American Express ending Membership Rewards points advance option as of June 30, 2013

One useful benefit of Membership Rewards branded credit cards is that it’s possible to get a points advance. Through a points advance you can borrow between 5,000 and 60,000 Membership Rewards points (depending on the type of card you have), under the condition that they’re earned back within a year. If they aren’t earned back in that period you have to pay a fee of 2.5 cents per point. While it’s not something I ever took advantage of, I know lots of people found this extremely useful, especially when they were a few thousand points short of a redemption they were looking to make.

And the offering made perfect sense to me. By allowing members to borrow points, American Express is building more loyalty and ensuring future spend on their credit cards. In the event that people don’t earn the points back, American Express gets 2.5 cents per borrowed point, which they surely make money on.

Anyway, American Express has updated the terms of their Membership Rewards program to indicate that the points advance option will only be valid through June 30, 2013.

A puzzling change for sure, especially given that this was one thing that set Membership Rewards apart from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

(Tip of the hat to Gary)

Comments

  1. Just a thought. Perhaps Amex is also hoping that members will spend more to get points “ahead of time”. With most programs, I have a good stash of points sitting around – 200k AA, 100k BA, as much as possible in UR, etc, and tend to spend money on the card. With MR, my balance is always 0 or negative and I don’t try to spend money on the card since there is no value to collecting points just because. With Platinum, I can borrow up to 60k anytime I want, pretty much.

  2. I never used the feature, but it was great to know that I had it if needed (transfer bonuses, etc).

    I have to say that the list of reasons why to keep an AmEx card is getting shorter each month. I’ve already closed several accounts have done (A LOT) more spending on my Chase cards.

  3. The only reason I’m still keeping my Amex Plat is for the lounge access, and I rarely even charge anything on it anymore. It seems that as of late, every few months we get another notification that a feature of Membership Rewards is being eliminated or scaled back. Recently we’ve lost the online shopping portal, the bonus on pay with points (for Plat cardholders), and now points advance.

  4. Are they eliminating the direct sale of points as well? I seem to recall you could buy upto either 250k or 500k a year for 2.5cents each.

  5. Guess Amex needed money to pay for the new airport lounges they are testing out at LAS..??!!

    I’ve definitely lost “that lovin’ feeling” with Amex. I’ve been a pretty die-hard supporter, but they’ve pretty much lost me as a customer as well (member since 1984…). I’ll keep one card for the backdating, but that’s about all Amex is good for these days…

    I sure hope they read your blog, Lucky..Amex’s sales and marketing department need to be laid off and a new team put in place.

  6. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of their customers (and even more vast an advantage in revenue) aren’t going to care at all.
    I found it interesting that terms state (as of last year) purchased points couldn’t be transferred to other programs, but advanced points can be.
    The most annoyed I’ve been with Amex in my years as a cardholder is that it has taken a week for my newly approved card to get here.

  7. @Kris Ziel – +1. Most people are not as into points/miles as much as we are. If they were, AmEx wouldn’t have gotten rid of points advance or the shopping mall, because people would be using them.

  8. another thing that annoys me about Amex is the one month delay in posting points. None of the other banks seem to do that, points usually post on the statement date.

  9. I’ll miss this feature. Not that I used it very often, but it sure helped when I had points enough for 1 ticket but was short for a second ticket, there was no way for me to get the needed points out of other accounts to Delta without horrible fees. Then, a friend offered to loan me the points via amex, I called, and that’s when I found out I could borrow up to 60k points. Problem solved. Used it 2 or 3 times last year. May have to make a couple calls before June 30th to get some points….

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