Two Things I Learned From My Amex Platinum Retention Bonus


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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.

Bottom Line

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?

Anyone know?

6 COMMENTS

  1. Amex has counted the airline credits and saks credits etc. towards min spend in the past as well as amex offers. I always advise to go over by more than that though because even though the system recognizes it if they do a manual review they will hold it against you. This very thing happened to people with the leaked 100K platinum offers years ago. They got the points but Amex want back to look for a reason to deny it since they used a leaked offer and if they didn’t spend $3200 to cover the airline incidental credit they lost their points.

  2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Amex claw it back. Just to be sure, I’d make sure you were at $3000 spend including the credits

  3. i had a situation where I had $1500 credits on my Plat from a VAT refund. I called CS to apply the credit to my Ascend amd it did. Not knowing by doing this it deducted $1500 from my free weekend night tracking. I filed a case and after a month nothing happen. CS was clueless. When I called back to her the status they told me I did earned the free night. Well that is because during those waiting time i had to put another 1500 on the card. I couldn’t wait 6-8 weeks for them to get back to me because i need to upgrade to Aspire before end of Dec. Lesson learned is request for a refund via check if I ever have a credit.

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