Fighting American Express Tooth & Nail for Referral Bonuses

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American Express Referral Bonus

Is American Express Delaying Referral Bonus Payouts?

I just finished a 10 round battle with American Express over 80,000 points in referral bonuses.  Only through perseverance, grit, and going on the attack from all sides was I finally able to come out victorious.  All of this led me to wonder is American Express delaying referral bonus payouts?

Amex claims that they had issues with their system a few months ago and that led to my points not posting properly.  That seems like something that should have been corrected quickly.  Dustin over at Running with Miles had a few different situations that were similar.  I will go over what happened, how long it took to get my points, and what finally did the trick.

Bonuses Earned But Not Paid

I signed up for the Aspire card at the beginning of the year. The Aspire card is hands down the best premium card out there when talking perks. After telling some friends about the card they decided to sign up for it using my referral link.  You are able to receive 80,000 points in referrals for the card each calendar year.  The statement in February showed 25,000 refer a friend Hilton Honors bonus points and the one in March showed the remaining 55,000 bonus points.

The problem is that the points were never added to my Hilton Honors account.  I thought that it was weird.  I knew people have had issues in the past with bonuses and American Express but that usually happened when they never posted.  Since the points had appeared on my statement I decided to give it a little time.

Sometime in late March I finally decided to give them a call and see what was going on.  The agent gave me the standard it can take up to 12 weeks to post response. Which would have made sense if they had not already posted on my statement.

American Express Referral Bonus

Steps I Took to Get My Points

I waited the full 12 weeks and then called again since nothing had showed on my Hilton account.  During this time I even checked with Hilton to see if it was something on their end but they said the points never came through.

The first agent alerted me to the referral posting issue and said it should have been resolved already.  The agent filled out a ticket and said that I should see my points in a week or so.

A week or so later I called again and a new agent said the same thing, filled out another ticket.  Still nothing!  On my third call the third agent said that I would no doubt get them within 3 days.  He said he kicked it straight up to the referral department and filled out a different type of ticket.  I bet you can guess what happened at the end of three days…a whole bunch of nothing!


That is when I said enough and filed a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint.  I had used them in the past when Amex froze my wife’s Membership Rewards points and withheld her 100,000 point Platinum Bonus.  American Express responded to the complaint a few days later and released her points.

I waited over a week and received zero communication on my complaint this time around.  At this point I was beyond annoyed and called American Express one more time.  I think the agent could sense my mood and she checked everything AGAIN.  She claimed that they showed the points had been sent to Hilton (something new).  She filed a dispute, which is more serious I guess, and also got on the phone with Hilton.  She had them working on it on their end too.  The agent said I should hear something within a week or two.

A day or so later I received a response from CFPB and American Express essentially said they would look into it.  Not what I was hoping for but 3 days later I finally had my points!  I am not sure if the dispute or the CFPB complaint did the trick. It could have been a combination of the two that finally got the wheels turning, but I was finally 80,000 Hilton points richer.

American Express Referral Bonus


It all ended up working out in the end but a customer should not have to go to these lengths to get a bonus they deserve.  Especially for one that was because I brought new business to American Express.

I would have thought they would offer some compensation for the hassle of the whole thing but this isn’t the American Express of old.

I am still not sure if this was a part of the Amex RAT crackdown or not.  With the way everything played out I don’t think it was.  During this time I received bonuses for Delta referrals before they even showed on my statement.  But I know some people have been having issues with referrals and welcome bonuses so hopefully this helps give them some ideas what to do.

Moral of the story, don’t give up and get what is yours.  I probably spent 4-5 hours total on this but that effort was worth the $400 or so in points I got out of it.

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  1. So I think I may have something coming up with AMEX as well. I have a platinum business card and received 100K in points in March. Recently I was solicited by AMEX to get another platinum business card for another 100K in points. I completed the application, expecting to be rejected. I was approved instantly. Same name, same business, same everything. So, sometime in September I’ll complete the required spend so we’ll see if I get the points or not!

  2. I got my referral points for the ascend card when I referred my spouse.. I heard all these horror stories of AMEX and HILTON being ridiculously slow with crediting the referral points. So I was pleasantly surprised my bonus kicked in within 1 week after my spouse was approved for the card.. I guess YMMV for every individual..

    • DJ – I don’t see how this is, as I quote “gamming the systems..” This is a legit offer CC companies pay people to gain more business. I understand if people making MILLIONS of points out of this, but this is why CC companies now CAPPED the limit up to say 80k points for the hilton program.

    • DJ I think you have no idea what you are talking about. Please explain how referring friends to American Express for points is gaming the system? It is an offer they gladly put out there to gain new customers…it is a lot cheaper then getting them via advertising etc.

    • How is it wasting their resources? It is what they are there for – to get what is owed to consumers. I highly doubt forwarding a complaint to a credit card issuer takes many resources. And this is not why it is going away but you can think that…

  3. Same issue for me, Mark. Earned my 20K referral points in March. Finally, after much communication back and forth, they posted last week. Also got an apology in the snail mail yesterday. They should have thrown in another 1000 points for the troubles!

  4. People sometimes say bloggers give a way to much. Well the flip side is posts like these are very helpful and visibility of issues. This helps us little guys in situations like this. Nice post


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