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American Express has changed the way it processes online transfers of Membership Rewards® points to outside mileage accounts with its many valuable airline and hotel partners.
You can no longer transfer to accounts that don’t match the name of an authorized cardholder.
So for example if your name is C.F. Frost you can only transfer to mileage accounts that have the name C.F. Frost associated with them.
Not even if it’s a family member living at your address.
That’s an inconvenience if you enjoyed easily being able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a spouse or child’s account to better pool points.
But there is still a way to transfer points to family members.
The key is they must be authorized additional cardholders first.
You can add additional cardholders to your account online.
Just login to AmericanExpress.com and choose ‘Add Others to Your Account’ from the ‘Account Services’ section. You’ll be prompted to select the card and enter personal information about the new authorized user.
It’s more of a hassle, and you only want to do this with your closest family members like your spouse, but it does let you pool points any time.
And your Membership Rewards points are more secure this way, making it less likely someone can transfer points to an unknown account without your knowledge.
What about The Platinum Card® from American Express?
The Platinum Card® from American Express poses a problem for this strategy because if you add an additional cardholder you have to pay a $175 per year fee.
The good news is the additional cardholder gets to take advantage of the lounge access and other travel benefits of the card, but it’s an expensive price to pay if you just want to pool some points with your spouse.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is part of the full fledged Membership Rewards® program, so when you activate the card it will link to your main Membership Rewards® account, and additional cardholders of The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express can take advantage of point transfers from your main Membership Rewards® account.
That lets you avoid the $175 additional cardholder fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express. But you do have to go through the process of applying for The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.
What about non-family?
Where this hurts are couples who don’t yet share their finances, or members who like to send points to friends and family as gifts to help top off an account.
Officially the program was never meant to allow this, but the way the website was implemented let you take advantage of those opportunities.
Those options are now gone.
And these rules are similar to Chase Ultimate Rewards®, which has been known to audit and crack down on accounts that sent points to people outside the cardholder’s household.