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Readers often ask if they will lose their Membership Rewards points after closing an American Express card.
4 Ways to Keep Your Membership Rewards Points After You Cancel a “Premium” Card
You will LOSE your American Express Membership Rewards points, if you cancel a card which earns Membership Rewards points, such as an The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, or Mercedes-Benz Platinum card.
And if you have NO other Membership Rewards points earning card open.
1. Get Another Membership Rewards Card
You can keep your points, if you have another American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points AND is linked to the same Membership Rewards points account as the card which you cancel.
These “premium” Membership Rewards cards will let you transfer your points to airlines or hotels.
If you have a business and personal card, you might have 2 separate Membership Rewards accounts. Make sure your business and personal cards are linked to 1 Membership Rewards account.
Just call the number at the back of your American Express card to make sure that your business and personal cards are linked.
A. American Express Membership Rewards Cards With Fees
Instead of paying an annual fee to renew a card to keep your Membership Rewards points, you could get another Membership Rewards points earning card.
But some cards, like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card and the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN waive the 1st year annual fees.
However, you might not get the signup bonus if you:
- Have had the same card within 12 months
- Have had a similar card within 90 days
- Are a current American Express Card Member
So read the terms and conditions of the card carefully. American Express may also be restricting you to one sign-on bonus per card from May 1, 2014 (I’ll write more soon!)
1. American Express Platinum
You pay a $450 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) on the Platinum cards. You will pay a $475 annual fee (NOT waived the first year) on the Mercedes-Benz Platinum card.
2. American Express Premier Rewards Gold
You earn 3X Membership Rewards points on airline tickets and 2X points on gas and groceries from the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.
$175 $195 annual fee is waived the 1st year.
3. The Business Gold Rewards Card From American Express OPEN
With this card, you’ll get:
3X AMEX Membership Rewards points in 1 of 5 categories (you choose): Airfare purchased directly from airlines, US advertising in select media, US gas stations, US shipping, and US hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases, 2X points in the remaining 4 categories, 1X points on other purchases, and NO foreign transaction fees. Terms and limitations apply.
And the $175 annual fee is waived the 1st year.
4. American Express EveryDay Cards
American Express will soon introduce the new EveryDay cards which should let you keep your Membership Rewards points active.
B. American Express Membership Rewards Cards Without Fees
You can also downgrade a premium American Express card to a card that also earns Membership Rewards like the Blue from American Express, the American Express Green card or the The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express.
Note that these cards will prevent your Membership Rewards points from expiring, but you can NOT transfer them to airlines or hotels, unless you have a “premium” Membership Rewards card from the list above.
Note: the American Express Blue for Business card is NOT the same as than the American Express Blue Sky card. It would be less confusing if American Express used different names for their cards!
American Express Blue for Business Card
You can get 10,000 Membership Rewards points after your 1st purchase on the American Express Blue for Business card.
You earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on travel booked through the American Express Travel website.
You earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on everything else.
You also get an annual 30% bonus of Membership Rewards points based on your total yearly purchases. Purchases are based on your card anniversary and not a calendar year.
So, if you received your American Express for Blue for Business card on September 30, 2014 you’ll get a 30% bonus on purchases made from September 30, 2014 to September 29, 2015. You will receive the bonus points 30 days after your card anniversary.
But you can’t transfer Membership Rewards points earned from the American Express Blue for Business or the American Express Green card to airline or hotel partners. Your points are active, but you won’t be able to transfer them to airlines or hotels unless you get a card from the list in A above.
2. Transfer to Airline Partners
You can “save” your Membership Rewards points by transferring them to airlines or hotels before you close your card.
But you can’t transfer the points back to your account after you’ve transferred them airlines or hotels.
American Express frequently has transfer bonuses, so you could transfer during a bonus promotion, if you know you won’t keep the card.
3. Grace Period
The terms suggest that you have 30 days to transfer the points out of your Membership Rewards account if you cancel all your Membership Rewards cards, but have at least 1 open (non-Membership Rewards) American Express card.
If you voluntarily cancel enrollment in the program or cancel all Linked Accounts enrolled in the program but keep at least one AMEX Card open and in good standing, you will have up to 30 days from date of cancellation to redeem the points accrued in the program account.
I interpret this to mean that you can cancel all your Membership Rewards earning American Express cards, and have 30 days to transfer the points IF you have another American Express card such as the Starwood hotels or Hilton card.
Before you cancel your American Express cards, you should confirm with the Customer Representative that you have 30 days from cancellation to use your points before losing them.
4. Ask for Your Points Back
You MAY be able to get your points reinstated, if you get a new Membership Rewards card within 1 year after canceling your card. You have to write a letter to the Membership Rewards Correspondence Unit.
You can write to:
Membership Rewards Correspondence Unit
AMEX Membership Rewards
PO BOX 297813
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33329-7813.
Or call Membership Rewards at 800-567-1083.
Include the following information in your letter:
- Your American Express credit history
- Your high credit score
- Your responsible credit use
Reinstatement of your points might not work so I wouldn’t count on being able to have your points returned to you. It’s better to use or transfer them, than to lose them.
You can transfer your Membership Rewards points to airlines or hotels if you don’t plan on keeping any Membership Rewards card open. If you have another linked Membership Rewards card, such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold, you won’t lose your points if you cancel another Membership Rewards card.
You can also keep your Membership Rewards points after getting another card like the American Express Blue for Business card. Your points won’t expire, but you won’t be able to transfer your Membership Rewards points to airlines or hotels unless you have a “premium” Membership Rewards card.
That said, the new AMEX EveryDay cards should let you keep your Membership Rewards points active and ALSO let you transfer them to airlines and hotels. So it could be worth waiting until they are launched.
Sometimes American Express gives you 30 days before you lose your points after you cancel your card, but you have to have another American Express card.
You might be able to get your Membership Rewards points reinstated within 1 year if you apply for a new card. This is a little tricky so I wouldn’t count on it.
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