Several years ago, I told both my dad and his wife to sign up for the American Express Gold card. It was pricey for them, carrying a $195 annual fee. The cost was justifiable because the card provided a $100 airline fee benefit, lowering the cost to $95, which was the same amount charged for entry-level travel cards from Chase and Citi.
The American Express Gold card paid bonus Membership Rewards points for flights booked with airlines, restaurants, and supermarkets, some of their largest expenses. They carried the card for several years, using the air travel credit by purchasing Delta gift cards. Then AMEX shut down the gift card loophole, making it difficult to use the credit.
They liked the card because of the use they got from the miles. For 136,000 Membership Rewards transferred to ANA, they flew to Bali and home from Bangkok in lie-flat business class seats.
In 2018, AMEX revamped the Gold card by increasing the bonus points earned and adding a $10 monthly statement credit for purchases at Shake Shack, The Cheesecake Factory or meal delivery from GrubHub or Seamless. With these changes, the annual fee was increased to $250.
It was getting harder to tell them to pay the annual fee. Then came 2020. They aren’t traveling anytime soon and they don’t visit any of the places to use the $10 monthly credit on dining.
American Express just made my decision easier by announcing that the $100 air travel credit will be eliminated as of 2022. It’s being replaces by a $10 monthly Uber credit. I don’t think my dad and his wife have ever used a rideshare service.
If I’m going to tell them to cancel the Gold card, I need to make sure they don’t lose the Membership Rewards in their accounts. I’d still like them to have a card that earns a good restaurant and supermarket spending bonus. One option could be for them to downgrade the Gold Card to the AMEX Green Card.
The Green Card has a $150 annual fee and earns 3x Membership Rewards points for restaurants and travel expenses. This is good because even before the coronavirus pandemic, much of their travel was taking long road trips.
It doesn’t solve the grocery store problem but that’s not a huge deal. They do a fair share of Costco shopping and use the Costco credit card for those charges.
If I just wanted to get them a card to park the points until they have a use for them, I’d suggest they get a no-annual-fee AMEX Everyday card. It’s one of the only free cards that allow cardholders to transfer points to travel partners.
Looking at their situation and seeing how a card that previously was a good fit for them was slowly transformed into one that didn’t suit their needs. It makes sense to look at all of your cards in this way. Are they still meeting the need you had when you signed up? A card may become before more valuable in some cases, but in other instances, it’s best to start looking for an exit strategy.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary