Travel Tips

A Message from American Express: Pay Late, Lose Your Rewards

Credit CardAirlines have become notorious for stringing travelers up like piñatas and beating them with frivolous fees. Now, American Express wants to take a swing.

Starting January 1, the credit card company is enacting a new policy that could cost you the points or miles you earned with your card—if you don’t pay your bill on time.

If you have an American Express card cobranded with Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Hilton Hotels, and Starwood Hotels, rewards won’t be transferred to your loyalty account with those partners if you are late paying your bill.

You can get those rewards back, but it will cost you. In addition to the late fee for the month you missed ($19 or $38, depending on your balance), you’ll also have to pay an additional $29 reinstatement fee. Then you’ll be hit with a penalty interest rate (currently 27 percent) on future balances.

Fed up with fees? Watch Peter’s segment from The Early Show on How to Avoid Airlines’ Fees

Be aware that the points you forfeit only apply to the month that you were late paying your bill, not for all future months. So if you pay on time the following month, you can still get your points you earned for those purchases.

Because of these fees, it may or may not be worth it to get your rewards back, depending on how many points you earned that month.

An American Express official said that this is not a new policy for their cards and that they are extending it to co-branded cards now “for consistency.”

By Dan Bence and Karen Elowitt for

Related Links: Associated Press, WebFlyer

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