Update 3/9/21: Re-publishing this post for those considering the Mint coin deal this Thursday. See the section about coins and bullion potentially not earning rewards and incurring cash advance fees.
As reported yesterday by Travel with Grant, Amex has indicated a couple of key upcoming changes in notes on recent card statements that there will be a couple of negative changes coming in January 2021: transfers to El Al will no longer be available starting on 1/1/21 and purchases of ““precious metal coins or bullion” have been added to the definition of a cash advance as of 1/15/21.
Losing El Al
Greg covered this change on our Transfer Partner Master List last night. While El Al has long had an awful award chart, I believe that you could earn elite status by transferring points from Amex (I believe that 5,000 points transferred can get you elite status with El Al). I don’t believe the elite program has many benefits, but perhaps there was some appeal there for some customers.
Given the pandemic and ownership changing hands, it isn’t shocking to see El Al partnerships change and this likely won’t be a huge loss for Membership Rewards.
Coin & Bullion purchases excluded from rewards
Update: As per the update at the top of this post, the information below has changed as of 10/1/21. Coins and bullion is longer be included in the definition of a cash advance. H/T: Travel With Grant has caught
The bigger piece of news to me was that on January 15, 2021 Amex is adding coins and bullion to the list of the types of purchases that define a cash advance. This likely means that US Mint purchases (like for the recent $3,000 palladium coin) will no longer earn rewards (and may in fact incur a cash advance fee). That’s a pretty customer-unfriendly move in my opinion. What ordinary customer would expect not to earn rewards when buying merchandise from a merchant presumably partnering with Amex (in the sense that they accept Amex cards for payment)? After that news story a few years ago about the billionaire in Hong Kong who bought a Modigliani painting for $170 million on an Amex and earned two billion Membership Rewards points, who wouldn’t expect collectibles to earn rewards?
Apparently rare art is different than rare coins and a $170 million purchase is not a cash advance but your $3K coin might be, so keep that in mind moving forward.
The loss of El Al as a transfer partner probably isn’t huge for most customers. The change regarding coin and bullion purchases is one that may catch some customers off-guard if they haven’t watched their statements closely for this message. This is a good reminder to keep your eye on the fine print.
H/T: Travel with Grant
[…] For instance, Amex did that for a while. It’s best to examine along with your card issuer what they contemplate as a money […]
I’m totally confused.
Is it possible to do a brand new post about what you are trying to tell us.
The title made it sound (to me) like the update is that it may code as a cash advance.
Maybe clarify (after “update”) that it won’t?
With the latest PFS deal out, I was wondering if there were any DP on AMEX at this point? Thought we might’ve heard something by now on how AMEX handled these, good or bad. Is Paypal a work around for AMEX?
[…] This content was originally published here. […]
Also curious if anyone has any data points for AX use at mnt.gov. I’m currently working on a $15k SUB but didn’t want to to chance getting hit with fees for such a large amount.
A member of our Facebook group reported using an Amex with her cash advance limit set to $0 and the purchase has at least initially gone through. Obviously won’t know for at least a few days if it earned points and I think there’s still a small chance it could code differently when it posts than how it was authorized, but it’s at least an encouraging sign.
Wow glad this came to the surface as I was gonna use Blue+ for it, so no pie for them, i will use DoubleCash instead. thx!
New US Mint deal today – the first since these changes… sad as I would love to stick this on my amex
With a new coin deal from PFS on the way, this issue has some new relevance. Are there any experiences using Amex as US Mint since January 15th? Is there a way to reach out to Amex and ask them if this new policy specifically applies to purchases from the US Mint? (Something more reliable than calling customer service)
I chatted with US Mint to ask if they knew of any issues with cash advances on Amex, and they said no, for what it’s worth.
[…] Express will reportedly code coin and bullion purchases as cash advances — as of January 15, 2021. If you’d rather not understandably risk not getting hit with a cash advance charge and not […]
JMHO but I think/hope that Amex is talking about Bullion/PMs that buy/sell for a percentage over/under spot i.e
Kitco/APMEX and not GovMint – which sells collectibles that sell at a considerable premium over the spot metal price.
I’m curious, do you think that Amex will claw back for the recent $3000 deal if done for the SUB? Or just for situations that occur after the 2021 implementation date? I’ve heard of RAT clawbacks but I’m unsure of this particular deal…
Good – Amex and others are trying to close the door on the moochers that game the system with gift cards and other purchases. I seriously doubt the vast majority of people that buy gold or coins with their Amex are true collectors. Most likely already have a deal to sell it and are just using it as a ruse to run up points. For people that REALLY are collectors you can certainly afford to pay cash instead of buying it on a credit card. People it isn’t all about you and your perceived inconvenience. The merchants and card companies have to look out for their interests as they should!
A couple of thoughts about this:
1) Credit cards exist entirely for convenience. Surely you could pay for everything in cash rather than credit or go through the process to secure a loan for those things which you can’t afford to buy but perceive that you need. The market need that credit cards fill is precisely the convenience of paying for things without carrying cash or checks and the ability to access loaned capital with speed. I’d argue that it is in fact entirely about convenience to the consumer — otherwise one would indeed pay cash for everything and/or secure loaned money at much reduced interest rates and credit cards would not exist.
2) In terms of looking out for their own interests, issuers presumably do just that when they charge merchants swipe fees and when they collect interest fees on purchases from consumers.The decision to offer rewards for purchases is precisely to get more opportunity to earn profits from those avenues.
3) Regarding collectibles, I don’t think anyone buying a $170 million painting is doing it primarily for the love of art. Fine art is an investment vehicle. Someone with the money to invest in that is looking to diversify their portfolio as they already own significant quantities of equities, bonds, real estate, etc. They may not be buying it to flip it for a $50 profit, but make no mistake about it that they are buying it expecting it to appreciate in value no differently than someone buying a Mint coin that they know will appreciate for a quick $50 profit.
4) To return to the key point, it doesn’t seem to me reasonable to expect the consumer to know that buying a Star Wars figurine from Target to resell on eBay is a purchase and buying a coin from the Mint to resell to a buyer’s club is a cash advance. That’s the problem here: the US Mint sells collector’s items. You can’t carry a palladium coin into your grocery store and buy your groceries with it or bring it to a used car dealer and buy a car with it or mail it to your mortgage lender and pay your mortgage with it because it isn’t money, it’s a collectible. The reason coins command a premium over spot is precisely because of their collectibility. Whether you’re buying it for your collection or for a gift to a collector or to sell to a collector willing to pay more than you did is entirely irrelevant. If Amex has engaged in an agreement with a merchant to be able to accept their credit cards as payment for a physical product, you shouldn’t be charged a cash advance for that purchase in my opinion regardless of the impetus for your purchase.
I think the big problem with the coin thing from the perspective you raise is that it is easy to mistakenly think of coins as money since there are also coins that are money. But in the case of collectible coins from the Mint, they aren’t something you can pop into a vending machine. The coin in this case isn’t money, the coin is just a decorative form – a shape for the metal. If that metal were instead shaped like a ring or a necklace, would you still think it should code as a cash advance? I wouldn’t. Sure, a ring or necklace is made of a metal with monetary value, but it’s primary value is as something pretty to own. It’s a product to buy, not a cash advance. I think coins and bullion are the same.
Makes your really wonder what the RAT is thinking. Best not buy any sterling silver flatware or a diamond engagement ring as you can see the claw scratching on the wall.
Welcome back, Nick. You said it well about the coin purchase.