Posted by William Charles on December 9, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on December 9th, 2016 | by William Charles


Rumor: American Express Now Has A Rewards Abuse Team (RAT)

Before we get started, let’s keep in mind that this is a rumor and one I haven’t been able to verify with any of my sources at American Express. It comes from US Credit Card Guide and I trust their team to properly vet this. According to them American Express have created a Rewards Abuse Team (or RAT for short) to combat reward abuses.

The following changes have already been made:

  • MPX will no longer trigger the airline credit (as we thought)
  • Purchase products to meet minimum spend requirements and then return them

According to the same source they have no plans to stop airline gift cards from triggering the airline incidental travel credits.

Our Thoughts

Not hugely surprising, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the same team was in charge of dealing with the frozen membership rewards accounts due to the 100,000 Platinum links. I don’t really have an issue with either of the ‘abuses’ they are/have cracked down on, although it would suck to have meet a minimum spend requirement in good faith and then have had to return an item – so I hope there is some level of leeway there. MPX triggering the credit was great, but obviously never the intention of the credit.

I’m not surprised they have decided to not remove the ability to use this credit on gift cards and I suspect that this will become official policy in early 2017 (or they will make a similar change to the airline credit) due to the fact that both the Citi Prestige airline credit and the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit are easier to use.

Obviously the creation of RAT isn’t a good thing, but at the moment I’m not too alarmed. Discuss.

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The creation is good thing to stop abuses suggested by some bloggers present company exclued.

what if you purchase something and then it break two months later and the seller just says to toss it and credit you back for the purchase?
amex will retract the bonus?
that’s pretty idiotic…

DoC notes “it would suck to have meet a minimum spend requirement in good faith and then have had to return an item – so I hope there is some level of leeway there”

This is a long standing Amex practice. Their “acquisition incentive control rules” are very strict and automatic, and require substantial manual intervention to override:

I would just spend an extra grand or so on giftcards after hitting minimum spend just in case one of the items I bought needs to be taken returned.

that’s a helpful post, thanks!

Interesting – makes me wonder if these 100k links are actually a honeypot to catch gamers…

Not everyone is a gamer, but a lot of us want 100K MR. I am sure a lot of them will be dumping their Platinum card. I would wait till the next AF is due and see if AmEx is making any changes or not to make it better or not. If they don’t then it is bye-bye Platinum. At that point I am not paying 450 that doesn’t even compete with CSR.

Sorry if brevity obscured my intention. I’m not saying everyone who signed up was a gamer – I’m saying that this team could have leaked the link on purpose to see who among their customers are reading these blogs and have a higher risk of being gamers than the general public. It would allow them to segment their existing customer base for higher financial risk – an information gathering tool.

That being said, I’m not sure they are that savvy, plus if they got caught they might be liable under bait and switch laws.

as the person who found the method by which to leak the links, I can assure you that no one within AmEx leaked the links for any reason 🙂

of course, that requires you to trust a complete internet stranger, but I think my r/churning posting history speaks for itself!

(on the other hand, I do think you are correct that AmEx is using these leaked links to segment their customer base and identify customers they perceive as “gamers”)

I trust this Internet stranger! 😉

That team needs to read only a few blogs to get an ideas. Simple job.

The real question is- will they systematically go through people’s minimum spending to see if there is any MS? They may not get Level 3 Data from everyone, but if they see lots of charges of $504.95 or $206.95 or multiples thereof… they can make people provide receipts like Discover did during the ApplePay promo. Since AmEx often has very high spend thresholds- eg, 5k and then a second 10k- for the big bonuses, if they do this it will make getting these bonuses virtually impossible for most of us.

any tips on additional uses of amex platinum credit without MPX, since our platinums *may* now be set to United?

Just online chat them and ask to switch airline to whichever one you’d prefer a gift card from.

didn’t realize you could chat to switch, thanks

United gift registry.

I just used that one. That’s pretty much all that’s left for United…

all the more reason not to horde rewards points. churn and burn baby, churn and burn

Lol that’s what got my wife caught up. Tried transfering points, account got locked then points clawed. Luckily we got the $200 credit out of it at least. canceled when they told her points were taken due to fraud and got $375 back from annual fee.still came up on Amex but man was it sad to see those 100,000 go away.

I think it’s safe to assume that _every_ large bank has a team with a similar function… each might be of varying scope/capability. Of course banks are looking for ways to cut costs, and plenty of managers (rightly or wrongly) see rewards programs as an easy place to do it because there is an assumption that people are “taking advantage.” And of course blogs provide an easy source of leads about where to start digging. But pointing all that out inevitably leads to being called an “angry” in a lot of corners…

Agreed. Of course bloggers are pure as the driven snow – blogs devoted to exposing every play/method to drive traffic are completely innocent…and those that point out the obvious are derisively labeled as angries by the many who haven’t a clue or have ulterior financial motives.

I think the real concern would be that if you’ve got a team of full-time employees dedicated to this that they’re going to find more work for themselves.

Removing MPX and clawing back bonuses on returned merchandise is something that computers will be doing. If you make a team whose mission is to police benefits, they might start finding new ways to do their job.

Maybe, but it’s also a cost center with plenty of low hanging fruit to go after.

Thanks for the heads up. Will stick to airline gift cards for the travel expenses.

I wonder if Am Ex and the rest are eventually just going to insert a clause into the agreements where they can claw back rewards at their own discretion- all this “abuse” they are monitoring is simply people using the cards within the bounds of the agreement (except the people who do the purchase/return route- fuck them).

They certainly do have a clause stating that.

Good for them. Maybe we can weed out some of the disgusting plebs that make an actual living off the system (chasing cash to pay their rent)

Cuz you know, using these rewards for garish trips first class in airlines with showers, or in competition with another blogger to see who’s cooler is so much more honorable than a single mother paying rent and affording more time with her child as well as to take care of her aged parent and affording trips to fly to visit the child’s father in the US. It might be rare but I’m not the only one. Get off your high horse you arrogant SOB. Using rewards for frivolous desires is not more honorable than using them for basic needs.

I smell a RAT……

If you return something (which you may have a legitimate reason for); just ask for a gift card instead. But in general, I think buying stuff with the intention of returning it later is cheating.

I never used MS, but I have mixed feelings about it.

The idea is they give you these bonuses because you are making the credit card money.

People who try to get around these rules ruin it for the rest of us who play nice.

However, to each his own. I’ve received a lot of free airline tickets because of all these offers, and I’m thankful.. 😀

Exactly. People who game the system are the ones who cry the loudest when the rules are changed. It’s fine if you want to do it but you can’t expect the loopholes to last forever.

MS makes the card companies exactly the same money as organic spend.

But the credit card companies bank on a certain percentage of people not able to hit target spend thus not get reward

So I did get the Amex Platinum on the leaked 100k but met minimum spend completely organically. When they freeze accounts & find that it’s all legitimate, we’ll still get the 100k bonus points right?

how long ago did you meet the spend? did you check your pending points to see if the bonus is there? from the last leak, they still gave the 100k and clawed back the points after investigation.

I just my my spend about a week ago, points still aren’t there…I did meet it organically but am wondering will they still honor the 100k sign up bonus?

they should. i’ve seen at least one DP where the bonus was already posted on their account.

You should be fine. I used the 100k link back in May and met the requirement with down payment for my new car. My points are still lying in my account.

were/are your points frozen?

People were making fake accounts spend I Nguyen the incentive amount then closing the accounts. Fraud! Those who were caught had their accounts closed and the points pulled back.

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