American Express Changing Its Annual Fee Refund Policy?

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Per Reddit, it looks as if American Express is implementing changes to its terms and conditions with respect to refunding annual fees. In the past, American Express would prorate your annual fee when you canceled your card. So for example, many people applied for the American Express Platinum card and then canceled shortly thereafter, allowing them to recoup their $475 in annual fees or a reduced amount depending on the number of months their card was activated.

Now, however, it looks like this won’t be possible going forward. The new terms, according to user DrGForce read:

Closing your Account Effective September 1, 2016, in Part 2 of the Cardmember Agreement, we are amending the Closing your Account sub-section in the Other important information section by inserting a new paragraph after the first sentence: If an Annual Membership fee applies, we will refund this fee if you notify us that you are voluntarily closing your Account within 30 days of the Closing Date of the billing statement on which that fee appears. For cancellations after this 30 day period, the Annual Membership fee is non-refundable. If an Annual Membership fee applies to your Account, it is shown on page 1 and page 2 of Part 1 of the Cardmember Agreement. If your billing address is in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the time you close your account, this policy will not apply to you.

So it looks like in the future you could still close your card and get the refund within 30 days of the closing date when your annual fee appears but that you will no longer get the prorated refund after those 30 days. For current American Express cardholders, this means that they would still be able to receive their Membership Rewards in their account before it would become too late for them to receive the refund. For newcomers to American Express, their bonuses may not hit within the 30 day window since Amex likes to make new card members wait an extra month for their bonus points.

Also, interestingly, this new policy will not apply to those with billing addresses in Massachusetts.

This policy change comes at a time when many credit card companies and banks are tightening up on their credit card policies (although Amex seems to have been loosening some of their restrictions recently). I personally don’t have an issue with the new policy and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s coming into effect considering the number of individuals who likely cancelled their platinum cards shortly after receiving their bonuses.

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