My Worst Points Redemption Ever

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Redeeming points for as much value as possible is obviously the name of this game, but recently I had my worst points redemption ever…and didn’t even realize it until almost a month later. For years, I have had linked Amex Membership Rewards and Amazon accounts so that I could take advantage of periodic opportunities to save money on Amazon orders by using as few as one Membership Reward point on an order.

 

Occasionally using one Membership Reward point to save $10, $20, and sometimes even $30 on an Amazon order was great, but recently I (apparently) spent 5,717 Membership Reward points at a rate of 7/10th of a cent each on a $40 Amazon order. That is an absolutely terrible redemption value, and something I would never have consciously decided to do since I use my Membership Rewards points at well over double that rate of return.

So, what happened? At first, I had no idea how this would have happened, but then did another test order and the cause became obvious. When I select my Amex Membership Rewards earning Amex card as my payment method within Amazon, it now automatically defaults to using my Membership Rewards points to pay, whereas before I had to manually decide to use points to pay some or all of the total.

Now, I have to manually opt out of using points each and every time I place an Amazon order with my American Express Card, or the system will automatically use them at a horrible redemption rate. This is how I unknowingly had my worst points redemption ever a few weeks ago. I have never changed any settings in my Amazon account to default to paying with points, so I highly recommend paying close attention when paying with a linked Membership Rewards earning card on your next Amazon order so you don’t risk having this happen to you.

Update: Upon doing some further digging, there is indeed now a ridiculous automatic shop with points setting that was somehow enabled on my account. I 100% did not select that for myself, but you should check your settings to make sure yours is set to off, as mine now is.

I’m just thankful that was a relatively small order and that most subsequent Amazon orders since mid-March have been paid for with Amazon gift cards instead of the system taking my Membership Rewards points to cover the charge at a terrible value. I alerted Amazon customer service to the issue primarily to have it documented that this is a problem, and they responded that they are refunding the order as it “may be due to some technical error”. The order was an Amazon gift card I gave to someone as a thank you, so now I’m not sure what happens to the status of that gift card. Oy vey.

Bottom line, check your Amazon orders closely if you have a linked Membership Rewards points account.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Comments

  1. Ouch, that hurts!
    I wonder if Amazon changed something in their billing profiles lately? We had a mixup with them where all these little orders we were placing ended up going on a relative’s card that was only entered for a single order a while before.
    Bad part was the relative wasn’t sure what all these amazon charges were and contacted the card company. Amazon ended up closing our account for a while because of the problems. 🙁 opened again after a week or so!

  2. I make purchases for the office using my Amazon account and my bosses Amex card. I came thisclose to using 60k of his Amex points on a personal purchase before realizing it. I ended up deleting his card.

  3. I got an email back in March from Amazon telling me i can redeem MR for purchases. I found it strange because i didnt have my account enrolled so i can wait for one of those deals again. it had a section on what to do if i dont want to participate, which i just ended up doing now because of your post. within, i see that you can turn it on or off to use points automatically or unenroll altogether so i am doing that across my MR and UR cards.

  4. Ouch; thanks for the heads up! I noticed some recent near-misses with MR points lately and after your post just decided to unenroll all of my cards.

  5. *whistles* Sorry to hear that, but thanks for letting people know to keep a close eye on their Amazon orders. I went and deleted all MR-earning AMEXs from my account.

  6. No risk, no reward. At least you tried, and as you said, it was a comparatively small loss. Everyone takes it on the chin once in a while.

  7. I disabled using points as an option because I almost did the same thing. If I ever get an offer to use points to get a bonus of some kind then I would enable it again and then disable right after just to be safe but it has been a while since there was any offer for which I qualified. I can’t believe you don’t get at least 1 cent per point redemption value with Amex though!

  8. I found that mine was turned on as well. We have been using gift cards for purchases so my orders did not pay with points. I have turned that feature off.
    Thanks!

  9. I had something similar happen once at McDonald’s. They had a pay with Amex points option and I accidentally clicked on the option as I was rushing through and did not notice what it said at first. It was a small order, but I was upset about how little value that I got from my points. Now I know to always make sure to read the payment processing screens.

  10. I was well aware of this “feature” but didn’t know you can turn it off. Thanks! Go to Account -> Shop With Points. For me, Amex was On, Chase was Off, and Citi/Discover/Amazon were neither! All safely set to Off now.

    Just one of their many sketchy business practices. Like default reloads of $100(!) and using ACHes instead of debit for certain customers.

  11. I think you have brought a very relevant issue. Today with security issues rampant, allowing other sites to have access to your credit card accounts should be questioned. To allow amazon access to your amex account risky. I think it is worthwhile minimize any linked accounts.
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