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Amex bans Membership Rewards family transfers from March …. so they must be OK now

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The question of whether you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to a friend took another twist this week.  January card statements contain the following text:

Effective 20 March 2014, we will be removing the ability to gift or transfer Membership Rewards points to a Membership Rewards account held by someone else. No other changes are being made to the Membership Rewards programme. You do not need to take any action, as this change will take place automatically.

Here is the story so far:

For many years, you could transfer your Membership Rewards points to another person by paying a £15 fee.  There was even a page on the Amex website promoting this.

In June 2013, Amex suddenly stopped allowing people to do this.  The relevant page on the Amex website disappeared.

In October 2013, I revealed a little ‘twist’ In the terms and conditions of your Amex card, it says specifically that you CAN transfer your Membership Rewards points to someone else if you are closing your account.  As it is in the terms and conditions of the card, they are not allowed to remove this feature without giving formal notification.

Some Head for Points readers tried to get Amex to do a transfer.  Amex tried to wriggle out of it, claiming that the terms and conditions on the Amex website were ‘out of date’ (despite being dated 2013).  One person had to make a formal written complain to Amex before they allowed a transfer.

Amex has now given the required notice period, and will be removing this option as of March 20th.

It is not clear if they will – for this final few weeks – allow anyone to transfer points to another person, or if they will restrict it to people who are closing their accounts.

In any event, for the next few weeks, you can definitely cancel your Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card and transfer the Membership Rewards points to someone else.  There will be a £15 fee.

Hopefully the Amex call centre will now be more amenable, and will no longer give callers the third degree for trying to do this!

If you currently hold a Gold or Platinum card, you may want to have a think about your strategy in light of this development.

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Comments (18)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Buddy says:

    Transfers are definitely ok. We did one at the end of December before canceling one of our cards. Our experience was that it was partly agent dependent. It seemed (my impression) that less experienced agents insisted it was not possible while more seasoned ones arranged it straight away.

  • John Gallagher says:

    I did a transfer upon closing my wife’s account in early January without any problems at all.

    Surely strategy going forward will be to transfer points to your chosen frequent flyer / hotel scheme and then cancel your Amex?

    • Rob says:

      Most people already do that, as Amex has not been playing ball with most people who wanted to transfer.

  • johnjane says:

    When you cancel an Amex, is it OK to simply say that you’ve reached the sign up bonus and are therefore now moving on (churning) to the next deal, or do Amex get a little twitchy about that ?

  • Alex says:

    Hmm. Anyone had any experience transferring their MR points to their spouse’s KrisFlyer (or other FFP) account?

    • Rob says:

      I know you can do Club Carlson and Nectar to a different surname, as I’ve done it.

      The airline schemes are generally stricter. Easiest thing to do is try a dummy transfer of 1000 and see if it goes through.

  • Pat Bucher says:

    Would be interesting to know if anyone was sucessful in doing a gift transfer without closing account recently.

  • Donald says:

    It seems this is another little twist of the knife making life less comfortable than it is for out north american cousins. Not only do they enjoy more points per £ and $ spent, they have no such restrictions on transfers to any third party the reward earner may choose to nominate.

    Some might have thought that Amex would be delighted to provide an encouraging environment for it’s loyal customers. But perhaps not.

  • James67 says:

    I was able to make a transfer into another persons account this morning. No problems from the agen at all but she did advise me the feature was ending soon. When I enquired why I was informed it was because amex were tired of people making heavy use of the facility to take advantage of special promotions as opposed to simply enabling somebody to make regular transfers. Reading between the lines I wonder if this means we will not see any good promotions from amex until the ability to transfer to another ends.

  • Corrine says:

    Sorry I’m sure this has been asked and answered somewhere before! but does anyone know how long a MR – Avios transfer takes ?? My Virgin transfer was instant and MR – Avios says upto 5 days 🙁 ….will it be this long ??? thanks

    • Rob says:

      Virgin is one of only a handful that is instant. (Delta, Emirates + ?)

      Your FIRST BA transfer will take around 5 days if you have not already linked the accounts. Subsequent transfers (or your first transfer, if you linked the accounts earlier) will only be a couple of days.

      • Corrine says:

        I previously linked the accounts (a few months ago) but this is the first transfer, fingers crossed the flights I want are still available when the points arrive !

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