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Travel rewards cards have been all the rage in recent years, as the world finally started learning how to use points. Or at least, that points can be useful, worth earning!

As competition blossomed in the premium credit card space so too did annual fees, and now that we’re living in a world without travel, that’s created a bit of an elephant in the room between card issuers and beloved customers paying up to $550 in annual fees, on a single card.

Reports on Flyertalk, and Reddit suggest American Express is recognizing the issue, giving agents discretion to offer some serious rewards to keep your premium travel rewards card open. What’s considered a premium travel card? Certainly Amex Platinum, or Amex Gold, but also any card from the co-branded portfolio including Delta, Hilton, Marriott and more.

On the flagship Amex Platinum Card, reports suggest customers are being offered between 20,000 to 50,000 points to keep their cards open during the travel slowdown. Some users report spending requirements attached to the offers, or that the offers have been made for statement credits rather than points.

The same data points suggest flexibility where Amex is happy to convert a 20,000 point offer into $200, or vice versa, so it’s absolutely worth having an open conversation with the Amex Platinum team by phone, using the number on the back of your card. Similar offers are being noted for the Amex Gold Card, though with a much lower fee you can’t quite expect the same level of retention.

This is a positive move from American Express, just days after Chase began offering $100 statement credits on the Sapphire Reserve card. The bank is giving phone agents an array of solid options to offer Amex cardmembers, based on a variety of factors like years with the card, annual spend levels and other factors. To borrow from Forrest Gump, “you never know what you’re going to get”.

Regardless of what travel rewards credit card you hold from Amex, it’s probably worth giving them a call in the near future, if you feel you won’t get the same level of benefit once enjoyed, or that the annual fee just can’t be justified this year.

Amex was also the first bank to proactively offer support to those affected by furlough and other issues surrounding this unprecedented global struggle and this is yet another customer friendly move to keep business flowing as usual, or as close to.

Beyond travel benefits, earning rates on cards can very much help justify annual fees, so even ordering take-out during the crisis with the Amex Gold (4x points) can help, if you’re spending a lot. Think it over, but it may be worth giving American Express a call, because points may await…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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30 Comments

  1. Reports so far:
    Lower spend users with less years – $500 credit or 50k points outright
    (2) Higher spend users with 5+ years holding the card: $300 credit or 30k points after $4k spend in 3 months

  2. These aren’t really retention offers to me. This is a points grab. If you have the means to spend 4k in 90 days, then you aren’t hurting to pay the annual fee. As far as not being able to use the benefits, it’s only been a month of not using them. I last traveled on March 8’th. So seems silly to me but cool if you’re able to get the spend offer and achieve it.

    1. I argued earlier this week that more needs to be done to address the lack of usable benefits. For many, travel realistically ended a month ago and won’t reach previous levels until 2023, according to reports.

      This isn’t a question of whether someone “can” afford it. It’s a business transaction.

      You made a deal based on tangible benefits. When those benefits are no longer tangible, you open up the discussion again. Citi is adding new bonus categories to try to hold onto customers, Chase went with a flat amount off, this is all a negotiation.

      https://www.godsavethepoints.com/premium-travel-rewards-credit-card-annual-fees-2020/

  3. I got a $500 credit on my Amex platinum this year. Barely use the card with most of my Amex spend going on the green. Opened the platinum last year. No spend requirements on the retention offer.

  4. The issue I have is that I booked the SWISS Oz deal you mentioned last month which booked through Expedia France and is likely to be cancelled, Expedia France doesn’t recognise my UK account. If I cancel my Amex Plat I will potentially lose my travel insurance and Expedia seem to be one of the TAs that are really bad at refunds vs vouchers. Not sure what to do

  5. Called earlier this week on Gold card (2018 FYF, $195 last AF) about $10K organic grocery and global restaurants spend 2019. (40K MR approx from spend).

    Offered $150/$3K retention – While card has been lucrative with SUB/AU/Referral etc Dinning/Airline credits for $195. Rejected offer as language -clawback for closing/PC etc. Plan on closing later this year at next AF. But will refer P2.

    Pre-cornona I would have taken the offer – but now planning on CS AmEx PT to cash out -and will we cull our Prem card holdings – but remain in the game – but focus on CB and re-banking.

    But Haven’t called on other AmEx Premium cards yet for offers.

  6. I also call since my annual fee was coming up for my amex gold card. They redirect me to the retention offer team since I told them that I was thinking of cancelling my card. The hit me with 2 offer first one 200 dollars credit after I spend 3000 dollars on 3 months and the second offer the one I took was for 4000 dollars in spend and I will get 30,000 MR points.

  7. I have had an AMEX Platinum card , transferred to Delta Reserve card for 44 years. I called and they quickly offered me 50,000 Delta SkyMiles as a retention incentive. AMEX has always been my go to card , and once again they did not disappoint.

  8. On hold for back office team now. Flat out asked platinum team member about points or credit and he stated he was not aware of anything like that. Hopeful this next team might hook me up with something or I may just close.

  9. I’m guessing that they’ve started to see a trend in non-renewals already – particularly on travel rewards cards. Although our Gold and Platinum annual fees aren’t up yet, we’ve already dumped both personal and business Marriott cards.

  10. Is happening the same in the UK? I have the Platinum and the BA Premium card… so £750 a year… and I am not using any benefits and even not spending a lot these days, so no point to keep both cards.

  11. No offer made by Amex when I contacted the company online to cancel my Platinum Amex, which I have had for years. The only suggestion was to change to a free card.

    Must be selective offers or is this US only?

  12. Your information is incorrect regarding Delta American AMEX. Just talked to them by calling the number on the back of my card. They said no they are not offering any retention offers except that they can defer payment or change to a free card. If you can tell me another way please do. I’m not happy as I have had their card since 2012. Time to change.

  13. No offers were avaiable when I just spoke to a representative about my Business Platinum Card with $40k+ annual spend & fee due this month. The representative said that there were no offers being made company wide for any cards due to COVID-19 situation for retention. I politely let her know that there are plenty of examples of card members receiving generous offers. Perhaps I just didn’t get the right agent? I shall try again tomorrow.

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