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Amex Is Also Clawing Back Delta And Marriott Points

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Amex Is Also Clawing Back Delta And Marriott Points

Amex Is Also Clawing Back Delta And Marriott Points

Over the holiday weekend we shared the news that Amex was posting and then immediately clawing back Hilton points for grocery spend. This is after American Express increased payout amounts for grocery spend across many of their cards.  Many people that made large purchases at grocery stores had their points held back even though they showed up properly on their statement. Amex reps said they were simply delayed because of the promo but most people questioned if they would be clawed back, as they eventually were.  I forgot to point out this weekend that this also happened for people that put spend on the Delta and Marriott cards.


Just like the Hilton clawbacks, Amex posted the Delta Skymiles or Marriott Bonvoy points and then immediately removed them from the account. Many people were wondering if it was possible for Amex to pull back points from co-branded programs and it appears they can.  I found it a little strange they did it with the Bonvoy cards as well since they put a cap on the bonus spend.  Something they failed to do with the Delta or Hilton cards.

Purchases that were for actual groceries were clawed back along with any gift card purchases.  It seems that if you tripped their alarm that all of your purchases were considered tainted.

Final Thoughts

It is no surprise that Amex did this, it has been their modus operandi of late.  Many people questioned if this would end badly when the promo was launched.  At this point if there is a promo, upgrade offer or welcome offer it is best to steer clear of anything but organic spend with American Express.

Did you have any Delta Skymiles or Marriott Bonvoy points clawed back?  Share your details in the comments.

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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Mark Ostermann
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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  1. I have never done any of the above for 3X/4X. It seems that those methods are goign to be DOA all around. They are watching these programs closely.

  2. My groceries were credited @ x3, Minus the GC’s.

    Unlike everyone else, I didn’t have a classic clawback. They simply credited the total grocery purchases x3. No crediting and deleting points. They simply added total grocery purchases x3.

  3. So it sounds to me that most that are complaining tried to gain the system and purchase a bunch of gift cards to get the increased earn and you got caught.

    I’m with Douglas on this one as we have multiple AX cards and they are our primary ones. I have not had a single issue with them and any points earning and in fact I do get so many of the statement credits by taking advantage of the various offers. I switched my mobile and streaming charges to my Gold card to take advantage of the May-Dec $20 credits and no issues. I normally buy groceries on my Gold card for the 4X MR which to me was still better return than the 12X on my Hilton Aspire. I don’t buy gift cards other than a couple of small ones around Christmas time for our various service providers.

    If I have any question or issue I normally reach out to AX on their chat function and it gets resolved ASAP. So customer service for me has not changed and has always been great.

    • Agree completely- people that try to game the system w gift card purchases or similar such tricks deserve EXACTLY what they got!

    • Lance,

      You should try MS. Maybe then you’d earn enough points to go and do something really fun that would make you a little less angry at folks like myself who plays this game to win.

  4. I am a bit surprised by all of the hand-wringing here. It seems that the issue is a pretty straightforward violation of the T&Cs of the promotion.
    Apparently every one of these clawbacks is due to purchasing of gift cards which are explicitly prohibited from receiving these bonus points. Break the rules, suffer the consequences. Not complicated.
    However, it does seem like it is a problem, albeit minor, that people are losing their bonus points on true grocery store spend, because it was mixed with gift cards. If it was clearly just a one-off gift card purchase, and not MS, then I suspect Amex will redeposit the points.

    • I doubt they will redeposit it. And there are grocery purchases without any gift cards losing the points.

      • I think people who are really into the hobby give the credit card companies more leeway then they deserve. It’s not a wide open free for all and the T&Cs aren’t quite as bad as some other websites claim. In particular, buying gift cards is not ‘prohibited’ by the grocery store promo, they are just not eligible for the bonus points. This promo overlaps with teacher appreciation week, graduation, birthdays—people are going to buy gift cards and that’s not something to have a guilty conscience about. Folks who just toss a few gift cards in with their groceries should not accept any loss of points on their other (non gift card) grocery spend.

  5. I assume Amex has an annual income for all cardholders. If I issued a card I’m not so sure if somebody made $150,000 a year (or whatever), and I saw them spending more than their monthly income at grocery stores, that I wouldn’t do more than take back points (at least for personal cards). I’m not surprised this spending looks suspicious and sets off red flags.

  6. I think the issue with Amex is that they have gotten so aggressive with these clawbacks/denials that it has become a major risk to do any sort of MS. Even if it’s just regular MS-related spend (i.e. NOT during the sign-up bonus period, NOT during a promo, etc). I am growing increasingly uncomfortable b/c they may still arbitrarily decide to deny/clawback AND they also have an established track record of going after people for activity dating back months/years ago even on closed cards! (i.e. them billing people retroactively for travel fee credit shenanigans that they deemed unacceptable).

      • Good – hopefully more of you drop out and leave cards to people that use them legitimately. No sympathy for people trying to game the system and maximize spend. That wasn’t intent of the bonus categories or card programs so glad they find you in conflict w T&C. Hopefully enough of you get frustrated and quit! I love Amex and have been a proud member since 1986. All my spend is legit and never had a problem.

        It is clowns like you that make things tough for everyone

        • How am I a clown AC? What have I done exactly?

          I shared info of what is going on. Maximizing spend is being an informed consumer. Gladly taking 1X on something you could get 3X or 4X on is a bad decision on your part. But if you to do it go for it. It only helps me out 😉

          • I find it amusing that folks like AC are hanging out on a blog that talks about activities they clearly don’t approve of I wonder why they waste their time here? Too funny but more power to them if that is how they chose to spend their time.

        • AC,

          Really, why are you here? Do you not have another site you can troll? You come here with the SAME rhetoric Every.Single.Time. Just go away!

  7. I suspect the Bonvoy cards might be collateral damage from hitting Delta or Hilton but not a lot of data points to go on.

      • Not sure why the previous comment failed to post correctly, probably the greater than, less than signs.
        Delta, over 15k, clawed, purchases made in May, organic + gc;
        Bonvoy, less than 5k, clawed, purchases made in May, gc only;
        Hilton, over 7k, issued, purchases made in June, gc only;

  8. It would be interesting to find out if this was due to a sudden uptick in spending. Were these circumstances where folks went from $500/month suddenly jump to $5k since these promos started? I know they do look across all accounts, did these individuals suddenly have disproportionate amounts of spend across the board? Did these individuals stop using non-promo cards and move the spend to promo cards proportionately? It would be nice to get greater details.

  9. Any ideas what people were doing that tripped it? I saw you mentioned some people with 60K points or 300K points being delayed. Personally, a bit foolish in my opinion for people to try to spend that much and Amex not take notice. I’ve been spending about $3-5K a month with no issues. But I also have done a few things both with this and the Amex GOLD that I think keeps my gift cards a bit more hidden.

    • My $33K in grocery spending was clawed back. I knew it was a risk going in, but thought that I’d give it a whirl. Prior to Covid, I generally charge about $40K a month to my AmEx for business travel, so figured that the $33K might fly under the radar, but they obviously took notice. Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      • I understand where you are coming from Emily. A point no one else has brought up in this matter. Amex will let you MS all day long at GCM with your statement reading “gift cards” and allows 3x points for the purchase with the Aspire card. The promotion explicitly stated there were no bonus points allotted for cash equivalents which we all understand. Since a gift card is a legitimate item at a grocery store that is legal to buy, why isn’t Amex awarding 3x points for the spend that occurred during this promotion period. Isn’t it a breach of contract that grocery spend is being with held from Amex customers? Isn’t it their responsibility to differentiate what was purchased and award accordingly?

    • I think just the large amounts really. There has never been issues with the Surpass card in the past at 6X so I think they just hoped it would be more of the same. I am guessing they thought it was worth the risk. I do wonder if the $15K nights will post too though – then it wouldn’t be a total loss at least.

      • great point Mark, and Emily, so very much appreciate your look on this. You’re right, we all want to push the envelope some (I do myself as well), but at least your being reasonable in knowing, “hey I tried, it didn’t work – oh well” and not getting angry and blaming Amex for it like some. I intentionally (after Chase’s $1500 bonus/month for 2 months) said I would make sure I hit the $15K in spend on the Surpass to take advantage of the 12X points, trigger the $15K free night, and also help greatly towards my lifetime diamond status earning. So far, so good more than 2/3 of the way through. I suspect I’ll be fine. But I also don’t buy $10K in gift cards at once. I just throw in 2 just under $500 every time I go. I also don’t put exactly $500 on them. I put just under so it doesn’t scream maxed out gift card, and then since it’s mixed in with groceries I suspect it plays nicer with Level 3 data.

        • I hit the $15K on Surpass in April and am on track to hit $40K (for Diamond) by October. Not hard when I run through my health insurance premium (I’m retired w my own policy) and my daughter’s apartment in Chicago (she is a student). That is $3000 a month then adding grocery, gas and misc spend averages $5K a month (without gaming anything). Yeah I’m sure some will say I should max on CSR or others (I have most of those cards) but frankly enjoy Hilton, have more money and points/miles than I could ever use and like the challenge of hitting $40K for Diamond.

          • You would be better getting an Aspire and getting Diamond for a few hundred dollars and putting that spend on a 2% card. You would be way better off.

  10. Just another reason I detest Amex. I don’t even play these games, but they make it so difficult to use a lot of their offers and customer service has gone way down hill even for those of us who play by the strict rules.

    • I do agree that their customer service is not what it once was, which was their bedrock back in the day.

    • I find AMEX offers quite generous and easy to meet their offers/rules. Example, recent $5 back on
      $90 and $100 cable and cell, 4X each. I posted 4 advance payments to my cable and cell each, and the $5 X 8 times posted without hassle. How can you beat that? Add to that the current shop small. I believe if I tallied all of the offers redeemed on my AMEX cards in a typical year I’d easily cross $500. They have my loyalty.

      • Doug – I agree. Have been a member (started w green card and now Platinum plus DL Platinum and Hilton Surpass) since 1986.

        I respect Amex for the company they have built and all the service I have received for almost 35 years. All the points whores complain when things don’t go their way but Amex as a company is great especially for higher net worth individuals.

        • TheBrain,

          Just keeping putting your high dollar meals for your corporate buddies on your Amex Platinum because it makes you feel good about yourself when you slap it down to pay for the tab. Enjoy that 1x life…keep doing what you’re doing and all of us who you look down on will continue to sweep up massive amounts of points.


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