Posted by William Charles on September 19, 2017
Manufactured Spending

Published on September 19th, 2017 | by William Charles


Is American Express Cracking Down On Giftcard/Simon Malls Purchases For Minimum Spend Requirements/Authorized User Bonuses?

There has been some rumors circulating that American Express has not been counting gift card purchases towards minimum spend requirements and authorized user bonuses, in particular purchases made at Simon Mall. It should be noted that in the fine print of all American Express offers it states: Purchases to meet the spend requirement do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of any cash equivalents.

From what I’ve read this seems to have started in early August. Some discussion of this can be found here:

It seems that only bonus points (e.g sign up bonus/authorized user bonuses) are affected by this change and not points earned from regular spend.


Simon Malls

Other Stores

  • Reader received authorized user bonus on three cards with purchases at Kroger but not at CVS

Our Verdict

For me what is concerning is that other sign up bonuses from the same time period are posting fine and also people seem to be getting their bonuses quickly when hitting the minimum spend requirement not including their Simon Mall/other purchases. I suspect the RAT is at play here, but I don’t say that with any level of confidence.

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No problems meeting 2 minimum spends on the Delta personal & business golds through August and getting the miles for them. Could this be limited to MR’s?

Nope. Met my minimum spend on Delta Biz Plat with Simon Mall purchase in August and bonus has not posted yet. Was told by chat CSR that the spend was not eligible to receive bonus.

+1 Exact same thing on Delta Biz Amex card. No Simon mall purchases count towards minimum spend.

I bought Simon mall card on 8/26 and 8/27.

Isn’t this news kind of old? Amex took back 100,000 MR bonus points I earned last year from the Platinum card because I completed part of the minimum spend at Simon Malls. There were a whole bunch of stories on this last year.

Was not that from leaked link not intended for public?

Clawback after points post from a leaked-link application and points not posting at all after meeting min spend are not the same thing.

This also happened to me (and yes, I used the leaked link for the app). I suspect that they just wanted to use that gift card excuse to claw back their points.

It is very similar in that the only clawbacks they did were from those who met minimum spend by going to Simon Malls. If you didn’t go to the mall you got to keep your points. That was the beginning of Amex looking into the whole Simon Mall thing. They’ve been cracking down ever since.

I received only one of four AU bonuses on each card I loaded it to (Platinum, PRG x2, Hilton). The MR purchases were made at giftcards dot com and the Hiltons were done at Safeway. In every instance I received the bonus for 1 AU and not the other 3.

Exact same issue I am having. I chat and they say, “wait 8-12 weeks”. Most all organic spend on them. Not really sure what is at play here

Some issue here.

Did 1 of 4 SPG authorized user purchase at CVS and already received the bonus. Will go through with the other 3 and report back.

DP: I’m finishing up the final $3k spend for the 10k extra SPG points on the Business card. Purchased $1500 at Simon Mall to finish up then talked with amex on chat to confirm I hit the spend. They first stated that I need $1500 more to meet the requirement and that some of my purchases did not count toward the min. I played dumb and asked which purchases did not count. After a few minutes the rep said they talked with their manager and that I actually have met the requirements and would receive the bonus. Statement closes the 25th so will report back.

Amex posts sign up bonuses a day or two after you satisfy the requirement. If you haven’t already received them, better get on the real spend to make sure you spend enough in time.

It took me almost 4 weeks to receive my bonus on both 100k Amex Plat and 50k PRG. It didn’t seem to have any correlation to closing or payment dates. All organic spend (if you count 1 plastiq payment and two GoC cards). These were my first MR-earning cards though. Not sure if that matters? I have had a blue cash card since 2007.

It does take a while for bonuses to post if it’s your first MR card. After that hurdle, the bonuses should post pretty fast.

keep us posted. its good u played dumb. no reason to help them ID ur shit. altho that sounded scary at first. did they actually say which transactions didnt count?

They never told me which transaction didn’t count. He just told me that I would receive the bonus. Problem is I forgot to save the conversation (not sure if I can go back to it). After seeing a few DPs of people not getting SPG points due to this, I decided I will MS the $1500 again, but at the grocery store to be safe. Really don’t want to miss out on the 10k SPG.

I am also dealing with this issue. Met the MSR on Delta Biz Plat and the $25KMR/$2K Spend offer on existing PRG with Simon Malls purchases and neither bonus has posted. Spent 30 minutes on chat with someone about why the bonuses haven’t posted and got the run around. He said they should be posting soon because I got regular miles to post from the purchases on the Delta. We will see

It’s their policy, and they can do what they want, but it’s stupid. American Express receives the same merchant processing fee from purchases of gift cards that they do from purchases of anything else (I would think?). The only business justification for this is that you’re not likely to incur interest charges, but that’s true for many types of purchases.

It’s true that they receive the same fees, so it’s unclear why they care- and I have always had the same question. I think the reason has to do with why card issuers give bonuses in the first place and have a minimum spend requirement- which is that they feel that in the long run, this will give them a customer who is likely to CONTINUE spending relatively heavily on the card, giving them more fees in the future. However, once it becomes possible to meet the spend through methods such as Simon, that correlation no longer exists, since it becomes easy to meet the spend, collect the bonus, and then not spend anything on the card at all afterwards- which costs them money. By ensuring that the bonus is only given out on “organic” spend, they increase the chances that the people to whom they give bonuses are people who will continue spending on that level on a regular basis going forward.

Having said that, even with these reports, I am confident it will still be possible to meet minimum spends- it will just take a bit more creativity than it has in the past.

That’s a good point, although recently, I’ve been hitting minimum spending by making federal tax payments (I always owe money anyway). The way I see it, the extra fee of 1.07% (1.87% – .08% Simon fee) is more than worth it to not have to deal with liquidating Visa gift cards. I wonder how long that will last for.

I just chatted with 2 representatives have copied and pasted the most recent verbiage regarding what does NOT count toward credit card promo (see below). AM EXP now ACCEPTS GIFT card purchases!!! EXCEPTION online American Express gift cards.

As shared from REP:
•Interest charges / late payment fees / over-the-credit-limit fees / returned payment fees / foreign transaction fees •Cash advances / Express Cash transactions •Reloadable prepaid card purchases and loads •Balance transfers / all purpose checks •American Express annual membership fees / program fees •American Express fee-based enrollment services •Purchase of American Express Travelers Cheques and Gift Cheques •PASS Card from American Express funds reload •Savings deposits on Card •Privileged Assets •Transactions associated with Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) claims •Federal Excise Tax Offset Fee •Membership Rewards point redemptions •Bulk Mail Charges with U.S. Postal Service ​​​​​​​•American Express Gift Cards purchased online.

This was a copypasta from within an Amex chat?

Or, you could have simply read the T&Cs on all your cards. Smh.

No I wanted something in writing from the rep!

joanne. u sound really new. stop giving AMEX more exposure to our game. altho they clearly know since they have RAT. AMEX does not allow GC prepaid cash equivalents to count.

Agree I already stated that in my thread

You fail to see the point since it’s not about the processing fees. All spend counts towards regular points earning however for the lucrative bonus offers it’s in their T&C that all the spend needs to be organic. Bonus offers are a big loss leader to acquire new customers and those using MS are not likely to be long term customers.

I had posted this on the SPG thread. I had received communication this month on my SPG card that they are changing the policy on bonus points. It said that instead of the bonus points posting immediately, it ‘might’ take upto 60 days for it to post.

Sounded like enough time for the RAT team to do their audit.

they’re lying on up to 60 days to post bonuses because I know a lot of those who got approved for personal SPG back in March, met the MSR in April and have not received their bonuses as of Sept. when they contact CS, they are told of a glitch and the CS can’t also manually add the bonuses because the system prevents them.

I wouldn’t be surprised though if they deny bonuses now for any/all purchases amounting to $500 or more so people have to be more creative from hereon out ; )

best strategy would be purely organic purchases but that’ll be impossible to meet especially for those who have a lot of new cards.

Counter DP here (though not involving Simon Mall).

Opened Plat personal around Aug 16, 75K/$5K. $2.5K in VGC purchases at CVS and Rite Aid, the rest organic spend. Bonus posted when my first statement closed, even though I was $100 short of MSR (excluding the annual fee).

Sorry for my ignorance, what is VGC something gift card?

VGC stands for Vanilla Gift Card, a type of prepaid Visa or Mastercard.

Thanks Stephen. Am Exp made it clear they will not accept this type of card toward bonus minimum spending for promo offer.

Nope. VGC stands for Visa Gift Card, not just Vanilla GC. As Vanilla GC can be MasterCard too.

Larry Geff (foremost authority)
Larry Geff (foremost authority)

nope again….VGC stands for very good card

AXP RAT must be pressured to do their job to find those spend that will not qualify for bonus and they must be very busy these days.

AXP took their sweet time in a lot of SPG personal accounts that signed up for the 35000 pts and many are still waiting on their bonuses to posts. I have referrals I already received 5K bonus pts when they signed up and feel bad for them that they didn’t get their points yet when they’ve met MSR back in May. Each time they inquire about their bonuses, they’re told to wait for 8 to 12 weeks more when it’s over 12 weeks from May when they fulfilled the required spend. I’ve told them they have the option to file complaint to CFPB if they are getting nowhere.

DP: All Simon GCs purchases did not activate bonus for Ameriprise Gold. When I chatted with Amex rep, they specifically told me I did not meet MSR because the transaction did not count. I’ve read other reddit DP’s that chat reps excluded Simon GCs in their calculations as well. Not a good sign.

Did plastiq and some organic spend and it posted a couple days after MSR met.

James33 (and anyone else buying GCs at Simon): what is the merchant name that shows up on your AX statement after buying GCs? Does it include the name “Simon” in it?

In 2015 I have has amex clowback my bonus points because of GC spend.
Nothing new here.
(Especially when you’re having a real person watching every thing you do for the real dedicated RAT team)

And this is why I don’t MS the min spend on my Amex cards. I don’t mind doing some MS on them for regular bonus points afterward. Big for a big sign-up bonus, I’m not going to risk missing out on it when we know that Amex is taking a closer look at how you met that min spend

yup. at least u get the idea. most dont.

+1 NinjaX is correct.

Why is anyone still MSing to satisfy Amex spend requirements? Haven’t they made it clear that’s a bad strategy?

because this board is now just n00bs. veterans dont MS their MSR. everyone knows this.

let me also add. veterans who still MS on AMEX know its YMMV and do it at their own risk.

True that, I’m beginning to think the same with other big banks as well.

Got 2 opening bonus and 2 AU bonus after hitting the requirement at Kroger, points posted immediately. So I guess some L3 data is in play here.

However I would just complete the requirement organically regardless how Amex is policing this, just for peace of mind.

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