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Amex RAT Is Attacking From Multiple Angles – Check Your Accounts!

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amex clawbacks

Amex RAT Is Attacking From Multiple Angles – Check Your Accounts!

Being an American Express cardholders is quickly becoming a burden. The Amex RAT (Rewards Abuse Team) team is coming from all angles, especially for those who have Platinum Cards. But even those with other cards are having issues with self referrals.

Purchasing Gift Cards with Amex Platinum

Back in July, gift card purchases stopped working to trigger the annual airline credits from the Amex Platinum card. That was a great option to maximize the card’s benefits for those who might not have many incidental charges during the year.

Then, more recently, it was Saks gift cards that stopped triggering yet another annual credit. The Amex Platinum card comes with a $50 credit for spend at Saks during the first 6 months of the year and another $50 credit for spend during the final 6 months of the year. Many people have been able to take advantage of this by purchasing Saks gift cards in-store to either sell or use later. Shawn covered the news about two weeks ago.

But it’s even worse than that. Some people are having their credits clawed back, months after the fact. Miles per Day reports a case where Saks credit was clawed back even 8 months after a purchase, and even after the card was closed. Yes, this was a “trick”. But the fact that they’re looking into this as well, makes you think that Amex RAT is out in full force to enforce rules.

Self Referrals a Big No-No

American Express made referrals easier last year. It’s now possible to refer to any credit card, even if you do not have that card yourself. But when they introduced this new feature, it also became possible to refer yourself for a new Amex card. We warned that referring yourself could be risky business. That has turned out to be true.

Back in July we saw the first wave of self referral bonuses being clawed back. Now there’s a second round of clawbacks for those who have referred themselves for new American Express credit cards.

But the bad news doesn’t end there. Gets even worse for those who have used self referrals. There’s a few data points that some people who have referred themselves are also being blocked from generating new referral links. Even their old referral links are no longer working.

And this is clearly not just a glitch. The following message is showing up when trying to generate referrals:

Your Card account’s eligibility to participate in the Refer a Friend program is based on your creditworthiness and other factors including your account history with American Express.


That’s a lot of bad news to take in. But the common theme is that Amex RAT is going after everyone. If something is excluded in the terms, sooner or later it will probably get enforced.

Check your accounts to see if you have been affected by any of these developments. Check you airlines incidentals reimbursements and Saks credits. Also check your Membership rewards balances for clawbacks. And finally take a look at your referral links, to make sure they still work, especially if you have shared them with friends and family.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve been affected!

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Based in NYC. Points/miles enthusiast for years and actively writing about it for the last 6+ years at Danny the Deal Guru. I'm always looking out for deals. Making a few bucks is always nice, but the traveling is by far the best part of this business.

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  1. I don’t really buy that there’s a statute of limitations when it comes to catching people that have tried to game the system. I you take the chance to refer yourself (which you obviously knew was not intention of the program) you may get caught later. If you buy gift cards and get points (against the T&C) don’t be too indignant if you have to give it back. RAT may take a while, but they’re greatly outnumbered by the people finding angles and systems that aren’t perfect.

    If you stretch the game too far you may get caught. Go in expecting that – especially these days. Celebrate the victories (after a safe time period), but don’t feel abused if you’re caught. The game has just gotten more competitive.

  2. I referred my husband for Amex card he never had. He hasn’t opened many Amex cards. He was rejected for points he would have earned for spending 1k as well as a 250 Ticketmaster rebate

  3. I am on a weird blacklist for perks abuse.

    I did a lot of MS from 2017-2018 and they closed my account in 2018, alleging that I engaged in abuse. I applied again the week after they closed my account and they approved me but then closed my account a few hours later, sending the same letter alleging that I had engaged in abuse. I tried to apply 9 months later in 2019 and they approved me and then cancelled it hours later, sending the same general letter again.

    They did a hard pull and approved me which is what they don’t do if someone is on the blacklist. Guess some folks at Amex hate me. I called Amex and they told me that it could be a glitch, but they couldn’t figure out if it was a glitch or if the other office just decided to keep cancelling my cards.

    Is there any chance for forgiveness in the years to come? I know other people who had their accounts closed for alleged abuse and they were able to get new cards with no issues. Seems weird that they won’t just block my applications and instead approve me, do a hard pull, and then cancel hours later. It just seems like they want to harm my credit.

    It could also be: I had multiple cards and the day they cancelled they cancelled 2 of them. Before they got around to cancelling the rest I called to cancel them to avoid the notation of closed by grantor on my credit report. Maybe the system didn’t process the other cancellations correctly and is now just processing them when I apply for new cards. Still, wouldn’t this issue have ended after all this time?

  4. I did not self refer. My spouse did refer to each other though, which I thought was allowed. Neither of us have working referral links though.

  5. I understand that purchasing gift cards are against the t&c and blocking them from future purchases goes with those terms. However, isnt there legal protection for clawing back a purchase that was approved eight months in the past regardless of the terms?


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