AMEX Starting to Suck (Aug 2018) - New Strategies Going Forward

About a month or two ago I noticed that AMEX changed their Blue Cash/Preferred page to no longer show how close to the total of the $6k annual cap you’ve spent on groceries. They now only show YTD rewards earned, which in theory could help you figure out how much left you have to spend, but in my case, I’ve upgraded from the regular cash to the preferred, and I was preferred briefly at the start of the year before the upgrade, so my numbers are not reflective of how much spend I have left.

I imagine either this is a temporary glitch in their system, or more likely, is an intentional change to obfuscate how much 6% bonus spend we have left to make it harder to “Game the system” by only putting $6k of groceries on there and then switching to a different card.

If that’s the case, and it’s what I imagine it is, I will be discontinuing use of the BCP card and cancelling it, because if I accidentally spend $9k on groceries per year (and get significantly reduced rewards for the additional $3k spend), or if I underspend and only put $4k on groceries, then it didn’t make sense for me to pay the $95 annual fee, relative to my other options.

Perhaps it’s only a problem for me, because I have mixed-reward totals for the year, so that portion of the page doesn’t help me determine how much I have left to spend.

But even once the reward year refreshes, it’s still a hassle to have to multiply the YTD rewards by 0.6 and then subtract from $6k to see how much I have left to spend before I sockdrawer the card.

This negative user interface change happened at the same time that the AMEX SPG card dropped from 3 Marriott Points per Dollar of spend, down to 2 points per dollar of spend, giving it a 33% reduction in rewards as of Aug 1st, making the card effectively useless to me for non-Marriott Hotel spend. Previously, since I value Marriott points at around 0.9 cents each, the 3 Marriott Points for non-category spend was my best reward card, and now it’s crap.

Additionally in the last few weeks, AMEX cut off the “Backdoor” method of adding the same AMEX spend offer on multiple cards.

In short, AMEX is becoming useless to me. I am not a churner. I do legitimately spend $50k per year on business expenses.

Going forward, I think Chase Sapphire Reserve combined with the 1.5% Unlimited Freedom (which becomes 2.25% if used for travel) will become my primary spenders with a smattering of 5% Ink Office expense, when Visa Gift Cards go on sale (which I use not for manufactured spending, but for small amount purchases of daily spending of non-category spend, such as going to a taco cart, because when these are on sale with no activation fees, and I get 5% UR (*1.5 travel bonus), it becomes 7.5% cash back, as long as the thing I’m buying is under $200 or if the seller lets me use multiple cards.

At least as long as Chase continues to allow UR mergers across internally owned credit cards.

I do imagine Chase will eventually close down the grandfathered 5% Ink Office card and also block UR transfers across cards, at which time I will just go to Alliant 2% for everything and close all of my Chase/AMEX cards to simplify my life.

Or more likely, keep one card open at AMEX and Chase just to maintain established relationships and then max out signup bonuses and the cancel the cards, for as long as they let me. But never use their cards for actual spend because it won’t be worth the hassle of juggling several credit cards and paying annual fees on premium cards to do only marginally better than my free 2% Alliant CC.


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AMEX allows you to add a customized “TAG” to selected purchases each month, then you can later pull up just those tagged items and their running total.


I’m not at the point yet of saying Amex “sucks,” but the value proposition (churner or not) is diminishing. Some other things that come to mind, beyond what you said:

  1. Amex Platinum’s increasing AF but decreasing perks.
  2. Amex becoming less churn friendly.

I still like my Amex cards, and they’re my daily driver. But part of me wants to sock drawer them so that I can just walk around with my Visa (because I can’t count on universal, Amex acceptance) and move on.

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Thanks for the update.

You can track category spend on the statement still, right? At least as of August 12th. But yes, it is annoying that this tracking is a month behind. Still, it gives me enough of an idea how close to the max I am.

I use BCP for groceries as well as indirectly (via gift card) for things like gas/Home Depot/Lowe’s/etc. that aren’t currently triggering a 5% category on Freedom or Discover. So I don’t have a 5% gas card for example since I can get 6% via gift card from the grocery store.

Agreed that the CSR/Freedom/Freedom Unlimited are an awesome combination. It’s especially nice that you can promote Player Two’s Freedom/FU points even though she doesn’t have CSR.

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Don’t overthink it. Amex Preferred shows the 6% supermarket rewards and on the left under Balance the pending rewards. $360 is the max you can receive at 6%, so just stop there if you want.

As statgren posted above, Amex shows spending by category on the statement.

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TripleB, rather than cancel the BCP, convert it to a Blue Cash Everyday (the no fee one that gets 3% on first $6k) once you’ve maxed the $6k for the year. I did this in 2016, & the next year Amex offered $150 to upgrade to BCP. Did this, & maxed the $360 in rewards for end of last year & another $360 for early this year, then downgraded again to BCE. They even rebated the pro-rated annual fee for what was left on the BCP year.

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you can still see your yearly spend to the penny on the bcp. Just log on/click “statements and activity”/click “recent activity”/scroll to “date range”/enter 1/1/2018 on from date…enter todays date in “to” box and you will see how much spend from 1/1/18. Hope this helps

also Amex old blue cash is the only and best card we have for ms…Can not get it now so dont know if they are cutting it off. But I was late to the ms game so I only had 1 card and it was unlimited…but closed by amex 10/14 w/0 warning. Then about a year later reopened app with a new version capped at 5655 spend. some poster on another forum said you can have more then “new blue cash card” AND they allowed previously closed down folks to reapply. And you can have more then one obc card. Family has a few and I am au on all. so you can net about about 1800 cash after fees. If you have a few cards its a great hobby. Maybe 8-10k clear yearly. Granted it takes alot of time and I work f/t And a new senior citizen. it keeps my brain working. Mostly buy card in groceries/cvs and get MO on weekends early in the am…So they never have said a word on my spend and continue to pay out. And they now tell you your next months payout if you click “track rewards”. It this card goes away…Im out of biz.

That’s an amazing strategy if I had a way of knowing when I hit $6k in spend, which I no longer do.

I thought the statement rewards were 2 months behind, not just one month. Which means I’d have to track two statements worth of stuff.

At my hourly billable rate, it’s just not worth it go through the hassle to make $100 extra CC rewards, relative to the $95 AF.

It’s $360 in rewards if I max out 6% spend at $6k exactly. Subtract $95 AF that’s $265.

I have a PenFed Card that gives me about 2.5% back on groceries, because it’s a 3 points per dollar grocery reward card, but the 3 points are only worth about 2.5 cents.

So the same $6k of spend is $150. That’s only $115 less than if I maxed out AMEX BCP.

And I don’t need to do spreadsheet tracking multiple times per year.

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if one uses my above method you know to the penny what your spend is. And you then sock drawer the card till 1/19. when it hits 6k. Correct …the rewards pay out 2 months later. Then take out the card again and spend anywhere…Then apply points to new balance and…free 265.00 worth of stuf plus 180 on the bce… I have a system since I also have old blue cash cards and 2 bcp cards (wife).plus biz cards. I use old paper and pencil and write down the dates to check my cash back.

No, the image I included above is from my August 12th statement and shows rewards totals through the July 12th statement. I do find it annoying it isn’t up-to-date.

I don’t use a spreadsheet or paper and pencil. I just know on average how much I spend at the grocery, and double-check that against the statement. It takes less time to do that than to comment here.

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Many changes with credit card companies lately. Amex seems to be one with the fewest negative changes for daily spending.

I’m down to only using Amex for groceries. I don’t know about any negative changes they’ve made except they’re using a lot more offshore customer service.

I was pleasantly surprised to find their customer service U.S. based. It left me with a good impression and they got a decent amount of my cc business. Then they started offshoring their off-hours support. Consequently, I started calling during regular business hours, but it seems that some of that is now based offshore as well.

Discover is now my go to card, where accepted. :slight_smile:

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That is the rub for me, too. Wish I could use Discover more.

I think it’s only a minor inconvenience for most of us who are alert of the $6k cap and hold the card yearly.

I only use BCP for groceries personally so for example, right now, the 6% category shows me $221.49 cashback earned this year but like OP stated, it does not mention how much I spent to get that cashback. Knowing the limit is $360/yr, that still gives me enough estimate of how much more I can spend. Not as directly as before though but I can still do (360-YTD6%reward)/0.06 to calculate how much gift card to get in late December to top off the 6% cashback. (for my case, I still need to spend $2.3k)

But the intention to obfuscate is very clear. Especially when you think of the proportion of the population that is math-challenged.

As mentioned above, Amex shows the spending by category on the statement.

But that doesn’t give you an immediate YTD spending per category. Only how much you spent for the previous billing statement (not current statement).

So, comes December, if you want to max out your 6% cashback, via the statements, you’d have to add up 10 statements, estimate how much you got in November and compare that to $6k. I don’t think too many of us enjoy doing that compare to simply seeing the number directly displayed on the website as has been the case for years. It’s hard for me to think of this change in any kind of positive light.

I actually wish they added features such as YTD spend/reward per category to the mobile app so I have access to all the info present on their website on my phone rather than remove useful features from their website.