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.
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
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.
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