Good morning everyone, I was looking through my recent American Express statement and saw an ominous message on my American Express EveryDay Credit Card. The message said, “See page 5 for a Notice of Change to the Membership Rewards Program Terms & Conditions.” Uh oh, that sounded pretty bad. I cautiously scrolled down to page 5 expecting the worst. What did American Express do?
Here are the new changes to the American Express Membership Rewards Program, effective immediately. You will no longer earn Membership Rewards Points for “purchases of cash equivalents” (which means gift cards) and “person-to-person payments”. I’m not sure if American Express is referring to Visa / MasterCard Gift Cards or retail gift cards (Chipotle, Macy’s, Southwest Airlines, etc.). The 3 person-to-person payment methods that come to mind are Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle. Since PayPal can be used to pay anyone online for goods and services, I don’t think American Express is referring to PayPal. Zelle can only be funded with bank transfers, so that leaves just Venmo. I have used Venmo in the past to meet minimum spending requirements, even though there is a 3% fee to pay with credit cards.
I tried to find more details on “cash equivalents” and “person-to-person payments”, so I went to the American Express Membership Rewards Terms & Conditions page. Unfortunately, American Express does not provide more details of what is not eligible to earn Membership Rewards Points. Therefore, it is up to American Express’s discretion on what transactions fall into those categories.
I checked my recent statements for my American Express Old Blue Cash and my American Express Blue Cash Everyday and neither of those statements have this change of terms, so it looks like cash back earning credit cards are safe (for the time being), but I wouldn’t bet on that lasting for very much longer. If you have any questions about these changes, please leave a comment below.