Amex Rewards Abuse Team: A New Sheriff in Town? (Rumor)

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Amex Rewards Abuse Team

Amex Rewards Abuse Team Created

Last month American Express briefly had a publicly available offer on their personal Platinum card giving 100K Membership Rewards points. I know a lot of you signed up and my wife did as well. Then, last week I discovered her Membership Rewards account has been locked from transferring points while they investigate her purchases.

Now, there is a rumor from U.S. Credit Card Guide that a new team within Amex may be responsible for cracking down on so called “Rewards Abuse”. Creatively called the Rewards Abuse Team, this group is designed to make sure you are fulfilling your end of the agreement. Again, the existence of this team is still a rumor and has not been publicly acknowledged by the company. But here is what we know:

  • Customers are being harassed by the bank when applying for offers the bank doesn’t like. Amex freezes their accounts, claws back points and takes months to do so.
  • The MileagePlus X app no longer codes as a travel purchase for the Platinum card’s credit.

The rumor is that Amex will also crack down on people who purchase a product to meet minimum spend, get the bonus and then return it. Apparently Amex will claw back points in that case. 

Some Good News

According to this rumor, buying airline gift cards with your Platinum card should continue to work to trigger the airline incidental credit. There have been rumors since the Sapphire Reserve was released this summer that Amex would move to a less restrictive credit and perhaps that is still in the books. While you won’t be able to trigger the credit when buying Amazon gift cards through MileagePlus X, you will at least still be able to get the credit fairly easily.

My Thoughts

I absolutely believe that Amex has every right to make sure that customers aren’t abusing their rewards programs. Should customers who buy stuff and return it get the bonus? I would say generally not, but what if something happens six months down the line and the merchant credits your account? Will Amex clawback the bonus in that case? For this reason I plan to go above and beyond the minimum spend on my Amex cards.

Hopefully the creation of this team will also mean that Amex can stop freezing people’s accounts for months. If they want to investigate spending to ensure nothing against the terms was done then they should do it. With that said, freezing people’s accounts for months at a time or in my wife’s case freezing her account before she spends $1 on the card is just customer unfriendly. Oh and the loss of MileagePlus X is certainly justified (but sad) since that should never have counted towards the credit.

Conclusion

Banks just like any other business are out to make money. If they see that certain customers are abusing their system then they will crackdown. Crackdowns are fine, but Amex has to keep up their end of the bargain as well in my opinion. Let’s hope this new team is a positive move for those of us who are trying to stay within the rules. Somehow I doubt that though. They seem to be out for blood.

What do you think? Are you surprised a team like this didn’t exist before? Do you think this rumor is true? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

HT: Doctor of Credit


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6 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Shawn, could use your expert advice and I’m curious on what you’d do please.

    I signed up for the Platinum leaked link and and survived the clawback action (knock on wood). My spend was all organic except for a a GC but I also spent about 4K on the card so I was well over minimum spend even without the GC purchase.

    I’m a little freaked out on buying airline GC’s to trigger the credit, I just don’t want to give them any reason to clawback. The rumor about GC’s makes me feel a bit better but am interested in what you would do please.

    Also, I signed up for the Panera 500 MR bonus points for $10 spend and spent over $10 offer and never got the e-mail credit alert like I did when I went to BK. Would you call in and have some lay eyes on your account over 500 MR points or just let it be?

    Thanks!

    • I personally wouldn’t hesitate to buy the gift cards. First off this is something they know about and seemingly allow. Second, the worst they could do is not give you the credit in which case hopefully you have gift cards for an airline you fly regularly and thus are not out any money. Ideally you would want to use the credit for actual incidentals, but given how late in the year it is that may not be possible.

      As for Panera, I would wait to see how it plays out. Because that is not a cash credit like normal Amex Offers it could take awhile. I would wait at least a statement period to see if it shows up.

  2. I don’t think we should abuse the system. There are plenty of awards to get fairly. The programs I have a hard time with are the bank bonuses. I have had terrible experiences getting their bonuses after I have met their deposit, etc. requirements. This has been true with SunTrust, PNC, and Citi Bank, so far. I am very reluctant applying anymore due to the frustration of having to contact them over and over. They certainly aren’t winning me as a long term customer if they can’t honor a simple bonus. Compared to that, the credit card bonuses are a breeze.

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