Amex bites the bullet on the Kingfisher Amex Credit Card

The Kingfisher First American Express Credit Card was my first American Express Card ever and I had picked it up for all the good flying benefits that came with it in late 2010. You got a KingClub Gold tier membership straight away, and the ability to earn American Express MembershipReward Points which you could use to transfer to Kingfisher’s KingClub. All this was adding up well till the good times lasted and Kingfisher Airlines was going to join oneworld.

Down the line, last April (2011) Kingfisher and American Express decided to take the co-branding a step further, and compulsorily transfer all the accumulated MR Points every month to the KingClub Account. So, my rant on this was that I could no longer in control of my mileage earning and use my miles for anything else but the KingClub program, which was not the product concept I had signed up for. Regardless, I continued to use the card and accumulate miles, hoping I would be able to use them on oneworld sometime. I got the free business class tickets though!

With the downward spiral that Kingfisher Airlines is in right now, I’d been asking the American Express Executive Office in India the same question a few times, “Why are you guys still forcing me to accumulate KingClub Miles when they are practically turning worthless every moment?”. I also requested people to burn their miles as fast as they could.

A tad bit late, but American Express did decide to do something about it. First up, I hear they’ve stopped issuing new American Express Kingfisher First Credit Cards. On their own lead-generation website, the links to the Kingfisher Amex are gone.

Next, I got an email from American Express last afternoon, which informed me that the card was going back on its old ways of collecting MR points, which could be used to transfer on KingClub, or any of the 600 MR Reward partners in India.  Here is a part of the official communication:

As you are aware, your American Express Kingfisher First Credit Card automatically earns you King Miles on all your spending on the Card. With effect from April 27, 2012, all your future spending on the American Express Kingfisher First Credit Card will earn you Membership Rewards Points.

What this means is that you can redeem these Membership Rewards Points for King Miles at your convenience. In addition, as a member of the Membership Rewards Programme you also have the flexibility and choice to redeem your Points for hundreds of Rewards offered by the one of the most powerful Rewards Programme in the country – The American Express Membership Rewards.

However, what is clearly stated is also that you cannot use the MR points on this card to transfer them to your Air India Flying Returns account or your Jet Airways JetPrivilege Account. The other benefits such as complimentary Gold KingClub membership remains.

The email also stated:

Please do note that King Miles already accrued and credited to your King Club Account will continue to be governed by King Club terms and conditions of Kingfisher Airlines.

Now this is where there is a fundamental disconnect between myself and American Express, something I have told them directly in the past but not addressed yet. The change to the features of the card was not something I had initiated but Amex-Kingfisher did on their own. And if American Express means to safeguard our interests, they should really do something about all the KingMiles forcefully converted from MR points via monthly sweeps. And then, I read this part of the email:

For how long will this  change of getting Membership Rewards Points on all spending in place of King  Miles be valid?

As of now this change has been made to protect the interest of our Cardmember. Any further changes going forward shall be notified to you appropriately.

Yeah right guys, you are partly there, but not fully. But I’m glad you’ve started the change.

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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