Changes to the American Express Membership Rewards program are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 8.
According to American Express, the changes are necessary to bring the Membership Rewards program more in line with the way in which members are actually earning and using their points. Originally, Membership Rewards was designed with the intention of competing with various airline credit cards (thus the original name — Membership Miles). But as the program has grown, it has evolved into something quite different.
One of the biggest changes; American Express will only offer the Membership Rewards basic program on American Express Green and Gold cards (and on OPEN Green, Gold and Executive Business and Costco cards). Cutting down on the number of cards and options available should make for a simpler and easier-to-understand program. We already think it’s easier to understand.
Probably the most significant change, however, is the elimination of the double everyday spending bonus. That’s right, members will no longer accrue two Membership Rewards points for each dollar of “everyday spend” charged to linked accounts, reverting instead to earning one point for each dollar of “everyday spend.”
For many, the loss of double points at supermarkets, gasoline stations, drug stores and home improvement stores is going to be tough pill to swallow. American Express is attempting to offset this loss with a new bonus point earning feature — the Bonus Point Mall.
American Express’s Bonus Point Mall features over 100 top brand name online retailers, such as saks.com, target.com, barnesandnoble.com and the gap.com, and members will earn two points for every dollar spent when shopping through this Membership Rewards portal.
There is little doubt that members of all types of programs are increasingly spending online, and this change will likely benefit more members than it will hurt.
The elimination of the double everyday bonus does not effect American Express Delta SkyMiles cards, Blue Cash or other American Express cards with special bonuses, except for cards that had the double everyday spending bonus.
Additional changes are expected in 2007, including changes to the way current Membership Rewards Options members can transfer points into airline or hotel loyalty programs. We’ll keep you updated on those changes as they happen.
Until all the components are comfortably in place we don’t know where the program will ultimately land.