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The Ins and Outs of Reinstating Forfeited American Express Points

April 18, 2014
5 min read
The Ins and Outs of Reinstating Forfeited American Express Points
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One of the greatest features of American Express Membership Rewards is obviously the point transfer feature. Of the 17 airline partners, nearly all (save the exception of Virgin America and Jet Blue) have a 1:1 transfer ratio, and on top of those there are dozens of other travel other partners in addition to hundreds of other shopping, entertainment and dining partners. In short, Amex points can very valuable thanks to the flexibility they give you to redeem for the awards you need on a moment's notice and top up your various loyalty accounts when you need to.

Make sure to transfer your Amex points before you close the account otherwise you will lose them.
Make sure to transfer your Amex points before you close the account otherwise you will lose them.

All that makes it extremely important to keep your Amex Membership Rewards account active and in good standing. However, there are times when you must cancel a card - perhaps you are changing jobs and must give up your corporate card, or you don't feel the need to carry that The Platinum Card from American Express anymore since you can't get into the Admirals Club. If it's not a job termination or a situation where you must surrender your card immediately, there are some things you should do to keep your points safe before canceling a card. We all understand the value of these points, and it can be heartbreaking to lose them after accruing for months if not years, so make sure to know your options when canceling a card.

I was reading through the benefits and terms guide Amex sent me earlier this week and came across their policy on forfeiting and reinstating points, so I thought it was worth a refresher post.

According to Amex Membership Rewards Terms & Conditions page, "If we cancel your Linked Card Account for any reason (including your death, bankruptcy or insolvency), you'll forfeit all points in your program account. If we reinstate the Linked Card Account within one year, these points will be returned to your account." Essentially you would need to reinstate the same account in order to get these points back - you cannot open a different card under the same name in order to have the points returned.

So sayeth Amex: "If you voluntarily cancel your enrollment in the program but keep at least one American Express® Card open and in good standing, you'll have up to 30 days from the date of cancellation to use any points in your program account. If you cancel your enrollment in the program and don't keep open any American Express Cards, all points in your program account will be immediately forfeited." So if you keep open at least one Amex - and it doesn't necessarily have to be one that accrues Membership Rewards according to the language bove, you will still be able to use these points for up to 30 days - so be sure to transfer them before the deadline is up!

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Be sure to use your points or you might end up forfeiting them!
Be sure to use your points or you might end up forfeiting them!

Regarding late payments, Amex states that you must pay the amount due on your account's statement by the closing date of the next billing period, and if you don't, you'll forfeit all the points that you earned during the period covered by the statement. So you won't lose all of your points, only those accrued during this time frame. However, that being said, if you forfeit points due to a late payment, they can be reinstated if you return your card account good standing by making all required payments. You would then need to visit the Points Summary page on to reinstate the points. Amex will charge a $35 fee for each billing period and for each Card account for which you reinstate points. You must reinstate points within 24 months of forfeiting them in order to get them back.

So all hope is not lost when you fail to make a payment, or you are planning on canceling a card within the Membership Rewards family, but pay attention to the terms carefully and make sure that if you are thinking of canceling a card that you transfer your points beforehand, or within 30 days if you have another Amex open.

The Ultimate Guide to Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

What Program Is Best To Transfer Amex Points If You’re Going to Close Your Account?

How Can I Keep My Corporate Amex Membership Rewards Points After Closing My Account?

Risk of Losing Points When Canceling A Card

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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