Amex Clawbacks For Airlines Gift Cards – For Charges Up To 2 Years Old
Another day, another Amex clawback. The RAT (rewards abuse team) has once again justified their existence. They turned over another stone and came out victorious. There are reports of people getting emails that they will be retroactively billed for airline incidental credits where gift cards were purchased. This was a popular way to skirt the American Express rules in the past and use what are now pretty much useless credits. Do I think it is a coincidence that this latest round of clawbacks came right after they announced new credits for premium cardholders? Not in the slightest. That money has to come from somewhere, especially after seeing their first quarter earnings. So let’s take a look at the details for the Amex Clawbacks this time around.
Reddit user MichelangelesqueToea posted that he received an email from American Express informing him that he would be getting a bill for some past airline incidental credits. The issue was that he used the airline incidental credits from his Platinum and Gold cards to purchase Delta gift cards. It was well known that if you purchased Delta gift cards in $50 increments it would trigger the credit. They closed the loophole on purchasing gift cards a year or so ago. I think everyone understood that move but to now go back and reverse the credits on purchases two years old, that seems a bit extreme.
For now it appears that only Delta gift cards are being targeted. That could be because Delta is a co-brand partner with Amex or they could just be working their way through the airlines one by one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this extended to others in the near future.
This comes a few weeks after Amex’s last clawbacks which targeted people that used refundable tickets to get credits. Those clawbacks have even led to some shutdowns. I didn’t agree with Amex on those clawbacks either, because people have legit flights cancelled all the time – especially in 2020. So I thought they overstepped some and the fact that they waited until the new calendar year to do it didn’t sit well with me. Waiting till the new year ensured people couldn’t earn their credit after the clawback. People got a credit on something they didn’t end up paying for so I understood their stance on the matter.
This time around I think they are being unbelievably petty. These were purchases made 12-24 months ago and they were actual purchases. There was no double credit, Amex got their swipe fees as they would have on any other purchase, so why go to these levels? They have closed the loophole, something they could have done long ago. Amex is one of the only companies I can remember that retroactively goes after people for a problem that they themselves created with poor IT infrastructure. Any other company plugs the hole and moves forward. Not Amex, they go back YEARS to try to recoup a little of that money that you already paid them for in the annual fee. That is because all they care about is breakage.
Amex Has Fallen Behind The Competition
American Express’ competition has made their credits easy to use. And you know what, there is still breakage. People forget to use it or just get lazy. It happens all of the time but people don’t feel cheated by it. When you flaunt a perk or credit and then make it difficult for people to use is there any value in that or is it just a marketing ploy intended to dupe people? Similar to how everything is always “on sale” at Kohl’s.
If you purchased a gift card in the past two years that triggered an Amex airline incidental credit then keep an eye on your emails. It seems that they are focusing on Delta purchases for now but that could change in a blink of an eye. They have to come up with the money for all of these new Platinum credits after all. I can’t wait to see how they find a way to clawback those as well.
The last few years has soured me on all things American Express premium cards. I now value these airline credits at a small fraction of their publicized value. It is one of the reasons that I decided to downgrade my Aspire card. It just isn’t worth the hassle anymore. My future will have a lot less Amex metal in my wallet, that is one thing I can guarantee.