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Bits: change coming to Amex sign-up bonuses?, change already here at Tesco Clubcard

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News in brief:

Changes may be coming to Amex’s sign-up bonus criteria

Two readers have contacted me in recent days to say that they have been told by the American Express call centre that imminent changes are coming to the way sign-up bonuses are earned.

The two stories are contradictory.  It doesn’t really matter which is correct, however, as the end result in both scenarios is worse than the current requirement to leave a six month gap between cancellation and re-application.

All I would suggest is:

If you are planning to cancel a card this month with a view to reapplying later, you may want to hold off.  There may be no point in cancelling if you do actually want to keep the card long term.

If you are planning to re-apply for an Amex card which you have had in recent past, you may wish to re-apply sooner rather than later.  You may not be eligible to receive another bonus if the rules change.

Let me stress that this is all speculation and that nothing has been officially announced.

My review of the key Amex travel cards are here:  American Express Preferred Rewards GoldAmerican Express PlatinumAmerican Express RewardsBritish Airways American Express (BA Amex)British Airways Premium Plus American Express (BAPP Amex)Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Amex)

Application links are here:   American Express Preferred Rewards GoldAmerican Express PlatinumAmerican Express Rewards (representative APR 22.9% variable), British Airways American Express (BA Amex) (representative APR 22.9% variable), British Airways Premium Plus American Express (BAPP Amex) (representative APR 76.0% variable), Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Amex) (representative APR 39.7% variable)

Separately, a third reader was warned by the Amex call centre that the free British Airways Premium Plus card currently given to long-standing American Express Platinum cardholders is being withdrawn.  This feature was stopped for new Platinum cardholders a few years ago but many readers – including myself – still benefit from it to the tune of a £195 annual saving.  I should note that I only have one data point on this and Amex call centre gossip can often get confused as it passes down the line.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

…. and changes have already come to Tesco Clubcard

Tesco announced a pile of changes to the Clubcard scheme yesterdayWe have covered these in detail on Shopper Points today – click here.  We covered them for The Guardian as well – see here.

In general, the changes are bad.  Some little-used ‘two times’ deals will now give 3x face value, but a lot more deals which used to give 4x face value are dropping to 3x.  This mainly impacts restaurant and days out vouchers.

From a travel perspective, it is actually positive to neutral:

National Express, Megabus and redspottedhanky.com (train tickets) credit now gets you 3x the face value of your Clubcard vouchers, up from 2x

There is no change to the Avios or Virgin Flying Club conversion rates 

You have also gained Uber and hotels.com as new 3x face value redemption partners this year.  Uber is now my preferred redemption as we use it heavily and it is a genuine ‘3x’ value.  If I took Avios instead I would be giving up £3 of Uber for every 240 Avios I earned which means I would be ‘paying’ 1.25p per Avios – and I don’t value them at that.

To do this without ANY notice at all stinks, however.  It particularly stinks that we are just 9 days from the end of the current Clubcard collection quarter.  People have 10 weeks of points locked up inside Clubcard which cannot now be spent at the old 4x redemption rate.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Still want to know how the card companies will handle “you can’t have the same bonus again” once the “right to be forgotten” data protection legislation kicks in May.

    I am hoping that, after cancelling a card I’ll be able to exercise my right to have all their data on me deleted, which will make me a new customer as far as their system is concerned. (I know it will not be this simple but it does raise questions for card companies and the credit reference agencies.)

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      They can just ask you the question during the application process. Obtaining money by deception is fraud. Not sure I’d like to rely on the defense that MR points are not money.

      • RIccatti says:

        The fact that MR or any points are not redeemable for fiat money is written in T&Cs of each scheme. Otherwise, one will have tax liability.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Might be an angle there if you cancel your entire relationship (I expect issuers will retain information on closed accounts for fraud prevention, but purpose limitation prevents them from using that data for commercial purposes), but I would expect you to struggle to exercise that right if you still hold other cards – as you might do with Amex. They could reasonably argue that they need to hold a full recent picture of you in performance of your current contract; which would not require your consent.

    • Right to be forgotten is superseded by laws regarding the storage of financial transactions IIRC, so sadly this won’t work.

      • Grammar pedantry: I think the correct word is (or used to be!) “trumped”!

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Disagree, they’ll have the data but I don’t think they would have grounds to process it for commercial purposes.

    • Yes, but businesses also have the right to protect themselves against fraud, and they will pull off that excuse and won’t forget everything they know about your Membership Rewards account.

    • You may gain the right to be forgotten but they already have the right not to issue you with a card unless you let them remember you.

      It’s the same thing with this “open banking” nonsense. Eventually financial institutions will require that you share all your transaction data with them or else you won’t get the best interest/mortgage/loan rates or even credit cards, but they will still comply with regulations or whatever by offering a basic non-useful product which doesn’t require sharing data.

      • the_real_a says:

        I see where you are going and agree to an extent, but there isn’t a central database. You will provide a login for each financial institution, so you can choose to be selective.

  2. Was going to cancel both gold and BAPP cards at the end of the month. So I shouldn’t now? As a newbie to this hobby (only 7 months in) this is a bit disappointing if I can’t play the card churning game. Was relying on being to apply again in August with husband’s referrals.

    • You really ought to upgrade your gold to plat then refer your OH for a card he doesn’t have. You will getn20k for a 1k spend in 1 month..You will also get 18k if you refer someone too. Always be earning towards a bonus.
      So keep going, nothing has changed…

      • He already has the gold and BAPP cards. Working towards our second 241 companion voucher on the BAPP at the moment so I’m doing all my spending on the supplementary card on his account.

        The plat charge card is expensive and for someone like me on an average London salary it’s a lot when we’re also holding 2 x BAPP card accounts too although i really need to downgrade/close mine and get the pro rata refund. Was going to do it this weekend to start the 6 month wait to reapply but now wondering based on this article if i should hold off.

        Majority of my points come from sign up bonuses as I don’t travel abroad for work, only up and down the country and around London on public transport.

  3. So I know we don’t know what will happen, but what are the rumours?

  4. Urgh, I applied to upgrade my gold to platinum but no instant decision (seems I always get this but my partner with 1/4 of the income usually gets instant acceptance). Strange. She needs referring back to gold at the end of the month so hopefully the 6 month rule won’t change until February…!

  5. Anthony says:

    Can a Amex Gold business card holder refer someone for the normal Gold card?

  6. The streets says:

    I received a new AMEX platinum at the weekend – just over six months since cancelling the previous one. however, after activating the card, it is not showing my welcome sign up bonus on my account page (or anywhere else). luckily i found my previous cancellation letter and spoke to AMEX. they said that i was entitled to the bonus but would take some time to appear on my account page…. i really hope this is not the end of repeat sign up bonuses !

  7. Rob, you don’t actually say what the two people told you! (Though I know there was a comment mentioning changes to the 6 month rule a few days ago).

    No more sign up bonuses would leave me with a measly 40k or so avios per year from card spend so I desperately hope the end of churning is not nigh, however if it did happen I would think that Amex are going to lose an awful lot of customers.

    • Couldn’t agree more, right now I’m start/mid 6 month break with both me and my Mrs now not eligible for any bonuses so this change would hit me badly and would mean a real Avios re-think

    • Genghis says:

      Do Amex really want customers like me who they make no money from? I doubt it. My best guess is that the vast majority of people would be unaffected by any changes.

      • Exactly; they lose money on me too. This is exactly what I would o if I were a senior manager at American Express.

    • Best case scenario is that it’s all rumour. If it’s true, a good result would be retaining current system but extending reapplication period. Worst case scenario would be one bonus per card per custoner ever. Whatever, I cannot see them scrapping bonuses because they need them to drive applications as I suspect most people still see amex as some type of niche card compared to mastercard or visa.

      Also, don’t forget that amex has a much simpler tool at it’s dusposal to deal with the likes of me and other serial churners here who are just costing them money.

    • Why would amex lose customers? Even with no churning their ongoing earning rates beat everything else so there’d be no reason for anyone to close accounts.

  8. When cancelling the free BA card, do I need to wait 6months to apply for BAPP to get the signup bonus?

  9. Just got my Hilton Honours Gold via my amex platinum…. And about to book Hilton Sa Torre in Mallorca on Rob;’s recco….. Is it right that you dont get the Hilton Gold benefits (ie free breakfast) if I book via a travel agent. Amex Travel are coming in much cheaper (c 25%), and the hotel direct will not match it….

    • As a diamond I found this hotel very unwilling to provide any HH benefits (no upgrades, no late check out, weeks to post points which were wrong) – aside from breakfast which to be fair was good aside from lack of and variable quality of staff. In fact I’ve never experienced ruder staff in any hotel from front desk through to one particular waiter and junior management. Very clear indication that they Don’t buy into Hilton Honors. I’ve never got over it! Miles from anywhere too.

      • Thanks Leo. Was going to book 5 nights here then move to Jumeirah Port Soller for another 5 nights. Have hired a car too… Seems such a shame that Mallorca in general has no decent hotels for family holidays besides the 2000Euro a night places…..

        • Smart thing to do is buy Hyatt points in a promo and then book the Park Hyatt – cuts a huge amount off the cost.

          Fine Hotels and Resorts will earn Hilton credit, Amex Travel probably won’t. Losing free brekky is expensive at Sa Torre and you are miles from any alternative, Upgrades in peak season are unlikely unless you are on a very short stay.

      • Thanks Rob. Amex is £340 a night for a family suite with brekky, which seems a steal for August. Struggling with other alternatives in Mallorca

        • That’s not bad, as long as it is clearly the same level of room as shown on the Hilton site. It is a decent hotel, I would go back (and we paid cash, it wasn’t points). Worth trying Hilton BRG though just in case as long as Amex Travel accept all credit cards. If they only take Amex the BRG is rejected as it is a ‘membership’ site.

        • We’ll have to keep agreeing to disagree on this one Rob. Worst experience I’ve had in a hotel in the Med. I was paying cash and it was mid September so no excuse for any of it! Far better hotels on the island but I appreciate August is crazy price-wise.

    • If the room and cancellation conditions etc are exactly the same you could book direct and claim under their BRG. They will match the rate and give a further 25% discount if successful.

      • Looked at doing this last year at the Waldorf in Dubai. They get round it so easily by claiming the room/package/conditions are very slightly different…..

      • Good luck with that!! BRG is, with most chains, just a con. They generally find some way to get around it, even if it’s only waiting until prices change before processing the claim. Unless one is happy to pay the more expensive rate and sees the potential discount simply as a bonus, it’s not worth going down that route.

        • You will find that one has a 2pm check in and one has a 3pm check in, or one has a ‘windmill view’ and one has a ‘tall tower with blades on it that go round’ view which they will claim is different.

        • I’ve done BRG with Hilton 4 or 5 times and all got approved very quickly without a hassle.

  10. Will suck if there’s no churning at 6 months. I’m currently in the waiting period for both a PRG for my wife, and a BAPP for me.

    Was wanting the BAPP in about May or June so I could pay my large BA holiday balance with it for many bonus Avios, as well as instantly hitting the spend target.

    Please don’t spoil my plans, Amex!

  11. I agree the Tesco approach to these changes stink. They tend to hurt people on low incomes most, many save their vouchers for a long time for days out to give their kids a treat. It was the same with double up in store,, people saved for most of the year with intention of buying toys for Christmas only for the double up to be scrapped, halving their spending power.

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