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Amex Membership Rewards Points Advance Ending June 30 – Confirmed

by on March 21, 2013 · 16 comments

in American Express

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Last week I got several emails from readers who had read about a change in the terms of American Express Membership Rewards’ points advance option that said this feature would be ending on June 30, 2013. I wrote to my contacts at Amex immediately asking whether this was true and I just got confirmation that the points advance option would indeed be ending in June.

When I asked for a reason, my contacts said that Amex had decided to discontinue the feature due to low cardholder use (that seems to be common excuse from Amex these days). If that’s the case I hope they plan on enhancing the program instead of slowly dismantling Membership Rewards, as they seem to have done lately with other negative changes such as the disappearance of the Bonus Points Mall and decreasing the value of Pay With Points for personal Platinum cardholders.

To make up for yet another erosion of benefits, I’d love to see Amex offer some transfer bonuses in the near-term. These, too, have been drying up lately. Come on, Amex- step it up a notch!

While the recent spate of juicy signup bonuses are good, I think investing in long term program enhancements like new transfer partners – I’d love to see Alaska or even Emirates added.

For now, those of us who do take advantage of points advance from time to time have just 3 months left to use it before yet another Amex benefit is stripped away.

For those of you unfamiliar with points advance and how it works, you can log into your account and the points advance page here. You can find the points advance limits for each Amex card in this table:

Amex Points Advance Limits

Amex will advance you anywhere between 5,000-60,000 points depending on the type of card you have. It will give you 15,000 points beyond your current balance if you are a Green/ Gold/ Premier Rewards Gold cardholder, and 60,0000 for those with the Platinum and Centurion (invite only) cards.

Corporate cards are not eligible for point advances. You must be a cardmember for at least 6 months and have all accounts in good standing – so if you just got in on any of the amazing Amex deals like the 100k Platinum and the 75k Business Gold from January, or this past month’s 50k offer on the Premier Rewards Gold, you’re out of luck.

The advance is free, but as I mentioned, you must earn back the points within one year of the advance, or else Amex will charge you 2.5 cents per point on the remainder. All points earned count towards repaying the advance until you have satisfied the amount you advanced – so any future sign-up bonuses  (like for the Mercedes-Benz Platinum, Platinum, Business Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold) will all count towards it.

So if you need those points now and don’t have time to wait to hit the spend requirements and wait for the points to post, you can advance yourself points and then repay the advance once the sign-up bonus credits to your account. This also goes for any spend bonuses, like 4x points per dollar when you book airfare through Amex Travel.

Keep in mind, the points you advance yourself cannot be used for statement credits, Everyday Rewards, Pay With Points transactions or paying the fees for transferring MR points to domestic airlines.

Points advance was a versatile Membership Rewards benefit because if a redemption you wanted or lucrative transfer bonus became available, you could have enough points in your account for it, even if you hadn’t earned enough points yet, and you’d have 12 months to earn the points you’d advanced yourself through normal spending, and if you didn’t Amex would simply charge you 2.5 cents per point – not cheap, but it could still make sense depending on the redemption.

Although not one of the benefits of Membership Rewards I used on a regular basis, I did find it highly useful several times, especially when there were lucrative transfer bonuses to Delta and British Airways among other airline partners going on, which meant that the points I advanced were worth a lot more miles than I would have been able to get had I had to wait to earn the points I needed normally.

I’m still a big Amex customer with 5 of their credit and charge cards open including a new Mercedes-Benz Platinum on the way (with a 50,000-point bonus), but this along with the erosion of other Membership Rewards benefits is going to have me taking a long, hard look at the program going forward and evaluating my future travel credit cards options.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Chad M

    Thanks TPG for the confirmation. I tweeted them this morning asking about this and the CSR hadn’t heard anything yet. Sad to see it go, but it’s always better to know than to wonder.

  • jmw2323

    getting harder and harder to justify using my Amex cards. I’d rather earn UR than MR. Have 300k MR points collecting dust, waiting for a transfer bonus.

  • Rob

    This is really sad… For many years I’ve been a big fan of AmEx cards. Now, even their customer service has kind of left something out. As it stands, MR First is no different than the regular MR points.

  • Kelvin

    Chase Ultimate Rewards seems to be the clear winner over American Express Membership Rewards. It’s starting to look like a program that is giving up.

  • DWT

    The Amex Plat is becoming, more and more, a card to hold for the benefits only. And I don’t think their customer service is a differentiator any more. While it’s still better than some (especially Barclaycard and BofA), CSP’s CS seems a lot more proactive and just on top of things. I recently got the new Citi Prestige card and have similarly been impressed with their CS– it seems a step above Amex.

  • davep

    I’m using my Chase cards a lot more these days.

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  • thepointsguy

    I’m hoping for some big new enhancements.. or even a transfer bonus, however olding my breath is beginning to hurt…

  • FourN6Doc

    Bryan, any idea if this also effects the ability to directly purchase MR points at 2.5cents per point? I agree that the loss of the ability to advance points is a big negative. However, if the purchase points option remains at least there is an alternative for those that are a few thousand points short and need the points quick.

  • Chase

    Can I repay MR points with the points already borrowed? Or must it be repaid with earned points?

  • flygirl

    curious, has anyone tracked when AmeX has offered transfer bonuses in the past? Wonder if there is a trend to when they are offered similar to how some track when airlines are most likely to offer lower fares. I have AmeX points I would like to transfer to AA or BA soon.

  • Cmgalan

    You can always make a purchase such as a fully refundable airline ticket, have the points posted, then utilized and hen cancel the ticket with amount refunded prior to next statement thus no sgort term cash flow issues. Of course, thisnonly works within your credit limit and you will be expected to ‘earn’ back those points. I tend to do thisbfor small, short term needs.

  • FourN6Doc

    Yes, I’m familiar with doing this and actually used a similar strategy with US airways when they had the mileage multiplier option at about 1.1cpm. However, with AMEX there tends to be a fairly long lag from when the purchase is made -> to when the statement closes -> to when the MR points post to your account. I’m assuming that with the purchase points option that the MR points would post instantaneously after the purchase?

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  • hova_jay

    I’ve got -350,000 points right now under my platinum card… they are crooks and made a mistake and now making me pay for it. I didn’t know there was a mistake until they brought it to my attention and I had used all my points for travel and then all of a sudden they said they gave me extra points by accident and reversed by account, bringing me into the negative. CROOOKS

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