Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.

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

Comments (54)

  • Nick says:

    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?!

  • Ian says:

    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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Raj says:

    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!