Over the past couple days, there appears to to be a wave of Amex Membership Rewards (MR) accounts that are frozen and can’t be used to transfer to travel partners. The freeze is apparently tied to the 100,000 point bonus on the Platinum card that was available recently, and it’s likely that some/all new Platinum members who used that 100k link now have their MR accounts frozen.
This is not a Financial Review (i.e. no request for tax documents and bank statements), it’s not a shutdown, and it’s not an account freeze. All accounts are working fine and can be used. Just the MR points are frozen until further review and can not be redeemed.
To clarify further, it’s not just the Platinum points are frozen from those who signed up for this 100k offer; all MR points from any personal or business Amex card. At the final step, when attempting to transfer points to airline partners (and like for any other redemption as well), the system spits out a response:
Unable to process your request
We are unable to complete your order. Please do not attempt to resubmit the order, as this will only delay the process. Please contact us at 888-654-0034 between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm ET, Sunday through Saturday.
Amex has done 100k Platinum offers in the past and this offer wasn’t a novelty, but it seems that this particular 100k Platinum offer was meant as a targeted link to specific people, not a temporary offer for the public. Also, the offer was reported on just about every blog, including the one’s with very high readership like Thepointsguy, Onemileatatime, Viewfromthewing, among others, and Amex must have gotten slammed with applications.
There have been some other reports of Amex shutdowns when using RSVP-only offers, and this one got out of hand and was used by thousands. Amex is now doing an internal review/soul-searching to decide what to do.
Initial reports indicated that Amex is doing a 72-hour review period, but now they are saying something about 6-8 weeks. Here’s the most detailed response we’ve heard from an Amex rep, reported by David1 on DDF:
I’ve spoken to numerous supervisors (I think i spoke to a supervisor in every department now and people above those supervisors), for 3 days now, at first they didnt know what the error was, and why i wasnt able to transfer points. All they said was that your account is under review and it takes 72 hours. Today I called and spoke to a supervisor who told me it has something to do with my recent platinum signup. And it is being investigates as misuse of points. (I never sold any points or transferred to anyone. Transferred once for a flight for myself) He said they were all told today, regarding this error, that the review will take up to 6-8 weeks. And there is no one to speak too until the review is complete. All my cards will continue to work as normal but i have no access to my points and there’s nothing anyone can do.
What to do?
Certainly, it’s not fun to have your MR account frozen, and a bit nerve-racking too since we don’t know what the outcome will be.
From my perspective, it’s hard to hear any terrible outcome from this since this is something that’s likely affecting thousands. I’d wager that there are so many new Platinum cardholders that they won’t even be looking one-by-one at anyone’s accounts (i.e. even if you have MS or any other monkey business going on, you don’t have to worry too much). Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but that’s my take.
I’m more worried about the more creative parts of the Platinum card which may come under review as too many people are doing them.