Posted by William Charles on December 18, 2019
Airline Rewards

Published on December 18th, 2019 | by William Charles

488

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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YoniPDX

Ouch, AA can have high X cpp on Int’l premium cabin awards – Domestic AA Meh. But mailers can bypass 24mo Citi SUB.

I guess that the Hogs that are getting slaughtered that others will be affected by the AA culls.

danny
danny

legit worried about this, got close to 400k aa miles and dont wanna lose them

frogger
frogger

I wonder if you use the miles on AA vacations can they claw them back?

anne
anne

How fast did you get it?

Frank

They should really just switch to revenue based redemptions to fix that

/s

YoniPDX

Perhaps if it was revenue based redemptions they should rename it:

Frequent Swiper account (Dora the explorer if you have kids) instead of Freq Flier.

but wait revenue based – that could mean MS’ng for miles. Swiping hard core churning (but parsing the letter of T&C not spirit of T&C).

Honestly FF and elite status loyalty is all but dead and the airlines have been profitable since we bailed them out – but they thank us by splitting up flyers, weaponizing basic economy (virall Air rage anyone), outrageous change fees, etc, etc.

debit
debit

A lot of what the heavy hitters do is fraud. This is good. The more fraud by a few is rooted out the more crumbs are left for the rest of us.

frogger
frogger

I wish there was a down-vote option. If you do things strictly by the book you might as well quit. Chase 5/24. Bank of America 7/12. Barclay 5/24. Citi 48 months. Amex once per life time.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Because we’re entitled to loopholes? If others set the rules, don’t be upset when you can’t play by them.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith

So you are saying cheating the system is okay as long as you don’t get caught? Really.

Paul
Paul

As soon as frogger said he/she wished there were a downvote option, I knew we were dealing with a millennial who lives on reddit, thinks upvotes are what drives his/her life worth, and believes the $100k in student loans he/she signed the dotted line for their history degree at Dartmouth isn’t their responsibility to pay back. In basic terms, personal responsibility isn’t a thing.

Electroman

I’ll bet you’re fun at parties.

Clay
Clay

The most reddit reply🙄

James
James

Word. Plebbit soy boys with neon hair and shitty tattoos.

frogger
frogger

What an idiot you are Paul. I am a Generation X with zero debt. Worked my way through public university working 35 hours a week during the school year taking 18 credits a semester maintaining a 3.5 GPA and double majoring computer science and psychology. My wife is also 15 years younger than me and I make a healthy living and have smart, beautiful children who have tons of friends and very happy. If you want to compare lives go for it.

I also have six figures in my children’s 529 plans. Let me know how you are doing.

Me
Me

Frogger, did you buy her a Peloton for Christmas?

Frogger
Frogger

I do love that commercial.

Jeff
Jeff

I agree. Hate when people bad mouth certain generations. I am 68 and remember the “generation gap”. Who do people think are in our army, navy, etc. and defending us? One time I was eating in a restaurant and my buddy starts mocking “millennials”. The fella behind us got up and go in his face as he had just come back from a couple of duties in Iraq. My friend, who is a vet, felt like an idiot. Don’t talk stupid.

Paul
Paul

Wow it takes very little effort to trigger you. You’re weak. Go get those upvotes on reddit to make you feel tall!

Dubya
Dubya

I was dead at “my wife is 15 younger than me”.
I can’t wait for someone to invent real life upvoting. It could cure the insecurity epidemic.

kingrat
kingrat

@frogger no one cares and we all know you paid for college giving handjobs for $5

Sarah D
Sarah D

Ok boomer

Jiasus0328@gmail.com
Jiasus0328@gmail.com

Whatever u say boomer🤣🤣

nuff
nuff

“Ok Boomer” brought to you by the generation that ate tide pods 🙁

Flea
Flea

I’ll never understand that… I bite my nails, and remember trying to do so absentmindedly *after* having fondled a few Tide Pods out with the laundry. I wanted to claw my tongue off, and that was when the detergent was still swaddled in wrapping.

phil
phil

That’s gen Z not Millennial

tennismenace3
tennismenace3

Okay boomer

Geo
Geo

Paul OK Boomer

Marc Hans
Marc Hans

ok boomer 😉

rick b
rick b

Ummm…welcome to the world of finance. The whole system is a house of cards, smoke and mirros, etc… insert your favorite analogy of semi-fraud and deception.

YoniPDX

When airlines largest profit center is selling miles that are devalued the more they sell and they can sell more miles than they have actual flights and seats (for miles w/exp or calendar flight’s). The outstanding miles on their books – beyond breakage or miles held by the deceased.

They can change number of award seats at anytime, as well as ‘dynamic’ pricing, they can create undesirable routing or layovers just for award seats (AA, yes you.) to discourage redemption.

They can change how you actually earn miles when you pay to fly etc, etc. They have no-oversight of redemption and no non-legal recourse.

They not only can, but do it by design and not by accident.

Not complaining, cause this is truly a first world problem.

So I have no problem leveling the playing field, if it means parsing the T&Cs and extracting as much value as I can – cause we know that banks and airlines will for their shareholders (disclosure I own airline stock, and bank stock) but the ROI is far higher.

rick b I guess we could call them fiat miles cause they can make unlimited miles to sell, more than could be redeemed -at what point is this not fraud (real reason we have dynamic awards vs award charts).

yvrite
yvrite

You have to be the dimmest creature on God’s green earth to think that when the airlines crack down on the most aggressive gamers, it will somehow leave more for the rest of us. Who raises these people who think that corporations are somehow interested in playing fair with everyone else? It’s beyond me.

(No, I’m strictly casual and probably wouldn’t even qualify as a churner to most people’s eyes. There are many things I wouldn’t do for ethical reasons. But that’s because I hold myself to real standards, not because I’m dopey enough to believe that the corporations are trying to do anything other than screw all of us.)

abraham f
abraham f

When does system cheat you and when do you cheat the system? I’m sure you will come out with countless examples of both. This game has been here for a long time and has became a victim of its own success only recently (past 3-4 years). House always wins in the end but the journey has been exciting for many (while some have simply missed it, correct?)

frogger
frogger

Why do you read this blog? That should be the question you are asking.

Cjrmets
Cjrmets

Amen. Be careful, he’s probably logging screen names to match user logins.

frogger
frogger

Let him waste his time on that. My user name here and on reddit are both unique and used nowhere else.

Sarah D
Sarah D

Yes. I mean, lets be honest. We are mostly here because we don’t really care about breaking the rules a little. Most of us stopping short of legitimate fraud, but that’s a grey area anyways.

I never understood why people get self-righteous about this. We are abusing the intended purposes of introductory offers to our benefit, basically skimming off marketing budgets. There should be no mistaking that we are leeches on a system not intended for us. But I sleep just fine at night.

Stryker
Stryker

This is pretty much it. The coyotes saw an opportunity, went for the kill, feasted on the grAAvy train and now the hunter is back. Time for the coyotes to disperse and search for their next meal.
Churning gigs come, churning gigs go. There, I summed up the churning lifecycle for you.

Chant
Chant

That’s exactly the point. Those rules and these kinds of cracking down keep the heavy hitters’ frauds away, while others can enjoy credit rewards just as a hobby not as a primary earning method.

Frogger
Frogger

Why don’t you carry a balance and pay 20 percent interest. That is what the cards are intended for.

Abey
Abey

Great comments Frogger.
Definitely a very colorful Frog 🙂

Name*2
Name*2

And if you don’t do things strictly by the book, you run the risk of getting shutdown.

If someone has a clever idea, we don’t want a bunch of people to start doing it and then all get shutdown. Not only do they lose out on the rewards but it hurts their credit. That’s why Doc doesn’t post much about how to bypass rules and r/Churning removes posts about it.

This hobby has slowly disappeared the more public it has become.

Giovanni
Giovanni

I am not one of the “in crowd” on private email lists of MS deals which is why when I get a new credit card I support a blogger who outs a deal or strategy be it MS or a little know way to use miles on certain routes. It is a shame that all of us new “”Bunch of people” (only doing it 10 years) wanting to enjoy what the game offers ruined it for the old timers.

MSer
MSer

Giovanni, give your head a stiff shake. Never click on links – the marketing budgets are finite – so more paid to card shills means fewer rewards and worse signup bonuses.

Jake Thomas
Jake Thomas

Quit abusing the system, yes. Banks operate to make money. They know people like us are a cost of doing business to attract other customers. But when people do exactly what the banks told us is not allowed like gift cards with Amex, self referrals or selling miles to a broker, they are crossing the line. Of course this should not be considered criminal or civil fraud as the burden is on the airline to regulate abuse on their systems, but this hurts it for everyone else who will face unilateral shutdowns that are arbitrary because airlines and banks get overly restrictive. This doesn’t help us in the long run. 5/24 sucks but 5 cards in a 2 year period is very fair if you want to play in the Chase eco system.

OyVey
OyVey

Oh boy, there is a lot of gray area between how people play “the game” here. So to say “you might as well quit” is complete BS. Some of us are slow churners. No MS, no LOL/24, etc. We use our organic family spend throughout the year and put it all on cards that earn us sign up bonuses. It’s more than rewarding enough for us. I know some of you guys are all about getting as fat as possible as quickly as possible, and that’s fine. But don’t get upset when you get slapped now and again, it’s part of “the game”.

frogger
frogger

You are on the wrong site. Go to like the Point Guy or somewhere.

Electroman

Someone is, but it’s not him. 😉

David Smith
David Smith

I don’t think THEY are the one on the wrong site. DoC specifically avoids explaining loopholes for a reason. That’s not what this site is about.

Celia
Celia

Why isn’t this site for those that don’t heavy hit MS? The information that DoC provides, and the more helpful than not comments are great for the casual and heavy hitters. Personally, I fall in-between though closer to the low end.

Abey
Abey

For “some reason” When I hear the words The Points Guy, my mind thinks Chase Sapphire cards.

mas122385
mas122385

ok boomer

Frogger
Frogger

Some of us 10k of organic spend a month. Why do you feel the need to want people to abuse the system the exact same way you do? Just because you have low spend doesn’t mean everyone is poor.

JerMah
JerMah

You seem quite insecure. This is the second post I’ve read from you that is somehow bragging about your lifestyle, your family, your income (or spending habits, which infer income), and now you’ve outright mocked poor people. You’re a dick.

Bob
Bob

You must be a SoCislist. You want Fries what that?

PJ
PJ

If this was a blog for fraudsters DOC would be writing about how to claim welfare for non-existent children #FraudLife

Shonuffharlem
Shonuffharlem

Because you don’t like a company’s frequent flier program rules you shouldn’t play it by the book? Huh? Uh no they get to set the rules and you can choose not to participate. Breaking the rules because you don’t like them is a ridiculous response.

Shonuffharlem
Shonuffharlem

That being said our government doesn’t provide enough protections for consumers’ rights in loyalty programs. But that also has nothing to do with what you imply (limiting card bonuses)

Sarah D
Sarah D

I get your point but I don’t know how true it is. Once they take measures to stop the hogs, their attention (and ire) is already drawn and they will not stop short to benefit us casuals. The community has grown so much in the past few years, it’s only a matter of time though. It’s just going to keep drying up.

Giovanni
Giovanni

I agree the problem is not only the pigs who ruin things but that they most likely are friends with a lot of the bloggers and never get called out. They are the reason for so many of the crackdowns, This is also for the baby pigs or pigs in training when they would get from Amex triple airplane gift cards redemption then canceling the card in mid January. All of a sudden, you get the whining, yells and the screams as people are upset Amex closed the loophole and how this “Thing of Ours” is going downhill. Let’s not forget the people getting 4-5 Alaska Airline cards in one day!. Burn em all and bring them down….

LC
LC

Waaaaaaa, i took 2 trips to the bahamas, 1 trip to Aruba, countless trips to Las Vegas and Seattle all in first class because of this AA Gravy train. Dont regret nothing regardless of what happens. Its been a hell of a ride.

JerMah
JerMah

Exactly this. I have had so many awesome trips that were effectively free because of points. I regret absolutely nothing, and I was not even close to a heavy hitter.

The Value Traveler

Its not over…keep in riding ….i think theyre after the folks who sell AA accts or something

Hari
Hari

I hope churning Citi and Barclay’s AA cards is not considered abuse.

OyVey
OyVey

I’m sure a slow churning rotation within the obvious rules isn’t the problem. Once you are on the graavy train, and plowing through dozens of these I would think it’s not unexpected that the beast might slap you once in a while.

Hari
Hari

Does opening 2 Citi and 1 Barclays AA cards in the last 2 months and plan on opening 2 more Citi and 1 Barclays(if approved) next month considered slow? 😀 I’m doing that and I hope I go under the radar lol.

Ryan
Ryan

Are you applying using emailer offer codes with T&Cs stating they’re not transferable?

Mary w
Mary w

No, that’s not slow. Guy on flyer talk forum this week had apparently been getting an AA Card every 33 days for 2 years. He couldn’t understand why they shut his account, confiscated 1M points and canceled pending travel.
Pigs can get fat but hogs get slaughtered.

Cincinnati Kid
Cincinnati Kid

Is the flyer talk guy using his social Security # or a relatively small pool of connected socials? If the offers don’t prohibit the bonus being distributed to those that have already received it then sounds like it is this guy that is the victim of fraud. Assuming he fulfilled the terms for the bonus, good for him. Citi should have been able to ascertain that the poster had previously received the bonus and simply informed marketing/legal to insert language prohibiting Said activity in the future then coding it as such in their approval system. He should seek out an attorney and sue for the full economic value of the points as well associated fees and any duress incurred for the loss of his travel.

danielle
danielle

If he signed up for a Citi card every 33 days for 2 years, that’s AAdvantage program abuse. Suing AA would just cost attorney fees, but he would never win. The AAdvantage program terms are whatever AA wants them to be.

sdsearch
sdsearch

Why would that be AAdvantage program abuse??? It wasn’t back around 2005 when lots of people did it the straightforwards way (no mailers required, there weren’t any anti-churning rules in effect back then) for only 25k per card (but TWO cards every 33 days back then). And the whopping spend requirement back then was $250 or $500 or such. And back then you not only earned redeemable AA miles, but those miles also counted toward lifetime AA status with those credit card miles (that ended in Dec 2011).

So if it wasn’t AAdvantage program abuse to apply for 2 cards every 33 days for several years and have that count toward lifetime status at AA, I don’t see why just applying for 1 card every 33 days for 2 years now would be abuse in itself.

The reason this MAY have been AAdvantage program abuse was IF it required creating “false” AA accounts, using mailers not intended for you, etc. The applying for that many partner cards itself is not AAdvantage program abuse. But this mailer loophole was different than all other AA card “fast” churning loopholes, in that MOST mailer techniques required EXTRA actions (BEFORE you applied for the card) which were more likely to be considered AAdvantage program abuse.

sdsearch
sdsearch

The issue is that someone at Citi set up a loophole for certain type of mailer, even though other people at Citi were enforcing anti-churning rules on every other type of application. So without knowing who set up this loophole and whether it was sanctioned by higher ups, it’s not clear why this loophole existed in the first place. (And it was at least the second different loophole for “fast” AA card churning during the era of most AA card applications being subject to a “fast” churning loophole, the first being the World Elite upgrade loophole.)

So it’s unclear if there was a subset of Citi employees earning bonuses on new card accounts who were responsible for going against the anti-churning wishes of the rest of Citi, or if it was only “honest mistakes”. One hand of Citi was already doing anti-churning measures, but for some reason another hand of Citi was creating loopholes around them.

And since Citi already knew the history of the previous World Elite upgrade loophole, they should have been on the lookout for this new loophole.

Frogger
Frogger

If you have that many miles spend them.

danny
danny

“For what it’s worth corporate security is saying to be as honest as possible to save your account.”

is this not akin to a police officer telling you to confess and he’ll take it easy on you? seems like a trap imo

Gary Leff

Generally account shut downs only happen when they have you dead to rights, they already know what you’ve done. They’re power is unilateral, it’s not like a cop where there’s a third party (judge/jury) ultimately determining your fate. If you deny it and fight them you lose. If you fess up and share all the details you have you may get a modest penalty in miles and get welcomed back into the program with a promise not to repeat. They want names and details on brokers or folks whom you’ve engaged with booking awards for third parties for instance.

danny
danny

is there proof of people fessing up and getting a slap on the wrist? they could just as easily use the evidence against you (that you admit) to shut you down permanently.

david
david

I sold AA points many years ago and got very threatening communication. The advice I was given was to comply with them. It was the right move. They penalized me some points, but I kept many of them. I know of multiple other people that had the same outcome. They want the people higher up on the ladder.

Cincinnati Kid
Cincinnati Kid

Of course you can transfer points, they are your points. T&Cs and a private companies whims sand desires to fleece their customers to the max doesn’t upend property rights and the rule of law. AA can try whatever shit they want but it only takes one real man that has been wronged to take this to a attorney general or county prosecutor that will do their job and protect the real citizens or, barring that, pursue a civil remedy. Theft of a million points certainly rises to felony theft in most jurisdictions.

danielle
danielle

Lol good luck with suing AA because you brokered miles, which is explicitly against their terms and conditions which have been legally defined broadly enough to say they can do whatever they want with the AAdvantage program.

wiivile
wiivile

while i tend to agree with you, my concern is that much of corporate security are ex-cops or work with law enforcement and could be seeking admissions in order to pursue criminal or civil action if they decide to go that route, if they believe AA has been defrauded…

danielle
danielle

AA corporate security isn’t ex-cops, at least not the ones busting AAdvantage program abuse. They do enjoy the work though. You’d probably have to have sold tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) in award flights to incur a lawsuit though.

miafll
miafll

But you are talking about the selling of miles obviously.

How about those being accused on using the Citi targeted offers not meant for them?

I read about there actually is an active market place to sell those emailers…

And it has been going on for 2 years.

What AA wants from those now being shut down? There are no “broker of miles” existing, nor instruments being sold.

Andysol
Andysol

Don’t trust JonNYC with information. He isn’t a friend, at all.

If anyone speaks to him about their lockdown or shutdown, they’re a fucking moron. No other way to say it.

Frogger
Frogger

Exactly

Michael
Michael

Deny Deny Deny Deny

MRS
MRS

I saw one weird post about this several days ago on FT that triggered a lot of dialogue by AA “experts” on FT, namely xJonNYC, who were initially unaware of the grAAvy train details. Other members chimed in referencing the grAAvy train thread and I think xJonNYC figured it out and went public via his Twitter account.

Eventually the OP offered vague details on why he was shut down outside of sharing that he was on the grAAvy train—he even eventually deleted some his older posts, I guess to cover tracks, not really sure why.

I’m curious why xJonNYC decided try to attract attention to this, there are tons of things that we do that many people consider unethical. Why chose this loophole versus the dozens of others?

Gary Leff

Jon knows the details of what AA knows via corporate security. He is not attracting AA’s attention on this, AA already knows.

MRS
MRS

Not doubting you Larry, but can you elaborate? From what I understand, Jon is not an employee but perhaps he has a direct business connection to AA, ie corporate law, consultant, analyst etc.

A few other thoughts…
If he is a respected insider, why was he not aware of the grAAvy train before this, it was widely and openly discussed

Why are people sending him DMs about shut down DPs versus posting on FT or reddit. Idk, seems weird.

MoreSun
MoreSun

His knowledge appears to be AA in general, not churning specific. Therefore I wish he’d shut the heck up about that which he doesn’t get.

People who tried posting on FT and Reddit got slammed, hard by people who are afraid AA will “find out” and shut them down to. It’s stupid to react that way becuase to know what’s going on we need data and shutdown reports we can trust. I don’t mind actual data (IF people are honest), I do mind people shouting stuff to the world when they don’t understand it. Jon didn’t even know pet mailers were a thing, so churning aa obviously isn’t his “area”.

danielle
danielle

Honestly surprised it took AA this long to act on the grAAvy train

Ryan
Ryan

Because that’s how he is…generally rude and snarky to other posters. (But he’s an FT “Evangelist” or something so whatever!) Likes to show off his insider scoops in a douchey way. AA Corp Security certainly doesn’t need his assistance and he isn’t doing it to be helpful to FT’ers.

frogger
frogger

Have the only people shut-down been related to selling miles?

JonNYC

Nope

Fishtrackerjr
Fishtrackerjr

No, while data points are tenuous, I believe no one was selling miles. More of a using mailers/emailers, or signing up for multiple accounts thing

frogger
frogger

Can you point me to the thread in question. I saw something on reddit but the guy was putting hold on flights every 5 days.

Ryan
Ryan

A lot of people (though not everyone) on Reddit were generating mail/emailers to sell for profit, rather than to use themselves.

MoreSun
MoreSun

Problem is in the past people report shutdowns, swear up and down they never sold miles and then eventually confess to selling a “a few” miles or some other egregious behavior. This time it seems to be larger, but still too little data to know what’s actually up.

frogger
frogger

The important question is do they cancel booked flights with miles if they shut you down?

Joe S
Joe S

From recent reports, yes.

YoniPDX

That’s what’s scariest even tho none of my pets have AAadvatage ff accounts….yet.

Gary Leff

Generally yes they do

ithrowpoop
ithrowpoop

Including partner redemption or only on AA metal?

frogger
frogger

So if you book hotel reservations and take off vacation they could cancel them right the day before.

tribesman55
tribesman55

Yes AA Corp security is brutal and doesn’t mess around, they cancel everything.

Eric
Eric

I used to work in that department. It’s not just about miles (selling & buying). Let’s see… hidden ticketing, improper discounts (corporate disc), improper add collects, abuses (airports/in flights)

frogger
frogger

I saw the one guy said he was doing holds every 5 days. That seems like something that would signal abuse of the program.

Chad
Chad

I don’t see what’s wrong with that — in some cases I’ve repeated a five-day hold when I wanted to lock in a good redemption price, but hadn’t yet finalized hotel and other arrangements.

frogger
frogger

You are abusing the system. If you do it every five days you are holding up a ticket that could be sold to an actual buyer of the ticket. They have kicked people out of frequent flyer program for cancelling tickets repeatedly who earned miles from flying.

JSL
JSL

Seems highly subjective. At least subjective enough that I can’t see that as a clear violation of the T&Cs to the point that you would get shutdown and have all your points taken. There are literally CSRs who will put a flight on hold for longer if you call in and ask. The fact that the website allows you to put the same date/routes on hold several times implies that it is allowable.

HaveMiles
HaveMiles

T&C tend to prohibit speculative bookings.

Amex Fangirl
Amex Fangirl

Do you know if they can cancel hotels booked with miles?

MoreSun
MoreSun

They haven’t but technically I don’t see why not. They act as the travel agent and the agent is in control of the booking.

Eric
Eric

One more thing…. as far as rewards tickets. It depends. Corp sec will get in touch and ask a bunch of questions… how was it booked? how did you get the ticket? Who was doing the booking?

LC
LC

so if i book a flight for myself and spouse online using my own miles for us both… paying with my own CC, are they going to unlock my account if i get shut down?

frogger
frogger

I can deal with them taking miles. But if I am booking for myself and family and the ticket was purchased with miles plus fees months ago they should let it go through.

philco
philco

Whether they should or not is one question but all indications are is they won’t *if* they terminate your participation in the program (DPs going back way before the past week).

ithrowpoop
ithrowpoop

I’m in the same boat, i have international travel booked for xmas that the entire family (including 2 kids) are really looking forward to. I had made this booking 11 months ago. The redemption is on a partner airline. I’ve heard about cancellations on AA metal but not sure about partners. My account is fine for now, but if they wanted to audit/close my account – i can accept that but is cancelling a partner booking i made 11 months ago fair game?

Fred F
Fred F

Are u a ff program Hooligan? If No …nothing to worry about

Ryan
Ryan

You’re fine, they don’t care about legitimate bookings such as that.

Vic
Vic

> There are two main reasons why this crack down is occurring:

Will, could you clarify the source of the two reasons listed? Were they educated guesses or you received tip from the involved. (Any indication that the affected user actually sold miles?)

Thanks.

LC
LC

good god, every thing good about this game is coming to an end.

DP
DP

With technology/computers, I don’t see how this is even an issue. If the company feels “customer ABC” should not be eligible for a bonus offer, then they can flag their SSN on the application and inform them they are not eligible for the bonus. Like the Amex popup thing. But if they approve someone 57 times, then that’s on them for being asleep at the wheel. If transferring points is an issue, then just drop that option — every man for himself. Make purchasing points a bit more affordable as an alternative so people can top off if they’re a bit short for a trip. It’s just flat out wrong that these companies get themselves into hot water…then blame the *customer*.

sdsearch
sdsearch

What do you mean “the company”??? There are TWO totally separate companies involved here. It was Citi that gave the bonuses, but it’s AA which is doing the shutdowns.

It’s unclear yet whether AA is doing shutdowns purely based on JUST churning, or something more.

There were previous shutdowns at Alaska which affected churners of the BofA Alaska cards, but only certain churners, so the Alaska shutdowns were NOT PURELY based on JUST churning.

DP
DP

Obviously AA is doing the shutdowns and AA partnered with Citi to give the bonuses and write the terms, so I would be referring to AA.

You seem stressed. Have some egg nog. Get a puppy for Christmas. Enjoy the holiday season.

miafll
miafll

So far it seems all related to using targeted offers not meant for you, as well as opening AAdvantage accounts in family / relatives / friends / Pets, whatever names you want to use, in hope to receive a Citi emailer offer.

There is not a single shut down case mentioned about selling miles or booking awards for others than self and families.

This is NOT at all like the AS shut down that related to some people buying / transferring points to AS and then booked awards in other peoples names instead of account holder or immediate families, iirc.

danielle
danielle

People may not also be fessing up to selling / brokering miles or award flights though. It happened (and still happens) quite a lot. So people with high mileage activity (ie – multiple mailers, brokering) would start to look similar, and both be eligible for being shut down for abuse.

M
M

The pronoun “they” can be applied to several entities. This article is about “them” that do not have their customers’ SSN’s. Keep in mind that they-1 and they-2 may not exchange SSN belonging to they-3.

Abey
Abey

Well said DP!

MM
MM

All the more reason to use em or lose em. And, as ever, the wailing and gnashing of teeth needs to be measured here. The mailer thing (and other tricks) were always a gray area. Always. Not saying you should or shouldn’t have used them (I did), but that you need to be clear-eyed about the risks. Sometimes you win, sometimes the loss catches up to you. On we go.

frogger
frogger

Yeah I don’t care about miles earned taken away. I cared about flights cancelled.

MM
MM

Totally fair point — didn’t think about that since I don’t have any travel pending. Definitely feel for folks in that boat, regardless of reality of the high stakes game we were all playing.

Mike L
Mike L

Was AA purchased by Amex?

captainsave
captainsave

They formed their own raat team

Joe
Joe

No one mentions any surprise that it’s AA doing this crackdown and not Citi? Are there any other DPs about the travel company taking matters into their own hands? If AA turns a profit by cutting loose the gamers, won’t Delta/Marriott etc take notice and start doing similar things?

Mike L
Mike L

I’m not surprised. It gives consumers less options to fight since the airlines have almost complete control over frequent flier accounts. There is no CFPB for airline miles that people can file a complaint with.

Dan
Dan

There is the FAA…

HaveMiles
HaveMiles

The FAA doesn’t regulate frequent flyer programs.

Skor
Skor

Plus, legally, the airline owns your miles – you don’t, neither does the bank

Cincinnati Kid
Cincinnati Kid

Not true if the have an economic value which they clearly do, As a professional gambler ( more of a “was” than an “is” given the paucity of opportunity) I have had to take legal action against casinos that have confiscated the points on mine or a related entities player card account. The bullshit is the same, “management reserves all rights”, “ participation in the program is at the sole discretion of the management “ yada yada. Buck up and start dragging these POSs into court and some of this a abuse will end. I am 2/3 lifetime in the courts and successful with regulators or letters more than a dozen times, Sitting back and complaining on forums and not taking action just ensures it will keep happening. I always play the game by the rules given, stretch the rules and be creative. Ask why. A lot. Then when you beat them and they don’t pay be relentless in your quest for redemption and revenge.

Reed
Reed

It is true that frequent flyer programs are much less regulated than banks, which have considerably more consumer protection regulation constraining their actions.

Andysol
Andysol

Other banks work closely with their partners- example being SW closing CP redemption via UR transfer.

AA has been getting fucked by Citi for 6 years. They’ve now taken over.

danielle
danielle

The other airlines and hotels weren’t as exposed as AA because of Amex’s once per lifetime and Chase’s 5/24 rule. All major loyalty program police their abusers.

HaveMiles
HaveMiles

> American Airline pays for a portion of the new customer acquisition cost

I thought the banks would have to buy billions of miles from airlines to cover signup bonuses and ongoing spend earnings.

Wonder if AA will return those miles (or the money Citi paid for them) to the bank for closed accounts 😉

Matt P
Matt P

Why would they? Citi already got what they were going to get from the customer via swipe fees and finance charges.

HaveMiles
HaveMiles

The swipe fees on the required spend to earn the SUP don’t cover the cost of the SUP. And finance charges? No one playing those games is going to pay any.

Matt P
Matt P

Well, Citi has a contract that they buy the miles for x and plan to recoup the money via finance charges and swipe fees, so they have no way of getting anything more no matter how much people abuse them.

Sam
Sam

overreaction

tro
tro

“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”

The benefit would be that:
1) we could actually judge for ourselves the ethics involved and which “side” is right or wrong. “Something involving mailers” is not enough detail for that.
2) we would have a better sense of what *kind* of behavior is over the line, in general, not just in this specific case

I can see the argument for not spelling out how to do possibly unethical, risky things; I just personally find it misguided in this case, as anyone who is still going to want to do this *immediately after reading about shut downs caused by it*, will go to FlyerTalk and figure it out anyway. Additionally AA is already aware of the play, clearly.

Joe S
Joe S

Read up on Reddit and FT, it’s not hard to figure this all out, all the info is there

tro
tro

Thx! I had actually already done that when I posted the above, and you are right, it only takes a few minutes to find. I probably should have mentioned that.

I just think there was no reason to hide the details in this case; it seems mildly counterproductive as a PSA and for discussion, for what I assume is the majority of readers who didn’t do this specific thing.

MoreSun
MoreSun

If you’re in the crosshairs, this post contains enough info. Anymore info & we’d have even more churning fire and brimstone types yelling about how churners suck or churners in the crosshairs screaming at DoC for bringing it up. It was well balanced I think.

Zephyr
Zephyr

I know what this is, but if you’re doing it you definitely know you’re cheating the system. I don’t believe there’s any chance a normal consumer could’ve done it innocently without the intention to cheat, and so there’s no reason to spell out the exact method if the purpose is to protect your average Joe from “accidentally” getting shut down.

DoC probably doesn’t want to publicly announce “black hat” type methods since that may be frowned upon by advertisers.

Leslie
Leslie

Great News…Abusers should be punished, no matter What/Where/When. Freeze their accounts/Ban their travel on that airlines/forfeit their miles… NO exceptions, PERIOD!!!!!

Sad thing is some innocents can be slaughtered too….Hope they do proper investigation and do the needful to wipe out the EVIL…..AMEN

LC
LC

guess you dont churn very hard Leslie. Do you enjoy your 50,000 point a year redemptions?

qmc
qmc

What kind of gatekeeping is this? If you don’t churn hard enough, your opinion doesn’t matter? If you don’t churn as hard as I do, you can’t complain if a loophole gets shut down because it hurts me more?

LC
LC

nothing against doing 1-3 cards a year. But also nothing against going hard in the paint and maximizing the rewards system. It will always change and nothing is guaranteed… so take advantage while its here!

Mike L
Mike L

Except we’re not talking about a loophole being closed going forward, They are shutting down the accounts of people that have already earned the miles under their previous rules.

DeezButtz
DeezButtz

I am 99% sure you’re trolling, but if you aren’t then you need to reconsider what meets the minimal definition of “Evil.” If churning is evil, then how would you describe serial killers, the Holocaust, genocide, etc.? Super duper evil?

Mike Godwin
Mike Godwin

A holocaust reference in a thread about AA miles. We did it, friends.

Walter
Walter

Wow ,,, your right leslie. the ABUSERS must be punished. I know those innocents we’re hurt really bad by these “CHURNERS.” I think there is to much BUTTER in this GRAVY and it is the churners faults.

AL
AL

You don’t think you’re an abuser as well when attempting to triple dip an airline credit with AMEX?

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/american-express-hilton-honors-aspire-signup-link-with-waived-450-annual-fee/#comment-835614

213xburner
213xburner

LOL got ’em

ithrowpoop
ithrowpoop

Nice catch. Most haters like Leslie aren’t about ethics, but rather jealousy over other churners that are more successful as demonstrated in the comment you referenced.

Theory
Theory

But that was for MEEEEEEEEEEEE don’t you see the difference?

Abey
Abey

Comment of the month goes to AL!

Josh
Josh

You want a cookie?

YoniPDX

Got any stroopwafel’s?

Bob
Bob

Thanks Karen

chong786
chong786

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/barclays-business-aviator-bonus-now-75000-miles/#comment-816293

and you were trying to churn barclay aa biz when the T&C clearly says the bonus is not available to previous holder .

MoreSun
MoreSun

Yeah- I think they just forgot to add the /s to the end of their speech here….

churnchurnchurning
churnchurnchurning

lol says the person who is trying to triple dip airline credits…. yeah… get of your high horse.

D
D

Ok Boomer

Mazz
Mazz

unfortunately there’s not really any good datapoints out there. It started on reddit, but the “make this sub private” crowd is pushing to have everyone delete their datapoints that post it(they think JonNYC works for AA and is using the subreddit to shutdown people lol). So we’re in the dark.

TasteMyButt
TasteMyButt

Don’t give this JonNYC guy any more credit. He didn’t even know this existed until a few days ago. Like a few other people in this community, his power only grows when you speak his name.

Frogger
Frogger

There have only been a couple of reported suspensions and no one has been given a reason for the shutdown

MoreSun
MoreSun

Rumors on Reddit you can add a zero to “few”. People going public got SLAMMED everywhere so they went quiet quick. Might speak up again if they find no resolution with AA in the next month or so…

Jeff
Jeff

Good thing I didn’t know about this little twist in the system or I would have likely tried it and gotten caught. I love AA miles, but I have accumulated them via Aviator and Citi Business and personal, over and over again thru the years. I have used the cards as well. Great for going back and forth to Hong Kong or Japan in coach or business on AA or Cathay or JAL metal. Love them.

sdsearch
sdsearch

I accumulated AA miles like crazy up until 2011 while pursuing lifetime Plat status by earning 2 million lifetime miles from ALL sources including credit cards (in Dec 2011 they changed lifetime status qualification to be from flying only), and as a side effect I ended up with a giant stash of AA miles that it’s going to take me a long time to use up (given the PTO limitations at my company). Plus the time I heard about this twist a few years ago, I was already focusing on business cards to get under (and later stay under) 5/24 (at first just for Chase, but now it helps with other banks too), and since no one ever figured out how to trigger BUSINESS Citi AA mailers, that’s why I never pursued the mailers game even though I knew about it. If there had been a business mailer as easy to do as the personal mailers were, *I* might have tried it and gotten caught.

Jim
Jim

Another reason not to stockpile miles or points for any program. Glad I spent ~200k AA miles this year, barely have any left now. Not planning to re-up, either, as the flight delays with American just aren’t worth the hassle.

rick b
rick b

“as the flight delays with American just aren’t worth the hassle”

Bahahaha, you should check out United. I got $400+ in vouchers last year due to all the delays. Usually with the crappy United express.

sdsearch
sdsearch

Spending 200k AA miles in a year may not be hard, but what if you had for example 3 MILLION miles? Could you really have used them up in a year or two without wasting them (especially if you only fly solo, and having limited PTO at your work)?

You don’t seem to realize how many miles this gravy train allowed people to earn. You didn’t need to necessarily use this method to get 200k AA miles in one year, that’s just 3 credit card applications (across 2 banks) well timed.

Frogger
Frogger

Why earn miles you won’t use?

sdsearch
sdsearch

It’s not a matter of “won’t use”, it’s a matter of “won’t use immediately”. The opportunity for earning may be high temporarily, and may not repeat. (There’s plenty of examples of this in the past, including the ability to earn millions of Hilton Honors points through repeated “fast” churning of the no-AF Hilton card from Citi for a few years, now gone for a few years and now that only Amex issues Hilton cards not likely to ever be repeated.) So why not earn a boatload while you can, and then use them later. Even if they devalue some, they’re not likely to devalue to the point where they’re worth less than not having ever earned them at all.

So some people who don’t subscribe to the blanket oversimplified “use ’em or lose ’em” mantra feel that it’s better to earn a boatload of airline miles or hotel points if an opportunity comes up that may go away in a while, even if they don’t have an IMMEDIATE use for those miles or points, because they figure they’ll be able to use them EVENTUALLY, at some value better than they would get had they never earned them at all.

The fallacy of “use it or lose it” is that (except in the case of clawbacks or perhaps bankrupcies) there’s a middle point, which applies most of the time, which is “lose SOME value”, but that requires analysis to see if the value that’s lost to devaluation really offsets the value gained in a rare earning opportunity. Most devaluations are gradual enough that they don’t totally wipe of the value for most people, they just diminish the value somewhat.

MoreSun
MoreSun

Live for today! …I like it!

Jeff
Jeff

So true. Delta elite flyer here. The one time I fly AA this year was right after Thanksgiving to Barbados (DL doesn’t fly there). Flight delayed 5 hours at originating airport due to maintenance problem. Had to rebook myself 3x that day to get to Miami for already severely shortened overnight layover where I got almost no sleep.

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