And now its American Express India’s turn to downgrade Membership Rewards

Sigh, it is the season of downgrade of benefits and American Express does not want to be left far behind from the pack. They have decided to close 2011 on a high note by sending me (amongst several other) cardmembers with a very nicely wrapped letter which has 2 layers of envelopes before you get to the letter itself. Now you think, this arriving right after Christmas must be Santa Amex Claus sending you a Lotto ticket to win in the MR sweepstakes. But all it comes to is an intimation on the downgrades which kick in a few weeks from now.

If you’ve been reading up about my American Express Gold Card adventures, I’ve been pretty happy with them so far, in fact exceedingly happy as of now with a fraud charge that was taken care of. I’ll write more about that another time. Right now, the American Express Gold Charge Card, which has been one of my frequent use cards of late, is seeing the earning potential of MR points going down from 20 January 2012:

  • For every Rs. 100 spent, earlier one used to get 2.5 MR points. Now, for paying your bills and buying fuel, you will get 1 MR point per Rs. 100 spent, and 2 MR point for other purchases
  • The 5X MR points for retail spend on weekend is over. Now, it gets replaced by a supermarkets and groceries shopping program where you get 5X MR reward points for buying groceries, till June 30 2012.


Now, while I hope to find a neighborhood grocery or supermarket which accepts American Express in Mumbai, I have another bigger problem at hand. This one got to do with a new charge being introduced on Air Miles conversion. American Express is now going to mint money by charging Rs. 250 plus applicable taxes everytime I decided to sweep miles into my Mileage account.

I almost feel foolish, for leaving behind the Kingfisher 20% extra miles offer which was valid till 30 November 2011. Now that Kingfisher is going to finally join oneworld, I thought I finally had a real shot at redeeming those miles for a nice trip. I hope they come back with another offer in January 2012, something to celebrate joining oneworld and inspire trust in their frequent flyers.

Even the American Express Kingfisher Credit Card is going through a change

Now, this is via FT as of now but I hope to receive a communication with my next statement due next week. American Express will discontinue the 10x Platinum Rewards and 5x Rewards on Airtel for KF-AX members with effect from January 15, 2012. This also means, I am taking away my standing instructions to pay my Airtel bills to another card, such as this Citi one.

Ethics and Moral Question

Airlines and Hotels have done this enough, to downgrade programs within 36 hours to a few days notice this gone year. But for a card product, I would assume the original assumptions at signup would be valid till the time the card comes up for renewal. So, do you think this 30 day notice business is funny or is it fair on the part of Amex to change the rules of the game midway! Feel free to get a discussion started in the comments below.

In the meanwhile, if you know of grocery stores in Mumbai which accept an Amex, do let me know also! 😉


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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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