American Airlines Cracking Down On Credit Card Rewards ‘Abuse’ (New Wave & More Shut Down E-mails)

Update 12/18/19: Another round of shut downs has been occurring over 12/17 and 12/18 with cancellation e-mails also going out. What is concerning is that we have one report of a person being shut down who didn’t use mailers. I’ll have a more detailed look at this later today.

Update 12/16/19: Shut down e-mails read as follows (keep in mind this e-mail is from December 5th):

A recent investigation has determined your involvement in multiple violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions, related to the accrual of ineligible miles and benefits, through fraud, misrepresentation and/or abuse of the AAdvantage Program. Additionally, it was determined that there are multiple violations to the AA Conditions of Carrier regarding Exploitive Practices related to your issuance of ineligible AAdvantage awards. Per the AAdvantage program governing terms:

    • Fraud, misrepresentation, abuse or violation of applicable rules (including, but not limited to, American or American Eagle® conditions of carriage, tariffs and AAdvantage® program rules) is subject to administrative and/or legal action by appropriate governmental authorities and American Airlines. Such action may include, without limitation, the forfeiture of all award tickets and any accrued mileage in a member’s account, as well as termination of the account and the member’s future participation in the AAdvantage® program. If your account is terminated due to inappropriate conduct or while under investigation, you may not open a new AAdvantage® account or participate in the AAdvantage® Program in any capacity without obtaining the express written permission of American Airlines. In addition, American Airlines reserves the right to take appropriate legal action to recover damages, including its attorneys’ fees incurred in prosecuting any lawsuit.

From the conditions of carriage:

Your ticket is not valid when:

    • We find that the ticket was bought using an exploitative practice

As such, we must now exercise our right to terminate AAdvantage account <your number>. All membership benefits associated with this account, including all remaining miles and issued award tickets, are forfeited, effective Dec 5, 2019. Award tickets obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, or violations of the AAdvantage Terms and Conditions and or Conditions of Carriage are not valid for travel. These tickets have been cancelled and you will need to make alternate arrangements for any upcoming travel plans.

Because it is clear from our investigation that you have been engaged in one or more violations of the General AAdvantage Program Conditions, any additional accounts in your name or that you control must also be terminated. All membership benefits associated with these accounts, including all remaining miles and unused tickets, are forfeited, effective Dec 5, 2019. You are no longer eligible to participate in the AAdvantage program.

Hat tip to saxonthebeach908

Update 12/12/19: Reports of another wave of shut downs occurring, people are being told about this when calling a specific number. It looks like when trying to make an award booking it won’t ticket either. I suspect people will be formally told in the coming days about this round of shut down. It doesn’t seem limited to people abusing physical mailers either. Some limited discussion going on in this reddit thread.

Original post: Recently we’ve seen a number of American Airlines loyalty members have their accounts shut down due to alleged credit card rewards ‘abuse’. I won’t go into specifics on the how the alleged ‘abuse’ has been carried out as I don’t think that will benefit anybody but it’s to do with Citi American Airline mailers. There are two main reasons why this crack down is occurring:

  • American Airline pays for a portion of the new customer acquisition cost
  • Some have been using this method and then selling the miles to brokers (strong held belief that this negatively impacts revenue premium seat flights that would otherwise be paid for in cash)

At this stage these shut downs are being handled by American Airline’s corporate security program. I expect a lot more shut downs to come, but hopefully I’m wrong about that. As far as I know at this stage it’s unclear what will happen to award tickets on shut down accounts that have already been booked. Progression seems to be as follows:

  • Unable to access account
  • Told to wait for contact from the Corporate Security program
  • Asked for additional information
  • ???

For what it’s worth corporate security is saying to be as honest as possible to save your account. American Airlines insider @xJonNYC is providing somewhat regular updates both on his Twitter and in this Flyertalk thread.

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John
John

Looks like the last shutdown DP was from early March so it’s been a good 5 months. Anyone heard of further mailer-related-shutdowns since March?

Alex
Alex

Wow, I seem to be locked/shutdown myself. My history (used one mailer addressed to me; never made fake accounts): 8/2017 aviator red, 11/2017 citi aa plat, 12/2017 citi aa gold (mailer, addressed to me), citi aa bus plat 3/2018. Just tried to book a ticket, went pending, now can’t log into my account. Losing 264k miles it appears.

Alex
Alex

Looks like I spoke too soon. After pending for a couple days my award flight was ticketed. I seem to have escaped shutdown.

H
H

Any hope here? Any body was able or read that anybody was able to reopen the account? I only did 2 business mailers in 2019 and 2 in 2018 plus my 1st CITI Biz that did not require a mailers in 2017 and a Barclay Biz in 2017 and lots of organic miles. never redeemed a single mile. got shutdown and lost 456K miles.

Dublin
Dublin

Can you assume that if you’re continuing to earn miles through the use of a Citi credit card Bask bank account etc. than your account is not under review or locked? Does anyone know? I have never used mailers addressed to someone else but have opened up 10 to 12 different credit cards and currently have two Citibank checking account using mailers address to me and my wife

TB
TB

Continuing to earn miles is not an indicator. You can be locked or even shutdown, and AA will continue to market selling miles to you. The best advice if you think you are locked is to find our directly with AA. If you dont want to do that, it doesnt make much sense to continue to accumulate AA miles.

Dublin
Dublin

Wow. That sucks. Pretty snarky of them. Thanks much

H
H

Got shutdown last week.

465K are gone.

I applied for my 1st Citi Biz and Barclay BIZ in 2017 same day.

In 2018, is when I learnt about the mailers, I did 2 biz mailers
In 2019, 2 biz mailers

Never redeemed, was saving for a big trip. I even paid $ for a trip last year to Europe and made points on it. Responded back to shutdown Email. Nothing.

Chris
Chris

Wife’s account just got shutdown today. AA Shutdown still in full force

Karrs D Johnson
Karrs D Johnson

Just had my account canceled and 100k points gone.

J
J

Account termination e-mail received today–lost nearly 300k miles but had a good run including QSuites and EY Apartments last year so I’m not too torn up about it. I did plan on using these miles obviously but you win some you lose some. I plan on responding to the cancellation notice but obviously don’t expect anything to be overturned based on what I’ve seen so far.

test
test

The rats are still actively working on this. My account just got terminated and 700k miles are gone.

anne
anne

Wow. Do you mind sharing if you use mailers???

J
J

Has anyone been shut down in the last few weeks? I’m still alive…..for now. Wondering when it will be potentially safe to get back to award flights. Have stayed quiet in fear of moving up a list somewhere.

Brian
Brian

Still alive also. I’m busy booking award flights, even changed one today , and they’ve all gone through