26 Jan Reward Points… Stranded!
I spend a GRAND amount of time researching the points and miles world. I don’t claim to be a points guru, but I will say that I am definitely the resident expert within my immediate family! Rather than keep up with all the various happenings in the industry, my family relies on me to keep them updated on what they should be doing from a credit card and travel rewards perspective.
On that note, I received a call from my dad a month or so ago asking about his American Express Business Rewards Gold Card. See, I had just set him up with the (no longer available) Chase Ink Preferred Card, featuring a healthy 70,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up, and he no longer found himself transacting with his old trusty Amex Business Gold.
Though he has the card since the late 80’s, the hefty $175 annual fee just hit. He was ready to cancel the card and part ways with Amex for good.
Why would he continue to pay an annual fee on the Amex Business Gold that provides him no value?
Some Advice for My Pops…
I agreed that the card’s annual fee severely outweighed any benefits provided by the card – especially since the Business Gold does not feature the $100 Airline fee Reimbursement like the personal premier Rewards Gold! It was time for the Business Gold to take a hike!
And by hike, I of course mean that he should downgrade the card to a no-fee option in order to keep his existing almost 20 year relationship with Amex going and preserve the credit line.
“But Dad, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go ahead and transfer all of your membership Rewards over to a travel partner like Delta or Singapore Airlines! That way we won’t get stuck with 30,000 Membership Rewards in that account just sitting there collecting dust.”
Great plan! But I didn’t follow through right away and he got impatient…
Patience Young Grasshopper…
Fast forward 2 weeks. I get a call from that same father of mine asking about an award flight he wants to book for an upcoming golf trip to Myrtle Beach.
No problem! That reminds me – we can transfer over those Amex Membership Rewards sitting in his account to Delta Skymiles and book an award!
All set to perform the transfer and award booking, I log into his Amex account and BAM – I saw it!
He already downgraded the card to the no-fee Blue Business Card… meaning no more ability to transfer Membership Rewards to Delta Skymiles, or any other Amex transfer partner!
The points were stranded in his account!
He still had the ability to book travel through the Amex Travel Portal or even redeem for statement credits and gift cards but we all KNOW that this is not the most rewarding use of hard earned Membership Rewards points… Right?
Oh wait! There was one transfer partner available…
I’m sure someone out there has learned to truly maximize the Plenti points program for discount stemware from Macy’s… but stemware doesn’t get my dad to Myrtle Beach!
Bummer man! But, all is not lost…
A Suggested Solution?
I’m glad you asked! Every good problem has a good solution…
To start, my dad is an authorized user on my American Express Platinum Card, so I was able to transfer some of my Membership Rewards to his Delta Skymiles account in order to book the award (he owes me)!
Next, since the American Express Membership Rewards were still “alive” and safe in his account, all my dad needs to do is apply for a personal or business version of the American Express Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum card! Once he has one of those cards linked into his account it will reactivate the possibility to transfer points to the exponentially rewarding American Express travel partners, like Singapore Airlines, we all know and love!
Make a points plan, then be patient and take your time executing. Luckily here there is a simple fix to those stranded points, but perhaps my father won’t be so lucky next time!
Have you ever encountered “stranded” rewards points ? How did you set them free!?