This week has seen some setbacks for the serious Canadian travel hackers and American Express is the worst of it. It’s been on the flyertalk forums for months and then I noticed this on the footnotes for the Amex gold rewards card on the Canadian site.
“ for current or former American Express®Gold Rewards Cardmembers, we may approve your application, but you will not be eligible for the welcome bonus. “
Over the last few months, I have noticed talk of Amex Canada ending the ability to churn their cards over short periods of time, but I was not expecting the time frame to be a lifetime. Personally, I was expecting something along the lines of a 6 or 12 month period between cards to cut down the amount of extreme gaming of the system that is taking place. I can understand that being a good business decision for American Express, but a lifetime is a bit too much really.
Churning cards is the process of applying for a credit card to get the bonus points and then cancelling them once you have earned the bonus points or welcome points. Last year, most of the points I earned came with an annual fee waived for the first year and I would cancel that card before the end of that year. I was not really churning cards too heavy or fast for the points but I was hopeful to get some churning done this winter.
If you have a churn in process with Amex, you should contact their customer service line asap.
Things to keep in mind are that we as Canadians could see a lull in lucrative credit card signup bonuses and patience could be a rewarding virtue here. We could see a number of signup bonus offers rise after the dust settles and positive things could change, so don’t despair.
I feel that American Express could have done a better job in controlling the gaming by increasing the minimum spending on these cards. That would have generated more revenue without killing the program. It would have been a better way to continue this profitable operation for both cardholders and American Express. Amex is expensive on retailers and accepted almost nowhere when it comes to local business; the additional points made the effort worth travel hackers time and energy. In general I have been less impressed with Amex when it comes down to overall point earning and customer service.
Some good news shop.ca has a 15x Aeroplan bonus being run for Canada day so be sure to check that out.