As the coronavirus pandemic continues, American Express has recorded a trend of travel cardholders stockpiling points for future travel instead of redeeming for other alternatives. Despite efforts by the card issuer to steer customers towards “at home” perks and everyday award options, the pattern nevertheless continues. Here’s what you need to know:
Amex Cardholders Stockpiling Points
Earlier this year, Delta CEO Paul Jacobson noted a pent-up travel demand from account holders of American Express and Delta SkyMiles credit cards. The reasoning he provided for this innate travel demand was continued spending with – and applications for – the co-branded credit cards.
American Express CEO, Stephen Squeri, echoed those sentiments. Squeri noted that American Express’ co-branded credit cards, which include airline and hotel credit cards with notable names like Delta and Hilton, are performing better than expected. In addition, these cards were performing better than many of the company’s other credit card products.
It appears that pent-up frustration with a lack of travel opportunities is continuing.
In a recent virtual conference call, Amex’s CFO, Jeff Campbell, noted that Amex travel cardholders are stockpiling their points instead of using them for other awards, such as merchandise, gift cards, or cash back statement credits. Interestingly, the points stockpiling doesn’t only apply to co-branded Amex travel cards, but also to Amex’s premium charge cards, including the Platinum Card, Gold Card, and Amex Green Card.
Changed to American Express Credit Cards Due to Coronavirus
American Express has been one of the most proactive card issuers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The issuer has sought to make its premium cards – like the $550-annual-fee Platinum Card – worth retaining in a period of diminishing travel opportunities and growing restrictions. Amex’s new “at home” features include:
- A free, one-year trial of Blinkist for all Amex cardholders
- Free Calm membership for Amex cardholders
- Statement credits for streaming services for Platinum, Gold, and Green cardholders
These changes are having some success, but Campbell believes that travel is still the king when redeeming points. “We’d be crazy to dramatically pivot the whole company because of what we view as a fairly temporary change in the way people are going to spend,” he said on the call. “The human urge to travel – to gather, to explore – is insatiable.”
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