Why I decided to downgrade my personal AMEX Plat to a PRG card

Introduction

With all the changes happening with AMEX lately, I’ve been trying to rethink my card strategy with AMEX.  I still don’t think I’ve perfected it yet, but I’ll just shotgun this until I get it right.  Anyway, my Plat card’s annual fee is due in September.  For some background, I also have the Biz Plat, which I plan on keeping for the lounge benefit.  I really don’t care about the 5X on the personal plat and the Uber thing isn’t that worthwhile to me.  So it’s pointless to pay $1,000 of annual fees for these 2 cards.  So the personal Plat had to go!

 

Downgrade to green?

I didn’t want to CANCEL the card because it’s a charge card and doesn’t use up one of my 5 (or 6 slots.)  Plus I get A LOT of value from the AMEX offers, so I still wanted a charge card.  I called AMEX to complain about the annual fee increase, hoping to get some kind of retention MR love.  She shot me down pretty quickly.  As she was reading my Miranda rights, I blurted out, “WAIT!  Can I downgrade the card?”  She then happily changed her tone and asked if I had another MR card so that I wouldn’t lose my points.  She found my old school Blue card and so was going to downgrade me to Green until she told me that each Green’s AU would be $35.  Since I have 5 of them, that’d be $175 of fees.

 

Downgrade to gold

The rep then told me why not downgrade to the Premier Rewards Gold?  That has an annual fee of $195, but there is a $100 travel credit each year, which makes it equal to the Green’s $95 annual fee.  Plus it comes with 5 free AU’s [and $35 for each thereafter.]  She muttered stuff about 2X at grocery blah blah blah.  Then I asked her if I had gotten the card in the past, and surprisingly she couldn’t see it, but my own records show I got it back in 2011.  She told me the signup bonus would be better, but I wasn’t going to take that risk.  Thus, I had her downgrade me to the PRG card.  If you’re in my situation, you shouldn’t downgrade to the PRG unless you’ve gotten that signup bonus already.

 

Annual fee logistics

Since I have 3 months of the Plat left, I’d be prorated $450 / 12 = $37.50/month * 3 = $112.50.  I would then be charged $195 / 12 = $16.25 * 3 = $48.75.  Then when my card anniversary was up, I’d be charged the full $195.  She also said since I used the $200 travel credit on the Plat already, I won’t be able to get the $100 travel credit this year, but would qualify next calendar year.  

 

Conclusion

Doing this saves me about $20 a month in unnecessary fees.  Sure I could have waited until September, but why?  Since the AF is prorated, may as well save money NOW.  If you’re in my same boat (pers Plat + biz Plat,) you should look into downgrading to the PRG card.  The Gold card is $160 AF, so you may as well pay the $195 for the PRG to get the $100 travel credit.  And remember the PRG is a CHARGE card, so won’t use up your AMEX card limit.

Going into next year, instead of paying $350 of AF post travel credit for the Plat, I’m only paying $95 post travel credit for the PRG.  There’s no benefit of the personal Plat that is incremental to the Business Plat to warrant paying an extra $260 in annual fees to me.

  • New to FF

    Do you carry the extra AU cards just for AMEX offers or are there other bene’s?

    • Miles per Day

      eh……

  • Nicholai Moguet

    How much spend had you put on it in the recent months? From what I’ve been reading, it seems decently common to get SOME offer. Seen quite a few 30k no spend req. offers on FT and Reddit, but a few are saying they’ve gotten better offers after throwing a decent amount of spend on the card in the previous few months.

    • Miles per Day

      Not much at all. Not even sure what spend ppl are putting on the card. You can only put so much airfare spend per year.

  • MRS

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to add an AU or maybe two AU’s on the Personal Plat for 2 months and then downgrade the AU’s and have the AU annual feel refunded on a prorated basis?

    • Miles per Day

      why would you want to do that? to get the GE credits?

      • MRS

        No. My wife needs Hilton Gold for an upcoming stay and access to Centurion lounge by herself (plus her mom and dad) and then again when we travel in August with 2 babies (family of 4). She wouldn’t have a need after this short 2 month span.

        • Miles per Day

          You should check if AU’s get that benefit, but what you’re saying should theoretically work.

          • MRS

            I’ve read online that they do receive all bennies except for travel credit I believe. I will call to be sure and ask the CSR my hypothetical AU question and can report back. I was just curious if anyone had done something similar to use as a DP.

  • Windbag Miles

    I thought they stopped prorating annual fee refunds… when I canceled my SPG, they told me I had to do it within 30 days of the fee posting to my account or I wouldn’t get any refund at all.

    Also: http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2016/06/04/american-express-eliminating-pro-rated-annual-fee-refunds/

    • Miles per Day

      cancel = no prorate. downgrade = prorate

      • Windbag Miles

        oh snap. i had no idea there was a distinction.

  • disqus_l7GXsYbTLi

    When you say it’s prorated – can you confirm that you got an actual refund from the downgrade?

    • Miles per Day

      Last year when I did this upgrade, it was a prorated refund, but check back with me next week and I’ll confirm for you.

  • Josh

    Did you consider adding more AUs on the Platinum since up to 99 gold AUs are now free?

    • Miles per Day

      Hmm now THAT I didn’t consider. I still haven’t gotten the Ameriprise Platinum, so maybe I’ll get that and keep that one with the AU’s. Good callout though Josh.

      • Josh

        I’ve got the Ameriprise and the Schwab Platinums (virtually ALL my MR Points go straight to my Schwab account). I’m slowly ramping up the AUs on both. It should more than pay for the AF. Hopefully RAT doesn’t catch on.

  • Ken

    You may still be able to get the new $100 travel credit despite what the agent says. They’re not always correct.

    • Miles per Day

      When I downgraded last year Ken, I didn’t get it again. Have you actually gotten it again in same year?

      • Ken

        No, I’ve just learned to trust data points from others as opposed to something an agent says. Citi is a great example of agents not knowing their ass from their elbow.

  • borscht

    Do you have the 5x for airfare with the business plat, if not, what do you use for airfare purchases? CSR?

    • Miles per Day

      Prestige for trip protection and then CSR.