Amex Rewards Abuse Team Created
Last month American Express briefly had a publicly available offer on their personal Platinum card giving 100K Membership Rewards points. I know a lot of you signed up and my wife did as well. Then, last week I discovered her Membership Rewards account has been locked from transferring points while they investigate her purchases.
Now, there is a rumor from U.S. Credit Card Guide that a new team within Amex may be responsible for cracking down on so called “Rewards Abuse”. Creatively called the Rewards Abuse Team, this group is designed to make sure you are fulfilling your end of the agreement. Again, the existence of this team is still a rumor and has not been publicly acknowledged by the company. But here is what we know:
- Customers are being harassed by the bank when applying for offers the bank doesn’t like. Amex freezes their accounts, claws back points and takes months to do so.
- The MileagePlus X app no longer codes as a travel purchase for the Platinum card’s credit.
The rumor is that Amex will also crack down on people who purchase a product to meet minimum spend, get the bonus and then return it. Apparently Amex will claw back points in that case.
Some Good News
According to this rumor, buying airline gift cards with your Platinum card should continue to work to trigger the airline incidental credit. There have been rumors since the Sapphire Reserve was released this summer that Amex would move to a less restrictive credit and perhaps that is still in the books. While you won’t be able to trigger the credit when buying Amazon gift cards through MileagePlus X, you will at least still be able to get the credit fairly easily.
I absolutely believe that Amex has every right to make sure that customers aren’t abusing their rewards programs. Should customers who buy stuff and return it get the bonus? I would say generally not, but what if something happens six months down the line and the merchant credits your account? Will Amex clawback the bonus in that case? For this reason I plan to go above and beyond the minimum spend on my Amex cards.
Hopefully the creation of this team will also mean that Amex can stop freezing people’s accounts for months. If they want to investigate spending to ensure nothing against the terms was done then they should do it. With that said, freezing people’s accounts for months at a time or in my wife’s case freezing her account before she spends $1 on the card is just customer unfriendly. Oh and the loss of MileagePlus X is certainly justified (but sad) since that should never have counted towards the credit.
Banks just like any other business are out to make money. If they see that certain customers are abusing their system then they will crackdown. Crackdowns are fine, but Amex has to keep up their end of the bargain as well in my opinion. Let’s hope this new team is a positive move for those of us who are trying to stay within the rules. Somehow I doubt that though. They seem to be out for blood.
What do you think? Are you surprised a team like this didn’t exist before? Do you think this rumor is true? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
HT: Doctor of Credit