Back in June, Travel with Grant noticed a few changes to the American Express Membership Rewards program, which have now taken effect. Amex allows you to transfer Membership Rewards points to an external hotel or airline loyalty program account in your own name or the name of another person. But here’s the catch: in a supposed effort to thwart people who sell their rewards points to strangers, Amex now says that the person must have been an authorized user for at lest 90 days before initiating the transfer.
Even well-meaning cardmembers could get caught up by this rule. For example, my wife and I regularly move points and miles between accounts, usually to my account because my balance tends to be bigger and more miles makes it easier to book expensive award tickets.
However, neither one of us is an authorized user on each others American Express cards. That means she can’t transfer her Membership Rewards points to my Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account or vice versa. If award availability in Suites class opened tomorrow and we needed a bunch of points to book it, too bad. One of us would have to add the other as an authorized user and wait 90 days.
That’s why you should probably go ahead and add your spouse or other trusted friends and family members as an authorized user right now. You never know when you might need to make a transfer to that friend or family member’s account. For the American Express Gold Card, the first five authorized users are free. There is a charge, however, to add authorized users to an American Express Platinum Card (because these Platinum Cards include other benefits like access to the Centurion Lounge).
Just be sure you trust the authorized user. He or she will share your spending habits on their credit file, and you will be responsible for their purchases.
You can easily add authorized users online without talking to a representative. Simply log in and go to Account Services > Card Management > Add Someone to Your Account. You can then select the card for which you want to add an authorized user.
Enter that person’s name, Social Security number, email address, and date of birth. After a quick check (this is not a hard credit pull), the authorized user may be approved. If approved, the new card will be sent to the address of the primary cardmember.
My wife doesn’t need to be an authorized user on my American Express Gold Card account. She has her own card! But I added her anyway so that I’ll be able to transfer my Membership Rewards points to her loyalty program accounts. We’ll do the same so she can transfer her Membership Rewards points to my accounts. Fortunately we don’t think we’ll be doing any major travel for the near future with a new baby, but it’s good to be prepared just in case.