Question Of The Week: Do I Lose My Booking If I Cancel My Credit Card?

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Question Of The Week: Do I Lose My Booking If I Cancel My Credit Card?

Question Of The Week: Do I Lose My Booking If I Cancel My Credit Card?

This week’s question: Do I lose my booking if I cancel my credit card? Specifically, if I booked a flight using the rewards points from this card, and then I close the card, what happens? There are many questions around the theme of “what happens if I cancel my credit card?” so let’s look at this one in particular.

The Question

Our question comes from Mona in our Facebook group:

If I use City National Rewards points to book a future flight, and then cancel my credit card account, It will not affect my reserved airline ticket right? TIA!

Mona’s question involves 2 key elements:

  1. A confirmed flight that has been bought and ticketed using points from a credit card
  2. Canceling that credit AFTER the booking but BEFORE the flight occurs

Bookings Made With Your Points / Miles

Let’s tackle these 2 elements in order.

First, Mona is asking about a confirmed, ticketed reservation. Whether you’re using points from City National Rewards or shopping through the Chase travel portal, once you pay for that ticket, it’s yours. You’ve paid for it just the same as if you had paid cash by going to the airline’s website. The same applies to a ticket booked with miles. You’ve paid for the ticket. Unless you or the airline cancels it, the ticket is still valid.

Second, because you have a valid, bought-and-paid-for ticket, closing the credit card will not affect this. If you close the card attached to your rewards, you may lose the points you still had in your account, but this ticket isn’t affected. As far as the airline is concerned, you bought it. You used the points as a cash-like currency to buy something. The only way you could have an issue is if the bank would notify the airline and ask them to cancel the ticket. If they did (and I’ve not seen a bank do this), they’d need to refund you.

Here’s an illustration to make this clearer:

When booking through a portal to use your points from Chase, Amex, City National, etc. you are using your points as if they are cash. That’s why you would still earn miles from your flights. If you buy a flight with your credit card paying cash, then close that credit card, would the bank call your airline to tell them to cancel your flight? No. The same applies here when using points & miles. You have “paid” for the ticket.

Final Thoughts

The discussion of what happens to my points & miles after closing a credit card can lead people to the question we are addressing today. However, these are very distinct issues. If I cancel my credit card after booking a ticket, that ticket should not be affected.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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6 COMMENTS

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I am curious about Jo Jo’s question. I am also curious if you used a card like chase sapphire reserve that has trip cancellation/lost luggage insurance, etc., for a ticket, but you cancel your card prior to the trip…are those benefits no longer attached to that ticket?

    • Tina – my gut reaction is that you aren’t covered by Chase trip cancellation insurance if the card is no longer active. There’s a benefits summary here – https://www.chase.com/card-benefits/benefit-details/Sapphire/sapphire-trip-cancellation-trip-interruption-insurance-5000 It doesn’t mention one way or another. My thinking is that the coverage stops being active when the account is closed, even if the account was active when you booked the ticket. I’m guessing, since the insurance is underwritten by a 3rd party, your ‘insurance policy’ becomes inactive when the card is closed, therefore when travel rolls around you don’t have an active policy. If you want to confirm, the benefits link has a phone number for questions.

    • Yes, it’s always theoretically possible. In practice, it’s different. The only times I see airlines asking for this is 1) if the purchaser and the traveler aren’t the same person AND 2) that’s not common or it’s a weird situation. An example: a last-minute booking made by me in the name of a person who doesn’t share my last name, so possibly not related to me. The airline could ask if this is rare on the route/airline. The more common time I’ve seen this is with airlines who do MOST of their business at airport/office sales locations in person, and online sales are rare for them. This includes small airlines in central Africa, for example. We had to show the card for flights on Precision Air in Tanzania, because they apparently just started selling tickets online recently, most of their business is in-person where they can verify identity during the purchase.
      So while it is POSSIBLE, it’s not common for most travelers on most trips. I wouldn’t rank this highly on things to worry about for your next trip unless the airline specifically tells you to.

  2. So what happens if you cancel the flight or the flight gets cancelled? If the points can’t be refunded because you no longer have an account, how do they reimburse you?

    • JoJo – that happened to people when the pandemic broke out. Here’s what I saw happening to the majority of people, using Chase travel portal as an example. When the flight got canceled, people get the option of refund or voucher, like normal. When you choose ‘refund’ the Ultimate Rewards would go back to your Chase account, but the card no longer exists. Those people had varying degrees of wait times on the phone with Chase to sort it out. I think Chase struggled with the volume of this and the fact it hadn’t happened much before. It seems like they’ve figured it out better now. You’ll have to verify your identity, hopefully you have some other Chase accounts still and they can put the UR into your still-existing account. If you have no UR-earning cards, then they would have to assign a cash value to it and Chase will owe you that cash. It seems smoother now than a year ago, but it will still eat up some time to sort it out on the phone with Chase, emails with the airline/hotel that canceled, etc. But it can be done. You won’t lose your funds into a black hole.

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