Reader Tip: Turn Off Amazon Shop With Points

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Banks and retailers have been combining forces more and more lately, in hopes of directing consumer spending. One of these tie-ups is Amazon Shop with Points, which allows customers to pay for purchases using their credit card rewards points.

The program was initially limited to American Express Membership Rewards, but has expanded to include Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, so you may be participating in Shop with Points without realizing.

Now, this is a universally horrible value, and no one reading this blog should be using Shop with Points as a default. But reader bludevil had an experience with fraud on his Amazon account that is worth sharing:

…someone hacked into my Amazon account and bought a gift card. Since the payment options default to points, (I ALWAYS change this and have NEVER purchased anything on Amazon with points) the thief used my points to purchase the gift card.

Amazon noticed this was fraud and notified me immediately (kudos to them). They canceled the transaction and that should be that, right? WRONG! It has now been more than two weeks and I do not have the points back in my account yet. Amazon keeps telling me both on the phone and in emails that they canceled the order so everything should be OK. Finally I got someone to understand that I still do not have my points back, therefore I have paid for a fraudulent gift card purchase that I never made. At one point they offered me a $40 Amazon credit (which was the value of the card) which I declined because the points are much more valuable than that (almost 6,000!).

Ouch! It’s also interesting that 6,000 Amex points only bought a $40 gift card (that’s only .66¢ per point), but let’s stick to the main issue.

I haven’t had issues with fraud, but my mother’s Kindle is linked to my Amazon Prime account, and there have been many conversations about not using points to buy books, so I can certainly relate.

Disabling Shop with Points

I can’t remember if there was a bonus for linking Membership Rewards accounts to Amazon, or if Shop with Points was enabled by default when the program rolled out, but fortunately reader PhatMiles pointed out it’s easy to disable.

Sign in to your Amazon account, and then go to the Shop with Points management page:

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From there, you’ll see a list of any cards you have enrolled in Shop with Points, along with any cards that are potentially eligible.

In my case, my Membership Rewards cards were all enrolled, while my Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou cards were just listed at the bottom:

Amazon-shop-with-points-2

Select the dropdown for each card, and then you can choose to turn Shop with Points off by default, or just unenroll the card from the option entirely.

Amazon-shop-with-points-3

Even if you disable Shop with Points, the card will still be listed in your payment options.

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Once finished, the cards will still be listed as “eligible” for Shop with Points, so you can always enroll them later should you actually want to use points for an Amazon purchase (but please don’t do that).

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Bottom line

I hadn’t considered the possibility of fraud, but I was always a little concerned that one of my family members would unwittingly use points for a purchase. Unlinking my cards took less than a minute, a I’m not sure why I haven’t done so before.

And please: there are so many phenomenal uses of American Express Membership Rewards points, please don’t redeem them for less than a penny apiece!

Has anyone else had issues with this? How did it get resolved?

Comments

  1. When checking out, it would always “default” to the AMEX (membership rewards), always trying to get me to pay with points, so I just removed that card totally. Problem solved.

  2. I just redeemed around 60,000 Amex points for a SQ F Suite on the A380 from SYD to HKG via SIN with 2 segments in a380 suites class. You can do that or a $400 Amazon voucher? Which one seems more fun.

  3. A couple months ago there was a coupon code for $10 off Amazon if you used at least 1 Ultimate Rewards point. So I redeemed 1 Ultimate Rewards point.

  4. Hi! I’m the original poster and good news, MY POINTS ARE BACK IN MY AMEX ACCOUNT!

    It only took two weeks, hours on the phone with both Amex and Amazon, and lots of frustration.

    Now that they’re back, I immediately went into my Amazon account and disabled the points option… FOREVER!

  5. Shop with points is not enabled by default in your Amazon account. Mine is giving me the option to “enroll” which I just did not click on the button.

  6. There are many things you can get stuck on in Amazon and they’re usually not intuitive or easy to find. Thanks for pointing this one out!

    @bluedevil – glad you got your points back

  7. Interesting. I shop on Amazon A LOT and it has never tried to get me to pay with points. Maybe it’s because I always pay with Amazon gift cards. I buy Amazon GCs in bulk from OfficeDepot using my Chase Ink card which gets me 5 UR points so it’s like getting 5 points per dollar spent at amazon.

  8. I just looked at this but noticed that you can enroll the card again with one click, you don’t even need to put in a password for your bank account so the possibility for fraud is still there.

  9. @Brad B, I think the possibility of fraud is always there if someone gets into your account, this step just avoids compounding the problem. Most thieves aren’t going to particularly choose to pay with points for their fraudulent purchases and a credit card charge can be easily reversed. However when the pay by points option is the default because you enrolled a while back it’s harder to get the points back.

  10. I paid for a taxi in NY with a AMEX MR card a year ago and it automatically used points as the default payment. I called AMEX to complain and they gave me the points back right away, comping the taxi ride. It was annoying, but very little hassle once I got on the phone with them.

  11. Thank you for this post. I recently had someone hack my amazon account and order a game gc. Amazon caught it, alerted me and asked if it was my order. I replied immediately that it was not. I monitored my cc accounts for a while to be sure I wasn’t charged, but it never occurred to me to check my points! I’ll check those today to be sure. Again, thanks for the tip. (I’ll also go online and disable this option.)

  12. Citi TYP points seem to now be auto enrolled at amazon to “make it easier to use your TYP” and opt-out is now the default. Make sure to do that if you have a TYP enrolled at Amazon!

  13. Does AMEX email you if the points are used, or are we expected to monitor them ourselves?

  14. AMEX and Amazon just auto enrolled me to Shop with Points. Guess I should be thankful that Amazon sent an email “celebrating” my new found “wealth” and encouraging me to spend AMEX points at Amazon. Amazon knew exactly how many points were in my account.

    Disabled Pay with Points on Amazon, removed by AMEX card as a payment option, called AMEX to complain, and AMEX dis-enrolled me from everywhere else they’ve doing it (McD, Chili’s, taxis, and another half dozen companies. Since points are a currency, I’m annoyed that they are deploying this as an opt out feature. How is this any different than a debit card telling a merchant exactly how much is in my bank account?

  15. This happened to me on February 1. I have not had any luck getting points reinstated with Amazon. After several attempts at contacting them, Amazon are now telling me the order is cancelled, but they do not return rewards points for purchases made on Amazon that are non-refundable services (like Kindle subscriptions). So I’ve literally had someone hack my amazon account, use amex rewards points to gift themselves a 12-month kindle subscribtion, and lost 17000 points from my Amex account. No one cares about helping me on either side.

    I’ve since disabled Pay with Points from my account, but that’s hardly the point.

  16. Nobody will care from Amazon, but I finally find someone who cared with Amex, but it took a few tries and and a talk with a supervisor. Trying to get them back from Amazon is pointless.

    Keep trying with Amex. I eventually got mine back. Good luck!

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