American Express Clawing Back Airline Incidental Credits
Well Amex RAT (rewards abuse team) is back at it again. American Express is clawing back airline incidental credits from 2019. We had warned that we thought this would happen on a podcast episode earlier in the year but we assumed it would be 2020 credits and not 2019 credits. Amex RAT really outdid themselves this time!
RELATED: Why Amex Is Dead Wrong With Their Latest Clawbacks
American Express has sent out clawback emails to numerous people that essentially says the following (me paraphrasing):
We see that you received a credit from the airline for the same purchase that we gave you a credit on. Because of this we are charging you that credit amount back.
You can see a picture of the letter here (HT DoC).
What Does This Mean
This is most likely from people booking seat fees etc. and then ending up canceling the flight and getting a full refund. What it really means is that Amex is not to trifled with in all things. First they nailed Amex Offers, then gift cards for airline incidentals, then yearly credits with Saks and Dell and now back to airline credits. It looks like everything has been shut down for the most part. It is best to play by the rules going forward or risk missing out on the benefits all together.
I have already used most of my airline incidental credits in 2020 on seat fees for upcoming Spirit and Frontier flights (hello big front seat). If you ever fly low cost carriers I think that is an awesome use for these incidental credits. I know there will still be things that will work that shouldn’t but you have to ask yourself if the juice is worth the squeeze going forward.
Amex craves breakage with all of their credits, it is how they pad their bottom line. For the regular folks they end up leaving a lot of money on the table because of this. But we educated folks were able to drain every last ounce of value out of these credits. It is still possible to do that but it is getting harder and harder. I have long said American Express should just reduce their credits but make them easier to use. It is sexier to sell a $200 Uber and Airline credit in your ads though even if they are more difficult to use.
I know a lot of people will be thinking hard about their American Express cards the next time their annual fee charge hits.
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“But us educated folks were able to drain every last ounce of value out of these credits.”
But I totally appreciate your post and follow-up comments.
I’ll update – thanks Colleen
It was 3 cards. $200 x 2 plat & $250 x 1 Aspire. Before this year I used to just purchase gift cards and use them for travel. Not a huge deal for me if and when they claw back if I can’t get the credits back I’ll just cancel the cards. I hardly use them, don’t get the value out of them surely not worth it if the airline credits are taken away.
I have a funny feeling they went after blatant abusers (like John, sorry buddy), rather than individuals who had one or two $25 charges that were reversed. They will probably do the same in 2021.
@david – If you put other actual incidental fees on the card, I would think they would be reasonable and if they try to claw back you just call and say well look I put these other amounts on and they will wipe them out.
I am curious to see if they will apply it to other purchases that would have triggered it. Because I am sure some people got caught up in this when they had other charges that would have worked. Someone that has JetBlue Mosaic might cancel speculative bookings quite often but keep others with seat fees etc.
This is the key point I think. There are reasons why someone might have “accidentally” triggered the credit without trying to game it at all. I think Amex 100% should then apply the credit towards a future purchase. I would be very curious to hear of any DPs of people calling in to ask that their credit be applied to a subsequent charge. It seems to me RAT should have already done this, however, if they were doing their job properly.
My wife and I bought some pants for her at Saks for Halloween but they turned out to be way too big so we tried to return them — but then realized these were final sale (my wife is not super great at reading the fine print before buying things). However, thanks to Amex Plat return protection we got our money back. They didn’t even ask for the pants back (I guess it costs more for them to accept the “return” than it does to just give us the money and let us keep the oversized pants). However out of a superabundance of caution I made sure to buy ANOTHER item at Saks before the 6 months were out so if they someday decided to claw back the “return” we could say hey — but we bought this other thing at Saks, we should be able to apply the credit to that. It would be pretty bad if Amex didn’t honor that if I called it in.
You would hope they would honor it but hard to say with them these days.
Ah dam I have $650 worth of refunded credits. I thought I would get off Scott free but I now have to watch out for the claw back as well. I’ll probally watch it over the next 7 months or so. Of they claw back I’ll play dumb hopefully have it restored and use them up on a flight before the end of 2020.
Will be interesting to see how quickly they attack the 2020 credits or if they wait till 2021 to do it so you can’t reuse them.
Just canceled my Amex Bonvoy Brilliant 4 days after AF posted. Two can play the game
I think there will be more cancellations this year for sure.
Maybe don’t game the system, people play with fire like everyone getting their AA accounts shut down (thank go more award seats for us who get miles in a legitimate way). So lets see her you pay a fee get reimbursed with the fee credit and then cancel it so you double dip, that is wrong and I’m glad AMEX is doing something about it.
How would you handle a similar situation for a 2020 credit received on a refunded airline charge? I assume it is only a matter of time before they claw back 2020 cases too. I’d rather it happen this year so I can lobby AMEX to restore the credit and hopefully still use it in 2020. Doesn’t help me to have it clawed back in 2021 and not have a window to use the credit. Would you go as far as bringing the situation to their attention now?
Just call them and ask them to reverse the credit.
Tough call if you don’t want eyes on your account. Is it just one card or multiple credits?
In my case it’s the full credit amount on a Platinum and Gold. Probably gonna sit tight for now, but will definitely get antsy by mid-year if nothing has happened.