Posted by Chuck on July 26, 2017
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Published on July 26th, 2017 | by Chuck

167

Amex Updates their Terms to Penalize those Gaming the Signup Bonus System

[Reposting since this language has now been added to most Amex cards. List at the end of the post.]

American Express has begun including language in the terms and conditions which allows them to freeze or take away a signup bonus of those gaming or improperly using a signup bonus offer:

To qualify for the 30,000 bonus miles, you must make purchases with your Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card that total $1,000 or more within your first 3 months of Card Membership starting from the date your account is approved. Qualifying purchases can be made by the Basic Card Member and any Additional Card Members on a single Card account. 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, purchases of gift cards; person-to-person payments, or purchases of any cash equivalents. Miles will be credited to your account 6-8 weeks after you reach the spend threshold. If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with the welcome bonus offer in any way or that you intend to do so (for example, if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer(s) that we did not intend for you; if you cancel or downgrade your account within 12 months after acquiring it; or if you cancel or return purchases you made to meet the Threshold Amount), we may not credit the welcome bonus to, we may freeze the welcome bonus credited to, or we may take away the welcome bonus from your account. We may also cancel this Card account and other Card accounts you may have with us. Additional Card Members on your account are not eligible for this offer. To receive the 30,000 bonus miles, your Card account must be active, in good standing, and not in default at the time of fulfillment.

Qualifying purchases are purchases for goods and services. Qualifying purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, purchases of gift cards; person-to-person payments, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Additional terms and restrictions apply.

Amex includes a number of things here which they may take action against:

  • Used a bonus offer signup page or code that was not intended for you
  • Cancel or downgrade the card within 12 months
  • Cancel or return purchases used to meet the spend threshold
  • Meet the spend with gift card purchases (it always said “purchases or reloading of prepaid cards,” but the more general “purchases of gift cards,” implying all kinds of gift cards, is new)

They allow themselves to remove the bonus points or freeze the points (though not stated, that’s usually resulted in all your MR points being frozen).

Amex is obviously trying to give themselves legal cover for things they’ve already been doing (and probably have wanted to do even more) by freezing points accounts of those who’ve signed up for a card with a leaked signup link that was meant for a specific person or a shared signup code. As well as those who return the purchases used to meet the spend threshold.

But the biggest thing here for most people, I think, is the warning against cancelling or downgrading a card within 12 months. There isn’t really ever a reason to cancel a card within 12 months now that Amex does not prorate the annual fee, but a workaround idea has been to downgrade the card and save part of the annual fee while pocketing the airline credits. This is something I’ve done myself, in limited ways, to save a bit of the annual fee.

Going forward:

  • Be sure the link is public, not with a special code or meant for a specific person. Incognito offers and the like should be just fine since they are meant for whoever gets targeted, so if you got targeted by browsing the Chinese website or by using VPN then you are the legitimate recipient of that targeted offer.
  • Meet the spend legitimately without any returns or the like. I’d recommend even deducting airline credits and Amex Offer credits from the spend.
  • Try not buying any gift cards to meet the minimum spend.
  • Don’t cancel or downgrade within 12 months. After a complete 12 months, you can cancel or downgrade. The annual fee will be refunded if you cancel/downgrade within 30 days of when the statement showing the annual fee was generated.

So far, we’ve found this language added to the Delta Gold card and on the Platinum business card and the Everyday card and Everyday Preferred and Business Gold Rewards and Blue Cash Preferred. It’s not yet showing on Platinum personal, PRG, SPG cards, Blue Cash Everyday, Green card, Hilton, or SimplyCash.

RAT team hard at work…We were forewarned

Hat tip toThe_Albino_Rhino on  r/churning and mia on Flyertalk 



167 Responses to Amex Updates their Terms to Penalize those Gaming the Signup Bonus System

  1. Matt says:

    would this apply to people who * accidentally * misspelled their name with a missing character to get the 100k platinum offer? Not sure since it was linked to my SSN, which means the link is public or didn’t use a special code.

  2. Rudy says:

    Found this sentence in Delta card terms like two weeks ago. Interestingly, similar language does not appear in the terms of PRG or Platinum.

    I opened and closed PRG and Plat in 2015, now I got their invitation again without lifetime language.

    No idea how to mess up with them atm, but probably I will stay away a little bit…

  3. yussuf says:

    Increasing retention offers while cracking down, Amex you’re like my wife, ill never understand you….

  4. Ender says:

    I wonder what role does store GC (Amazon, eBay, etc) plays in here. I know that VGCs are considered cash equivalence and doesn’t count, but how about store GCs?

    • joe says:

      they count too… They’ve never come down on me for them, but technically they could and did so against some people who had their MRs frozen due to the 100k platinum debacle. They seemed to use whatever they thought they could against those people.

      • Ender says:

        So there are actually DPs for MR taken away because of store GCs? That is really concerning.

        My plat 100k was meet by paying cash down for my car so I never had to worry about that. But now I have more spending to meet and I in no way am going to buy another car.

        • FLL says:

          Read a DP that a person’s wife did not receive the 100K Hilton Surpass bonus because AMEX claimed she used the card to pay Federal Income Tax which AMEX only excluded Federal Excise Tax in the T&Cs, Nonetheless, right now the customer was fighting on this.

          I think the blogs haven’t picked up about that AMEX considers paying taxes are the same as using cash equivalent.

          As for store cards I once had an account manager told me they too, are considered cash equivalent! So be warned.

    • Chuck says:

      Yeah, it’s vague. The language could possibly include store gift cards too.

      • Austin Meadows says:

        Do you think AMEX gets third-level data from a lot of retailers? I know there was mention of some retailers like Staples submitting third level, but if you buy GCs at say a grocery store, how would they know what you’re buying?

        • Ender says:

          Well, how would you justify 1k spend in a grocery store other than GCs?

        • Chuck says:

          Austin, I’m not sure, it might depend on the merchant.

        • Ender says:

          For the stores with MCC as grocery, I have only seen things like blender, coffee makers etc, nowhere near 1k. But that may be just me.

        • Shaun Rogas says:

          when amex gets level3 data it’s usually very blatant on your statement. For staples, it shows what you bought. I know they do the same for macys and delta where your itinerary is shown on the ticket. Anything else not itemized is assumed not be level3 and amex would have to make assumptions.

  5. Za says:

    The threshold language is a codification of how their systems are already programmed. See http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/26897765-post351.html

    It becomes a huge pain when you have a legitimate reason to return a threshold purchase. Even if you pass the threshold again with other purchases, you will not get the bonus without extensive manual intervention.

    • Chuck says:

      Fascinating if true

      • DRT says:

        fwiw: on my spg biz i had to cancel a non-refundable hotel room (thankfully the hotel was able to refund me), which had put me over the MSR limit. never got the points clawed back, though i did buy VGC to compensate for the refund.

      • FLL says:

        Nothing fascinating about it – this is how AMEX programming works. You dont know it dont mean it is not true.

        It is what happened to a friend – he had to cancel some tours booked on Expedia that brought him under threshold but he had other expenses like insurances on his rental properties later on, that brought him way pass the threshold long before the deadline.

        His MR account was dinged by 100K negative. Took 6 weeks to get that reversed.

    • L T says:

      wow, crazy, will have to keep this in mind for the future.

    • italdesign says:

      not my experience

  6. dan says:

    if amex were to freeze or close account(s), MR pts would be forfeited w/o a time window like 30 days to redeem or xfer out, correct?

  7. VL says:

    Chuck, you said “Don’t cancel or downgrade within 12 months.”, so we should cancel on a day 366 to avoid the second year annual fee? Amex does allow some time to cancel or downgrade to avoid the second year annual fee doesn’t it?

    P.S. The answer to this question is most likely posted several times in a different threads, so sorry for asking, but I figured most of the readers know the answer from the top of their heads, and it would be quite useful to see it here for the rest of us.

    Thanks a lot!

    • Ender says:

      I believe you got one statement period to close the card and get the AF refunded

    • JTS says:

      I was told by amex rep recently that I have 30 days from the day that the AF posts to cancel and get full refund of my AF.

    • Vic says:

      Yes. Cancel within 30 days to get full refund. After that it’s prorated.

      • Chuck says:

        What the others have said – 30 days from statement date. I’ll add a note in the post.

        • FLL says:

          No, it is not from statement date. It is 30 days from the date the fee is billed.

          AMEX tends to bill the fee on the statement date, so it is a coincidence but the REAL T&Cs is 30 days FROM THE DATE THE FEE IS BILLED.

          Should the fee is billed just 1 day before the statement date, and if you use the statement date to count the 30 days to the dot, you would be SOL to get the AF reversed.

          And there is definitely NO prorated refund if strictly goes by the T&Cs. Downgrades used to give you a pro-rated refund like you have done but with the new language, do so at your own risk as they say.

          You need to make a clarification / correction so not to give wrong information.

      • Daniel says:

        It’s no longer prorated after the 30 day grace period.

      • Master Allan says:

        I cancelled my Platinum recently.
        Approximate dates – AF appeared May 20th, Statement closed the 28th. Called early June to negotiate retention bonus, nothing worthwhile. Paid charges down to $450. Counted 27 or 28 days after statement closing date and called again. No good retention bonus so cancelled the card. A few days later after closing I logged in and confirmed a $450 credit. So, held onto the card for 365 days + just under 4 weeks.

  8. J says:

    About time. People are cheap when it comes to paying the AFs and finding other loopholes.

  9. Rob says:

    Sooooo they raise point offers to attract customers, but want to make sure they don’t attract people that want points? Funny. It’s like setting a mouse trap with cheese and putting a sign on it that the cheese is only for dogs.

    • VL says:

      That is very funny comment… especially that Amex wants those offers to be traps… They want customers to bite and never leave 🙂

    • They want to attract profitable customers, I personally don’t have a problem with it. Just means we need to be smarter than ever.

    • Test says:

      They want people who don’t game the system. How is this difficult to understand?

      • Rob says:

        Lol, Ya I know, I was making a joke. But my point kinda remains the same…if you want people who don’t game the system, you could offer no sign up bonus at all. Amex wants the benefits from exploiting people’s desire for points, but not the costs that come with it.

  10. gary says:

    Yes, I would think many here wait and cancel shortly after the AF appears. So, you are ROUGHLY at 12 months. Hope that does not cause concern. By the way, I think anyone that cancels within a few months of actually opening and getting the bonus needs to be slapped up the side of the head – LOL!

    • Ender says:

      The terms say WITHIN 12 months, so it shouldn’t apply if you cancel at, say, day 376.

      • Elmer says:

        Unless they want to say that you’re gaming for sign-up bonuses. If you’ve done that on two cards, they could make a case that you have a pattern of it. I’d guess that would be good enough for them to claw back your points.

        • Ender says:

          Well, they can “determine” you are gaming at their “sole discretion”. And if they want to claw back points so badly, they can find so many other excuses in addition to closing after year 1.

    • stevo says:

      why? that’s just smart churning. I got the delta plat, did the spend in the first month, then canceled and saved $200. oh and I also got the $100 statement credit in the first month too 😉

      • MH says:

        You’re the type they are after and don’t want.

      • Sam says:

        You-and many others (see FT thread on May 9, 2016 Platinum link) are likely the reason these provisions were put in. You agreed to terms (the fee) and then reneged on your word.

        Smart churning? Some would say that. Others would say “self-centered” (pick a derogatory noun).

        In any event, Amex has shut it and more down, with a crew of RATS working on narrowing more rules.

        Thanks a lot.

    • Darv says:

      With all issuers? Or do you mean only for annual fee cards?

      I won’t mess with Chase or Amex as their bonuses are so lucrative. But for non-AF cards with other issuers, probably won’t hesitate. I also don’t keep non-AF cards open but I know there’s another school of thought on that.

  11. anonymous says:

    Hmmmmmmm maybe I shouldnt have taken that 75k hilton surpass upgrade and downgraded 2 months later to get the annual fee back…whatever YOLO

  12. Sam says:

    To be honest, I feel like I have so little to use at this point with Amex and their once per lifetime bonus rule that I’ve become more and more egregious with my churning antics…go ahead and shut me down

  13. Mike says:

    They cannot take-back pts to a 3rd party like delta or hilton, correct?

    • joe says:

      Of course they CAN. whether they will is another issue.

      • Sam says:

        what do you mean of course they can. Amex can’t but they can try to get Hilton/Delta to comply

        • joe says:

          I mean… they absolutely CAN… assuming you haven’t spent your hilton/delta points.

          • italdesign says:

            even if you already spent it, they can cancel the reservation and clawback. There is precedence for this, though only in extreme cases so far.

          • sam says:

            my point is amex doesn’t have access to delta or hilton system. they would have to get delta or hilton to do it

          • Philco says:

            @Sam

            Amex almost certainly does have the ability to pull back from Delta, HIlton, SPG, etc. While I don’t have a specific data point for Amex I did have a case with another bank where I had a small legitimate refund in a month where I had otherwise zero spend on the card so closed with a slightly negative balance. The miles were clawedback automatically on statement close from the airline. I am also aware of much larger clawbacks due to “abuse” though again not with Amex. While the risk is certainly very small so far it isn’t 0.

        • FLL says:

          If Chase has done that with UA (and has happened to myself in the past) I am sure AMEX can do this with Hilton or Delta.

  14. dan says:

    guess that amex may also penalize if its new acct group suggested that a cc needs to close (limit 5) before another acct to be approved?

  15. Nick says:

    I’m concerned about the store gift cards possibility. I met over half of my SPG Biz spend with discounted store GCs but thought they counted for spend.

    My SPG Biz bonus has been delayed for 6.5 weeks but I didn’t think it was for that reason… Do we know when this change went into effect? 35k SPG is a ton to lose out on.

    • VL says:

      In my experience with Amex Bonuses (and I had 1 on Business Gold Rewards, and 2 on SPG Personal – for myself and my spouse) the bonuses showed up on Amex portal almost immediately after the spending requirements were met. Unlike Chase (both UR and Rapid Rewards) which posted when the statement closes.

      SPG bonus points even moved to the SPG account before the statement closed (few days after they appeared on Amex website).

      Regular Amex points (SPG or MR) received for spending do not post anywhere until the statement closes, and in case of MR they are even delayed by one statement.

      Not sure if it is hard rule, but that was always the case for me in my 3 data points… so if it has been 6 weeks since you “met” the spending requirements I would at least researched it with Amex CSR… it may be not too late to put more organic spending on the cards to get the bonus (if GC are not counted).

      Good luck.

      • Nick says:

        Thanks, but it’s too late now – 3 months already past from account opening date and despite multiple calls and CSRs saying I met the threshold already and manually counting purchases the points are still missing. Already got my spend points just not the bonus.

        • VL says:

          Sorry to hear that… In that case I would not dig through the reasons why they did not (especially not with Amex CSR – do not give them any ideas), but keep calling and politely asking to fix the problem… and add the points. Hope they can do that.

          Pls let us know if that works.
          Good Luck.

        • VL says:

          BTW, the bonuses were tiered… 25K for 5K, and 10K for 3K more (or something like that.. for personal it was 25 for 3K, and10 for 2K). For the second tier you have 6 months. Not sure if it would work, but may be you can meet the second tier requirement still (?)

          Although I would not open that can of worms until I completely give up on receiving it as is.

          Good luck!

        • Aaron says:

          I’m in the exact same scenario. My spg 35k points posted immediately and my personal spg bonus have yet to post and it’s almost 6 months. I’ve received multiple explanations including I’m not eligible bc I’ve had this card before (false) and it should post any day (so far false). I’ll be really issued if they don’t honor the 35k bonus.

          • Eddie says:

            This same thing is happening to me but my personal SPG bonus posted and my Biz SPG bonus has not just he earned spend points I have. I called and spoke with a CSR and they said they could not find a promotional offer attached with my application. I said well shit there must be because that’s what got me to sign up with you guys. They issued an investigation with their marketing department three weeks ago and I’ve yet to received my bonus….

  16. Mark O says:

    I wonder if gift cards from Ebay will be an issue. That is how I hit a lot of my min spend.

    • They could be, will just have to wait and see. My guess is that it won’t be an issue unless American Express want to deny you for whatever reason and then they will use whatever they can to find a valid reason to deny you the bonus. Hope that makes sense.

  17. Frank says:

    Amex collects their fees on purchases either way, so why do they care if you buy a gift card or not? how does it “harm” them versus if I use their card to buy a new chair?

    • Daniel says:

      Because there’s very little chance of them earning interest on the charge if you’re buying a cash equivalent and paying it off in a few days. More chance of you carrying a balance on the purchase of a chair than a gift card you essentially are redeeming for cash.

      • escot says:

        By that bizarre logic, they should be accusing those of us who pay of our bills every month (as we *#$% should be) to be “gamers” too….

        • Daniel says:

          How is it bizarre logic? If you’re MSing, there’s basically no chance of AMEX earning interest. If you’re buying chairs, there’s a good chance.

          And for most credit card companies, if you’re paying your bill off every month, you may not be a “gamer” but you’re not profitable.

          • XXX says:

            You’re very wrong.

            AMEX has charge cards that *have* to be paid off every month so obviously they don’t have a problem with non-interest payers.

            Credit card companies make money on “swipe fees,” that is fees merchants pay the card company every time you make a purchase. Even if you pay no interest you are still profitable if you use the card. They also make money on annual fees.

          • mbh says:

            +1 w/ xxx

    • Saf says:

      Because you’re not buying 10 chairs at $500 to get the bonus.

      They make money on keeping you as a customer. The sign-up offers for new customers are always losses.

    • Sign up bonuses are used by credit card issuers to lure new customers, they obviously make a massive loss on the sign up bonus. They are hoping to keep customers long term and I guess they believe they are more likely to do this with customers not buying cash equivalents. The interchange fees they’d collect on the minimum spend requirement would be negligible at best.

  18. Joe says:

    Looks like I’m going to have to change some of my habits (again).

  19. P says:

    I signed up for the leaked 100,000 MR last November. I guess I’ll let the second annual fee get charged and then cancel before 30 days

    • Ender says:

      Why don’t you try to ask for retention? No harm to try and many people are getting 30k MR which is quite worth another AF.

      • P says:

        Maybe they’ll offer a retention on the Platinum, maybe not. I’ll accept if it’s at least $200 or $20k MR, but my retention offers from Amex have been abysmal or non-existent.

        Over the past three years, I’ve had the PRG, Green, EDP, Hilton Surpass and no fee Hilton, SPG Personal. I kept the PRG for two years and before the annual fee hit on the third year I called for retention offer, nothing. Same with EDP, and no fee Hilton. The sPG only got $25, no thanks. The only card I have of these is the Hilton Surpass and every time I call about retention, there’s nothing.

  20. Phil says:

    This language was not on my Platinum or PRG applications yesterday.

  21. P says:

    Julian or Gregorian calendar for the 12 months?

  22. Li says:

    Hi Doc, quick question, does this “12 months” affect the existing customers? Say I have applied a Platinum card last year and this year I want to close within 12 months, can I?

    • It shouldnt, but you might as well keep it for 12 months and then cancel within 30 days of AF posting to avoid the AF (or ask for a retention offer, maybe you will want to keep it).

  23. MoreSun says:

    ROFL. So now when the promotions department is looking too expensive on the books Amex can just pick a batch of new applicants who met the MS and accuse them of intending to game the system. Bonus money saved.

  24. Lrdx says:

    I would now double check those generous spending bonuses for existing customers, if they contain any language about closing/changing the card within 12 month..

  25. P says:

    Anyone know if this applies to this situation: EV is 2 years 9 months old upgraded to EVP with a prorated annual fee to take advantage of the 3x (4.5x) category bonus. Then it’s downgraded back to EV before the third year anniversary to avoid full annual fee.

    • NinjaX says:

      FYI its actually ED to EDP.

      Also nobody can give you a 100% clear answer to that. Everything is YMMV and TBD. However, EDP is a solid card. No reason to downgrade. Its worth $95.

  26. captainsave says:

    The beginning of the end.

    What happen using for 1st deposit for opening bank accts?

    Just did $1000 on PRG and $2000 on Biz plus today.

  27. Nick says:

    Well, living in constant fear of a points/miles clawback should certainly stimulate lots of CC spending, right?!! No wonder I’m down to 3 American Express cards, all with no fee. You lost a lot of us a long time ago. No reason to cancel, just give me an occasional valuable AMEX offer and do as you please.

  28. M says:

    I presently have a reason to cancel a card within 12 months (unrelated to it’s fees or bonus). 😀
    I want another card with a bonus, but already have the max number allowed.

  29. Daniel says:

    Their logic is simply fansinating. Why not simply promote a product you want to keep despite of annual fee?
    CSR has high AF as well. But guess what, I will keep it without blinking my eye for a second.

    • Lrdx says:

      Here’s a crazy idea: make the card worth keeping for long term.

    • NinjaX says:

      ur love for the CSR is hilarious. how long has the card been out??

    • VL says:

      I am on the same page… I am considering keeping CSR, but keep in mind it is all business. Nobody gives you bonuses or benefits just because… so if you are keeping CSR with no blinking of an eye… it means they are probably giving away too much. If I have to give a prediction – it will become less attractive over time with decreased benefits.

      Although I do not like the current Amex changes we are discussing here, but I can understand where they come from. From my point of view – make the rules, make them clear, they should never be retroactive and play by the rules… then I will play with you and bring you business (if I deem that valuable for me).

      What I dislike the most about the change is how vague they are.

  30. Phil says:

    Does paying taxes or mortgage/rent via certain payment services count as gaming the system?

    • Frankie says:

      I can’t see how they could be – these are your normal and usual expenses – just as groceries, gas or underwear are.

    • Retireekettering says:

      To meet the spending threshold on the Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 offer, we prepaid property taxes for the year, home and car insurance also. Wife and I both have primary cards, so that meant spending $ 8000 in 3 months.

      No gaming there,

    • NinjaX says:

      haha. cmon phil…

  31. Eric says:

    I don’t work for Amex just a long time Amex member. Glad to see those new languages in their T&C.

      • Eric says:

        As a business owner, would you want “churner & burner” customers?

        I have been a loyal Amex since 96. Yes 1996. They updated/transferred my acct and helped me with local credits. From US Amex to MY, AU, NZ, SG, JP, BR, ID while I was there for an extended period of time. Building & establishing credit in foreign lands wasn’t easy and still not easy today. No other banks were there. But Amex. Amex was there for me every step along the way. The other two firms also were there: Citi and Banco do Brasil. Relationship is a 2-way street. Therefore I fully support today Amex’s tougher languages against churners/gamers.

  32. AlwaysFlying says:

    I went for the recent offer of 80k Hilton points for spending $2k on the Hilton no annual fee card and bought 4 x GC to meet to minimum spend. The bonus points posted at Hilton almost immediately. It does look times are changing now and even no MR cards will be monitored. MRs are my most important currency due to transfer to ANA (also transfers to Singapore, Aeroplan, and Flying Blue are significant), so losing them would be catastrophic. Glad its been many generous years but will have to be much more careful in the future…

  33. Ed says:

    1)Do the minimum spend on a card to get a bonus, then toss it in a sock drawer for 11 months or cancel to get the fee returned.

    2)Open a bank account, grab a checking or savings account bonus, then immediately close the account.

    3)Find a credit card without the prior customer (or 24 month) disqualifying language and then apply over time for 4 or 5 of those cards, closing each after the bonus posts.

    All of these actions are technically playing by the rules. And folks, honestly, I’m not siding with the banks. But when your fellow blog readers act this way, then what did you expect? Be greedy, and you ruin it for all. Pigs get fed…”.

    • quasimodo says:

      and I should care? The banks and top mgmt raped american tax payers during the economic downturn and they continue to do so….I feel no compunction to stop until this game no longer serves my purpose. Now if the big banks were allowed to go under (And bonuses clawed back from mgmt)….without multi-billion dollar ($10 billion+ etc…) bridge loans / gifts, etc…then I would be singing a different tune. Or if the executive pay and bonuses were slashed by 85%+ and stayed that way….. but even without the bailout…lots of thievery going on…

      http://money.cnn.com/news/specials/storysupplement/bankbailout/

      My primary bank is a credit union…and I will keep it that way and get some bonuses here and there.

  34. escot says:

    Say Doc, your headline makes it appear you’re taking AMEX’s corner here, that it’s all just to go after those “improperly” gaming the bonuses…. But then in your list of things not to do, you duly note:

    “Try not buying any gift cards to meet the minimum spend.”

    In short, 99% of your readers…. no?

    Or is this a *wink, *wink, they’re not “really” going to enforce that…. but they might….

    • We aren’t taking AmEx’s corner, just trying to explain what American Express is doing. I don’t have an issue with people buying gift cards at all, but you need to remember those purchases are excluded from meeting minimum spend requirements. Just trying to provide information so readers can minimize their risk

    • VL says:

      I do not think your comment about “99% readers meeting min spend with Gift Cards” is accurate. There are many people who meet the spend organically. The key in this approach is “to not bite more than you can chew”.

      One card at a time, meet the spend requirements and look for another one. Be reasonably greedy 🙂

      And the title is perfectly appropriate. Let’s name things with their actual names. Even if we are meeting the spending requirements organically without GC purchases one credit card after another, and are going mostly after bonuses…. we are gaming the system. Whether to be ashamed of it or not is a different question.

      Good luck

    • XXX says:

      I certainly don’t buy giftcards to meet minimum spend and I doubt I am a minority. I just use my cards for everyday purchases.

  35. jediwho says:

    How does this apply for existing Amex cards? I have EDP and probably half my grocery spend every year is buying gift cards.

  36. RE says:

    Just showed up in amex platinum business:

    You can earn 50,000 additional points after you spend $10,000 in qualifying purchases (or 75,000 additional points after $20,000 in qualifying purchases) on your Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership starting from the date your account is approved. In rare instances, your period to spend $10,000 (or $20,000) may be shorter than 3 months if there is a delay in receiving your Card. Also, purchases may fall outside of the 3 month period in some cases, such as a delay in merchants submitting transactions to us or if the purchase date differs from the date you made the transaction. (For example, if you buy goods online, the purchase date may be the date the goods are shipped).The 50,000 (or 75,000) additional points will be credited to your Membership Rewards account 8-12 weeks after you have met the eligible purchase requirement. If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with the welcome bonus offer in any way or that you intend to do so (for example, if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer (s) that we did not intend for you; if you cancel or downgrade your account within 12 months after acquiring it; or if you cancel or return purchases you made to meet the Threshold Amount), we may not credit Membership Rewards® to, we may freeze Membership Rewards® credited to, or we may take away Membership Rewards® from, your account. We may also cancel this Card account and other Card accounts you may have with us.

  37. Chuck says:

    New terms are now showing on most cards.

  38. Max says:

    Oh boy, I was almost at spend for retention offers (2 Plats) and minimum spend on BBP. Spent a good amount on gift cards. Well, better to know the updated terms now while there’s time to correct. Thanks, DoC!

    • MH says:

      My (hopeful) guess is that retention offers are viewed as harshly as signup bonuses. You’ve been with them at least one year.

      What they do not like with retention offers are those who get the retention bonus and then then close the card. Basically stealing.

  39. charles chang says:

    The real question is will they claw back previously earned points, aka, points earned before this date?

    • Max says:

      There is precedent of Amex freezing and then clawing back points after they posted. That was from leaked links though.

  40. mike says:

    I would like to just leave amex and thank them for the last 5 years but i clear the clawback of pts to 3rd parties like Delta/Hilton.

    Does anyone have knowledge that they can do this?

    Thanks

  41. FLL says:

    You guys may want to read this FT post on not getting the Hilton Syurpass card bonus because the spend was met by paying Federal Income Tax.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28608241-post10.html

    • Thanks, will keep an eye on this

    • NinjaX says:

      youre reading too far into that. based on what has happened so far, its pretty clear to me what AMEX is doing. maybe you have a different opinion, but its very clear that AMEX has black ops running in the background to target certain CCs or certain kind of spend or whatever other algo to NOT award the auto bonus ASAP.

      why do I think this? too many recent DPs showing legit spend causing delayed bonus posting. SPG and Hilton. Plat too. Its all too public. people dont get that this shit was coming from miles away. nobody should be surprised. everything is under colon anal review. either manual or auto. its no longer “easy”.

      RAT is def involved. probably other teams too. paying taxes is legit spend. theres nothing wrong with that. however, the key is AMEX is trying to see if you “deserve” the award or not. no longer auto dishing out that shit.

      • FLL says:

        Paying Federal Excise Tax is SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED in the T&Cs.

        How AMEX define Excise Tax is something neither you and me and anyone here can tell.

        I am just posting an actual, real DP that the poster said they were TOLD by AMEX reps that the Tax Payment is not eligible.

  42. hh says:

    “if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer(s) that we did not intend for you;” htf is this a valid reason. If I find a webpage that displays an offer that I like, but does not mention my name, is the offer intended for me? Fuck off Amex. If you put an offer out randomly dont come back with, this was not intended for you.

  43. captainsave says:

    As if their one per lifetime term isn’t bad already.

  44. Blue says:

    I’d love to have a talk with one of the folks running the clustering analysis for Amex on their card signups. Looks like they IDed some pretty good factors.

  45. Former Amex Employee says:

    Ken Chenault should resign, the guy ran Amex from a prestigious company into the ground. Now he has nothing better to do except try to screw people out of reward points? Even if you got 100 churners and 1 legit loyal customer, that’s a terrible move.

  46. 86 says:

    At least we now can reasonably infer that the “purchases or reloading of prepaid cards” language never meant gift cards.

  47. kevin says:

    sad but understandable.

  48. Justin says:

    Would these terms replace any terms that were accepted or offered when approved for cards before these new terms came out? It shouldn’t right?

  49. ucipass says:

    I have accidentally applied for amex plat business card, got approved, but then I applied for the personal version and got approved too. I would like to cancel the business even before activation.

    Is there anything wrong with that?

  50. J. Sarayda Shapiro says:

    I made a $1600 travel purchase than I might want to cancel. Without that purchase, I would not have made my minimum spend on my new SPG Amex. These are Starpoints, not AMR, so do you think there’s any sort of clawback Amex can try? If so, do you think there’s some time period after which canceling will be “safe”? (i.e., no clawback.) The travel provider will let me cancel, at no penalty, until sometime in Spring 2018. (I forget the exact date.)

    • Chuck says:

      Are you still within 3 months? Then just try meeting the spend other ways.
      Otherwise, yeah, pushing it off the longer the better, I’d think.

  51. farsighted99 says:

    I got a Mercedes Benz Plat card a year ago. Just got the $475 bill for next year a few days ago. I don’t really want the card anymore. I was thinking of leasing an MB and using one of the benefits; but that’s off the table now and don’t feel like paying $275 (and next year even more) for the continued privilege of keeping this card. Don’t really use Uber, and I already have a Plat Business card. So if I cancel before the last bill is due, I won’t get my 75K MR pulled back?

    Is this a new rule? I got my card a year ago.

  52. Travis says:

    Are there any recent DPs of AMEX excluding cc funding of bank accounts as cash equivalents for spend requirement?

  53. Arlington Traveler says:

    Just a comment here about lack of retention offers. If you are someone who uses the Platinum card fro the benefits, but do not spend on it, chances are you will not get a retention offer. Amex wants the person who puts much/all of their spend on the Platinum card. They are not going to give retention bonuses to the folks who put no or minimal spending on the Plat card because until recently it had not category bonuses.

  54. sa13 says:

    does this apply to new applications or they will apply this to all the card holders?

  55. Lesson Learned says:

    When taking advantage of an upgrade offer (that appear in your account when you log in), look closely at the offer terms to verify whether the following language appears:”Offer is available for first-time
    upgrades to the new [insert card name: e.g. Business Platinum Card] only and for one Card account only.” We had previously upgraded, and then downgraded the business card to a Gold; and after being offered an upgrade back to Platinum, we accepted, met the spend, got the points, and the 50k were clawed back within days. Not exciting, and Amex reps had no remorse.

  56. Tom says:

    Will they claw back points on plat cards closed within 12 months that were opened without the new T&C ?

  57. Flame says:

    Earn and Burn – Don’t accumulate.

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