American Express - lowered my limit; never been late. 27 years card holder

American Express - Amex only provides 60% of reward points earned

Reward points are in short supply these days. The days of credit cards fighting for customers with thousands of points redeemable on just about everything seem to be behind us, although it’s certain they will come back at some point. In the meantime, the companies that do offer reward points seem to be getting a bit stingier on how they allow those points to be used.

Long Time Customer Service

In the current economic climate, it’s a bit cut-throat in terms of clients, so you would think that long term clients would be rewarded by their credit card companies. Let’s say you’ve had a credit card for twenty-seven years. That’s almost three decades! When you use the card you’ve always paid it off the same way and expected the same level of fees and service.

The most recent time you used it, however, everything seemed to change. The statement you receive is significantly higher than you expected and the full payment is due now – now over the course of several months as you’ve paid for decades. The changing times merit changing structure for some cardholders, sure. But to change the card of the individual who has supported your company for twenty-something years? It is unexpected to say the least.

The next logical step is to make a phone call. Surely there’s been some sort of mistake. But apparently not. The customer service representative on the phone is as nice as can be but apparently seems to know absolutely nothing about how things were done last week, much less last century. The bill stands and you are stuck with it.

Using Reward Points

Of course, there is a benefit that exists for those long term customers even when everything else falls apart. In this case you may have a credit card that still allows you to accumulate points. If that’s the case after almost three decades, or even just three years, you’ll have a serious number of points stored up. The question then becomes what to do with all of those points.

The way you use your points depends a great deal on which card you’re dealing with. Some cards require you order from a catalog, while others redeem points on purchases made on the card. Catalog purchases are easy enough, but be sure to read the rules if you’re trying to have your points applied to a purchase.

Some credit cards fail to tell you (in anything but very fine print) that the reward points can’t be used on just anything. You have to really dig to find the rules about qualifying purchases and if you make a purchase and then try to apply your points, you may find yourself in a very frustrating position.

Let’s say you know your points are good at a particular retail establishment. So you buy a television. When you get home with your new television, you hop on the phone to cash in those points. The television should be just about covered by the total of your points.

But it isn’t. The television calls into a category where only 60 percent of your points will be redeemed on its purchase. Of course if you’d rather pay in full for the television with your own money, you can redeem your points for their full value on something else like hotel rooms. It’s strange to think that hotel rooms are considered unusual expenses but televisions are considered an everyday expense. It’s not like we’re all rushing out to buy new televisions every month!