I recently canceled my American Express Platinum Card due to the annual fee. In my previous article, I noted that I plan on getting the card again and that I would rather reapply so that I qualified for the $200 ANNUAL travel credit twice. Once in 2018 and again in 2019.
In my review of the American Express Platinum Card, I showed how you could effectively reduce your annual fee from $699 to $299 using the $200 travel credit twice in your first year of membership ($699 – $200 Travel Credit in 2017 – $200 Travel Credit in 2018 = $299). This has been a long-standing method to justify the large annual fee of the card and there has been nothing wrong with it as it completely complies with the Terms and Conditions of the card (click on the Footnotes at the bottom of the page).
$200 Annual Travel Credit – The $200 CAD Annual Travel Credit can only be redeemed through Platinum Card Travel Service at time of booking. Travel booking must be charged to The Platinum Card. Annual Travel Credit can only be used once per calendar year towards a single travel booking of $200 or more, and will appear on the Platinum Card member’s billing statement as “Platinum Annual Travel Credit”. If the Cardmember cancels their travel booking after redeeming the Annual Travel Credit, they will not be able to use it again in the same calendar year.
My annual fee of $699 had posted to my account in April so when I called to cancel my Platinum Card, I was sure to ask the CSR multiple times whether the full amount of my annual fee would be refunded and multiple times he confirmed that it would be completely refunded.
I assumed everything was hunky dory.
When I went to make a Membership Rewards transfer yesterday, I was thrown an error when I went to complete the transaction.
When I called the number, I was told that the transfer could not be completed because I had an amount owing for my closed Platinum Card. I was puzzled by this because I always pay my cards in full so when I asked for the details of the charges, the agent noted that I was only provided a partial refund of my annual fee. $200 was not refunded because I had used my 2018 Travel Credit (on January 1st, I believe).
As you might expect, I was a bit miffed and asked to speak to a supervisor about this. I was transferred to a supervisor by the name of Chris and he was very forthcoming with information regarding the clawback.
The Juicy Info
The first interesting datapoint here is that he looked at when my travel credit was used (January) and when my annual fee posted (April) and said that he could most likely take care of the clawback amount. This is interesting because it confirms to me my belief that clawbacks only used to happen if you used your travel credit on the same or previous billing cycle as the one your annual fee posts on.
The second interesting datapoint is that Chris told me that he was doing the exact same thing that I was doing, in that he was using 2 travel credits per annual fee cycle. That suggests that there is nothing wrong with this practice and it is something that AMEX employees do as well. Chris did confirm that he has been seeing more and more of these clawbacks in recent months, which lines up with some of the anecdotal stories I have heard as well.
I asked Chris if the terms and conditions regarding the travel credit have changed and to his knowledge, they have not but it seems that AMEX’s systems are treating this credit as a “once per Annual Fee” credit rather than an annual credit. He did note that if there is a change to the Terms and Conditions that you will receive an email from AMEX to that effect.
What you should know is that if you experience a clawback of your travel credit, be sure to escalate it to at least the supervisory level at AMEX. You are WELL within your rights to use your annual travel credit of $200 according to the terms and conditions of the card. For reference, I have posted a screenshot of the Terms and Conditions of the Annual Travel Credit and provided you with a PDF copy for your records in the event you need to dispute the clawback.
The URL of the T&Cs can be found at https://global.americanexpress.com/acq/intl/dpa/canlac/can/can/eApply4.0/pers/tiles/main/footnotespopup.jsp.
Everything in the Terms and Conditions states that this is an ANNUAL TRAVEL CREDIT and has nothing to do with when you apply the credit in relation to the annual fee posting.
If you are willing to fight, I would suggest that you would have a 99.9% success rate at having the clawback returned … if you’re willing to fight.
New Best Practice
To avoid all this, what I am suggesting to my readers is that you should definitely go ahead with the Platinum Card because of all its amazing benefits but make a note of the date when you applied for the card and set a reminder 11 months from that date to cancel the card. I use Google Calendar for these kinds of things because I know that I will always have access to that information, as opposed to a work calendar.
Using this method, you will still be assured of getting your 2 x $200 Travel Credits and because you are canceling before the Annual Fee posts, you avoid having to deal with the potential clawback of $200. This will be my method going forward and I suggest you do the same.
I have updated my Platinum Card Review post with this new information.