When American Express, on my American Express Kingfisher First Credit Card decided to compulsorily sweep all my Membership Rewards points onto my King Club account every month as of May 2011, I was not very impressed with them. This because the original contract between us was about earning Membership Reward points, and I could choose to use them on any other reward as well at that point of time. I used to time my sweep to Kingfisher’s program with a bonus, so that I could earn the few extra miles.
To placate me, American Express offered to issue me the newly relaunched Gold Charge Card, which usually comes free for the first year from the Amex stable. Their line was, that with this card, I could now decide to split my spends the way I deemed fit. I was not completely happy, since I also had to gun for my INR 7,00,000 (USD 14,000) spend on the Kingfisher First Amex per annum. Achieving this milestone would have gotten me 2 free round trips to anywhere in India in the business cabin of Kingfisher Airlines, and this was transferable.
However, I note that I did manage to complete that spend, and that with a good amount of time to spare 😉
I have been spending quite a bit on my American Express Gold Charge Card yet, and sweeping away all the MR points I could lay my hands on so far. With no pre-set spending limits, I really had the flexibility of starting to put big charges on this card, without having to think of residual credit limits. Also, the card has been structured well to afford you as many MR points as possible as of this moment.
For instance, if you spend using the card, for a minimum amount of INR 250 (USD 5), you get a 1,000 MR points to do that. 12 months, you could add up a significant 12K MR points, good for transfer to frequent flier accounts. Also, on enlisting a bill payment (as a standing instruction) with this card, one could get another 1,000 MR points. Since I am bad at keeping track of the zillions of bills I have to pay, I just filled up a form and sent the instructions along to them to get me on board.
Also, while there are no travel related benefits, MRs are clearly THE travel related benefit of this card. For shopping done on the weekend, one could earn a potential 1,200 MRs extra. Amex offers the 5 times rewards on weekend shopping on this card, for a limit of INR 12,000 per month. So, last month I put a big tab on this card, and I easily earned those points.
Also, as is the usual and known to everyone fact, American Express agents are empowered and nice to talk to. Conversations with Amex start with a how are you doing today rather than cutting straight to business. Also, they are out to help you rather than making sure they are just helping themselves. I discovered my 1,200 extra miles were not on board in the statement generated for last month. This is a conversation I had on Saturday evening with them.
AJ: You will notice that I made a charge for INR 21,000 on October 23.
AX: Yes Sir.
AJ: Under the 5X Weekend Shopping program, I should have earned more eligible MR points for this transaction, however that is not the case in the statement
AX: Let me check sir.
AX: I notice sir the required points have not been credited. I want to check with you, 1200 MR points need to be credited for the INR 12,000 Weekend Spending. Correct?
AJ: Yes that is correct
AX: Sir, I am going ahead and crediting 1200 MR points to your account right away.
AJ: Thank you. I just wanted to know if this is a manual computation process usually.
AX: No sir, we are sorry you had to call this one time. We will make sure that going forward you won’t need to call us for these things.
AJ: Thank you and that is not a problem.
That was how easy it was to get this done. If I would have called any other bank where I hold a card account, they’d have insisted they were right, made me go round in circles and then gotten it done eventually but a few months down.
That is why my AX Gold Card is just going places now. And yes, if AX really made the AX Platinum in India the same price as the US, maybe I’d go ahead and pick that up too!