Is American Express Clawing Back Upgrade Bonuses Too?
There have been a lot of American Express upgrade offers going around lately. The Aspire and other Hilton cards, Blue Cash Preferred, and the Platinum card have all seen offers in the last few months. In the past it seemed like these offers were safe if you used organic spending to reach the bonus. JonNYC is saying otherwise on his twitter account. He said his offer was clawed back after he downgraded his account within the first year.
Why This Matters?
This is an important distinction since in the past upgrading and downgrading whenever you like, usually when the first full annual fee hits, was never a problem. It seems like American Express is now treating upgrade offers the same as regular welcome bonuses. They implemented a change in their terms where they would go after people who cancel their card before the first annual fee posts.
It seems like the Amex RAT team is on the prowl for people doing the upgrade/downgrade train. This used to be done multiple times on the old Surpass card. It seems like those are things of the past and American Express is no longer playing around.
JonNYC said he called to confirm with Amex, on two separate occasions, that he could downgrade without issues before doing it. They still clawed back his points and have been refusing to reinstate them. He also mentioned when he went to cancel out of spite they offered him 50K Membership Rewards to keep the card. Truly bizarre!
I can’t say I blame American Express because people have been gaming the upgrade/downgrade system for a while now. However, if the full time annual fee posts 8 months after upgrading and you want to downgrade why should that be an issue? You are not closing the account but merely found the old product more useful. I could see a problem if it was within a few months etc.
This is something to be aware of going forward. For all intent and purposes American Express seems to be treating upgrades the same as new welcome bonuses. For Membership Rewards cards at least. I can’t see them being able to pull this with a co-branded card.
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