Amex Gives Canceled Cardholders Last Chance

By Joel Grover
|  Friday, Apr 24, 2009  |  Updated 12:51 PM PDT
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Amex Gives Canceled Cardholders Last Chance

American Express sends letters to customers who have had their accounts canceled, saying they have 90 days to use their rewards points or they will lose them.

Thousands of Americans who've had their credit cards canceled are being given a last chance to redeem their reward points.

This is happening, after NBC LA started asking questions of American Express, one of the nation's big credit card issuers.

Millions of credit card holders have been hit with a double-whammy lately.

Their cards were suddenly canceled, even when they were making payments on time. Then their credit card issuer took back their rewards points. Now, American Express tells NBC LA they're sending letters to thousands of canceled cardholders, giving them 90 days to redeem their reward points.

Take the case of Shabi Asghar, an Orange County businessman. He says Amex canceled his Black Card in March, and told him he'd have to forfeit 7 million reward points. Yes, that's 7 million points.

Asghar called American Express to complain that the decision seemed unfair, and asked NBC LA to join him on the call. We heard customer service reps tell him that it was Amex policy that anyone who got their card canceled had to forfeit their reward points. That policy was also in the written rules of Amex's Membership Rewards Program. Amex told Asghar he was out of luck. Those 7 million points were gone for good.

But when NBC LA called Amex headquarters to question them about this policy, they appeared to reverse course.

They're now sending out letters to canceled cardholders, who've made payments on time, saying, "We know you have earned membership rewards point on this card and are writing to let you know that you can still redeem the points as long as your account remains current... in the next 90 days."

Shabi Asghar says Amex has now told him it's reinstating his 7 million points.

"I think the company changed course because they believed it was the right thing to do," Asghar told NBC LA. He says he plans to use those 7 million miles to take his family on a trip, and he says he'll donate some of them to the "Make A Wish" Foundation.

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