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I rang American Express about upgrading my Amex Gold yesterday and have a (potentially) interesting data point to share. It’s important to be clear that I only spoke with one agent, so I don’t consider this information to be 100% solid at all, but I’ll be testing it over the next week, so we should know for certain soon. Anyway, if you’re interested in upgrading American Express Gold Cards to Platinum, here’s the story:
Earlier this year, Amex changed its Gold Card product from a charge card to a credit card (essentially meaning it’s now possible to carry a balance rather than having to pay it off in full each month). This was a pretty minor change from a customer perspective, as the Gold Card benefits and sign up bonus remained the same as before.
I got a new Gold Card (credit, not charge) a few months ago and decided it was time to upgrade to Platinum again, primarily because I’ll be doing a fair bit of travelling soon and value the Priority Pass lounge access. As I’ve done on previous occasions when upgrading, I headed to the American Express Platinum upgrade webpage and filled in the application info – believing that I would receive the advertised 20,000 Membership Rewards Points bonus, assuming I was approved and spent £1,000 on the card.
I didn’t receive instant approval, but I never do with Amex, so assumed it would come through as usual in due course. A couple of days later I received an email from Amex stating I needed to give them a ring and quote a reference number.
When I rang, I was (politely) informed that my upgrade application had been cancelled because “it is not possible to upgrade a Gold Credit Card to a Platinum Charge Card”. Obviously I wasn’t very pleased, because American Express has a whole webpage and bonus offer dedicated to upgrading Gold Cards to Platinum, without mentioning that it’s only old Gold Charge cardholders that can benefit…
The agent was apologetic and mentioned that it’s a known issue which has been highlighted to management, but evidently hasn’t been fixed yet.
I then asked what I should do, because I still want a Platinum Card, but also wanted the 20,000 Points upgrade bonus – and this is where the conversation got interesting.
The common belief (certainly what I’ve always believed anyway!) is that you aren’t eligible for a Membership Rewards sign-up bonus on a new card, if you currently hold a Membership Rewards earning card or have held one in the last 6 months. I was therefore confused when the agent advised that I should just apply for a Platinum Card as a new applicant, because I’d get a higher sign up bonus anyway (30,000 Points, or 35,000 if referred) than the 20,000 Points a Gold charge card holder would get for upgrading.
I challenged this a few times, just to make sure I’d understood correctly and the agent double checked with a supervisor too. He stated categorically and consistently that if an existing customer’s Gold Card is a credit card, it’s now seen as an entirely different product to the Platinum Charge Card and they are therefore eligible to receive the standard Platinum sign-up bonus – despite already holding a Memberships Rewards earning card.
I asked if there was a way to get the policy confirmed in writing, the agent said no, but that the call was being recorded (as standard) and was very happy for me to take their name and note the time of the call, etc.
As I said at the beginning, I’m still a little sceptical about whether this will work out as the agent stated – but I’ve applied for a Platinum as a new customer anyway to see what happens, so should be able to provide an update fairly soon.
If it does work out, upgrading American Express Gold Cards is now much more lucrative than before! Partly this is because of the higher bonus – remember that if you’re referred you can actually get a 35,000 Membership Rewards Points sign-up bonus.
The other reason is because it’s not really ‘upgrading’ at all anymore – presumably you can just keep both cards if you like and that means you can continue to take advantage of the Gold Card’s superior earning rate for travel expenses (etc) at the same time as enjoying the many Platinum benefits.
Let’s see what happens…
Have you tried upgrading an American Express Gold Card recently? – What was your experience?