One of the downsides of cancelling an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum charge card is that you are required to empty out your Membership Rewards points account. If you don’t, your points will be lost.
However ….. is there a free way to keep your Membership Rewards points alive when cancelling an American Express Gold or Platinum card?
Yes. (OK, you probably guessed I was going to say that!)
This article was updated on 2nd November 2020, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.
You shouldn’t transfer Membership Rewards points until you are about to book
Having to close your Membership Rewards points account can lead to a dilemma over when to cancel your Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card.
You will be paying £11.66 per month after the free first year to keep an Amex Gold active and £48 for The Platinum Card. However, this allows you to keep your Membership Rewards points where they are. If you are forced to transfer them because you close the account, you may regret it later.
Because American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to many different airline and hotel partners, they are more valuable than airline or hotel points. You shouldn’t convert them until you need them.
Can you keep your Membership Rewards points when cancelling an American Express card?
Since late 2017, there has been a solution that:
lets you keep your Membership Rewards points account open, and
allows you to stop paying an annual fee for either the Gold or Platinum charge card
This card is the answer:
You can apply for the little-known American Express Rewards Credit Card. Full details are on the American Express here.
This card has NO ANNUAL FEE and lets you collect Membership Rewards points.
For simplicity, I will occasionally refer to this card as ARCC as ‘American Express Rewards Credit Card’ is a bit of a mouthful.
What is the American Express Rewards Credit Card?
ARCC is a standard Amex-branded credit card. Here are the headline details and legally required interest rate information:
Sign-up bonus and earnings rate:
- Get 5,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 within 90 days
- Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent
- Points transfer at 1:1 into Avios, Virgin and other airline schemes
- Your best choice if you want a ‘free for life’ card which earns Membership Rewards points
- A good choice if you want to close a Gold or Platinum card but keep your points intact
- Annual fee: Free
Representative 22.2% APR variable
You will receive 5,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Rewards card if you spend £2,000 within 90 days of signing up.
Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible. You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.
To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.
You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.
You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.
For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Rewards card even if you do not qualify for the bonus. You may want to do this if you are thinking of swapping your Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card for a free alternative, and would prefer to keep your existing Membership Rewards points balance alive.
American Express Rewards is the only ‘free for life’ American Express card which lets you collect Membership Rewards points.
We do NOT recommend this card if you would also qualify for the sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. The Gold card is free for the first year, comes with two free airport lounge passes and has a higher sign-up bonus of 10,000 points.
The best reason to get American Express Rewards is if you are coming to the end of your free first year with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, or no longer want to pay the fee on The Platinum Card, but want to keep your Membership Rewards points intact.
It has no annual fee and no substantial benefits, except for the ability to collect Membership Rewards points at 1 point per £1 spent.
It is unlikely that many Head for Points readers will qualify for the 5,000 points sign-up bonus because you cannot have held any Membership Rewards cards in the previous 24 months. That will exclude anyone who has, or has recently had, a Gold or Platinum Amex card.
Don’t worry about that. You may still want to get this card even though you won’t get a bonus.
Get the ARCC card if you are planning to cancel Amex Gold or Platinum
If you currently have an Amex Green, Gold or Platinum card and want to cancel it but do not want to cash in your Membership Rewards points, this card is your answer.
The only ‘snag’ is that you will not have reset the 24 month clock on being able to reapply for a new Gold or Platinum card and receive another sign-up bonus. In order to do that you need to close down your Membership Rewards account entirely.
For a lot of people, though, being able to keep your existing Membership Rewards balance alive will be more important.
You can apply for the FREE American Express Rewards Credit Card here.
(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.)
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.