Amex to jettison OfficeMax from OPEN Savings; and other changes good & bad

Amex OPEN improves Hertz benefit, but otherwise mostly bad news…

One of the best and most reliable ways to buy gift cards at a discount has been to use an American Express small business card with OPEN Savings at OfficeMax.com.  Amex’s OPEN Savings program automatically credits your account with 5% back for online purchases of $250 or less, and 10% back for purchases of more than $250 at OfficeMax.com.  OfficeMax sells a variety of gift cards online, each with a 99 cent fee.  So, if you buy at least three $100 gift cards at once, you’ll net a 9% discount on those cards (plus you’ll earn credit card rewards).

Unfortunately, Amex now says that this benefit will go away as of January 1, 2014:

Effective January 1, 2014, OfficeMax.com will no longer be part of the OPEN Savings benefit. Any amounts that are charged to your Card account by this merchant on or after this date, will not be eligible for the OPEN Savings benefit.

Amex_OPEN_OfficeMax_FrequentMiler

Is this permanent?

In my old post about the Office Depot / OfficeMax merger I guessed that the Open Savings benefit would go away.  Specifically, I wrote this guess:

We will lose the ability to save up to 10% via Amex OPEN Savings.  Of course it’s possible that Amex will negotiate a similar deal with the new entity, but my guess is that this benefit will go away entirely.

Our hope, of course, is that Amex will ink a new deal with the new combined Office Depot / OfficeMax entity.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Other losses

In addition to losing the OfficeMax benefit, Amex is getting rid of the Epson Store as of December 16, 2013.

Other changes good and bad

Amex has begun including detailed information about OPEN changes in mailed credit card statements.  All of these changes are expected on January 1, 2014:

Hertz:

Currently, OPEN Savings rebates are offered only if you spend more than $500 at Hertz.  As of January 1, 2014, Amex will offer 3% back for the first $500 of spend within a calendar year, then 5% back for up to $2K of spend, then 10% back for over $2K spend.  This is a great enhancement for those who do not rent cars often since you’ll be guaranteed at least 3% cash back on all Hertz spend beginning in 2014.  See image for details:

amex open 1

HP Home & Home Office:

Like the Hertz changes, the HP benefit changes will be good for those who spend very little, but for those who spend more the rewards levels have become less favorable.  Take a look at this image for details:

amex open 1

FedEx Office:

Like the HP changes, the FedEx changes are good for lightweight FedEx spenders, but big time spenders will see a significant dip in benefits as their payout will drop from 10% to 5% and will be capped at $20K spend.  See image for details:

amex open 2

What do you think about all of these changes?  Are they good or bad for you?

Hat tip: Jordan

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Does the Open benefit apply automatically as long as I pay with my Amex Biz card? (Do I need to click thru a amex portal to get the Open benifit? ) Thanks!

    • Jen: Yes the benefit is automatic. No need to go through a portal. That said, you can sometimes double-dip by going through a portal first and paying with your Amex business card.

  2. Bummer. That was a great benefit! I never used it for gift cards, but did take advantage of it for technology purchases (and some re-sell).

  3. Does that mean that if I use my Starwood Business Card at Hertz and elect for points that I will earn as much as 5 Starwood points per dollar once I hit the threshold? Or are the points only for Membership Rewards and the cash back for the Starwood? Also, I enjoyed meeting you and hearing you speak at the Tampa FTU!

    • Patrick Mc: I think that the points option is only for Membership Rewards points, but I’m not sure. I never really considered it because giving up a 10% discount for 4 additional points is like buying points for 2.5 cents each. That’s more than I would pay.
      .
      Gabriel: No, they don’t sell Visas via the website, but I have had success in buying OfficeMax gift cards online (to get the 10% discount) and then I used them in person to upgrade to $200 Visa gift cards. Be very careful though because many OfficeMax stores won’t allow this.

  4. Has anybody every been able to buy $200 visa GC’s from office max’s website? This is why I never partook…so not much lost for me.

  5. like Patrick Mc, i have wondered about the SPG biz card and mult pts- apparently this only applies to MR pts though and not SPG pts?

    • Andrew: I think that it just depends on whether you feel OK with using your business card for personal purposes. With Chase Ink Plus and Bold cards, though, they offer primary rental car collision waivers in the U.S. only when you’re traveling for business.
      .
      Explore: No, the OPEN benefit doesn’t apply at OfficeMax to in-store purchases of any kind. Online only.

  6. Nooooooo!! I didn’t see this post until now, and only because I went looking for info, since my OMX discounts that usually post three days after my purchase, haven’t been posting since January 1.

    I am sooooo sad. I’ve been using this for years!!

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