Published on October 22nd, 2019 | by Chuck250
American Express Claws Back Referral Bonuses For ‘Self-Refer’ Usage (More Claw Backs & Referral Restriction)
Update 10/22/19: In addition to the latest round of claw backs, it seems like people who did self refer are now banned from referring at all, seeing the following message:
Your Card account’s eligibility to participate in the Refer a Friend program is based on your creditworthiness and other factors including your account history with American Express.
Hat tip to reader Brendan L
[Update 7/12/19: Another round of claw backs. As little as 10,000 points (one referral) is being clawed back.]
American Express is clawing back the referral bonus Membership Rewards points for someone who referred themselves to signup for an Amex card. A few important notes about the claw back:
- Affecting both personal and business cards. (This includes business > personal or personal > business referrals.)
- It appears NOT to be affecting people who refer a spouse. (This makes sense, hard to see how they could claw back such a thing.)
The lowest report we’ve seen so far is a 60,000 points claw back.Reports are that ANY amount can be clawed back, even as little as 10,000 points (one referral). I’d guess it’s only a matter of time until everyone gets clawed back.
- Thus far we haven’t heard of cash or any other rewards currencies being clawed back since the rewards earned are not Membership Rewards points. Only MR points get clawed back.
- Referrals from an MR card to a partner card (Hilton, Marriott, etc.) has been clawed back as well since the rewards earned are Membership Rewards points.
The biggest craziness here is that Amex has already sent out 1099s on referral earnings during 2018. So we paid taxes on them, but don’t end up with the money. Here’s a nice breakdown of what to do for those in this situation.
Additionally, there are sporadic reports of affected Amex members seeing their Membership Rewards accounts locked, making them unable to transfer out points. Schwab transfers are still working, though, for some reason.
Amex is sending out an email with information on the claw back:
We are writing to let you know that, after careful review of your Membership Rewards® account activity, we have removed points in your Membership Rewards® program account. Please ensure that any Additional Card Members who are authorized to redeem points from your account are notified of this change in your Membership Rewards balance.
Why we are removing these points
We recently noticed point accrual or redemption activity on your Membership Rewards program account that indicates an effort to obtain or use points in a manner that is not appropriate. It’s important for you to know that the Membership Rewards program terms and conditions state that “If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse or gaming in connection with earning or using points or that you may attempt to do so, we may:
Take away any points in your program account,
Temporarily suspend your ability to redeem points,
Temporarily suspend your ability to earn points,
Cancel your program account, or
Cancel any of your American Express Cards”
If you have any questions about this email, or if you believe that the points have been removed in error, please call us at 1-800-AXP-EARN (1-800-297-3276).
Thank you for your Card Membership.
American Express Customer Care
Hat tip to r/churning