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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).
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees