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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.