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Frustration with AMEX Skymiles card benefits during COVID19.

Frustration with AMEX Skymiles card benefits during COVID19.

Old Jun 4, 20, 12:06 am
  #1  
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Frustration with AMEX Skymiles card benefits during COVID19.

First of all, please feel free to light me up if this has already been raised. I searched the forum and only found a generic thread to American Express's benefits added to their cards. I am moreso coming at this from a Delta flights/benefits perspective and thought it was worth a conversation here. I signed up for the Delta Reserve card ($500 annual fee) and added a card member ($200 annual fee) primarily because my wife and I had a ton of travel planned for 2020 and wanted the Sky Club access. This worked amazingly for the first couple months of 2020, but then COVID struck. I get that companies aren't required to do anything for you as a result of a pandemic, but I've been awestruck and grateful at how generous companies have been about extending statuses (look at what Delta did!), refunding reservations (even a small mom & pop hotel in Alaska provided me a full refund for canceled travel), etc. It is not going unnoticed in my book which companies are providing over-the-top customer service and I will reward them with much more business in the coming years.

On the other hand, I have quite frankly been disgusted by AMEX's response to COVID. It seems they are doing more for some cardholders than others, but their only benefit for the Delta Reserve and Platinum card holders is 4x miles at supermarkets. And that benefit was only added after I had spent hundreds of dollars stocking my pantry in the early months of the virus. Today I got another email from them that they are giving me 3 months free access to some random workout website. This put me over the top. They are doing some kind of shared marketing campaign and attempting to use it to pretend they are providing good customer service. I contacted their support in despair and they told me (in so many words) that I should be grateful that they have added the benefits they have, as nothing is required of them. And that is accurate. However, seeing how generous other companies have been makes me think I should cancel all my AMEX cards. They make soooooooo much money off all of us in their commissions, etc. Why can they not offer to waive annual fees for the upcoming year? That would be a drop in the bucket and go a huge way towards offering some semblance of humanity in what has turned out to be a historically awful 2020 for so many reasons. Delta and other companies are putting AMEX to absolute shame!!

What do you all think? Am I being dramatic? Should AMEX be doing more?
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Old Jun 4, 20, 12:39 am
  #2  
 
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I downgraded my two Reserve cards to the basic level. That's $1000 that AMEX isn't getting this year. I suggest everyone do the same since they aren't getting any real benefits with travel down so much. I didn't cancel outright since I don't want to take a hit to credit scores.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 1:09 am
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by computerdude103 View Post
First of all, please feel free to light me up if this has already been raised. I searched the forum and only found a generic thread to American Express's benefits added to their cards. I am moreso coming at this from a Delta flights/benefits perspective and thought it was worth a conversation here. I signed up for the Delta Reserve card ($500 annual fee) and added a card member ($200 annual fee) primarily because my wife and I had a ton of travel planned for 2020 and wanted the Sky Club access. This worked amazingly for the first couple months of 2020, but then COVID struck. I get that companies aren't required to do anything for you as a result of a pandemic, but I've been awestruck and grateful at how generous companies have been about extending statuses (look at what Delta did!), refunding reservations (even a small mom & pop hotel in Alaska provided me a full refund for canceled travel), etc. It is not going unnoticed in my book which companies are providing over-the-top customer service and I will reward them with much more business in the coming years.

On the other hand, I have quite frankly been disgusted by AMEX's response to COVID. It seems they are doing more for some cardholders than others, but their only benefit for the Delta Reserve and Platinum card holders is 4x miles at supermarkets. And that benefit was only added after I had spent hundreds of dollars stocking my pantry in the early months of the virus. Today I got another email from them that they are giving me 3 months free access to some random workout website. This put me over the top. They are doing some kind of shared marketing campaign and attempting to use it to pretend they are providing good customer service. I contacted their support in despair and they told me (in so many words) that I should be grateful that they have added the benefits they have, as nothing is required of them. And that is accurate. However, seeing how generous other companies have been makes me think I should cancel all my AMEX cards. They make soooooooo much money off all of us in their commissions, etc. Why can they not offer to waive annual fees for the upcoming year? That would be a drop in the bucket and go a huge way towards offering some semblance of humanity in what has turned out to be a historically awful 2020 for so many reasons. Delta and other companies are putting AMEX to absolute shame!!

What do you all think? Am I being dramatic? Should AMEX be doing more?
If you're worried you're being dramatic, you could always redeem the 12 months of Calm Premium that Amex is offering cardholders.

In all seriousness, I'm also seriously disappointed in the benefits offered to Delta cardholders, but I think disgusted is probably a too-strong term that should be reserved for serious customer service failures. In the current situation, your best move is to just to make a calculated decision to downgrade your cards temporarily to the Platinum or Gold. I suspect that when you call to do that, you might even be offered a retention offer that will make up a substantial part of the difference to you.

Amex offered totally reasonable benefits to compensate for COVID-19 on their non-affiliated Platinum card, including a multi-hundred-dollar streaming reimbursement benefit I value quite a bit. I wish they'd done the same on the cobranded products.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 1:18 am
  #4  
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Originally Posted by BenA View Post
If you're worried you're being dramatic, you could always redeem the 12 months of Calm Premium that Amex is offering cardholders.

In all seriousness, I'm also seriously disappointed in the benefits offered to Delta cardholders, but I think disgusted is probably a too-strong term that should be reserved for serious customer service failures. In the current situation, your best move is to just to make a calculated decision to downgrade your cards temporarily to the Platinum or Gold. I suspect that when you call to do that, you might even be offered a retention offer that will make up a substantial part of the difference to you.

Amex offered totally reasonable benefits to compensate for COVID-19 on their non-affiliated Platinum card, including a multi-hundred-dollar streaming reimbursement benefit I value quite a bit. I wish they'd done the same on the cobranded products.
That's fair. I'll admit, disgusted was a strong term. I guess my frustrations just hit a new level today with the current world we live in and then American Express sends an email with some random workout company they are giving us a 3 month trial for. And then they make it seem like they are doing us some huge favor. It's like no, I paid $700 for benefits I can't use. Annual fees are already shady as it is, since they make sooo much commission off these "higher roller" cards. Anyways, apologize for the dramatics, but when you see mom and pop type shops putting themselves out of business to do the right thing, it is quite frustrating to see trillion dollars companies like amex pinching pennies (which is what these annual fees are to them).
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Old Jun 4, 20, 4:00 am
  #5  
 
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I understand your frustration. I normally put the majority of my spend on the AMEX DL Platinum card for MQD waiver purposes. Due to COVID I have had so many trip cancellations/refunds that while I would normally be hitting the $25K waiver around now (mid year) but I'm down to only about $11K spend so far on the card. While the waiver doesn't matter anymore due to the status extension this year, I have had so many refunds (many of them DL with the 3x miles) that I am at a "negative" skymiles accrual. While over the last two statements AMEX/DL have not debited my DL account, I have not accrued any due to refunds/credits, and have almost $4K worth of miles/spend to re-accrue before I am out of the negative and back to accruing again. Still, all I've gotten from AMEX is a free "Calm" membership (which I actually plan to sign up for) and I just paid my annual fee a month or two ago. I received only mediocre service in initiating a COVID-related chargeback, though I am now "double credited" due to AMEX's error. Frustrating, but I'm sure we all will experience it to some degree during these times.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 5:05 am
  #6  
 
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OP said twice Amex makes “sooooo much money” on Reserve cards but is that really true? My guess is that actually the lower tier cards generate much more revenue. Probably many more cards out there with a higher rate of them carrying balances.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:24 am
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by DLASflyer View Post
OP said twice Amex makes “sooooo much money” on Reserve cards but is that really true? My guess is that actually the lower tier cards generate much more revenue. Probably many more cards out there with a higher rate of them carrying balances.
My guess is they make much more in merchant fees off the higher-tier cards and much less in user fees.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 9:48 am
  #8  
mia
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Originally Posted by computerdude103 View Post
....they make sooo much commission off these "higher roller" cards.
American Express uses a material portion of the transaction fees to buy the Skymiles that you receive for every dollar spent.
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Last edited by mia; Jun 4, 20 at 9:54 am
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Old Jun 4, 20, 10:12 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by acrophobia View Post
My guess is they make much more in merchant fees off the higher-tier cards and much less in user fees.
To keep things simple, Amex 2019 total non-interest revenues of $34.9bn break down into $26.2bn (75%) in discount revenues (merchant fees), $4.0bn (11%) in annual fees, $3.3bn (9%) in fx commissions, and $1.4bn (4%) in other revenues.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
Amex 2019 total non-interest revenues of $34.9bn break down into $26.2bn (75%) in discount revenues (merchant fees), $4.0bn (11%) in annual fees.
Which indicates AX would prefer to reduce or concede the annual fee to keep big spenders spending than drive them off because the fee has become an issue. Low spenders, it's more of a judgment call; they have algorithms for that.
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Old Jun 4, 20, 7:05 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by computerdude103 View Post
And that benefit was only added after I had spent hundreds of dollars stocking my pantry in the early months of the virus.
So let's blame Amex for doing something nice for the customer because you got suckered into panic buying?
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Old Jun 4, 20, 11:23 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by computerdude103 View Post
What do you all think? Am I being dramatic? Should AMEX be doing more?
You know, it's a cobrand. The AMEX Hilton is getting a lot more stuff than the AMEX Delta cards- 12x on groceries, bonused spend counts for lifetime status, the $250 Aspire resort credit can be used for restaurants and delivery, the free nights being issued the rest of the year are good for ANY night, not just weekends, and are good through 24 months not 12.

AMEX Platinum and Green got some love too in new benefits.

I think you can reasonably conclude that Delta at least gets some of the blame here- they could work with AMEX to issue better benefits to replace SkyClub access, they have chosen not to other than more miles for groceries (which isn't nothing, blaming them for not giving you a benefit precisely when you were going to buy extra groceries is a bit of a reach). Also keep in mind the cards were changed in 2020 (not entirely for the better IMO). Delta's fingerprints are over that as well.

So did you sign up for the card this year? You did get a whopping big ol' slug of miles with that signup, right? If so... might not want to downgrade, AMEX takes a dim view of taking the miles and not keeping the card for a year. And if you did, you still have those miles. $700 for potentially 3 digits of SkyMiles isn't terrible.
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Old Jun 5, 20, 3:11 am
  #13  
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The Hilton 12X grocery perk ends 7/31.
The restaurant $250 perk has restrictions which aren't well defined: "restaurants located in Casinos may not count". Do take-out only count? [Many Chinese "restaurants" (they have 4 tables--off limits now) are mainly t/o.] What about SUBWAY?
I'm assuming restaurants located in Hilton (non-resort) sites are now OK.
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Old Jun 5, 20, 5:46 am
  #14  
mia
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Originally Posted by nrr View Post
.... "restaurants located in Casinos may not count". ....
This isn't a restriction, it reflects the commercial reality that restaurants located inside other businesses often use the merchant account of the larger business, and the transaction will not be seen as one at a restaurant. Every card issuer that offers category bonuses grapples with these problems. The only way to know for sure is to make a purchase.
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Old Jun 6, 20, 9:15 am
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Downgraded from Reserve to Delta Blue. That is now in my drawer because we got the Amex Platinum. Almost pays for itself this year. Streaming and Mobile credits, Uber credits, $200 airline credit, etc. Still get access to the lounges, actually better because you get Delta, Centurion and all the Priority Pass lounges. May never go back to Reserve after the experiences with both cards.

The + for the Reserve is the companion certificate...but I have burned so many of those, that I do not consider it a significant value. (Versus say the free night stay on the Bonvoy card, which I use every year....while lower monetary value, I at least use it) I get lounge access with the Platinum Amex (non-Delta). So then it comes down to how you value the MQD waiver and the MQM bonuses. Obviously, I voted on that already by downgrading!
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