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Million Mile Secrets reader, Karen, commented:
One question which I haven’t seen addressed anywhere is what card you recommend to keep from having our AMEX Membership Rewards points disappear. My understanding is that if you don’t have an active AMEX Membership Rewards card, the points are forfeited. Once the Costco AMEX disappears, what should we replace it with to keep our AMEX Membership Rewards points active? Thanks.
Great question, Karen!
You need at least 1 card that’s linked to your AMEX Membership Rewards program number or you will lose ALL your points.
Having the Costco AMEX won’t help you because it does NOT earn AMEX Membership Rewards points, only cash back. So Karen must have another card that DOES earn AMEX Membership Rewards points.
How to Keep Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points Active
AMEX Membership Rewards works a little differently than other points programs.
That’s because AMEX doesn’t link the points you earn to each individual card. Instead, you get a separate Membership Rewards program number where all of the cards linked to your program are pooled.
Keep in mind, having an AMEX card that does NOT earn Membership Rewards points, like the Costco AMEX or AMEX Gold Delta card, will NOT help you to keep your points active. That’s because they’re not linked to your Membership Rewards program number.
If you cancel all of the cards linked to your program number, you will forfeit all of the points you’ve earned. But there are a few ways to keep your points!
1. Keep (or Open) a Card Linked to Your Program Number
Link: AMEX EveryDay®
Link: AMEX EveryDay® Preferred
You won’t lose your points if you have another AMEX card which earns Membership Rewards points AND which is linked to the same Membership Rewards program number as the credit card you want to cancel.
Remember that personal and small business AMEX cards can have separate Membership Rewards program numbers, so make sure to link all of your cards to only 1 Membership Rewards account!
Consider opening a new card to keep your points active, like the AMEX EveryDay card, which has NO annual fee. So it’s a great card to keep long-term, and prevents your points from expiring. You’ll also get:
- 2X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 at US supermarkets up to $6,000 a year and
- 1X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 on other purchases
- 20% more points (less returns and credits) when you use your card 20+ times on purchases in a billing period
- Terms & Limitations Apply
So this card is a great way to both keep and earn AMEX Membership Rewards points without paying an annual fee. And, you can still transfer your points to travel partners!
Here are all the cards that earn AMEX Membership Rewards points:
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express||The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz||The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express|
|American Express® Gold Card|
|American Express® Green Card|
|Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.|
2. Transfer Them to Travel Partners
Another way to keep your points is to transfer them to an airline or hotel partner before they expire:
|American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners|
|ANA||Asia Miles||British Airways|
|Delta Airlines||El Al||Emirates|
|Etihad||Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)||Hawaiian Airlines|
|Virgin America||Virgin Atlantic|
|American Express Membership Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners|
Keep in mind that you’ll have to abide by the rules of the program you transfer your points to. So for example, if you transfer to Delta, you won’t ever have to worry about losing your points. That’s because Delta miles never expire.
But say you transfer to Hawaiian Airlines miles. You’ll have to have activity in your Hawaiian Airlines account within 18 months, or you’ll lose those, too.
3. Take Advantage of the Grace Period
The terms suggest 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 1 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 you can cancel all your cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points, but still have 30 days to transfer points as long as you have any other American Express card, like the Costco AMEX.
However, if you decide to take this route, I would confirm with an AMEX representative that you do indeed have 30 days from cancellation to use your points before losing them. This could be risky!
4. Get Your Points Reinstated
If you get a new Membership Rewards card within 1 year after cancelling, you may be able to request your points be reinstated by writing a letter to AMEX, or sending them a secure message through your online account.
But, I wouldn’t use this as my primary way to avoid losing points and there is NO guarantee American Express will reinstate your points.
I recommend take 1 of the actions above and using this as an extreme last resort!
To keep your points active, you must have at least 1 card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points and is linked to your Membership Rewards program number.
Other ways to keep your points include:
- AMEX EveryDay Preferred (has an annual fee but with more points)
- Transferring your points to airline or hotel partners
- Transferring or redeeming them within 30 days after you cancel your card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points
- Getting them reinstated when you open a new card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points within 1 year
I recommend either opening a new card, or transferring the points to partners, because the other options are riskier.
Remember, American Express cards that do NOT earn earn American Express Membership Rewards points (such as the Costco AMEX or AMEX Gold Delta) will NOT keep your points active.
Karen, I hope that answers your question!