PSA: Check your American Express OPEN Small Business Savings Preferences (5% Cash Back vs. 2 Membership Reward Points)

Buenos dias everyone. A few months ago, I purchased some items from HP.com using my American Express Business Platinum Charge Card, which offers the choice between 5% cash back or 2 bonus Membership Reward Points per dollar spent on purchases from HP and other select merchants through the American Express OPEN Small Business Savings program.  All American Express issued business cards are part of OPEN – Membership Rewards-earning cards offer a choice between the two, while others like the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card only offer the 5% cash back option.

5% cash back is clearly worth more than 2x Membership Reward Points, so I was disappointed when I realized that the card defaulted to 2x Membership Reward Points and I had never changed my savings preferences. I chalked it up to experience and switched the settings in my OPEN preferences so I wouldn’t make that mistake again.

Amex OPEN Savings preference selection screen

Fast forward a few months. I decided to return the items I purchased back to HP and HP sent me a return shipping label for free and the refund posted to my card as expected a few days after they received the items. What I didn’t expect to see was a $63 charge on my card listed as “5% OPEN Savings at HP”.  Uh oh.

Amex statement showing a credit for an HP return and $63 charge for "5% OPEN Savings at HP"

I quickly realized what had happened.  The system didn’t realize I had changed my savings preferences after making the purchase, and had automatically charged my card to recoup the 5% discount I would have received had I configured my preferences appropriately. I wasn’t about to pay $63 for 2,500 Membership Reward Points, so I started looking for a way to call attention to the charge.

I first tried disputing the charge through the American Express website, but it gave me an error at the end of the process when I tried to submit a claim. Then I reached out to an American Express web chat representative, who didn’t really understand what I was saying and told me they would file a dispute manually. I never heard anything back from that dispute, so I tried again a few weeks later and ultimately had a request filed by the same agent who filed an inquiry for my missing Membership Reward Points for Uber rides.

The Membership Rewards agent who called me about the Uber rides understood what had happened and was able to reverse the charge on my card (unfortunately, she also deducted the Membership Reward Points from my account).

Screenshot of an Amex online statement showing a $63 fee adjustment A Membership Rewards statement showing 2520 points deducted from the account.

I was hoping American Express would let me keep the Membership Reward Points or provide some other token of recognition for the error on their part and the amount of time I had to spend fixing it, but that didn’t happen. So moral of the story: if you value 5% cash back more than 2x Membership Reward Points, make sure you set your OPEN Savings preferences as soon as you get your card, so you don’t end up in a similar situation.

Have you taken advantage of the American Express OPEN Small Business Savings program? If so, have you ever run into a similar issue? Let me know in the comments.

One thought on “PSA: Check your American Express OPEN Small Business Savings Preferences (5% Cash Back vs. 2 Membership Reward Points)

  1. YoLaViajera

    I had no idea this setting even existed! Thanks for writing about it. And sorry to hear what happened to you. Sounds like you invested a lot of time to fix it, but Amex didn’t feel they had to compensate you for your time. Pretty typical…

    Reply

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