We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the 100K Amex Platinum and 50K Amex Premier Rewards Gold offers, which I hope you heard about from this post. That means that your annual fees are about to come due, and if you’re like most people then you’ll probably want to avoid those at all costs. A couple of people asked how I suggest dealing with it given that you’ll lose your Amex Membership Rewards points if you close all your Membership Rewards accounts.
My suggestion is actually pretty simple: I just alternate years between personal and business accounts, allowing me to earn bonuses on the personal and business cards every alternating year.
For example, let’s say you signed up for both the Amex Platinum and PRG cards on January 7, 2013 and got the 150K Amex points. That means you’re coming due on about $625 in annual fees, which is a lot for most people. So I’ll sign up for a Business account around January 7, 2014 to earn that bonus. Then I can cancel the Personal card(s). Then around January 7, 2015, I’ll cancel the Business card(s) that I signed up for the previous year and sign up for Personal cards again, which I’d be eligible for since it’s been 12 months.
I know that might be a little confusing so here’s a step-by-step of this process with a quick explanation:
Before Decembre ends, make sure you take advantage of the $200 airline reimbursement credit that your Platinum card comes with. Then as soon as January starts, take advantage of it again (it’s a calendar year benefit so this is allowed). Most people buy airline gift cards. I wrote about how to take advantage of the benefits of the Platinum card in this post.
Before you cancel your cards, you’ll need to sign up for Business cards in order to keep your Membership Rewards account active. That means you won’t have to transfer all the points out to another loyalty program, and you can maintain the flexibility of those points by keeping them in the Amex account. If you’ve follow the points game for long you’ll know that Amex’s Business Gold Rewards card has relatively frequent 50K-75K bonuses, but they usually only last a few days. Hopefully you can wait for that offer.
If not, then the current offer for the Business Platinum card is 25K points and the Business Green Rewards card is a whopping 5K points. There’s currently no offer for the Gold card, but that will likely change soon.
Update: I got a lot of questions about the Green Card. Note that the T&Cs for the Personal Platinum card says “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months or any Consumer ZYNC®, Green or Gold Card account within the last 90 days.” That means if you get the Green Card now and cancel in a year, you’ll still have to wait 90 days before being eligible for the bonus on the Platinum card again!
Similar terms apply to the Premier Rewards Gold card.
Once you’re approved and have activated your Business card and ensured that it’s linked to your Amex account, you can cancel your personal cards. You’ll have successfully earned a new bonus and kept your account active. Take the year to take advantage of the Business card’s benefits.
One year after getting approved for your Business card(s), the annual fee will come due. Hopefully you’ve taken advantage of the benefits of the card during the previous year. The next thing you’ll need to do is make sure your personal cards have been cancelled for 12 months, since you won’t be able to earn a new bonus until you’ve waited a full year. You can sign up for new personal cards once again after you’ve confirmed your last cancellation date was more than 12 months ago.
Then simply rinse and repeat.
Slight Alternative (This is What I Try to Do)
The above works best if there are big sign up bonuses every 12 months. Obviously that may not be the case, so the alternative would be to take the best bonus when you see it and cancel cards at the one year mark. That means that if you saw a 75K Business Gold bonus this past year, you would have signed up for it and then cancelled each card before your annual fee comes due (or prior if you want). But you’ll have to make sure you keep at least one card at all times, and that means you might have to pay the annual fee for a while until a worthy bonus becomes due. I personally think it’s worth it to do this, but your strategy may be different.
You’ll still have to wait at least a year before you can sign up again, but at least you know you got the best bonuses available at the time!
So whatever your strategy, let’s all just hope that a new, amazing offer comes around very soon!