Posted by Chuck on September 1, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on September 1st, 2019 | by Chuck

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American Express Membership Rewards Program Changes (Affects Points Transfers & More)

Update 9/1/19: The new bill payment due date and transfer rules are now in place.

American Express is sending out a list of changes to the Membership Rewards program; you’ll see these on your upcoming credit card statements. We wrote yesterday about the biggest change which gives 4x rewards on the Gold card at international restaurants. There are a bunch of other changes, some of them a bit interesting. Here’s the list of seven changes (in my own words) with my commentary in the bullet points below.

  1. Effective immediately, employee cards can not have their own Membership Rewards account; their rewards will have to pool with the primary cardholder.
    • I never even knew this was a thing.
    • This is presumably only the case for OPEN small business cards. Corporate cards can probably still have the points go to the employee.
  2. Starting June 6, the Gold card gets 4x internationally.
  3. Starting June 6, the Blue for Students Card will no longer earn Membership Rewards Points.
    • (shrugs)
  4. Starting September 1, Effective September 1, 2019, you must pay your bill by the payment due date (instead of the closing date of the next billing period). If you don’t, you’ll forfeit any Membership Rewards Points earned that period.
    • I vaguely recall reading something about how on Amex business cards you don’t really need to pay by the payment due date. Anyway, it seems starting September you do. I think most of us pay by the due date anyway, so no big deal.
    • The more surprising thing to me is that non-payment results in forfeiting the points. I don’t recall ever seeing that late payments forfeiting point. Something seems odd here.
  5. Starting September 1, in order to link an authorized user’s frequent flyer account to the primary cardholder’s Membership Rewards account, the authorized user card will need to wait 90 days from issuance.
    • Sounds like they are fighting the selling of miles. Apparently, some people just add their acquaintance/buyer as an authorized user in order to facilitate the sale. Starting September that will be much more difficult due to the 90 day wait. This is a real negative change which affects even people who are not selling miles – be sure to always have your cards set up for transfers well in advance.
  6. Starting September 28, Membership Rewards accounts held by employee cards which are held separately from the primary cardholder will be discontinued. Going forward, all points earned will pool together with the primary cardholders points earnings.
    • See (1), above.
  7. Starting October 31, Amex is deleting mention of employee cards having separate Membership Rewards earnings.
    • See (1) and (6), above.

Thanks again goes to Travelwithgrant for tipping us off to these.  You can view full images of the Membership Rewards program changes in Grant’s post here. Here’s the quick view:



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wwllmm
wwllmm

You can transfer MR into an AU’s FF account?

Chong786
Chong786

Yeap

Tom
Tom

That’s how mile brokers sell miles.

George
George

Yes.

AFAIK (confirm with other sources before attempting):

MR can be transferred to any AU’s FF account. MR cannot be transferred to anyone else’s MR account.

UR can be transferred to one* AU’s FF account if they’re also a household member. UR can also be transferred to one* household member’s UR account. Rules differ for business cards.

*This is the wording I see on multiple websites. It seems you add a member of your household, then transfer. Not sure if you can then remove them and designate another to move more.

TYP cannot be transferred to another person’s FF account. TYP can be transferred to anyone else’s TYP account, but those points expire after 90 days.

Random Name
Random Name

Yep. I believe my wife and I have both done it at various times to top up each other’s Delta accounts as needed. Guess I should go register all FF accounts with both MR accounts before this change goes into effect.

VL
VL

Not really… if you were an authorized user for 90 days you will be able to transfer as before… no waiting after you register FF of an AU. The waiting applies only to the recently added AUs… so the benefit of doing so are only if you do jot have an AU now, and need a transfer wihin 90 days. Also be careful with adding AUs on a personal card (5/24). If you have a biz card adding an AU only on that biz card should be enough as long as that card permits transfers.

MS
MS

Does 4 apply to charge cards “please pay by” I’m assuming not…

Anonny Mous
Anonny Mous

I think it does since it’s changes to the MR program which is the same program for both credit and charge cards. I’d think AmEx counts the “please pay by” as a due date even though we know there’s no repercussions until after statement close for charge cards. I hope to be wrong though.

Jonathan S
Jonathan S

If Amex does apply the new rules to the “Please Pay By” date on business charge cards, then I would expect them to match the changes it made a few years ago on the personal charge cards. On personal cards, the “Please Pay By” date was moved from 15 to 25 days after the statement close date, but the business “Please Pay By” date is still at 15 days.

Sexy_kitten7
Sexy_kitten7

Actually, My BB+ and SC cards both have a proper “Payment Due Date” which is 25 days post close. It’s possible that older biz cards still use the Please Pay By/15 day system though. As you probably know, the 25 day rule arises from the CARD Act (which only governs personal accounts).

Zaos
Zaos

Yeah, I have 2 biz cards with the same closing date, but one has an earlier Please Pay by date than the other.

LAG
LAG

Actually this seems to explain emails I received first thing this morning, where Amex email notified me on each of my business charge cards that my auto pay was moved from the 12th to the 22nd… I was really confused why this happened and intended to login to confirm via chat but hadn’t had the time. I still haven’t logged in to check this, but the explanation seems reasonable to me.

SteveH
SteveH

#1 will actually be a big deal to corporations. Imagine the backlash of having to tell your employees that the all the points that they used to earn for expenses are now going to go to the corporation. I don’t think employees are going to see this as an Amex thing and instead see it as employer greed.

Emerson
Emerson

I know of some people at my company who will be pissed about these changes!

YoniPDX
YoniPDX

AFAIK, many/most employers will also reimburse, employee spending on personal cards.

I know my previous employers have and DW current does (even with her having a corporate card). But its and added hassle to submit and wait for reimbursement and follow up).

But as a small business owner, I also see that it may also be cost saving beyond just the MR, as it will cut back on more expensive travel, and unnecessary purchases (that mainly just generated more MR).

Michael Fama
Michael Fama

the corporate amex terms are different from the business amex terms. I’m 100% positive the corporate rules will remain in tact as you pay an annual fee in order to earn the MR to your account from your corporate card

Travis
Travis

This is indeed for OPEN accounts only. Corporate Cards are not impacted in this notice.

Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts

I messed up an autopay on a new BRG card and paid 2 days late and did not get the MR. Paid $38 (I think maybe $35?) to reinstate the forfeited MR.

Staradmiral
Staradmiral

Recommend setting autopay date to statement closing date rather than payment due date.

Mwwalk
Mwwalk

Can confirm that late payments have forfeited points for awhile though you can pay a fee to have them reinstated. It applies to at least some cobranded cards too. I missed a Hilton payment last year and forfeited 44k points (and then paid ~$35 to reinstate them).

Brian C
Brian C

Well that sucks about the Blue for Students card. I have had that card for 14 years….

Brian C
Brian C

Chuck William Charles I see on my last statement it says “Effective June 6, 2019, the name of your card will change to Blue from American Express”

I spoke to a chat rep. According to them, the card name is changing and NOTHING else. It will still earn MR. So when they say Blue for Students wont earn MR anymore, that is probably because there is no such card anymore after June 5th

Wilson
Wilson

I received a notice they were converting mine to a regular Blue account, don’t know if everyone can expect it

dante
dante

confirmed!! got the same notice

Sevillada
Sevillada

Number 5 really sucks, as I’ve added accounts on the fly, specially during bonus times. Now I’m going to have to preemptively add all in case i want to transfer to them

David
David

Thx for at least including point 3 about Blue for student’s not earning MR’s anymore. Still had one from way back (oldest account on my credit report, sock drawered). Just changed it over to an AMEX everyday. Wouldn’t have spotted this without you mentioning it. So thanks again!

USam
USam

For #5, does the AU FF accounts need to be linked for 90 days before transferring, or does just the AU need to be added to your account for 90 days, and then you could transfer to their FF accounts on the fly?

Leon
Leon

Got an email today saying boxed.com was being added as one of the $10 per month credits

Roger
Roger

I will be affected by #1, as I’m only a lowly employee in a small firm that has a business account. Any ideas on strategies to not have all my spending points go to someone else?

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

Are you paying the bill with your own personal funds? If not, they’re not actually _your_ points, are they?

bcliu430
bcliu430

For #4, is it minimum payment or the total payment?

Jackson Rogers
Jackson Rogers

Forfeiting points was a thing on the Platinum card if you didn’t pay on time. Now I guess it is included for the Gold Card. It does make sense especially as these are charge cards

bcliu430
bcliu430

so it’s a charge card thing? credit card is not included? according to https://www.americanexpress.com/us/customer-service/faq.membership-rewards-points-forfeiture.html, you only have to pay minimum payment on CC.

Anon
Anon

“Starting September 1, Effective September 1, 2019, you must pay your bill by the payment due date (instead of the closing date of the next billing period). If you don’t, you’ll forfeit any Membership Rewards Points earned that period.”

This might also convince people to pay their annual fee, if they don’t AmEx might forfeit points earned that month since the annual fee appears on the statement with a payment associated to a due date.

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