My 100,000 point Membership Rewards mistake

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Not long ago I did a little e-victory dance when my wife signed up for a 100,000 point offer for the American Express Platinum card.  Hours after she applied, the application link was taken down.  That offer was never meant to be available to the general public.  Amex responded in an unusual way: they froze the Membership Rewards accounts of many who applied while they investigated those accounts.  My understanding is that while many people have since had their accounts restored, some are still dealing with the situation.

Membership Rewards mistake

But, the frozen account fiasco had nothing to do with my own mistake…

Memory vs. Spreadsheet

When I first became aware of the 100K offer, I didn’t think my wife or I could apply.  My memory told me that we had both had this card in the past.  And, like most Amex signup offers, this one was not available to those who have had the card before.

An offer for 100,000 valuable transferable points which requires only $3K spend doesn’t come along often.   I finally decided to double check my memory.  I keep a Google Apps spreadsheet with, among other things, a complete list of cards that my wife and I have signed up for since I first learned about this hobby in 2011.  There, as expected, I found that I had indeed signed up for the Platinum card in the past.  But, my clear memory of my wife signing up for a similar 100K offer a few years ago appeared to be flawed.  The spreadsheet asserted that she had signed up for the Business Platinum card.

A quick aside… Amex offers many different versions of their high-end Platinum cards and each is considered a separate product.  So, you can get the signup bonus for each one.  You just can’t get the bonus for the same exact card again.  For example, if you’ve had the Mercedes Platinum card in the past, you can still get the signup bonus for the Morgan Stanley Platinum card, or the regular Amex Platinum card, or the Business Platinum card, etc.

And so, while my wife has had several versions of Platinum cards in the past, my trusty spreadsheet told me that she never had the regular old Amex Platinum card.  With that discovery, my wife applied for the card and was approved instantly.  In order to take maximal advantage of that hard credit inquiry, she also applied and was approved for a 25K offer for the Amex Green card.  As expected, only a single inquiry appeared on her credit report.

Waiting for points that never arrived

We quickly met the spend requirements for both cards and then waited for the signup bonuses.  The Green card’s 25K bonus appeared immediately after the first statement close.  The 100K bonus hadn’t yet arrived. I wasn’t concerned.  Amex frequently waits an extra statement cycle before awarding points.  That seemed a likely explanation.  I was also aware of the issue of Amex temporarily freezing Membership Rewards accounts for those who signed up for this offer.  I thought that was another possible explanation for the delay.  So, I waited.

After the second statement closed without additional points appearing, it was time to check up on the status of our expected 100,000 points.  My wife logged into her Amex account and clicked to chat with a representative.  The rep asked her to wait while investigating the reason for the missing bonus.  It didn’t take long.  The reason the bonus wasn’t awarded was that my wife had the card before.  The rep verified that the card my wife had a few years ago – the one that my spreadsheet told me was a business card, but my memory told me was a consumer card – was in fact a regular consumer Platinum card, not a business Platinum card.  In fact, the rep asserted that my wife has never had a Platinum Business card.  Oops!  It turned out that my memory was right, but my spreadsheet was wrong.

Aftermath and next steps

My wife can now cancel the Platinum card and recover a prorated amount of the $450 annual fee that she already paid.  But, we have not yet earned the $200 airline fee credit for this calendar year.  It would be a shame to cancel before doing so.  We verified that we had until the next statement close to cancel for the same refund.  If we hurry, we can earn the $200 rebate and then cancel in order to be made more than whole.

Another option is to keep the card for a full year.  This way we can earn the $200 airline fee credit twice before canceling the card.  This would mean that we would end up only $50 poorer overall, but we would be able to enjoy the card’s perks for another 10 months.  I’m heavily leaning towards that option.  I don’t currently have a Platinum card (I recently cancelled my Business Platinum card).  And when my wife and I find ourselves in an airport with a Centurion Lounge (which we will), I’d like the ability to stop in.

Another small argument in favor of keeping the card for the year is the possibility of being offered 10,000 Membership Rewards points for enrolling in Amex’s Pay over Time option.  With Amex charge cards, I usually get an email offering this deal after about 10 months of card ownership.  Signing up is always a super easy way to rack up some more points.

The one piece of good news in this debacle is that I learned that my wife has never had the Business Platinum card.  Big offers for the Business Platinum card are more common than for the personal Platinum card.  We’ll be ready for the next one.

Finding your own personal 100K offer

If you’ve never had the personal Amex Platinum card, there’s a chance that you can find a 100K offer by using the CardMatch Tool (note: this is an affiliate link).  My understanding is that offers for the Platinum card through the tool have recently been spotted at 40K (which is standard), 60K, and 100K.  But, there is no guarantee that those offers are still available.

See also: 8 ways to get the best targeted Amex signup bonus offers.

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