I posted last year about American Express taking some drastic steps against churners. Bonus points were being frozen when some people were trying to transfer them out and they were clawed back. This was affecting those who applied through those leaked app links that pop up from time to time, such as this Amex Platinum offer for 100K MR bonus.
The reason for the clawbacks was obviously manufactured spend, based on data points. So since then I’ve always cautioned people to use organic spend to meet minimum spending requirements when applying for such offers.
Now there’s a new data point from r/churning that shows that even by meeting minimum spend requirement organically, you’re still at risk. The original poster on that thread explains that he applied for the Amex Platinum card over Thanksgiving, through one of those leaked links that pop up for a few days. He stayed away from manufactured spend and received his 100K bonus. But his points were frozen and then clawed back.
However, the twist here is that the 100K bonus from his Platinum card wasn’t clawed back, it was the bonuses for a few other Amex cards instead. Bonuses on the other cards were received through manufactured spending, including lots of purchases at giftcards.com. A total of 175k MR points was clawed back (75k BGR, 50k PRG, 25k Gold, 25k Green) and those cards had even since been closed.
So it looks like these leaked links raise some kind of red flag on your account. Amex might look through your other bonuses and then claw those back, if you bought gift cards. Even if you use your MR points, they will still claw back your points and leave your account with a negative balance.
I applied myself over Thanksgiving and didn’t do any MS on my new Platinum card. I just checked my MR balance and I don’t have any issues, I was able to transfer points. I don’t recall if I manufactured spend on any previous Amex MR cards though.
My advice from now on is to be careful with such links that are not advertised by Amex if you’ve recently MSed any Amex bonuses. Also try to meet all Amex minimum spend requirements through organic spend, so when such offers come around, you won’t have anything to worry about.