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“AmEx Seeks to Weed Out Credit-Card Churners Chasing Rewards”

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News in brief:

“AmEx Seeks to Weed Out Credit-Card Churners Chasing Rewards”

Bloomberg ran this headline last week.  The good news is that it focuses on the US market and not the UK market although presumably the sentiment is a global one.

The odd thing, though, is that American Express in the US has ALREADY done this and I’m not sure what else they can do.  In the US, sign-up bonuses on American Express cards are now strictly enforced as one bonus per card per lifetime.  And they stick to it.

Which means that phrases like this:

An increase in incentive bonuses has boosted so-called gaming by credit-card applicants looking for a quick reward, Doug Buckminster, president of global consumer services, said Wednesday at the firm’s investor day in New York. AmEx is using analytics to identify and “suppress” gamers, while creating offers that incentivize long-term loyalty, the company said.

… don’t really make sense.  The only thing Amex can do to encourage “the right sort of customer” is to cut sign-up bonuses, and it can’t do this because it is being trounced by the Chase Sapphire Reserve product in the market for premium customers.

“The right sort of customer”, of course, is someone who doesn’t care or realise that they aren’t getting decent value for the membership fee they are paying.  Increasing the membership fee for Amex Platinum in the US to $550 from $450 – and offsetting this with some Uber credit – is apparently the way to go.

This is the reality for American Express, of course:

American Express was battered last year after parting ways with its biggest co-brand partner, Costco Wholesale Corp., which accounted for 10 percent of AmEx cards in circulation. The lender also broke ties with Fidelity Investments. The firm trades for less than its 2014 closing price and slipped 0.7 percent to $79.04 Wednesday in New York.

There is still no word on whether Marriott will break the long-standing deal between Amex and Starwood following its takeover .  Back when I started in this hobby, the US version of the Starwood Amex was THE best card to hold and there must be a lot of high spending legacy customers at risk.

Marriott MasterCard

Is the Marriott Rewards Mastercard returning soon?

The Marriott Rewards Mastercard, issued by Creation, has been unavailable to new applicants for over a year.

This is believed to be because Marriott does not have an FCA credit broking licence.  You can check this on the FCA website.  Ironically, I have a licence – Marriott didn’t need to withdraw the card, they could have let me be the exclusive promoter in the UK instead.

A reader pointed out that the website saying that you can’t apply has been changed.  The card which you can’t get now has a new design, see above.

As it would be a bit odd to redesign a card which is unavailable – although obviously they are replacing existing cards as they reach expiry – this offers a glimmer of hope that the card may reappear at some point.  Note that there isn’t a ‘contactless’ logo there, which is my main problem with the current Marriott card and the main reason I have it linked to my contactless Curve Card.

It isn’t the most generous card in the world at 1 Marriott Rewards point per £1 but it is free to apply, it gets you Marriott Rewards Silver status and you get an ANNUAL loyalty bonus of 2,000 points just for keeping it.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (87)

  • Steve says:

    I’m thinking of getting a amex platinum card.
    But have some questions.

    Do you pay the 450 fee monthly or annualy

    Took out a gold card in dec 2016 would I still get the platinum 30k bonus or will I have to wait till June.

    Thinking of getting this card for hotel staus like gold with hilton etc. Does this work well

    • the real harry1 says:

      you pay it daily but it gets billed monthly

    • avidsaver says:

      You pay the £450 annually. You won’t get the 30,000 bonus while you have a current MR points earning card (Gold Card). You would need to cancel the Gold Card, wait six months and then apply for the Platinum Card.

    • Genghis says:

      £450 paid usually at end of month 1. To be certain of receiving a bonus, wait till June. Hotel statuses earned are great. Hilton Gold = free breakfast. The statuses remain a benefit even after card cancellation.

    • laineyling says:

      My husband applied for the card and it was very easy to get the hotel status (amex sort it for you). I think it took us 3 weeks from application to getting hilton gold (useful as I had a 2 wk work trip and staying in hilton in NY. If you get recommended by existing client you get a higher sign up of 35k (you can ask rob or I can do it, if you have a friend with plat they can do it and get referral bonus).

  • Ian says:

    Even if they relaunch the Marriott card, at 1 point per pound I very much doubt I would bother.

    If there was a premium card with an annual fee, 2 points per pound, a reasonable sign up bonus and a free night certificate if you spend over a certain amount a year then I’d be far more interested 😀

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Since it’s now agreed 1 point is worth 1/3 an SPG point the earning rate on the Marriott card is very poor compared to the AMEX.

  • David says:

    sorry slightly OT about IHG credit card targeted sign up offer.

    Never held any IHG card before and heard about the targeted sign up offer. However, checked my app and it is not there, so called IHG customer service and was then transferred to Creation CS. Trying my luck and ask if I can benefit from the offer, was declined. They insisted I have to fall into their ‘ selection criteria’ to benefit that. Well I guess, I at least tried.

    • Gareth says:

      In relation to IHG offer, i already have the black card and may aswell get the free white card for 20k points… i been offered via the messages section on app but cant find where this is on IHG website, any ideas anyone? i have in middle once logged on a my messages section but its not clickable, perhaps work laptop at fault.

      • Roger says:

        Was there last night on my App but once I clicked on the message it disappeared from my app .

      • Roger says:

        IHG is an interesting card.
        For 20K bonus on free card one only needs to spend £200.
        If you have Curve just get the card, link to curve card and use it to withdraw £200 from an ATM and get your 20k IHG point.

        Super Result in Miles and Points game!!

        • Gareth says:

          If anyone looking to try, applied for white card today approved immediately used same email address as registered to black card everything seams ok….

          • Alan says:

            Nice one, hopefully my one from yesterday will go through fine too!

          • EwanG says:

            Likewise I have the IHG Premium card from Creation and applied for the white card from Creation today. I was surprised to be accepted – especially as I was accepted for the white Virgin cards yesterday.

            I have never had the Barclaycard version of the IHG card however I did receive a postal mail shot today informing me how I can continue to earn points after the withdrawal of the old card. It invited me to apply for the new card on which takes you to the Creation signup page someone posted here yesterday.

            Am somewhat surprised by the ease of getting credit….

          • Roger says:

            I applied too. Already have black card so additional 20000 points for £200 spend is no brainier.

  • Cuchlainn says:

    Waited 6 months and 1 day before reapplying for BAPP Amex ( referral from SWMBO, sorry Rob ) – acknowledged within 3 hrs, email re acceptance 3 days letter, new physical cards on day 5 post application and Missus 9,000 referral Avios in her BAPP Amex a/c 1 day later – fantastic service, as noted in follow up Amex survey email submission !!

  • Cate says:

    To be fair the plan behind giving points was to create loyalty from customers bringing in revenue. Now there’s a whole industry of people collecting points with the sole intent to cut back on that revenue. No names!


    • Rob says:

      …. and a whole industry of companies who run their loyalty programmes as a profit centre rather than a means of driving loyalty. Avios Group Ltd made roughly £135 million profit in 2015.

  • RussellH says:

    Encouraging, even passively, churning seems crazy to me from a business point of view. When I had my business, it was the regular customers who paid the bills, while the occasional and one-off customers were the icing on the cake. Without the regulars I would never have been able to keep going.

    But, of course, the insurers have been actively discouraging regular customers for years, for some reason.

    Actually, I think Creation are going about it the right way with their Marriott card by giving an annual bonus. It would surely be better for them to increase the bonus each year to help keep cardholders. I have held the Marriott card since 2012. 10 000 points for the initial signup and £200 spend, then 2000 points a year – that will be a further 10 000 points by next week.

    However, I do not use the card as much as I could, partly because there just are not that many Marriotts where I might use them, partly because of Creation’s policy of ignoring all pence in the their points calculations.

    My credit limit on the card is £4 000, so an annual spend target of, say, £1 000 or £1 500 coupled with an increasing annual bonus, say 2 000 points after year 1, 2 500 points after year 2, 3 000 points after year 3 would surely be the way to keep at least some cardholders loyal.

    It seems completely bonkers to issue extra loyalty points by discouraging card loyalty!

    • Mr Dee says:

      Insurers would often issue renewal quotes for polices that were higher than you could get a new quote for, more to try and get the extra money rather than getting rid of the customer. It is a lot cheaper to keep a customer rather than get a new one which some big firms now focus on to keep their customers loyal.

  • roger says:

    OT- Amex SPG Card + SPG Transfer

    1. Can I safely close my SPG account before first statement is generated? The points have shown up yesterday in my SPG Account.
    2. For SPG transfer to family member, I have a new account to which I want to transfer points to but I am few (3 or 4) days short of 30 days period with same household address. Is it safe to initiate transfer or must I wait for full 30 days before transferring?

    • Rob says:

      1. Yes
      2. I’d wait, because it will take a few days for them to reject it (if they are going to reject it) and you’ll end up taking longer than if you’d just sat out the extra 3-4 days

    • whiskerxx says:

      I have previously been asked to send proof of address when trying to transfer in less than 30 days. You might as well just wait an save the hassle.

  • James123 says:


    Can my Dad (who is a gold card holder) use the pay 2x avios for any flight availability option open to gold card holders to buy a ticket for me, or does he have to travel on the flight as well?

    • Nate1309 says:

      I’m fairly certain he can book you a flight. If he is part of a household account however I think you have to either be part of that or on his friends and family list. If he isn’t part of a household account I think there are no problems at all. I have never done this myself as I’m not BA Gold, but IIRC someone asked a similar question last week.

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