American Express used to be one of the best issuers when it came to credit card bonuses. They had some of the best bonuses around and you were able to get these bonuses over and over. But little by little they have added many restrictions and new terms that make it more difficult to get bonuses. They changed their rules and introduced a once per lifetime restriction on all of their credit cards. Then came the RAT team, or Rewards Abuse Team. They started looking more into the abuse of their Membership Rewards program and other credit card bonuses.
Then the Amex account freeze and claw backs began. First it was for applying through leaked links. Then they added language to prevent bonus gaming, which gives them more options to go after those that go after multiple bonuses and probably make use of gift cards to complete spending requirements. You now need to complete spending requirement through organic spend. Or at least avoid gift cards purchase such as Visa and Mastercard gift cards.
Amex Account Freeze for Referral and Authorized User Bonuses
Now there’s a new reason for Amex account freezes. Apparently Amex has begun freezing Membership rewards accounts when you get referral bonuses or authorized user bonuses. Traveling the World writes that he referred a friend and received 10,000 Membership Rewards points for the referral, hours after the friend was approved. But then, his entire balance of 300K+ Membership Rewards points was frozen. He was told that his account is “under review” and the process could take “6-8 weeks”.
Then a comment at Miles to Memories explains how the account was frozen back around October of 2017 when Amex had an Authorized User bonus. The commenter got the bonus and then account frozen for 8-12 weeks. And this was a month after account had been unfrozen from getting the signup bonus on the same credit card.
What makes an Amex account freeze even worse, is that you do not know that your account is frozen until you attempt to transfer points to travel partners. At least some data points that I’ve seen have been successful in getting accounts unfrozen, but not being able to use your points for 2-3 months through no fault of your own is kind of crazy.
I’ve read a couple of other data points regarding this Amex account freeze issue after referrals or authorized user bonuses. Could the issue be related to the spending pattern of the person you refer or the spending requirement of the authorized user? That would be too crazy, even for Amex, especially for referral bonuses. And why freeze the whole account if there some kind of doubt and they need to review a 10,000 Membership Rewards points bonus?
I have referred many people and received referral bonuses from Amex without any issues in the past. Two referrals were in the last two weeks and my Membership Rewards account seems fine. I tested it by transferring 1,000 points to JetBlue. But that doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist.
Please let me know if you have encountered this issues and how it worked out?