American Express Adds New Features for its Cardholders
American Express is trying to up the ante when it comes to adding useful benefits and bonuses for its cardholders.
One benefit that the company has rolled out is a freeze feature, which allows cardholders to place a temporary hold on their card if they've misplaced their card. According to reports from KIRO7, Amex recently emailed its cardholders to tell them about the new feature.
This feature is similar to Discover's Freeze it feature, which also lets you freeze your account temporarily to give you time to locate your card and give you piece of mind that no one else is trying to charge purchases on your account.
If you're an Amex cardholder, and you can't find your card, you can log in to their Amex account and turn on the freeze feature. This will prevent your card from being used to make any new purchases, so if you discover later on that it's indeed lost or stolen, the thief can't do any major damage and purchase a whole bunch of stuff on your account. And if you do know your card is permanently missing, you can then cancel it.
At the same time, a freeze is a lot easier to deal with than a cancelled card, because you can misplace your card, think it's totally gone and cancel it, only to discover later that you put it in the wrong slot in your wallet. Then you have to deal with all the hassle of a cancelled card, particularly if you have a lot of recurring payments and bills that are automatically charged to your card each month.
If you completely cancel your card, you'll receive a new one in the mail, so not only do you have to go without your card while wait for it to arrive, you also will have a new credit card account number. That means you'll have to contact each individual merchant and utility with which you have recurring payments, and you'll have to give them your new account information. Depending on how many automatic payments you have on your statement, this could mean you spend a lot of time listening to hold music on the phone as you try to sort out your account information. A worst-case scenario could be that the accounts attached with your automatic payments also have issues if the billing cycle associated with that service ends while you're still waiting for your new card information to show up in your mailbox.
With Amex's freeze feature, no one can make purchases using your physical card. According to The Points Guy, you can still use your card for transactions you make using your digital wallet. If you've got your card number stored online with merchants, you may still be able to use your account on those sites. More importantly--if you're into less hassle--all of those recurring bill payments will continue happening. If you do find your physical card, you can unfreeze it within your online account, and it's like nothing happened. If you do discover that your card is really missing, then you can go through the cancellation process.
American Express also announced a bonus opportunity for cardholders who earn Membership Rewards points.
At the end of July, American Express also tweeted and posted on Facebook that cardholders could get twice as many Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at specified retailers. These include Boxed, Lowe's, Staples, BJ's Wholesale Club, Olive Garden, Pottery Barn, Best Buy, Dollar Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental and Shop Rite. While the offer sounds good, you do have to go through the process of applying seems a little onerous, as you have to enroll with each brand separately in order to get the bonus rewards points. Other terms do apply with the offer.