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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).
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards