Reader’s Amex Financial Review – 4 Very Strange & Pointed Questions

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Amex Financial Review

Reader’s Amex Financial Review – 4 Very Strange & Pointed Questions

I wanted to share a reader’s experience with an Amex financial review.  This just happened in the last few days and they said it was very brief but the questions were strange and very pointed questions. Shawn has shared his experience with an Amex financial review in the past as well. This appears to be a business account related review that is triggered once you surpass $25,000 in spend on a newer business card.

What Is An Amex Financial Review?

Most people know what a financial review is, especially an American Express financial review.  But if you are in the dark a little bit it is when Amex sees what they feel are irregularities on your account.  They sometimes, but not always, will freeze your cards while they dig through your recent purchases.  They will then call you to discuss these purchases and the nature of your spending.  The thing that most often triggers the reviews is a spike in spending or large purchases.  Especially when they are in a bonus earning category.

Our Reader’s Background

Before we get into what happened on the financial review call I will go over what the reader says triggered the call.  They recently got the Amex Gold business card which earns an amazing 4X Membership Rewards on select categories.  There are a few good options to choose from but they were focusing on the US gas stations option.  The reader is pretty big 3rd party gift card reseller and often takes advantage of the numerous Speedway promotions.

There is a $50K limit on the 4X earning and with recent promos they approached that amount in only a few months time.  A large spike in spending like this always risks a financial review and that is exactly what it brought.

Amex Financial Review

Financial Review Questions

While the fact that the reader was hit with a financial review is not overly surprising the questions asked were kind of strange and very pointed.  (Update: it appears this may be a review that business accounts receive after an increase in spending, $25K+)

  • Do you purchase money orders of $1000 or more?
  • Do you buy $1000 or more in cashiers items?
  • Are you buying store valued products for $1000 or more?
  • If I were to come up to you and ask you to cash something for me, would you do that?

Usually with financial reviews they ask about certain purchases etc.  This seems to be more about potential threats American Express sees out in the world versus focusing on the specific purchases.  Maybe they don’t have level 3 data from gas stations like they get from office supply stores or grocery stores etc.?  They just seem like strange questions for 3rd party gift card purchases.  It would be one thing it is was a personal Gold card and various grocery purchases fit some of these parameters.

There are similar reports on Flyertalk (comment #7) showing pretty much the exact same questions. The post is from a few years ago so it doesn’t appear this line of questioning is new.  It is surprising to see them ask essentially the exact same questions 5 years later.  The Flyertalk poster makes a great point, it is hard to tell if this is about rewards abuse or checking for potential money laundering.  I would have to go with the latter.

Final Thoughts

The Amex financial review department is a fear among many in this hobby.  Most of the time it is easier to get through than expected, which seems to be the case here as well.  The reader’s cards are not frozen and Amex simply said that is all we need after the 4 questions were answered.

It appears that if you have business cards and put a lot of spend on them this call may come your way.  From what I can tell it is somewhat regular and shouldn’t cause you too many issues.  Just answer the questions honestly and you should be good to go.  Something to be aware of for sure though if you use your Amex business cards heavily.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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12 COMMENTS

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Definitely credit card issuers can and will shut down your cards if you buy a lot of gift cards. I was doing really heavy gift card purchases at Simon Malls and then going to Walmart to buy money orders.

    Citibank and Chase closed ALL of my credit cards. They didn’t even take the courtesy of contacting me via phone or writing before I noticed. I only noticed as the cards all stopped working. They wouldn’t even discuss it on the phone when I called in. They said I would get a letter in 7-10 days.

    What sucks is I was a good customer and had accounts with them for about 20 years. There was no reviewing it or appeals process. No one would even talk to me about it on the phone which was strange.

    I also had 3 of my banks that I deposited the money orders question me (well actually 2 because Chase just closed ALL my checking and savings accounts with them). I was just honest and told them what I was doing and I even had all the receipts for the money orders purchases of gift cards.

    I didn’t use AMEX because they don’t give points at Simon Malls. So I’d be careful about buying visa gift cards.

  2. This is not a financial review. I had been through two financial reviews in the past and both times Amex locked down all accounts first before asking for documents.

  3. Pssst, Mark. It’s parameters. Perimeters are boundaries.

    Husband had a full blown FR last year. When all was said and done, they lowered his substantial limit, which they’d been regularly raising by as much as 7000 at a time, by $2500.

    Amex seems to like flexing their muscles, like most bullies.

  4. I find the wording very odd for a lot of these questions as well.

    For example, I am not even aware of any stores that sell money orders in denominations larger than $1000. So are they trying to ask if you purchase money orders that total up to more than $1000?

    Then for the second question, what the hell are “cashiers items” Are they trying to ask if you are purchasing gift cards?

    For the last question, who in the world is going to answer yes to that question in this context? What is even the point of asking it…

  5. when i got my financial review on my business plus they ask me that i only had 1 charge from giftcardmall and i said yes and that was it. it was sort of weird so after that i haven’t use amex card for giftcardmall again

  6. Interesting. Amex didn’t even give me the courtesy of a FR a few years ago when they shut down my Old Blue Cash card for using the card to purchase a lot of items at grocery stores. They contended using the card in bonus categories (as permitted and encouraged by the T&C) was some sort of abuse. And since cash earned doesn’t immediately become available until after statement close, they screwed me out of several hundred dollars earned before shutdown. And CFPB didn’t help. Oh well it was good while it lasted.

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