Posted by Chuck on June 5, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on June 5th, 2016 | by Chuck

21

Amex to Eliminate Prorated Annual-Fee-Refunds Starting September

Starting in September, Amex will no longer prorate the annual fee when you cancel a card. This change is showing on the monthly statements of all Amex cards being sent out since the past few days.

Currently, the policy of American Express is to pro-rate the annual fee and refund you the unused portion. This especially makes a difference for expensive annual fees like the $450 Platinum annual fee. Under the new rules, if you cancel the card in mid-year you won’t get any part of the $450 back. And the same goes for all other cards with an annual fee.

Closing your Account Effective September 1, 2016, in Part 2 of the Cardmember Agreement, we are amending the Closing your Account sub-section in the Other important information section by inserting a new paragraph after the first sentence:

 

If an Annual Membership fee applies, we will refund this fee if you notify us that you are voluntarily closing your Account within 30 days of the Closing Date of the billing statement on which that fee appears. For cancellations after this 30 day period, the Annual Membership fee is non-refundable. If an Annual Membership fee applies to your Account, it is shown on page 1 and page 2 of Part 1 of the Cardmember Agreement.

 

If your billing address is in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the time you close your account, this policy will not apply to you.

amex twg annual fee

Image from Travelwithgrant.com http://travelwithgrant.boardingarea.com/2016/06/04/american-express-changes-to-card-updates-forex-fees-annual-fee-refunds/

 

As before, Amex will still refund the entire annual fee if you close the account within 30 days of closing date of the statement that the annual fee is showing.

A few notes:

[RelatedAnnual Fee Refund Rules For Each Card Issuer]

Final Thoughts

I suspect this is all part of the review Amex was doing due to the influx of new Platinum cardholders. An important element that enables Amex to continue offering strong signup bonuses on those cards is the mandatory $450 annual fee ($475 for Mercedes-Benz), not waived the first year. Under the new rule, there won’t be any way out of the annual fee unless you manage to get the bonus and close the account very quickly.

Bear in mind that you get the $200 airline incidental credit once per calendar year so there is benefit in keeping the card for the year. Also note that this change is only taking effect on September 1. Those who have Platinum cards from the recent 100k bonus or the 75k MB bonus (ongoing for a few more weeks!) can still cancel and get the pro-rated refund. Personally, I opt to keep the card for a year with the hopes of maintaining a better relationship with Amex.

We’ll update the post Annual Fee Refund Rules For Each Card Issuer and the post 19 Things Everybody Should Know About American Express to reflect the new terms.

Hat tip to DrGForce on r/churning



21 Responses to Amex to Eliminate Prorated Annual-Fee-Refunds Starting September

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I live in MA. Can you tell me where I can find the policy on pro-rated refunds for MA residents? This would be helpful to reference need be.

    • Chuck says:

      I don’t know if you’ll see it anywhere, but prorating is pretty simple: just take the annual fee and divide it by 365 days of the year, and you pay per day. So on the $450 Platinum fee, you’ll pay around $1.25 per day. If you cancel after 6 months, you’ll get $225 back.

  2. Tim says:

    I plan on closing my Amex Premier Gold to avoid the $195 fee. My anniversary date is July 7. I have current purchases on the card and don’t want to forfeit the points. How should I go about closing this?

    • Chuck says:

      You can downgrade to the Green card, but it also has a $95 annual fee. I don’t know any other option, unless you have another MR-earning card then I think that also works to keep the points, if I’m not mistaken.

    • erooni says:

      This is an old post, but I am putting the answer just so others looking it up can benefit. Both American Express “Everyday Card” no annual fee and the American Express “Everyday Preferred card” with annual fee, earn MR points. If you open one before you close the Gold card, the MR points will be automatically linked with the card.

  3. jp says:

    I too have the Gold coming up for renewal. Recently got MB Plat, an MR-earning card, points have been combined. I have been contemplating whether I should cash out the MR from the Gold prior to closing it. Chuck,you didn’t sound 100% sure about being able to keep the points intact. is it a risk to ask AMEX rep about this?

    • Chuck says:

      I’m just the wrong person to ask – I’m not an expert on MR (I don’t have many MR cards), but I believe I’ve heard that it works so long as it’s combined. Haven’t researched it right now.

  4. ff_lover says:

    Chuck,
    What are possible “good” reasons one would give to cancel the “high” annual fee cards for both within 30days of posting or after few months?

  5. sha says:

    How about converting a card?
    Example 1, after six months of paying annual fee for a Platinum card, you DOWNGRADE it to a Gold Premier card, how much annual fee will be refunded/charged on the 1st statement after conversion?
    Example 1, after six months of paying annual fee for a Gold Premier card, you UPGRADE it to a Platinum card, how much annual fee will be refunded/charged on the 1st statement after conversion?

  6. Ten says:

    no one caught septmeber in the title?

    nice write up though.

  7. Carl Saba says:

    I signed up for a platinum amex with 40 k bonus points on a flyer program in Canada. The annual fees are 500$ and it states that to get the 40k you must spend 1000$ within the first three months. Did that within 30 days, and when I called to cancel and get a refund they said since I got my points I get no refund of annual fees. They have refunded me and my friends at least 5 times with the same conditions as above but now they all have amnesia and are insisting they never refunded annual.fees or prorated when there was bonus points involved which is complete bullshit, I even offered to send proof of their refunds. What do I do? They changed their policy starting September 2016 but when you sign up, this is not mentioned anywhere as a condition, no refunds will be allowed if bonus points are taken. They even told me if this was your second year we would refund you! I need help please! Is there a complaint department?

    • I don’t think you can really complain when you’re signing up for a card with an AF and trying to cancel and get that AF refunded in the first year.

      • Carl Saba says:

        Why not? This is the complaint of so many around here. You sign up with an annual fee for the perks it provides and you are paying the annual up front for the whole year of using. If you cancel your card within a month or two why on earth should you be paying for months you are not even using the card? Every credit card company in Canada refunds you the u used portion of your annual fee. Not to mention , Amex did refund it before but they changed their policy without any notice.

  8. London says:

    So if you have a PRG and your $195 annual fee is due on September 1st, you could essentially use your $100 airline credit on September 2nd, close the card a week later, and get your full $195 annual fee refunded because it’s within the 30 day window.
    You would pretty much be coming out ahead $100 because you used your airline credit already, and then got Amex to refund you the full $195 annual fee.
    Is that right? Or will Amex deduct the $100 airline credit from your annual fee refund??
    Asking for a friend lol

  9. Darv says:

    My wife’s statement on her Amex Plat will cut on the 13th of December but her annual fee will be due on January 3rd. I would like for her to get the airline credit one more time in 2018 but her statement balance will be due on January 3rd including the annual fee. If I am reading this correctly, she can pay the annual fee on January 3rd, wait for the airline credits to post, and then cancel her card before January 13th and Amex would issue a refund for the annual fee.

    William, does this sound right to you? Do you know if they would send her a check for the AF refund or would they apply it to another card balance she has?

    • LS says:

      I am also interested in this.

    • Alex says:

      Interested in this, as well.

    • Darv says:

      I had her card confused with another. Her statement cuts on the 8th of this month. 30 days later is January 7th. Her deadline to cancel would seem to be 1/7.

      One thing that is unconfirmed for me is if she has an airline selection for 2017, will it automatically carry over that selection to 2018 or does she need to re-enroll her airline? Because that will cost her a day if she has to do that. If not, she’ll probably use up her credit on 1/1 and hope the reimbursements post on or before 1/7.

      I guess worst case she makes a payment on 1/7 for the non-reimbursed airline charges and requests a refund of the annual fee and is stuck with airline gift cards.

      She already paid the annual fee. We’re floating it until 1/7.

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