American Express Annual Fee Rules

The main reason for this post is because I received a few questions from subscribers regarding annual fees. Be sure you understand the policies before attempting to close your account. 

American Express Annual Fee Policy

With American Express cards, you can get the annual fee refunded if you close your account within 30 days of the closing date of the statement on which the fee appears.

Example 1

  • Dec 5, 2017 = Signed up for Amex Platinum
  • Jan 4, 2018 = $550 annual fee hits
  • Jan 5, 2018 = First statement closes

You have 30 days from Jan 5, 2018, to cancel for a full refund. Given Amex's signup bonus rules, I would only cancel for Year 2 onwards (if negative expected value).

* MA residents are entitled to a 2/3 refund of their annual fee at any point of the cardmember year, see: Section 114C

Product conversions/changes (i.e., downgrades or upgrades) will get a pro-rated refund based off the number of months the card was held based on the cardmember year.

Terms of Service

While you may be tempted to cancel or downgrade your card after the first year, I strongly advise against it. 

If you close your account within 12 months of opening, American Express reserves the right to not credit the welcome bonus, freeze your accounts, and even close all your American Express accounts.

See the terms of service for your specific card:


Terms of service are subject to change, and I don't recommend canceling your account before 12 months or risking your relationship with American Express.

Example 2

  • Feb 4, 2018 = new card (AF paid for 2018 to 2019)
  • Feb 4, 2019 = annual fee hits for 2019 to 2020)

Even if you realize by Dec 2018, that the card doesn't make sense for you, wait until AFTER Feb 4, 2019 to cancel the card.

The fee that is owed will be refunded/canceled anyways as long as you do it within 30 days, so why poke the bear?

Again, if you reside in Massachusets, the rules are different but same principle applies in Year 1; Year 2 and onwards feel free to cancel at will / at an optimal time.

Retention offers are a strategy if you want to keep the account. If you receive a retention offer, keep the card for another year, or else wait until the annual fee hits during the second year hits and then cancel.