Posted by William Charles on August 19, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on August 19th, 2016 | by William Charles

125

American Express Clawing Back Some 100,00 Platinum Bonuses (MS Related)

Update: People are being told this is for returned merchandise, even when they haven’t returned any. No idea what’s going on.

What’s Happening?

There are some reports of people who signed up for the American Express Platinum bonus when it was 100,000 (that also had their points frozen) having their points clawed back. It seems that most people who’ve had their points taken back engaged in some sort of manufactured spending and American Express claims they failed to meet the minimum spend requirement.

amex platinum

Image via flofloflo2 on /r/churning

American Express Terms

American Express clearly excludes some purchases from counting towards the minimum spend. The fine print states:

he following charges do NOT count towards the Threshold Amount: fees or interest charges; balance transfers; cash advances; purchases of travelers checks; purchases or reloading of prepaid cards; or purchases of other cash equivalents.

Data Points

Let’s take a look at the data points to see if manufactured spending is what triggered this point adjustment or not:

Had points clawed back

  • Engaged in MS: 1, 2, 3
  • American Express claimed it was from returned merchandise: 1
  • Didn’t engage in MS

Didn’t have points clawed back

  • Engaged in MS: 1, 2, 3
  • Didn’t engage in MS: 1

Our Verdict

This is kind of interesting from American Express, first they froze the points then they waited until after the three month minimum spend period was over before clawing back the points. It’s not 100% clear if manufactured spending was the cause of this or not and whether there is any chance of the points being readded to the account, at this stage it doesn’t look good.

The other question is will American Express be cracking down on this type of spend across the board? Or is this just a once off to show that they were unhappy with this link going public? There is also a data point on Flyertalk about American Express not considering the different varieties of the Platinum card separate products. Share your data points in the comments.

Hat tip to /r/churning 



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Jeff L.
Jeff L.

The worst part of this is they waited until after the three month signup bonus timeframe. If the points weren’t awarded after the MS spend, I could have spent $3000 organically if they wanted to not count the MS spend for bonus purposes.

NinjaX
NinjaX

love how you blame amex…

Jeff L.
Jeff L.

I do. If they hadn’t given the bonus in the first place, I wouldn’t.

Dan
Dan

+1

Dadio
Dadio

-1

Prashanth
Prashanth

Amex is within their rights to do it. When the points were frozen, Amex has sent a warning and people should have spent 3K organically. It’s not like Amex waited for 3 months to take any sort of action.

Matt
Matt

Actually, that’s precisely what they did here. They waited three months, then they took the points back.

They communicated nothing about the points freeze. Further, their agents were clueless about it when asked.

Dan
Dan

+1

Dadio
Dadio

-1

Prashanth
Prashanth

anyone who applied for the card very well knew that points are being frozen.

Daniel
Daniel

You do realize it is fully within their own rights to claw back the points even after 6 or 9 months or whatever timeframe if they determined you got your promo by violating their T&C?

You violated their T&C by doing exactly what they said it’s against their T&C just to get their promo offers, and now they decided to exercise their rights and you are complaining about it?

Listen, I’m not particularly innocent in this game either. I MS a lot, but if I get penalized for that, I’m going to take it. THen learn from it and be more careful.

Seriously, some people in this game are such crybabies. If you don’t like this part of the game, don’t engage. You are not ready.

Before you criticize Amex, look in the mirror and see if you are THAT innocent to be so angry.

anthonyjh21
anthonyjh21

Sums up how I feel. The points freeze should’ve made everyone drive like a cop is behind them; don’t do anything stupid or against T&C.

I’m sure there’ll be many who disagree with me but the Discover Apple Pay thing with the change in terms after the rollout should’ve made people more weary about MSing. When Discover put up a fight crap hit the fan and people were up in arms. Yeah they didn’t handle it well but they were within their rights and everyone should’ve been on alert.

Point is if you’re going to play the game then you have to be ready to pay the piper sometimes. I’ve had my moments of greed as well but sometimes you have to slow down even if you lose value and/or make it a bit harder on yourself.

Maria
Maria

Violating the T&C does not necessarily mean anything. A bank cannot enforce terms that violate consumer protection laws. Just because it’s in there doesn’t mean it’s enforceable.

Jonathan
Jonathan

I agree. We get away with what we can, but it’s not a bad thing to have our sense of entitlement checked from time to time. Unfortunately, the people who are the most entitled and privileged are the ones who have the hardest time seeing it.

Raul
Raul

Don’t listen to NinjaX in fact that guy is the biggest cry baby on here. Just mention money orders and depositing them into banks and watch him get his panties in a bunch. I agree with u that amex was playing dirty. Don’t give out points ur gonna claw back and if that’s what ur gonna do then warn the person that the purchases looked a little funny to them instead of waiting till after the 3 months.

anthonyjh21
anthonyjh21

People like you who think he’s a crybaby are so deep in groupthink that y’all can’t see that what you’re doing might not be in your best interests.

The short-term thinking in this community just boggles my mind. We all risk being banned but if you’re thinking long term you’d probably do things differently.

As far as wanting a warning you can’t possibly be serious. That’s what T&C are for. And if you call amex dirty then what do you call jumping on a private offer and meeting minimum spend with MS tactics? Wreaks of entitlement and double standards.

I go after cc and bank bonuses and I know I’m walking a line sometimes. I try to be the pig and not the hog though and if something happens I can’t really blame them for kicking out an unprofitable customer. We all (should) know the risks we take. Put on your big boy pants and just own up to the realities of this “hobby.”

judy nagy
judy nagy

Amazing that someone who doesn’t want to abide by the rules blames AmEx. Next time, just spend the requirement organically in the first place. “Getting away with stuff” isn’t ethical.

joe
joe

are gift cards — ie ebay gift cards, amazon gift cards, etc. considered cash equivalents in any way?

Frank
Frank

I don’t think so. Amazon, Ebay or any other gift cards alike are essentially merchandises rather than cash equivalent (Visa, Master, Amex gift card). They can be used to buy other stuffs, but it is limited to the store itself.

joker69
joker69
Glenn
Glenn

Well the all platinum cards are the same data point is interesting. I can ignore the letter from Amex since that’s after light is shon on the account and written by people. But the fact that they clawed back the points in the first place? Of course he had both cards at the same time which makes it obvious and it appears that he SM’d multiple times mentioning this fact to Amex representatives, who at least at the time told him what he/we want to hear. But maybe that’s what’s going on here.

Tory
Tory

Mine are frozen today (not sure when it happened) despite making two transfers in July after earning the 100k. 250 BA as soon as my 100k posted and 8k B6 a few weeks later. About $1500 MS at grocery/mall.

VM
VM

There is another report on FT that amex clawed back 100k because of having Platinum for Ameriprise version before which is known to be separate product

howard
howard

I did not purchase any VGCs or similar prepaid cards exactly because I feared this might happen. My total spend was above $3000 but lower than $3000 if I subtract the $200 airline fee credits. I am still a little worried, but I checked with the online reps numerous times and they all told me I am above $3000. Will I be fine? I am even considering cancelling the card before 9/1 just to make sure I am not realizing a loss (forced to eat the annual fee and get nothing).

Prashanth
Prashanth

dont cancel and u shud be fine.

howard
howard

Thank you! really hope so.

milesjjcc

Are you working for Amex?

Prashanth
Prashanth

There are tons of DPs and even from DoC to not cancel and be in the wrong eyes of Amex

Tim
Tim

If you’re that close, spend the $200 on something.

howard
howard

problem is, I am already outside the 3 month window. Maybe I can make an effort to try.

Red
Red

When was your $200 credit in regards to reaching $3000? Because Amex has some really odd bonus logic where that could make a difference: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/26897765-post351.html

Howard
Howard

That was way early in the spend cycle, definitely not one that crosses the 3000 threshold

Maria
Maria

If you made $3,000 in purchases, you met the minimum. Amex travel credits have nothing to do with the minimum bonus spend. If Amex somehow decided to credit you $3,000 for all of your purchases, you would still have met the spending requirements.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Same here. If I count the airline credits (MPX) and the Global Entry credit, I’m under $3,000. Points are frozen, but at least they’re still showing…

howard
howard

I hope we are both fine. My sense is that there should be quite many people in the similar situation.

NinjaX
NinjaX

does this honestly surprise anyone? srsly?

Mser
Mser

Don’t continue to make idiotic comments, please.

Mike
Mike

What did he say that’s idiotic ? What part of the below don’t you understand ?

” the following charges do NOT count towards the Threshold Amount: fees or interest charges; balance transfers; cash advances; purchases of travelers checks; purchases or reloading of prepaid cards; or purchases of other cash equivalents”

if you did MS, then there is no reason for you to get upset about anything.

aradisc
aradisc

There’s plenty to get upset about. Amex freezed all points- not just related to the 100K. This caused me to have to spend $1000 buying points for an award redemption- when I had enough to transfer pre-100K. I will never forgive Amex for this.

Hoang
Hoang

Mike,

In this case I think you should subscribe to this blog unless you work for AMEX. I truly believe most people involve in bonus/reward using MS. I can’t image how people can spend 20-50 K or more without some MS.

Another points why AMEX waited until the 3 months promotion over and took away points and even the guys at Reward department said everything looks fine to him. Look at T&C they spell out everything except GC and GC is not equivalent with cash.

Dadio
Dadio

-1

Hoang
Hoang

I think they make mistake to subtract the airline credit since that happened to me when I chat with AMEX guy. When I told him I purchase it separately than the other 3000 he said I am correct and refer me to other department to open my case.

ncSam
ncSam

Is this for the 100k offer from a few months ago only? Or from last August as well?

joe
joe

Is this only happening to people who signed up for that particular 100K offer?

Tim
Tim

I love this hobby but there is a prescient quote about hogs getting slaughtered that seems to apply in this case.

Raul
Raul

I never liked that quote cuz it’s not a good comparison. If we get caught being hogs we r not really slaughtered, it’s more like we get banned from eating at that farm. If we were slaughtered we would be out of the game kinda like a ban from all credit cards. Just cuz u can’t be a hog at Amex anymore doesn’t mean u can’t be a hog at citi, chase, BofA, cap1, and so on and so on. So I say hogs don’t get slaughtered they just simply pig out and move on leaving the scrapes for the piglets who are not big (brave) enuff to pig out.

caleb kurtz

I signed up for the Ameriprise card in May of 15, received 25k bonus. Cancelled the AP Plat card in May of 16.

Signed up for the MBZ Platinum card in June of 16 and received all 75k points 2 days after meeting the min spend, points are still sitting in my MR account.

P
P

Did Amex claw back just the bonus or the points earned from MSing itself as well

Miles4Matt

Just the bonus. 🙁

P
P

That’s interesting. So you still got awarded 3000 points for spending $3k? Why the f is Amex doing for not giving both

secstate
secstate

I haven’t looked at the terms and conditions but the only terms I have seen posted about pre-paid cards reference bonus spend. Amex given its higher interchange fees may not care about MS except in so far as signup bonuses.

Red
Red

They’re probably just operating under an executive mandate to get as many of the 100K bonuses off the books as legally possible, it’s not a full MS investigation.

Hoang
Hoang

Yes, 3000 points are OK I got the letter from them to response with my complaint to CFPB.

I just wonder some AMEX emplyees may read the blog too.

Ted
Ted

Now we have to wait and see if this will spread to other cards. And other offers.

Looks like the amount of time Amex took to do the research, they are looking at each individual account and taking them a long time.

John
John

So I just called the Amex Membership Rewards team since they clawed back my 100K bonus as well and the customer service rep was going through the notes and she said “it looks like you had met the minimum spend but had made returns and that’s what disqualified you for the bonus but I’m going to be honest with you, I’m looking at your charges and I don’t see any returns at all”, which is true, I had MSed but I made payments to the card from my actual checkings account (not from BlueBird BillPay or anything), so the rep opened a case for me and is going to have them look at it a little more and try to get the points back to me.

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