Is the American Express Green card a viable alternative to cancelling an Amex Gold?

Many Head for Points readers find themselves in the following dilemma from time to time.  They want to close their American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or American Express Platinum card, but they do not want to empty their Membership Rewards account.

One of the great benefits of Membership Rewards, after all, is its flexibility.  You can transfer the points to a large number of airline partners and hotel partners or even redeem for something totally different.  If you don’t need to book any travel in the short term, you may find that you transfer them to the ‘wrong’ programme.

One option for Amex Gold cardholders is to downgrade to the little-discussed American Express Green card.

The home page for that card is here.

Amex Green

Amex tries to pretend that this card no longer exists, hiding it away at the bottom of its website.  The benefits are certainly not designed to excite, because there aren’t any.  There isn’t a sign-up bonus either.

You pay a £60 per year annual fee.  The marketing material suggests that you must also pay a £24 annual fee for being able to participate in Membership Rewards but the comments below from readers suggest otherwise.  You earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every £1 you spend.  That’s it.

When the annual fee on Amex Gold was £125 per year, it made little sense to downgrade to Green.  You were, admittedly, swapping a £125 fee for an £60 fee.  However, as you were giving up your Lounge Club passes and the other benefits of Gold, it didn’t seem worth it.

Now that the fee for Amex Gold is £140, you may want to reconsider.  An Amex Green card with Membership Rewards activated will save you (£140 – £60) £80 per year.  That is worth more than the lounge passes.

If you are in two minds about cancelling an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, you need to choose between the following three options:

pay £140 per year for Gold, keep your Membership Rewards account open, keep the benefits of Gold

pay £60 per year for Green, keep your Membership Rewards account open, lose the benefits of Gold

close your account, transfer your Membership Rewards points to a partner within 30 days, restart the 6-month clock on being able to apply for another Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card

There is, of course, the little known 4th option.

Amex still includes the following language in its terms and conditions:  “If you end your Card Account agreement and there are no other Linked Cards on your Points Account, or if you end these Terms and Conditions, you will have 30 days from the date you request this to redeem your Points. You can also transfer them to another Points Account, including transferring to a Points Account held by someone else (for a fee that we will inform you of at the time).

I wrote this article about what happens if you try to request this – it isn’t pretty.  Legally, however, you should be able to enforce Amex, kicking and screaming, to do it.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated ‘Credit Cards’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. What about the gold credit card option? I applied for this when I held my gold charge card (gaining the bonus points) and had the reward points linked to that cards account. I have now just cancelled the gold charge card. The gold credit card has no annual fee, and collects reward points.

    • Recent reports from readers say that Amex is no longer issuing the Gold credit card to speculative applicants who use the HFP link. They are now insisting you must have been targetted for an invite.

      In any case, the rules of Gold credit state that it must be cancelled if you cancel Gold charge. Some agents do not understand this, however, and let you cancel Gold charge without cancelling your Gold credit.

      • I cancelled Gold charge card 5 days ago and agent insisted I keep Gold credit card at least until the aniversary: “It’s free until April, you’ll keep rewards points and you can even earn some more”.

        My question is now: Do I count 6 months from the date of Charge card cancellation or Credit card’s? They both were linked to the same Rewards points account.

      • Just over a week ago I cancelled my gold charge card. The CS rep said I would lose my reward points when I asked to cancel. But told her the points were linked to my gold credit card and she told me that was fine. Do I need to get this I writing? Will my gold credit card just be cancelled within 30 days and my points disappear?

        • Just keep an eye on your Gold credit card online – as long as it doesn’t suddenly get marked cancelled you’re fine. You have 30 days to empty your MR account anyway so there is no real risk. Perhaps use the credit card for a purchase so Amex can’t actually close it without telling you as there would be money outstanding?

  2. Had a weird experience recently when cancelling my latest Gold.

    The phone agent (UK) didn’t seem to understand what I wanted, but then told me to cut up the card, and call again after the next statement, so I thought everything was ok. There was no mention of the Gold credit card or anything like that.

    After 1 month, there was no statement or fee refund, so I used the secure message centre (India) who said that it hadn’t been cancelled after all, but they agreed to refund an extra amount roughly equal to the extra month’s fee that I had been charged. In the future I will be cancelling cards by secure message.

    • Whereabouts on the Amex account website is the secure message option?

      • Once into your account scroll to bottom of page. Company Information/Contact us-new page appears showing ’email us securely’ .
        There may be other ways of doing the same.

    • I tried to cancel a card by secure message and got a response saying it wasn’t possible and that I must phone!

      • I’ve cancelled my wife’s card( SPG AMEX), via secure message, on Friday morning. She’s had a response but I haven’t checked it yet:(

    • The_Real_A says:

      Not sure this would work for all, Im sure they would want to put you through retentions process first :)

      • I always sent a letter and received confirmation within a week or so, avoiding those long and unnessary conversations

  3. Are you sure you have to pay the £24 MR fee? I used to have this card and never had to pay it. I know the T&Cs mention the fee for the green charge card, but confusingly this card is actually called The American Express card. I think they used to market the card as The Green Card but without the extended warranty and with the £24 MR fee, which is why that language still exists in the terms. (It has been a few years since I had the card though – I cancelled it when AMEX refused to help with a merchant dispute on the grounds it was a charge card not a credit card!)

    • I have a Green IDC Amex and I do pay an annual fee for MR on that.

      • You definitely don’t pay the MR fee on this card, it’s included in the £60 a year. As Joe said, that fee applies to an older Green card that has a lower annual fee.

  4. FYI just got an email from AMEx for £250 statement credit if spend £3000 (!) online at the Apple Store. I won’t be using it. I don’t have a link just an email.

    • So far it is only by invitation. I received an email for one out of 10 cards.

      Also a Laithwaite’s offer 12 bottles for £60 appeared this morning on my account for 4 out of 10 cards we hold. Not sure the process to use this one- I guess only for specific wines but it is not clear which wines.

      • They seem to have screwed up the ‘redeem this now’ bit, so currently I can’t see the wines. Unlikely to be better value than going in to Laithwaites via BAEC/ Avios.com

        [avios.com

        Save over £50 on selected 12-bottle cases of wine.

        As well as offering you cases of wine reduced from £102.88 to as little as £52.68, we’ll also throw in free delivery and a free bottle of Montecampo Prosecco (normally £10.99). Offer ends 31 December 2015.

        New customers also receive 1,000 Avios. Existing customers receive 250 Avios.]

        • Do you know if Laithwaites (in general) are one of those “mandated / club / recurring subscription” wine sites?

          • Yes, they do operate some clubs, in whole or in part, on this model.

          • Though Laithwaites are actually very nice about the whole cancellation business, actually the gals on the phone are the nicest girls in the world & you will wish one of them is your girlfriend before you cancel your membership.

            They’re gorgeous!

  5. The green card also comes with extended warranty on all purchases – something that the platinum does not, which i discovered to my astonishment the other week when my mac developed a fault just out of warranty (mac was bought in the US so no EU consumer law protection either…)

  6. Sometimes!

  7. Looks like the UK plat may get the Hilton gold card soon.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/american-express-offers-hilton-hhonors-130000741.html

    • Well spotted.

      Unfortunately I vomited all over my nice Nigel Hall sweater when I read ““Our Platinum Card Members count on us to elevate their travel experience from the time they book their trip until they return home,” said Lisa Durocher, senior vice president, Charge and Benefits for American Express”.

    • What's the Point says:

      No mention of free breakfast in this article?
      Is that the next to go for Gold?

  8. OT – Amex offer at net a porter – spend £500, get £150 statement credit….. Could I buy £500 of gift vouchers to use at a later date? would Amex even know I had done this, or just apply the credit to my account?

  9. Roger Wilco says:

    Here the local AMEX changed the terms in a way that I would have ended up paying 100€ MORE than before for the main+partner cards. The only thing between the Gold and Green versions is a PP for the main card holder with 4 free lounge visits. With top tier at all 3 alliances it’s totally useless so it was a no brainer to go for the green card (real retro feeling). On the very rare occasion flying non-alliance airlines, Diners provides free lounge access

  10. talltrader says:

    /!\ Simon, read the terms of the offer (easy to access via Amex app), vouchers are sometimes excluded. They were certainly excluded for the Argos offer I had (£10 off £50+)…

  11. Raffles, I can’t find a general forum to ask my question, so hope it is OK to put it on here?
    I have just been awarded my second year bonus for my Amex Gold. I am a small collector. just for the odd flight to see friends. I am therefore thinking that now is the time to cancel the card for a pro-rata refund of my £125 fee and to reapply in six months from the date of closure. However, I cannot see the option for transferring my points to my Avios household account? Can you confirm that it is possible to do this still and how I should go about the transfer and closure procedure?? I plan to restart using my Lloyds Amex in the meantime whilst the 6 month clock is ticking. Thanks in advance.

    • You can’t transfer Amex point to avios.com, only to British Airways Executive Club. Transfers take a couple of days to go through. You can move them from BAEC to avios.com via the ‘Combine My Avios’ function on either of the websites, instantly and free.

      If you don’t have a BAEC account, you will need to open one before doing the transfer.

      However, it gets worse. Under the ‘Combine My Avios’ rules:

      “Members of a Household Account under the Programmes may not use CMA other than (a) from a British Airways Executive Club Household Account to an individual account under the Avios Programme or the Iberia Plus Programme and (b) from the individual account under the Avios Programme to a Household Account under the British Airways Executive Programme. Any other Household account transaction will not be permitted under CMA.”

      So … you CANNOT move your points from BAEC to an avios.com account if that avios.com account is part of a household account. You would need to break up the avios.com HHA first (paper form online to post in) and then move your points from your ba.com account to your avios.com individual account when it is reopened. You can then reform the avios.com household account if you wish.

      (If you have a BA household account and not an avios.com household account, you are fine as the rules extract above shows.)

      • Many thanks Raffles. I have BA cards sat in the drawer and an executive club account. I transferred points from my BAEC account to Avios before – the call centre operator split my household account for me, made the transfer, and then reformed the household account. I remember him doing this for me a couple of years ago as I was relieved the ‘complicated’ process was completed by him in one go. That said, if things have changed, I am happy to split the household account and leave it in my name now (I only originally combined it to bring some of my wife’s Avios into the one account). Many thanks for the advice – I will transfer to BAEC now, and be back to you in 6 months for another Gold referral ! ! Regards, Stuart.

  12. I also used to have this card and can confirm I was not charged to have MR added when I downgraded a couple of years ago.

    They do charge £24 to add MR to the IDC Green but not the normal £60 one.