If you want to collect large volumes of points in either Canada or the US, you’ll inevitably have to talk to American Express customer service on a regular basis.
In the past, I’d find myself picking up the phone to call Amex almost once every week, but my life has gotten significantly easier ever since Amex introduced the Live Chat feature earlier this year.
In this post, allow me to walk you through how the Live Chat feature works, as well as the variety of simple and complex tasks you can complete through talking to the live chat representatives, in order to streamline your operations as you go about earning and redeeming those Amex MR points.
How to Access Live Chat
For Canadian cardholders, the Live Chat feature is only accessible during business hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Eastern Time. During these times, you should see a “Chat” button show up on the bottom-right corner of your Amex dashboard upon logging in.
If you don’t see the Chat feature, make sure your ad blocker is turned off, since that’s been known to disable the Chat button for certain users. If it still doesn’t show, trying using incognito mode or a different browser.
Click the button to pull up the chat window, and you’re prompted to enter a topic of conversation. Usually a generic phrase will do – for example, if what I’m asking about is remotely related to my MR points in any way, I’ll just say “MR account”. If I need to cancel a card, I’ll say “Cancel a card”.
Then just click Submit and you’ll be put through to a chat representative.
The representative’s name will be displayed; I don’t believe these are necessarily their real names, but I’m quite certain that each individual agent has chosen their own name and is free to display their own personalities to some extent.
Most chats will begin with a quick identity verification before the agent can do anything. Hilariously, though, this verification usually only involves the question “Am I chatting with <insert your name here>?”
Any malicious actor can easily see the name on the account already, so I have no idea how that’s an effective security measure in any way. (The same is true for those of us managing two-player mode or more on behalf of Player 2s who’d rather not do the work themselves.) You keep doing you, Amex…
What You Can Do Through Live Chat
The vast majority of things that you once had to call American Express about, you can now handle through Live Chat. Here’s a comprehensive list of all the different things I’ve gotten done through Live Chat over the past few months:
Cancelling a Credit Card
If it’s time to cancel your credit card so that you can avoid paying the second year’s annual fee and reapply in the future, then you can simply ask the Live Chat agent to process it for you:
“Can you please help me cancel my American Express Business Gold Card ending in XXXXX?”
The agent typically replies by double-checking that you want to cancel, gives you a warning that your MR points will be forfeited (which is a moot point if you’ve transferred them out to a different program or combined them with another card), and then provides you with the standard disclosure about cancelling your card. At the end, he or she will confirm that your card has been cancelled and you’ll see it displayed as such within 24-48 hours.
So much easier than calling, isn’t it?
Linking MR Accounts
If you want to cancel an Amex credit card but want to keep your MR points around, you want to link your MR account to another MR-earning credit card that you currently hold. You can easily get this done over Live Chat:
Adding Frequent Flyer Accounts
You can add frequent flyer accounts like Aeroplan and Avios to your MR account quite easily on your own, but you can also get it done through Live Chat. Sometimes I’ve had errors when doing the process on my own through the MR portal, so this has become a useful backup option.
“Can you please help me add my Etihad Guest account to my MR account? My membership number is 1234567890.”
Removing Frequent Flyer Accounts
In contrast, the functionality to remove frequent flyer accounts from one’s MR account is not enabled on the user-end, presumably because Amex only wants people to send MR points to their own frequent flyer accounts and not anyone else’s.
If, say, you wanted to send your MR points to your spouse’s Aeroplan account, but you already had your own Aeroplan account linked, then you’d have to call Amex to get it removed first… or you can do it through Live Chat:
“Can you please help me remove the Aeroplan account on my MR account for my Gold Rewards Card ending in XXXXX?”
Live Chat agents can help you transfer points to your associated frequent flyer accounts as well. Again, this is something you could do on your own, but I’ve occasionally encountered random errors along the process, so I get the chat agents to do it:
“Can you please help me transfer 38,000 points to the Aeroplan account associated with my card?”
Transferring Credit Balances Between Cards
Say you’ve made a large purchase, paid it off, but then you received a refund on that purchase, leaving your credit card with a negative balance (i.e., a credit in your favour). You can get the Live Chat agents’ help to transfer these balances to another one of your credit cards, offsetting against the purchases you’ve made on that card:
“Can you please help me transfer my credit balance of $1,329 from my Business Gold Card ending in XXXXX to my Cobalt Card ending in XXXXX?”
The balance transfer will show up on both cards in 24-48 hours.
Getting Refunds on Credit Balances
If you’d rather receive a refund of that large credit balance in the form of a cheque, the Live Chat team can handle that as well.
They do require some verification that the credit balance was the result of a purchase refund, though, so they’ll send you a secured link to upload the refund receipt that corresponds to your credit balance. Once you’ve sent that over, they’ll be able to issue the refund cheque to your home address within 24-48 hours.
“Can you please help me process a refund cheque of the $4,340 credit balance on my Bonvoy Card ending in XXXXX?”
Checking for Outstanding Balances on Closed Cards
When you close a credit card, it doesn’t actually mean that purchases can no longer be made on that card. Indeed, things like pre-authorized payments can continue to be charged on your cancelled account (which may well have already been removed from your online dashboard!). This might eventually result in a nasty surprise when you open up an unexpected credit card statement for a card you’ve already closed, showing that your payments are now well past due.
I was faced with this situation recently, so I hit up the Live Chat to see if the agents could see the balances on my closed accounts:
“Can you please help me check if there is still an outstanding balance on my Cobalt Card ending in XXXXX which I cancelled recently?”
They were able to verify that I had in fact already paid off the outstanding balance that had shown up as a paper statement in my mailbox. Whew!
Anyway, that’s just a handful of the things that Amex Live Chat can accomplish on your behalf. It’s so much easier than picking up the phone to call, and I engage with Live Chat on an almost daily basis these days across the three “players” whose accounts I control.
What You Can’t Do Through Live Chat
Some of the more “serious” stuff tends not to be handled by the Live Chat team, and instead you’ll be directed to either taking care of it on your own or calling the Customer Service team at the usual phone numbers. These might include:
Making a new credit card application
Changing your address, phone number, 4-digit online verification code, or other personal details
Asking for changes in credit limits
Asking for credit card retention offers
Dealing with a Financial Review
And of course, I don’t want to hear about anyone contacting Live Chat to say, “Hey, I’ve held this card before and have reapplied for it again recently – can you let me know when I can expect my welcome bonus?” As always, stuff like that is best kept under the radar.
Live Chat with Amex US
In contrast to Canada, where the Live Chat is only available during business hours, Amex US has Live Chat on a 24/7 basis. Moreover, their Live Chat interface seems a lot more powerful as well.
The chat app first consists of an automated menu with a few quick solutions to common questions, after which you may ask to speak to a live representative if your concerns haven’t been resolved.
Moreover, when I was cancelling my Amex US Gold Card recently, the Live Chat agent even paused to tell me that there was potentially a retention offer available to me, inviting me to call the Customer Service team to find out what the retention offer was. (Just like in Canada, there are still a few things that can’t be done over Live Chat.)
I wanted to cancel the card anyway, so I went ahead with that, but it’s an example of how the Live Chat representatives are in many ways just as proactive and helpful as the call centre agents.
Overall, I’ve found the Amex Live Chat features offered on both sides of the border to be a huge time saver as I operate my American Express accounts. What would’ve previously cost me at least a 15-minute phone call can now be done by merely typing away on my laptop. In fact, I’m all too guilty of launching a Live Chat session, and then forgetting about it in the background and leaving the agents hanging!
If you’ve used Amex Live Chat for any purposes beyond what I’ve listed in this article, feel free to share in the comments! Let’s get a nice collection of “things you can get Amex Live Chat to do for you” going here…