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Amex Officially Confirms Death of Bonus Points Mall/ Earn Shopping Portal

by on March 1, 2013 · 25 comments

in American Express, Shopping

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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.”

RIP Bonus Points

RIP Bonus Points

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).

  • jmw2323

    less and less need for Platinum. Have had it a few times. At this point it will take at least 50k MR for me to want another.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/karl.l.mitchell Karl Mitchell

    Another disappointing devaluation.

  • LR

    TPG – They also officially cancelled their Equinox partnership. You should blog about this.

  • thepointsguy

    Roger.. stay tuned

  • http://twitter.com/TravelPlaybook The Travel Playbook

    Honestly, at $450 per year, the Platinum AMEX is killed by the value of Sapphire Preferred. Yeah, you get Global Entry and access to Preferred Hotels and Resorts, but with GE only costing $100 out of pocket and Visa Signature Hotels coming to prominence, is there really any reason now to hold a Platinum card? I’ll get one if the 100,000 points bonus comes up again, for sure, but not quite sure if it’s worth half a grand a year after that.

  • AKold

    I think you missed a “1.25″ for the CSP in there

  • thepointsguy

    Oops- fixed thx

  • thepointsguy

    I still think there is value with the lounges and $200 yearly airline credit (= gift cards). Essentially $250 for Delta/American/US and Priority Pass lounge? Works for me, but I can see it becoming harder to justify for travelers who don’t use the lounge benefits

  • jmw2323

    they are overdue for an airline transfer bonus

  • thepointsguy

    Couldn’t agree more.. I’d love a British Airways 50% or even Virgin Atlantic 40%

  • penncomm

    Bummer. Just got my very first Membership Rewards card and was looking forward to adding on top of my first 50,000 points. I agree, instead of shutting it down, how about improving it.

  • Narayanais

    They also cancelled the preferred hotel group and Omni hotel partnerships for redemption. They added Destination Hotels though – which are not so great – Meh!

  • Narayanais

    How would you be using the VS miles if so?

  • http://twitter.com/TravelPlaybook The Travel Playbook

    I totally get the lounge benefits, but with other cards like the Chase Hyatt that get you a free night once a year plus a Lounge Pass membership, the benefits of the Platinum card erode away. I think it’s still the card to have if you only one ONE CARD in your wallet, but in these times of travel hacking, those of us with multiple cards in our wallet when we travel don’t necessarily need Platinum’s perks.

  • Hardy

    I’m a little disappointed in Amex. I’ve been a “member” since 1988 when I was in school. Recently upgraded to the Platinum for airport lounges but not sure it’s worth it since flight connections are usually so tight.

    Their partnership seems to be virtually with Delta only. Just blew over 600,000 points to fly with family to Europe in Business class. Initially happy with my “lie flat” seats but just noticed that Delta has changed the flight to a plane with the old “sleeper seats”. Took a look at reviews which were not good.

    Not happy.

  • Chino

    Hopefully the string of cancelations of these programs is the result of a grand review and ensuing reboot of the benefits. I hope!

  • ZJ

    After they first “suspended” the portal, I was able to contact AmEx via secure message with details of transaction, describe how I used to get 5x or whatever from that merchant, and they would give me the points as a “goodwill” adjustment.

    I just whined and moaned, explaining how I’d be switching spend to Chase, hoping they’d offer a retention of sorts. Absolutely nothing, they just a copied-and-pasted a message from on high and told me to have a Coke and a smile.

    I had already switched my business spend to Ink Bold. Here I come CSP.

  • ZJ

    I’m afraid there’s a better chance of me walking on the moon tonight.

  • Justin

    This is really disappointing. Now there’s now way to earn multiple MR per dollar except via the PRG card or Gold Biz card. I used to earn hundreds of thousands of MR per year via the mall, and quite honestly I would think 2% is a pretty high participation rate–I’ll bet Chase’s rate isn’t any higher… and certainly no more than 2% of AAdvantage members, for instance, use the AA mall, I bet.

    The advantages of MR over Chase are becoming few and far between. Transfer bonuses are more infrequent and the only value for me right now is the ability to redeem for SQ Suites or ANA miles for distance based *A awards, EY and QR.

    IMO this is another step in the shift Amex is making away from traditional points toward social media syncing, discounts, gift cards, and paying with points at places like Amazon. They’re trying to get younger, but they’re leaving the serious travel hackers behind–customers who may not even be profitable to Amex, so perhaps an understandable decision.

  • ken

    Amex opensavings just changed their reward structure. You can either get a discount or membership reward points.

  • Brian L.

    While this is disappointing, it’s not surprising considering how long it’s been gone. And if usage was less than 2% of cardholders, it may not have made financial sense to revamp it, or even continue it.

  • Rob

    Worst communication with customers ever! After 8 months, this is what they come back with!?! Ok, ok, probably not a big deal outside a small group of people, but still terrible!

  • ks1855

    I got the AXBP specifically for the lounge perks, but found that moreso than not, it wasn’t honored. Especially at the International level.

    When I phoned AX concierge, they just said to “buy a daypass and they would reimburse me”, however most lounges didn’t sell daypasses, so that was a bust.

    To compensate, AX enrolled me in Priority Pass Lounge, but gotta be honest, their smart phone app barely works, and their access lounges aren’t so abundant. Especially in the major hubs like JFK and LAX.

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