How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card?

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How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card?

Million Mile SecretsHow Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader Ankur tweeted:

I’m closing The Platinum Card® from American Express.  To keep my points, would it help to be an authorized user on my wife’s AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express?  Or do I need my own Membership Rewards card to keep the points?

Thanks for the question, Ankur!

You WILL lose your points if you don’t keep at least 1 card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.  And you can NOT transfer American Express Membership Rewards points from your account to your spouse’s account.  But there’s a way around this rule!

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
Don’t Lose Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points! Take One of the Following Steps to Keep Your Points Safe

I’ll show you how to guarantee you won’t lose your hard-earned points when you cancel an American Express card.

3 Ways to Keep Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points

If you cancel co-branded credit cards like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, you will NOT lose the miles or points you have earned.  That’s because your points and miles automatically deposit into each corresponding loyalty account every month.

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
The Points You Earn With Co-Branded Cards are Automatically Transferred

But the rules are different for points that are issued by banks.  Examples of these kinds of points are:

There are a few ways to make sure you don’t forfeit your AMEX Membership Rewards points when you cancel your card.

1.   Transfer Points to Airlines or Hotels

Before cancelling, consider transferring your AMEX Membership Rewards points to one of your frequent flyer or hotel accounts.

You can even add your spouse or anyone else as an authorized user and then transfer your points to THEIR frequent flyer or hotel account!  It’s easy to add an authorized user to your AMEX card online or by calling the number on the back of your card.

Think about your travel plans before you transfer your points to a loyalty account.  Because once you transfer your points to an airline or hotel, you can’t reverse your decision!

If you have NO travel plans in mind, it’s a good idea to transfer your points to an airline you can easily see yourself using, like British Airways.  You can use British Airways Avios points to fly for cheap around the US on partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
Use British Airways Avios Points to Book Award Flights on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines and Save on Short-Haul Flights

Note:   Some cards will charge you for adding an authorized user, and the American Express Platinum card is one of them!  So make sure you read the fine print.  

2.   Apply for A No-Fee Membership Rewards Earning Card Before Cancelling

Link:   AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Another great strategy to keep your points is to apply for a different credit card with no annual fee that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, like the AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.

The AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card doesn’t come with the benefits of the American Express Platinum card, but it earns Membership Rewards points much faster!  You’ll earn:

  • 2 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 at US supermarkets up to $6,000 per year; then 1x
  • 1 AMEX Membership Rewards point per $1 on other purchases
  • Terms and Limitations Apply

And, if you use the card to make 20 or more purchases within a billing cycle, you will earn an extra 20% Membership Rewards points, less returns and credits.  There is no minimum transaction amount for any of those 20 purchases.

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
Qualify for a 20% Bonus by Using Your AMEX Everyday for 20+ Purchases a Month – Even If You Have to Split Up Your Groceries at Checkout!

You can also apply for cards that waive the annual fee for the first year, like the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.

But remember, you will NOT earn the welcome bonus if you have received it before.   Because American Express restricts their welcome bonuses to once per lifetime.

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
Don’t Expect to Receive the Welcome Bonus Twice With the Same AMEX Card

Note:   Some Membership Rewards-earning credit cards, like The Blue for Business® Credit Card, will keep your points from expiring, but will NOT allow you to transfer them to airlines or hotels.  Only certain AMEX cards allow points transfers, including:

3.   Downgrade to Charge Card With Lower Annual Fee

Link:   Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

You can also downgrade the American Express Platinum card to a different card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.  This will prevent your credit score from taking a hit after cancelling a card!  But there’s a catch.

How Do I Keep American Express Membership Rewards Points When I Cancel My Card
Downgrading a Card Is Better Than Cancelling for Your Credit Score

The American Express Platinum card is a charge card, which is different from a credit card.  Ankur will only be able to downgrade to another charge card, like the Premier Rewards Gold card, which will bring the annual fee down to $195.

These cards come with the annual fee waived for the first year.  But folks on Reddit report that your annual fee will NOT be waived by American Express when you downgrade.

Bottom Line

The American Express Platinum card comes with a hefty $450 annual fee!  If you decide to cancel your card, you WILL lose your points if you don’t keep at least 1 card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.

But there are simple workarounds to keeping your points if you don’t want to pay the annual fee:

  • Transfer your points to a loyalty program
  • Apply for a Membership Rewards earning card with no annual fee before cancelling
  • Downgrade to a card with a lower annual fee.

Have you used one of these methods to keep your AMEX Membership Rewards points?

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Trying to make sure…so before I cancel my AMEX card, I can transfer them to another program like British Airways, then I can cancel my AMEX card without losing the points? Points then will go by the British Airways rules for cancellation?

I’m just asking because I’m dealing with the Citi Prestige points and I know they track their points and they cancel quickly at some point in you cancel your card….no matter where you transfer them.

AMEX is different…..?

Ooops! Blue for Business can transfer points per your chart, but in the text above (which links to Starwood) you say Blue for Business cannot. Thanks for clarifying!

@Dan, I think it’s because about 35% of your FICO score is based on your utilization percentage and if you cancel a card it reduces your available credit, which reduces the denominator of that fraction, which increases your utilization, thereby lowering your FICO score.

Why do you say that cancelling a credit card makes your credit score take a hit? The account remains on your credit reports for 10 years after you cancel it, so your credit score should not be affected by closing credit cards, at least not for the next 10 years.

Your on time payments will stay and have a somewhat positive effect on your credit score. However, it will be one less account open. So unless you bring your utilization down on the other cards, your overall utilization will go up. If you have a total credit limit of $1000 and you carry a balance of $100, your total utilization is 10%. If you close a card with a $500 limit and you still carry that $100 balance, your utilization jumps to 20%. That will have a negative effect on your score.

If you downgrade from Plat to PRG, do you get the $100 airline credit if you already got the $200 on the Plat?