Declined Transactions Lead to Bonus Points

Just the other night I was out to dinner in celebration of a family members milestone anniversary. We gathered as a small Italian restaurant in Syracuse, NY (my home town) and spent hours conversing, drinking, and eating. When the time came to pick up the check, I obviously volunteered to pay and let the hosts reimburse me. I reached for my recently acquired for my Wells Fargo Propel and handed it to the waitress. Normally, I would’ve opted for my Sapphire Reserve as it earns 2x on dining and those points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel. The Propel card however, earns 3x on travel and I’m still a few dollars short of the $3,000 I need to spend to unlock the 30,000 point signup bonus. If you’re interested, click here to listen to the podcast episode in which I signed up for this card.

Trouble Swiping

The waitress didn’t return for some time so I knew something was up, so I walked over to her area. Turns out the card was “being approved then instantly declined”. She had tried swiping it approximately 7 times to no avail. My immediate reaction was to check my phone for a text or email from Wells Fargo asking me to verify the charge. If I’d received such a message I would’ve verified the transaction and went home with the points. Instead, I never received a phone call, text message, or email. Ultimately I had to pay for the meal using my Sapphire Reserve. Again, this wasn’t a total let down as I still earned a significant sum of Ultimate Rewards points that i’ll make good use of in the future.

At this point I went home and assumed this story was over, until the next day the phone rang. It was Wells Fargo and they wanted to verify some recent transactions with me. I verified them and asked about the declined transactions from the night before. The customer service rep confirmed that those charges had all gotten declined though she couldn’t tell me why. I decided not to press the issue and hung up.

Bonus Points

Yesterday I received an email from Wells Fargo stating:

We understand you may have experienced an issue with one or more recent transactions when using your Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused.

We regret that you were inconvenienced, and are adding 5,000 rewards points to your Go Far® Rewards account. You’ll see this on your Go Far Rewards Summary within 1 – 2 statement cycles.

We have identified the issue at a number of locations and will be sending you a new card in the next few weeks that will resolve the situation. Please continue to use your existing Propel® card in the meantime.

That sure put a smile on my face 😎. The 5,000 points is worth $50 at a minimum, and $75 if redeemed for travel after stacking with the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card. Considering the fact that I still earned ~3,500 in redeemable UR points I netted over $85 in value because of this mistake.


I may’ve been more proactive with Wells Fargo had the Sapphire Reserve not been in my wallet. It doesn’t seem fair to decline a large transaction like this without reaching out to you for comment in real time. They did call a day later, but by then it was too late.

If you’re in a similar situation and have the time, I recommend reaching out to the bank immediately. Don’t be afraid to ask for bonus points either. While they’re under no obligation to provide them, being nice goes a long way.


Has something like this ever happened to you? What was the resolution?

Written by Peter

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