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AmEx Points Suffer Big Drop in Value

In July American Express made a major change that dropped the value of their reward points by about 23%. On July, 1 2017 American Express Travel shifted the rebates they were offering at AmEx travel for qualifying airline ticket purchases from 50% to 35%. This change effected not only future AmEx reward points but also points that had already be earned.

This decrease had a huge impact on people who collect American Express Reward Points and redeem them on AmEx’s proprietary travel site, which I will call AmEx Travel. In the rebate program, card holders who had identified a designated airline got a 50% rebate on points they used to purchase tickets on their designated airline at AmEx Travel. This 50% rebate also extended to all Business and First Class ticket with any airlines purchased on AmEx Travel. Charlene and I usually fly economy so we use this rebate program primarily with American Airlines, which is  our designated airlines.

Prior to July if we found a qualifying flight for $900 we would pay for that flight with 90,000 AmEx points at AmEx travel and then get a 50% point rebate for that purchase. That 45,000 point rebate would then be returned to our reward account. The rebate takes about a month to show up on your reward account. This  50% rebate made the net cost of the $900 American Airlines ticket  only 45,000 AmEx reward points ( 90,000 – the 50% rebate = 45,000). Which meant that using the AmEx travel site I could get a clear return of 2 cents for AmEx point ( $900 / 45000 AmEx points = 2 cents per point). That’s a very good point value.

Here is how the change impacts that point value. After the July 1, 2017 adjustment, instead of a 50% rebate you  now get a 35% rebate on your preferred airline purchases or your business or first class ticket when you buy the ticket at AmEx Travel. That means a $900 rebate qualified ticket will now get a rebate of 31,500 points ( $900 X .35 = 31,500) for a total point cost of 58,500 points (90,000 – 31,500 rebate = 58,500) for the same $900 dollar preferred airlines ticket. This unilateral change by AmEx dropped the value of every AmEx point from 2 cents to 1.538 cents.

In the real world that can have a huge impact. If you had 100,000 AmEx points your travel asset as of July 1, 2017 dropped from an asset worth $2000 to an asset worth $1538 dollars. In the stroke of a pen AmEx in reality devalued all their reward points by about 23%.

For Geezers like Charlene and I that are trying to stretch our travel assets as far as we can this is bad news, but life goes on.

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Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this article are shared our readers with the belief of the author that they are accurate but the author is unable to guarantee the offers expressed herein. supports the businesses mentioned above because they are businesses the author has found to be helpful in saving money while traveling. may get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners.

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