A few days ago, some sad news broke in the miles and points world. About 6 months ago, Amex announced a great new benefit for their Business Platinum credit card. Now American Express is already destroying the benefit. That’s record time for a great benefit to appear and then disappear. The benefit I’m referring to is the ability to use Membership Rewards (MR) points to book a flight, then get 50% of those points rebated into your account. To destroy the benefit, Amex decided to take a two step approach.
1. Significantly Increase the Rebate Time
The 50% rebate used to post within a few days of booking your flight. Amex decided to increase the time your rebate posts into your account from a few days to 6-8 weeks. It’s absurd that now they’ll take your points hostage for about 2 months.
I understand why they did this. They did it so people have fewer points in their accounts to be using this benefit. However, it’s shady to offer a benefit and then take steps to prevent people from using that benefit.
2. Decrease the Rebate from 50% to 35%
To make matter worse, a few days ago Amex announced that the rebate will be going down to 35% on June 1st, 2017. This effectively makes your points worth 1.54 cents a piece versus the 2 cents they were worth when the rebate was 50%. This change essentially makes your points 25% less valuable. To make things a little better, they are extending the benefit a little longer for people who recently applied for the card.
“If you opened your Business Platinum Card account anytime between October, 2016 and May 31, 2017, we will be honoring the 50% Airline Bonus, with unlimited points for one full year from the date your Business Card was issued. Once that full year has passed, you will start receiving 35% points back on eligible flights, up to a maximum of 500,000 points per calendar year.”
This means I will be able to take advantage until mid December. That’s decent news for me. However, people who have had the card for a while will be losing this benefit very soon and that stinks. I assume that many people signed up for more Amex MR point earning cards to use in combination with their Business Platinum card. That’s what I was planning on doing with the Amex Everyday Preferred credit card in a few months.
I am pretty stunned about how Amex decided to
screw over disappoint their customers. I understand that the benefit was costing them way more than they had anticipated, but they should’ve given their customers a grace period. In July, the Citi Prestige credit card is devaluing pretty badly. Citi, however, let their customers know the changes would be occurring and set a date for those changes about a year into the future. This is what Amex should have done. It would allow people who signed up for multiple Amex credit cards to at least have some time to take advantage of the benefit that was being advertised to them when they signed up for their credit cards.
I recently wrote a series about my points strategy for when I get back to the States in few weeks. The centerpiece of that strategy was the Business Platinum credit card and this benefit. Now I’ll have to go back to the drawing board. The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to redeem points for travel (not just airfare) at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. They also do not use a rebate system to keep your points hostage for months after you use them. It’s pretty hard to justify accumulating Amex MR points over Chase UR points when their value is only 0.04 cents more, you can only use the 1.54 cent value when booking first or business class flights or economy on your 1 airline of choice, and then if you use them at that value they will keep a chunk of your points hostage for months.
I mean, what is Amex thinking? They are losing customers to Chase at a rapid pace and continue to do things to make people switch their loyalty.
What do you think? I am overreacting?