Can you transfer Amex Membership Rewards to someone when you cancel? Er, ‘Yes’.

Until early 2013, American Express allowed you to transfer your Membership Rewards points to someone else, at any time, for a £15 fee.  This option no longer exists.

However ….

The terms and conditions of the Gold and Platinum cards (PDF) explicitly allow you to transfer your points to another person when you close your account.

Here is the wording:

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). If you do not transfer or redeem your Points within 30 days, they will be forfeited.

Before I carry on, let me give you the back story to this article.

Amex Gold 350

Whilst this clause exists in the Terms & Conditions for the Gold and Platinum cards, I think it is not meant to be there.

My understanding is that Amex intended to remove this feature when they stopped allowing transfers of any kind back in 2013.  Every so often, a Head for Points readers tries to get American Express to move their Membership Rewards points to someone else when closing the card.

The agent usually refuses.  When escalated to a supervisor, the supervisor also refuses.  In the past, some readers have had to make a complaint to FOS, the Ombudsman service, to make American Express stick to their own published terms and conditions – conditions which are still on their website, remember.  If you go to FOS – and the instructions are also in the terms and conditions – it will get done.

I first wrote about this back in October 2013.  Amazingly, for the last 40 months, Amex has not changed their Terms & Conditions to remove this clause, even though they were updated in December 2014.

Amex has continued to refuse to transfer Membership Rewards points when you request it upon card closure, obliging you to make a formal complaint.  However, there may be some movement on this issue.

A reader recently had the same debate with American Express that I outlined above:

he asked the agent to transfer his points (he was closing his card) to his wife – refused

he escalated to a supervisor – refused

he made a formal complaint to Amex (it was never escalated to FOS) – success

What is more interesting, though, is what he was told told.  Whilst a manager told the reader that it WAS a mistake to leave this in T&C’s originally, Amex had decided at some point to leave it in.  They forgot, however, to tell the call centre which is why agents refused to do transfers.  He was then told that all call centre agents were being sent a memo to remind them that MR points CAN be transferred to a third party (not necessarily at the same address) on closure.

In general, I have always said on HFP that you must empty your Membership Rewards account when you close your card.  This was the best course of action.  It simply wasn’t worth, in my view, going down the road of pushing it with Amex, wrecking your reputation with them and then escalating it with the Ombudsman.  Life was too short.  If agents genuinely have been a sent a memo telling them to allow transfers on closure without a fight, however, I will change my advice.

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Comments

  1. Rolfe says:

    “It simply wasn’t worth, in my view, going down the road of pushing it with Amex, wrecking your reputation with them”. Often wondered whether doing something like this would have any effect on your reputation with someone like Amex – does anyone have any evidence/experience one way or the other?

    • Lewis Watson says:

      Wouldn’t think Amex care about your reputation as long you pay your bills they will be happy.

      • Mr Dee says:

        They do care an have internal scoring systems to determine profitable customers, those that file complaints are likely to be flagged on their internal system for future cards.

        • Do just CC companies have an internal scoring system for file complaints etc or also Hotel, Airline companies?

        • RIcatti says:

          While AMEX is a business and aims to make a profit, scoring against people who exercised legislated rights can get amex in so much trouble — there is a full computerised record of what was done.

          There is cost but the company would be worse off from shutting down the negative feedback loop.

  2. Alastair Harries says:

    Not wanting to burst the bubble but … About 2-3 weeks ago I received an updated set of T&Cs and I checked the relevant section as I had read the old article about this. They have now removed the wording allowing you to transfer points on closure. I think the change happens from early May IIRC. I checked because I am about to close having referred my wife for her own card and got the 9000 + 22000 bonuses, so will close for six months and reopen etc. I can’t check the exact terms right now as we are both at Gatwick about to travel Virgin UC to St Lucia using virgin points partly derived from Amex transfers.

    I may well try to transfer my remaining MR points to her account before I close mine and before early May. I then need to decide what the long term strategy is. Does anyone know if she can transfer he MRpoints to my Virgin account in any way? As we live in York I tend to collect Virgin rather than Avios as BA doesn’t really work for us being so far from Heathrow, and prefer Virgin UC to Club World anyway. Or is there an effective way of sharing Avios between family members? Is there a family account of any sort?

    • Nate1309 says:

      You can link BAEC accounts into a household account. All parties in the account can then use the total balance.

      • Dave R says:

        You lose flexibility though, only thrn able to book flights for people in you HH account.

        Also, many people redeem Amex MR points for schemes other than avios.

        • Genghis says:

          You can also book flights for those in your friends and family list. Ie. Anyone.

        • I personally find the best solution to have a household BA account and regular avios account. Use BA to pool points, use avios account to book for anyone who’s outside of household account (though in reality I don’t do a lot of this).

    • Genghis says:

      Do a 1k test transfer to your Virgin. Such transfers have been known to go through

    • The T&C’s on the website are the ones I would stick with.

      • RussellH says:

        That makes complete sense.

        I just got a mailshot from Amex Gold reminding me of all the benefits, with the back page listing the Ts+Cs. However, buried in this small print is the line “See website for full Ts+Cs”.

    • Rolfe says:

      Alistair, both Avios and BA have household account options, but Avios is the only method that you can use to actually move points from one persons to another…in a roundabout way!I The BA HH account just allows you to pool them between you. I used the Avios method recently and effectively transferred 63k from one account to another, and was surprised at how quick and easy it was. See Rob’s previous post about it here – it basically involves setting up a household account for a few weeks and then closing it and asking them to distribute the points to the individuals in the way you want http://www.headforpoints.com/2014/04/15/how-to-transfer-avios-to-someone-else-free/
      Setting up the account can be done online, and when you want to close the household account you need to use the form which you can download at https://www.avios.com/pdf/removeorclose.pdf This can be emailed to help@avios.com I got a email back within 4 hours confirming it had been closed and the points shared out as I had asked.

  3. Wierdly I’ve got this issue this week! New to Amex gold I didn’t know that you can only transfer in multiples of 500 to baec.

    So am I right in thinking if you say had 55499 you could only transfer 5500 and the 499 would have been lost on closure? I have just this issue so when I’ve received my bonus 10k MR I’m going to cancel in the next week or so.

    However I did ring amex the other night about my lounge club card as I completely forgot it’s two complimentary passes every membership year. So as I’m just waiting for my bonus 10k to post I ring and said I assume I’ll get my passes added on. I was told it goes on renewal of the lunge club activation date not the Amex activation date which are usually around the same date (mine was a day different). Anyway worth remembering if you’re just holding until you get your bonus 10k you get a further two passes. Great timing for me as I’m off to the Geneva motor show with a friend!!

    • I’m in that position, just going to make a few purchases to round it up to the nearest 500, then transfer them.

      • Jonathan says:

        You certainly used to be able to do a nectar point transfer for the final residual sum so you don’t lose it

        • Charlie Whiskey says:

          You still can transfer any leftover MR Points to Nectar – just done it.

          The joy of being able to transfer points on cancellation to your spouse/partner on closure (perhaps because you want to recover your own subscription fee / avoid paying the Gold fee in the second year) is that you still have time to decide where you want to use them: you are not forced into choosing, say, Avios on closure when a few weeks later you may wish you had moved them to Virgin

          • the real harry1 says:

            and it’s very easy to make a purchase to get you exactly on or just over the 500 increment, particularly as most of us can pay council tax or utility bills with Amex (through Paypoint if necessary)

          • Roger says:

            Wish that was possible for me. My council is Post office and Payzone + Online of course.
            It is difficult to make use of Amex for any of these options for CT for me.
            I can of course get free MBNA VA card for 10000 VS miles, but cannot see good use of this.
            I would much rather have liked to use PRGC for Mrs Roger to pay off council tax but does not seem it is possible to exploit that route.

          • Remember you can still save 3% on your council tax via RBS/NatWest rewards account at £3/month – if you don’t rely on your CT spend to hit a sign-up target then potentially better return this way 😉

          • Michael says:

            When I closed my Amex Gold account the agent proactively offered to top up my MR balance to the nearest 500 to allow a transfer to Virgin as they saw I had transferred to them before.

    • Last time i cancelled my amex gold i had rpughly 38k MR points (not exact). The agent kindly rounded up to 40k before transferring across, without me asking or prompting… so im sure they will rpund up to 55k for you

      • Sundar says:

        +1
        Yes, if you get a good agent, they round it up to possible transfer amount as Goodwill gesture and will transfer it.

        • I closed mine yesterday with just over 400 points left on my account. The agent told me the minimum I could transfer to BAEC was 1000, so kindly topped me up to that level ‘as a thank you for taking good care of the account’ before making the transfer.

    • I top up my Amazon account with odd pounds to round off any spend – remember when you cancel your cards you lose the lounge club pass access as they are only valid when the Amex card is active.

    • AndyR says:

      I think Hilton is 200 point minimum, Club Carlson is 3 and Nectar is 1 so you could put the remaining balance in those.

  4. In addition to the above my MR account now says this

    PRG MR Message Bonus – 12 months + 10 grace days statement

    Any ideas what this means anyone?

  5. AndyR says:

    My partner and I have transferred points to each other in the past without making any complaints. They usually say it’s not allowed but then we just refer them to the T&C’s and they then agree.

    • AndyR says:

      We ended up transferring them all to Avios so it was all a bit pointless :-).

  6. mark2 says:

    On the subject of cancelling Amex cards:
    How do people deal with the refund of part of annual fee?
    Do you make sure that you owe more than your estimate of the refund and then pay the balance?

    • Just ask to cancel and then a few days later your account will show a -£X figure. At that point, you can offset against another Amex card where you owe them money or ask for a cheque in the post.

      • Can I ask the refund is credited against my wife’s gold card (I’m a supplementary card holder) balance?

    • Genghis says:

      I try to make it so I owe them money. However, mucked up the calcs on my last one so they owed me. When called up again day after cancellation they said they had a system change and so couldn’t do a bank transfer. That was almost 10 days ago and still waiting for my cheque.

    • i am due a partial refund from amex. they asked for my bank details and said they will transfer the money to my bank account

    • Nate1309 says:

      I normally end on a -£x and get it moved to the next active card on my account.

  7. Roger says:

    Although I never needed to do this, but I thought this was always possible, as per FAQs
    Go here
    https://travel.americanexpress.co.uk/service/static_page.cfm?PAGE=faq

    Can I combine both my partner’s points with mine to book travel?
    You must combine your points prior to booking. This is done by pooling your points with your partner/friend through our “gifting” facility – it costs £15 per transaction but there is no limit to the number of points you can “gift”. Call the Membership Rewards team to find out more.

    So if you have large chunk of points to transfer paying £15 is not a big deal if you want to consolidate points in one account.

    • Roger says:

      I am assuming that once on pretext of combining MR points to book travel you can always divert it to wherever you would send the points too. Amex is not going to be fussy about it, or will they?

    • But that is the ‘gifting’ facility closed in 2013!

  8. squall says:

    I’ve closed my account in October last year and requested to transfer the remaining points to my wife’s account without even realising it wasn’t potentially allowed – points were transferred straight away without any problems (exact wording from the online customer service was something like “of course we can arrange to transfer your points to your wife’s account”). The amount of points wasn’t huge though, around 11k leftover from redemptions, so perhaps they only refuse to transfer large balances rather than a few genuinely unused points?

  9. How long does it take for the bonus 10k to show on the account? One agent said 7 days the other said 28 days then also said if I get the 10k bonus then cancel the card as quick as sat a couple of days after the bonus points then they will take the 10k points back off me!!! Really?!

  10. Both our avios accounts have been disabled.

    Just us or more people affected?

    • Andrew* says:

      +1. Problems seem to start yesterday morning.

    • Scallder says:

      Accounts seem to be ok however combine my Avios seems to not be working for me. Tried moving avios.com to BAEC but on both accounts I got the same error message asking me to log in again

  11. James1234 says:

    Is there a website that will tell me how many miles and charges I need for each airline for say a business class redemption to Dubai, curious which airline needs the least Amex points before I cancel my card.

  12. Mud Island Mlungu says:

    OT – is BA going to be doing any December flight specials to sunnier climes. LHR – SA is still floating around the £1.5-£1-7k each return. Nearly 3 times the prices at this time last year.

  13. Pablo says:

    Looks like the memo must have been sent. Tried this today on my Platinum card and no questions asked whatsoever just a quick whats the name and card number you want to transfer to.

    I was even asked to return at any point after 6 months to be eligible for bonus points!

  14. Tried to transfer points to another MR and said no after long check (presumably with manager/colleague). Rang again and explained want to cancel the account and transfer points – said yes straight away – he said you can transfer if cancelling the card.

    Result!

  15. No – it’s either/or. Rather than paying you the cash from a referral they’re converting it into Avios.