American Express Changes Authorized User Rules, Will No Longer Award Points on Late Payments
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Loyalty programs are a moving target, with benefits, transfer partners, terms and conditions frequently changing. American Express recently expanded the bonus categories on the American Express® Gold Card to earn 4x points at restaurants, and now Travelwithgrant is reporting a number of broader changes to the Amex Membership Rewards program.
The first and most important change has to do with transferring points to an authorized user. Amex doesn't allow you to pool Membership Rewards points, but you can transfer your points to a frequent flyer account belonging to an authorized user on your card. However, beginning Sept. 1, you'll need to wait 90 days after adding an authorized user before you can transfer points to their accounts.
Business authorized user cards (referred to as employee cards) also saw a negative change. Effective immediately, business employee cards cannot have their own Membership Rewards account. All points must be pooled with the primary card holder. If you currently have a separate Membership Rewards account for your employee card, these will be discontinued on Sept. 28.
Another change to how Amex awards Membership Rewards points makes it a lot less enticing to carry a balance on your credit card. Starting Sept. 1, if you don't pay your bill by the payment due date you'll forfeit any Membership Rewards points earned during that period. Note that on some Amex credit cards the "please pay by" date is not the same as your payment due date.
I find this change to be the most interesting by far. The cardinal rule of travel rewards is to never carry a balance on your credit cards, as the sky-high interest rates will quickly outpace the value of any rewards you earn. Not everybody reads The Points Guy, though, and 2018 ended with American credit card debt at an all time high of $870 billion.
For more information on Amex Membership Rewards please see: