I Accidentally Redeemed 90K Amex Points at a Terrible Value: What Happened & How to Avoid This Trap!

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Amazon Pay With Points Caution

Amazon Pay With Points Caution

Amazon and American Express have had some very good deals this year on Fire Tablets and Kindles if you pay via American Express Membership Rewards points. Fortunately those deals only required you to use 1 point, since Membership Rewards are given a horrible value of .7 cents each when paying with them.

Just like many of you I participated in a few of these deals and linked my Membership Rewards account to my Amazon account. Since I never previously used the Membership Rewards linked credit card for Amazon purchases I haven’t had an issue. Unfortunately that recently changed when I noticed this on my account.

Amazon Pay With Points Caution

My first reaction was shock and my second was a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. That is a lot of wasted points. Of course I have learned that Amazon is generally pretty good with customer service and I hopped on chat. Results below.

Why Did This Happen?

When you opt-in your rewards points program, Amazon defaults to use your points first when using the linked credit card. While this is fairly noticeable on desktop, I don’t believe it is as noticeable on mobile or perhaps I just didn’t see it. Either way, my card was opted-in to use my points first before charging the card. THIS IS TERRIBLE!

How to Fix It

Whether you are using Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou or Discover Cash, you should make sure the default setting is off. You can still use points manually if you want, but they won’t take them by default.

To turn this feature off:

Visit this page on the Amazon site and sign-in. You will see all of your linked card/rewards programs.

For each card make sure “Apply by default” is switched to off. You may even want to un-enroll your cards if you don’t think you’ll be using points in the future. This could perhaps even lead to you receiving other offers to link your cards again. This is what I did.

Amazon Pay With Points Caution

My Resolution

In general Amazon’s customer service is decent, especially for Prime members, but such wasn’t the case for me. After a frustratingly long chat where I was transferred to 6 DIFFERENT AGENTS I was told that I needed to return all of the items and place a new order for them. Since the items had shipped they could not change the payment method, however had I caught this before shipping then it could have been fixed much easier.

Amazon did give me a $20 promotional credit for the excessive transfers between agents and the fact that it took almost an hour to get this answer. Yes, I should eventually get my points back, but this is definitely a hassle and one that has caused me to un-enroll all of my cards to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Bottom Line

If you have linked any rewards programs to Amazon I think it is probably a good idea to check to ensure the Apply by Default checkbox is turned to off at the very least. I would probably de-link everything just in case. Either way I learned my lesson here the hard way. I’m grateful I didn’t lose those points, but I’ll make sure to monitor any linked programs in the future.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. Shawn,
    i had one similar experience (an order with boxed.com). I chatted with Amex and they were able to switch the charge from points to the card. Just FYI.

  2. Know how you feel…Went to my Hilton login once and somehow 300,000 points were billed out to a couple of nights stay in an expensive hotel suite overseas. Felt like my heart and stomach literally fell out and landed at my feet.Operators shift manager squared it all up for me though in one call.

  3. Same thing happened to me but I had purchased Amazon gift cards and redeemed them before I noticed. Multiple calls to Amazon and they would do nothing for me. I even tried calling Amex and the agent stated that they cannot do anything to reverse Amazon purchases with points. She said their agreement with Amazon was very strict and that they could help if it was another vendor, but not with Amazon. Pay with points is dangerous – beware.

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