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At the beginning of February I called up American Express to see if there were any offers available to ease the pain of the significant $550 annual fee that now comes with the American Express card.
I didn’t have particularly high hopes for the call but, after explaining to the Amex agent exactly what my issues were with the Platinum Card, I was offered a choice of 20,000 points or a $200 statement credit if I kept the Platinum Card and put $3,000 of spending on it in the course of the next 3 months.
20,000 Amex Membership Rewards Points are worth $300 to me (so that was the retention offer I accepted) and it didn’t take long before I was putting some spend on the card to make sure I locked in the bonus sooner rather than later.
I was fortunate in that I had a significant amount of expenses I could bring forward and charge to my Platinum Card so it didn’t take long for me to start making my way towards the $3,000 target.
Two of the first expenses I charged to the card were a cash upgrade that I was offered by American Airlines and a $50 Saks gift card and both of these transactions triggered benefits that come with the Platinum Card.
The American Airlines upgrade triggered the $200 Airline Free credit and the Saks Gift card purchase triggered the $50 ‘Shop With Saks’ credit:
With a week to go before the first statement since I accepted the retention offer closed these credits left me in an interesting position – I had spent over $3,000 on my Platinum Card but the credits ensured that my net spending was actually under $3,000.
I haven’t had a retention offer on an American Express Membership Rewards card for some time so I had no real idea of what to expect in this situation – would I have to get my net spend over $3,000 to trigger the retention bonus or not? – I figured I’d find out when my statement closed.
Then I noticed my Membership Rewards balance and it seemed to be higher than I remembered it being….so I checked the points transactions:
The 20,000 points for hitting the $3,000 spend target had posted to my account and this was a double surprise.
Firstly I wasn’t convinced that Amex would pay out the retention bonus until my net spend was over $3,000 and, secondly, I wasn’t expecting Amex to pay out the retention bonus before the first statement (since I accepted the challenge) closed.
I learned two things here:
- It turns out that credits to your account as a result of Amex Platinum benefits do not count against you when you have a retention offer target to meet.
- It also turns out that Amex will credit your account with the retention bonus as soon as you hit the spending target…and that’s a lot quicker than Amex posts Membership Rewards points in the normal course of business.
Not having had a retention offer on a Membership Rewards card for a few years this was new information for me…but now there’s more I’d like to know.
Do credits to your account as a result of an Amex offer (rather than a credit as a result of an Amex benefit) also not count against you when aiming for a spend target for a retention offer? And, do the same principles apply if the target you’re going for is a sign-up bonus rather than a retention offer?