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Last July I wrote about “technical difficulties” that had temporarily shut down American Express’ shopping portal. This was frustrating, because the Earn Portal was a quick and easy way to earn extra Membership Rewards points for shopping at popular retailers- much like the existing mileage and points portals offerered by numerous airlines and credit card companies.
However, overnight the site went down and Amex has been mum on the details since, insisting it was still down for “maintenance”. I was always skeptical of this excuse, especially since a simple online shopping portal shouldn’t need 8 months of maintenance!
However, I just got official confirmation today from Amex that the site is officially decommissioned “because less than 2% of cardholders used it.” When you visit americanexpress.com/earn you’ll see a message: “The Earn Points website (also known as membershiprewards.com/earn) will be discontinued as usage was less than expected. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
I really wish American Express would have thought about improving the mall so that more of their cardholders would use it instead of just killing it. This change is just another blow in a string of devaluations of the program. Recently they hacked the value of Pay With Points for personal Platinum cardholders from 1.25 cents per point to 1 cent. In comparison, the Chase Sapphire Preferred 1.25 cents per point and the Citi Thank You Premier offers 1.33 cents per point – both have much lower annual fees than the $450 Platinum card. In the past couple years they’ve lost transfer partners like Continental, Southwest, Airtran and Priority Club and they’ve only added partners like Virgin America that don’t offer great value in my opinion.
Even though Amex shut down their mall, you can still use an Amex card at other online shopping portals- the key difference is that you won’t earn Amex points, but instead the currency that the portal offers (airline miles/hotels/etc). My favorite shopping portal is Chase Ultimate Rewards because the points earned go into my Ultimate Rewards account and can then be transferred to my favorite partners United and Hyatt (among 7 others).