Posted by Chuck on May 19, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on May 19th, 2016 | by Chuck

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Membership Rewards Accounts are being Frozen for New Platinum Cardholders

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.

I know of a few first-hand reports of this problem, and numerous DansDealsForums members and Reddit members report this as well.

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.



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Alex
Alex

I got approved for the amex platinum and after a few days of using the Card I got a financial review. All my amex cards are put on hold now. Any advice?

ValueTravelerOZ

They were the ones who made the mistake, so pony up AMEX!

Mike
Mike

Happened to me this morning. Tried to transfer to JetBlue and was told my account was frozen. They said typically frozen accounts take 24 hours to review and they could not see why my account was locked up. If its 6-8 weeks, might as well go ahead and pay cash for my flights.

Victor
Victor

I heard a different story from Amex. I signed up for the Plat offer and ran into the same error trying to redeem points for the discounted gift cards. Third CSR I called talked to supervisor and related that my rewards were under review “to make sure you are getting all of the points you deserve.” She said my current balance would not be affected, but that the review would take at least a week. She said Amex was going to send physical letters to cardholders informing them of the review. She said something about people not getting credited for purchases. She didn’t explicitly mention anything about the Platinum signup.

HmL
HmL

I just received a letter from AMEX saying this and that I would get the MR in the next statement but I do NOT have a platinum card

gary
gary

First of my 2 credits posted. The second should have posted today but didnt , hopefully those mxp’s aren’t being help up

gary
gary

came through next day, so mxp not an issue

gary
gary

First of my 2 credits posted. The second should have posted today but didnt , hopefully those mxp’s aren’t being help up. did transfer some of my bonus MR points with no problem yesterday.

John
John

In the same boat – MR points frozen. I did the MB and Regular Platinum. Closed the MB today because I could not get a response from them.

Bob
Bob

What do you mean by “the more creative parts of the Platinum which may come under review”?

Craig
Craig

If you don’t know, you haven’t done enough reading. He was vague for a reason.

Mark O
Mark O

I am also curious. Is it some of the perks. I have done a ton of reading and am not entirely sure what he is talking about.

TheBigEasyTraveler
TheBigEasyTraveler

Mark O, gonna take some digging but not weeks. It’s out there. No one is gonna share if they know. Good luck.

Jack
Jack

What are the more creative parts of the platinum card that you are worried about?

thershope
thershope

Perhaps, AIr Travel Credit ?

PS: Thats what i am more worried about anyway.

Secretary Toaster
Secretary Toaster

This is really interesting. That plat link eventually was blogged about everywhere. Including places like TPG which are paid affiliates of AMEX. Seems to me there could be some interesting legal detrimental reliance claims against bloggers if AMEX ultimately confiscates points and people incur damages, since these bloggers are agents of AMEX

Jon
Jon

I’m pretty sure that For this particular offer there were no affiliate links in use so not exactly agents

AA
AA

I’d be willing to bet that AmEx will honor this promo. It would be a legal nightmare if they refuse or renege. What’s likely happened is that the number of applications they received went over their quota for this specific promo (get 100k points after spending $3k) but I really cannot foresee a scenario where they cancel/back out of this promo.

Maybe I’m being naive but if AmEx backed out of this, the reputational damage would be quite severe.

Andrew

That, and the first call I would make after receiving notification about a clawback would be to my attorney’s office.

Dave C
Dave C

A legal nightmare. ..like what Citi is going through?

Nick
Nick

Citi’s is more of a PR nightmare because they actually have a legal leg to stand on

Credit
Credit

I don’t see chat/help option in Amex login anymore.

Do you?

Phong

Funny lol. I got the approval message after applying for card online. Received letter saying I got denied. Like wtf lol.

Anti-Arbitration
Anti-Arbitration

Amex has arbitration rights so technically they don’t need to worry about a class action lawsuit….

Nick
Nick

I was approved on the 9th, received and activated the card on the 12th. Its says my first statement closes today the 20th. Maybe they want to make sure you pay the $450 fee before transferring points?

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