[Updated] Amex Now Freezing Accounts for Referral and Authorized User Bonuses?

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Amex Now Freezing Accounts for Referral Bonuses?

American Express used to be a very lenient lender when it came to credit cards. But, much like other banks, they have been adding restrictions and getting more serious about fighting those who game the system for big bonuses. One of the major changes was limiting everyone to getting a bonus from a card once per lifetime. The RAT team was introduced. Then they started freezing accounts for those who applied through leaked links or those who purchase gift cards to compete spending requirements. Now there’s reports that your account might be frozen after getting a referral bonus?

Frozen Accounts for Referral Bonus

Traveling the World writes that he referred a friend and received 10,000 Membership Rewards points for the referral, hours after the friend was approved. But then, his entire balance of 300K+ Membership Rewards points was frozen. He was told that his account is “under review” and the process could take “6-8 weeks”.

Update: Frozen Accounts for Referral Bonus

Kenny in the comments below also points out that his account was frozen after taking advantage of an Authorized User bonus late last year. These are bonuses that are awarded when you add authorized users to your account and complete the required spending. He says that he received the bonus and the his account was frozen for 8-12 weeks.

Conclusion

I’ve read a couple of other data points regarding the same issue, frozen accounts after referrals and also authorized user bonuses. Maybe not enough to really form an opinion. There’s many unknowns here, and there’s a small possibility that it wasn’t related to the referral. But, the timing seems to indicate so. Could it be related to the spending pattern of the person you refer? That would be too crazy, even for Amex. And why freeze the whole account if there some kind of doubt for 10,000 Membership Rewards points? Same thisng with the authorized user bonuses.

I have referred many people and received referral bonuses from Amex without any issues in the past. Two referrals were in the last two weeks and my Membership Rewards account seems fine. I’ve also received Authorized User bonuses, probably the same one that Kenny mentioned above, and haven’t had any issues. But that doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist.

I’m not sure what advice to give here. Do not refer people? Do not go for those easy Authorized User bonuses? Please chime in and let me know if you have encountered something similar.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, account got frozen back around October or so when Amex had come out with “Add an auth user, get 5000 points for $500 spend, upto 4 auth users” deal.

    Go the bonus and then account frozen. 8-12 weeks. And this was a month after my account had been unfrozen from getting the signup bonus (which also took 8-12 weeks). So out of one year, I only had an unfrozen account about 1-2 months.

    It seems like amex’s automated freezing algorithm is primed to freeze the account whenever a bonus hits your balance, whether the bonus is from signup, authorized user, referral, or amex-offer which gives MR points.

      • Yes, the reason was “you recently got a bonus from adding an authorized user, we’re making sure according to our terms and conditions that its appropriate and according to our terms and conditions it takes 6-8 weeks”.

        Basically boilerplate nonsense. It took me waiting 8-12 weeks to have it unfrozen.

  2. How do you know your account is fine, did you transfer points? IME everything looks fine on a frozen account, until you actually transfer points. That’s the most infuriating thing, the fact that you think you have points to transfer but actually don’t.

    • I did transfer, 1000 MR to JetBlue. Yup, that part is annoying. You would only find out that your points are frozen when you actually need them.

      • Yes, another thing I learnt – your account technically doesn’t get frozen when the bonus posts etc.

        The freeze STARTS when you do a transfer. So its 8-12 weeks from the time the freeze starting.

  3. Is it considered safe to purchase gift cards on Amex cards for ongoing MS purposes (I.e. not fo4 the purposes of meeting sign up bonus spend).

    Considering getting that card that offers 2x MR per dollar

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