided by your own credit card issuer, such as Amex Offers, may update automatically so you don’t miss out on any offers you’ve already linked to your account even if you get a new card number.
Now I’m checking my other card-linked accounts, such as Earny (which tracks prices and automatically requests refunds from my credit card issuer if there is a price drop on something I recently purchased) and Rapid Rewards dining, to make sure my accounts have my newest credit card number.
As it turns out, the Rapid Rewards dining program did have some old credit card numbers, so I updated my stored cards.
Another reason you might be missing cash back or other rewards: If you’ve added the same card to multiple programs that run on the same platform (for instance, many of the airline dining programs), you’ll generally only receive rewards through one program, and it’s often the one to which you added the card most recently.
Cash back and rewards add up over time
Fortunately, these are incremental savings, so it’s not as costly a mistake as missing out on a sign-up bonus or making a late payment, but I am a credit card holder who likes the gradual accumulation of savings or points over time.
See related: Card-linked offers: The deals you’re not aware of, New tools track price drops for a cut of your refund, Weighing the value of special card reward deals