TPG reader question: What happens to my Membership Rewards points if I cancel my American Express card?

Mar 27, 2022

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card, points and miles and general travel questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguyuk, message us on Facebook or email us at ben.smithson@thepointsguy.co.uk.


Membership Rewards, the points currency of American Express are very flexible — you can transfer them to a wide range of airline and hotel partner loyalty programmes when, and how you want to. This means you might redeem them through the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme one day, and the Emirates Skywards programme the next.

Related: The ultimate guide to UK American Express Membership Rewards

We recommend keeping your Membership Rewards points in your American Express account until you know exactly how you want to use them for maximum flexibility. Remember that transfers are only allowed one way, so if you transfer them to Virgin Atlantic, but then decide you’d rather use them with British Airways, you can’t move them back to American Express (or onto BA).

But what happens if you want to cancel the card the points were earned from? That brings us to this week’s TPG reader question of the week.

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I have the Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express UK and have accrued 100,000 Membership Rewards points. If I close the card, where do my points go? Do I have to move them before I close the account?

Kevin, TPG reader

If Kevin calls American Express to cancel his card, he will likely be advised that he should redeem his points before he closes the card, because he will forfeit them without an active Membership Rewards account. TPG currently values those 100,000 Membership Rewards points at £1,400, so this is a valuable asset worth keeping alive.

If he doesn’t want to transfer them to an airline or hotel partner there and then, he could alternatively choose to switch to a no annual fee Membership Rewards earning credit card like the Rewards Credit Card from American Express.

While he would not be eligible for the welcome bonus because of Amex’s restrictions, having this card would keep his Membership Rewards account active. He would then be able to use the 100,000 Membership Rewards points he has already earned, when and how he wanted to without the risk of forfeiting them. He should ensure any card he chooses to switch to earns Membership Rewards (rather than just cashback or Avios) to keep his existing points safe.

He may also be offered a retention offer to keep the gold card, such as waiving the annual fee for the following year, but these offers vary from cardmember to cardmember.

Related: TPG UK’s 7 credit card commandments

Featured image by Liam Spencer / The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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