New AMEX Changes Effective January 1, 2017: Forfeit, Reversal & Negative Membership Reward Point Balances

Good morning everyone, my American Express Platinum Charge Card statement just closed and I noticed that there were a lot of “important changes” from American Express.  Most of the time these “important changes” are minor changes in wording to the cardmember agreement, but in the most recent statement, there are some relevant changes to how AMEX Membership Reward points are earned and redeemed.  Here is a quick summary of all the changes:

  • Late payment fees are going up from $37 to $38
  • Returned payment fees are going up from $37 to $38
  • If you do not pay the amount due by the closing date of your next billing period, you will forfeit all points earned during that period
  • If you return an item and receive a statement credit, the points you earned from that purchase will be reversed
  • If reversed points make your account balance go negative, all future points earned will be applied to your negative balance

All the aforementioned changes go into effect on January 1, 2017.  It seems like American Express is really cracking down on churners and MSers, especially on AMEX Platinum Charge Cardholders.  Here is page 1 of 5 showing the new changes:

amex-details-1

Here is page 2 of 5 showing the new changes:

amex-details-2

Here is page 3 of 5 showing the new changes.  Basically, if you do not pay your credit/charge card bill by the due date, you will forfeit all the points you should have earned during that period.

amex-details-3

Here is page 4 of 5 showing the new changes.  Basically, if you return an item or get a refund for a purchase you made with your credit/charge card, the statement credit will cause a reversal in the number of points you earned from that purchase.  A negative balance may occur as a result of the points reversal.

amex-details-4

Here is page 5 of 5 showing the new changes.  If your points balance becomes negative either from a points reversal or if you are “ineligible for an additional points incentive award” (aka sign up bonus or targeted spending offer), all future points that you earn will go toward eliminating the negative balance.  After that, your points balance will become positive.

amex-details-5

A few questions…

  • Will American Express let you close a credit/charge card with a negative points balance?  Will they charge you for having a negative points balance?  What value will they assign for each AMEX Membership Reward point?
  • What happens if you receive a refund to a closed American Express credit/charge card?  Will they pull AMEX Membership Reward points from a linked AMEX Membership Reward account to account for the points reversal?

I don’t have any answers to the above questions, but it sounds like American Express is ready to fight credit card churners and MSers.  I expect to see some interesting stories come out after the new changes go into effect on January 1, 2017.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

22 thoughts on “New AMEX Changes Effective January 1, 2017: Forfeit, Reversal & Negative Membership Reward Point Balances

  1. choi lu

    I dont think any of us gamer would commit any of those sins, the whole idea is to earn points and churn cards, cant do that if you tarnish your record by not paying bills on time

    Reply
    1. Grant

      I agree, but I think in the off chance that you accidentally forget to pay your credit card once, you will forfeit the points you should have earned. Seems harsh to me.

      Reply
      1. Gary Crosby

        On my PRG card, although they are “forfeited”, I can pay $35 to have them reinstated. Sounds like they aren’t even including this as an option.

        Reply
  2. Sam

    My wife got targeted offers for Amex biz gold and Platinum. Not going for them yet as can’t meet the min spend w/o buying GCs….

    Reply
    1. Grant

      If you have a few months to accept the offer, you might want to wait until the deadline to apply if you have larger expenses coming up later in the year.

      Reply
  3. Mser

    Huh? Amex already makes you forfeit points if you have a late payment. But they will currently reinstate for a $35 fee. This change eliminates the option of paying the fee to reinstate. A bit harsh but not unreasonable.

    I don’t think this is targeted at MSers at all – we always pay early ;)

    Reply
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  5. Chris from SD

    Hmm, they are saying that it is a “change” that they will take away the points if you return an item for a statement credit? Is this really a change? Does that mean that in the past, you could have bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things (such as refundable airfare), then returned it later for a refund but kept all the amex points you earned on the purchase? If so, I should have been abusing that heavily :)

    Reply
  6. Chris from SD

    I do have one data point from a friend who was charged for the points when he canceled an Amex with a negative balance.

    Reply
      1. Chris from SD

        I think he was about 100,000 points in the negative. I don’t know what he was charged, but i believe it was a lot.

        Reply
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  9. Manny

    Low and behold I received a $27 dollar late fee. Being a 29 year member of Amex, a call to their customer service department was my next order of business. American Express informed me that they have changed their original policy of a 30 day billing cycle to a 25 day cycle. So your closing date is actually on your due date.

    American Express helps me manage my money effectively by paying my bill on the due date then parsing my payment on the closing date. Losing this flexibility is yet another reason why Amex is losing its luster. You can also add to that the ever growing list of merchants who won’t accept American Express. Losing Costco was a big one.

    American Express needs to pay a lot more attention to its core customer base and a little less to its dividend hungry investors. If customers keep leaving the dividend is going to shrink anyway.

    Reply
    1. Grant Post author

      I’m sorry you got hit with a late payment. American Express needs to focus more on core customers (like yourself) and treat them well.

      Reply

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