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Sunday Reader Question: What to Do When Amex Does Not Honor Sign-up Bonus

by on February 3, 2013 · 23 comments

in American Express, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

TPG reader Yuki asks:

“I applied for the AMEX Platinum Card in October 2012, got approved and received the card in less than 24 hours.  I spent the required $2,000 in three months but have not received the 25K bonus points.  I contacted them a couple of times on the phone and received this elusive ‘you are not eligible because the offer is not in your account’ reply.  I faxed and e-mailed a letter, asking them to reconsider.  I haven’t heard back from them so far.  Do you know if this is happening to more people?  I’m very frustrated.  Do you have any suggestions on what to do, other than, maybe to cancel the card and reapply later?”

Up until 2011 American Express didn’t have great controls on who was eligible for targeted offers and who wasn’t. So basically, if you ever heard of a better offer than what you signed up for, you could call or send a secure message and 99 times out of 100 Amex would grant you the better offer as long as they could see the bonus code in their system. However, after a couple incidents of targeted bonus codes going viral and thousands of people bombarding their call centers for more points, they really began cracking down – to the point where people like yourself are getting denied bonuses they rightly deserve.

25,000 points is the current standard sign-up bonus for the Amex Platinum, so they shouldn’t be denying you. What I’d recommend is tweeting @askamex and asking them to look into your situation. My experience, and that of many others, is that their social media team works quickly to resolve problems that otherwise might get backlogged using their normal customer service channels.

Be as succinct as possible when describing your situation: You signed up for the 25,000 point sign-up bonus, you completed the requirement and you are unhappy to be told that you don’t qualify for whatever reason. You can even direct American Express to their public 25,000 offer, which has been around for well over a year. Hopefully the social media team will do the right thing and credit your account with the points.

If not, I’d recommend escalating your concern to a supervisor, who will likely be based in the US and will be more empowered to help your cause. It’s a shame you have to jump through all of these hoops, but those 25,000 points are worth  approximately $450 to me, so don’t give up!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Jons1133

    How long does it take for bonus points to be awarded after meeting the required spend? Any issues with borrowing MR points? Thanks.

  • Mrcandoit

    When I got a plat. card 2 years ago, it was under the premise that I would receive 25k points after a minimum spend and then 6 weeks later, 75k bonus points. I got the 25k but didn’t get the 75k bonus. I wrote them twice via the message tool on my account (including the offer number which at sign up time was legit but then when I wrote/called, was over) to no avail. I called and was denied. I then asked for a supervisor who also denied. All the while I was patient, calm and positive. I finally went online and looked up who was the VP for Customer Service and sent him via registered snail mail a courteous and extremely detailed letter explaining what process I used in talking with customer service and how I planned to use the points (on a honeymoon trip to the Seychelles). About a week later I got a return letter saying that the points had been credited and voila, when I checked my account, they were. I would advise you to be meticulous in documenting your actions (date/time calling or writing), be unfailingly polite the entire way, and work your way up the chain if necessary. Those points equal real money so if they matter to you, be patient and persistent.

  • MK

    Good luck. Amex initially refused to honor the 75k offer for a biz gold card. After several months of work including a secure message, a call to a supervisor, a letter to the AMEX CEO and a complaint to the consumer financial protection bureau, they still wouldn’t budge.. Thankfully, I have an attorney in the family who sent a nasty gram to the AMEX legal chief. That finally did the trick and we just recently heard from AMEX that they’d honor the bonus. They still think they were right and we were not eligible. I don’t really care now that the points have posted. But, I do wish it would not have been such a hassle.

  • Andrea Hill

    I had this problem with the Citibank AAdvantage card. Was told I didn’t meet certain requirements, although I’d documented other requirements. After getting denied via secure message I just called to cancel the card. I explained why, and a customer retention specialist offered me a statement credit and ongoing bonus points based on spend for the next 18 months. It wasn’t what I originally signed up for, but its something.
    Sadly, this was the one card in my churn I hadn’t screen capped the offer for :-(

  • austinpop

    I’m in this situation now. I signed up for the 50k platinum bonus. I missed the fine print that said I couldn’t have had another amex green or gold card for 90 days prior. So when the points didn’t show up, and I inquired, they denied me. In hindsight, I suppose the proper procedure would have been to cancel my Gold PRG card, wait 90 days and then apply for the Plat. At this point, is it even worthwhile to plead my case with Amex?

  • tivoboy

    I sure hope that 100K bonus I signed up for in January comes through. I’ve spent the required 3K at this point, not points yet.

  • Stratos

    i am monitoring the same thing for the Delta AMEX my mom got on the 70k bonus, which was supposed to be 25k at first transaction, and 45k with 5k spend. however she has gotten 30k miles, which seems to be the standard Delta offer. anyone else had this happen, and if so how did you get it resolved?

  • Scott

    I have just tweeted @AskAMEX about my missing 100K bonus. How will they know who I am? Will their response contain a link to a secure website?

  • LarryInNYC

    Last year, when I signed up for one of the periodic Business Gold 75K offers, there was a lot of chatter going on about denied bonuses. So, the first thing I did on receipt of the card, before I made it part of my regular spending portfolio was to secure-mail AMEX just to confirm that my card was correctly registered under the 75K offer. I got a confirmation back the next day, completed my minimum spend, and received the bonus.

    I have no reason to believe that I would have had any trouble but I was happy to have the additional pre-confirmation in my account’s history just in case.

  • D.W.

    This happened to me last year when I got my Platinum card…6 months went by after completing the minimum spend, no bonus. I called Amex several times to inquire. They had informed me that the offer was not valid because I followed the link (from this website) to the application page and somehow the promotional code was not registered with my application. I went waaaaay beyond the minimum spend and yet they were completely inflexible about this. This year I received the Business Gold Amex with the 75,000 bonus point promotion. I called Amex and applied over the phone and had them verbally confirm 3 times that I was correctly registered for the promotion…I also recorded the phone call. Then I took screen shots of the promotion online and after receiving the card and activating it, I called back to re-re-re confirm that I was registered and left it at that. Its shameful that Amex is so stingy about honoring rightly-earned advertised bonus promotions and thus has to waste your time for something that should truly be their job to do. However, if you apply for another Amex (or really any card), I would recommend fully documenting the promotion, the application process, and confirmation post-activation. If after that they refuse credit you the bonus, tweet/post all that evidence, and by some miracle they will find a way to resolve your situation in a matter of days.

  • David

    This happened to me recently with the Amex Premiere Rewards Gold card. They fought me on a paltry 10,000 point sign-up bonus, which was offered to me over the telephone by their agent. Because it was an oral offer, I had no written proof and asked them to pull the recorded tapes of our conversation. They never did so an instead responded that they investigated my claim and denied my request. WTF.

    Eventually, I got one of those generic Amex email surveys asking me to rate my experience using their support system — and I realized this was a perfect opportunity to sound off. Boy, did I go off on them in the survey. One of the questions on the survey was also whether you wanted someone to contact you, and I said yes.

    Eventually, someone from corporate called me, and I explained to them how Amex made me an offer (which I satisifed), and how Amex basically called me a liar when I asked them to deposit my points. Needless to say, they ended up giving me my points.

  • Guest

    this is why AMEX is losing so much business. i have always gotten each bonus, but i have had to document and re-document- and of course they deny even when shown screen shots, undeniable proof etc. it is well known that call-center reps are told to deny the bonus even if you have proof, to save AMEX money- hoping you will not pursue. i have dogged them each time for my bonuses- but you have to ask yourself- is this worth it when chase always fairly gives your bonus- no shenanigans. i have to say i am now in the camp of ‘amex has horrible customer service’ because of this. yes i still use their products, but will choose chase over them any day and spend only 25% as much with them as i used to, i really don’t think amex realizes how much damage they have done to their brand. too much hassle!

  • Audreyu8

    My husband had the same experience with the Starwood 25k bonus sign up last year. The first 10k points was awarded with no problem but it was the 15k points that was the problem. We ended calling and calling and faxing info over but the supervisor kept on saying that we were not eligible. I was so furious and that was the first time I learned a hard lesson – document everything!!! We also took screen shots of secure-mail that confirmed we were eligible before we made any spending.
    I have had 2 more slight hiccups (ie. denial from amex that we were not “eligible”) with Amex Plat 50k sign up for me and my husband but because I had proof this time, we received the total 100k within a couple of weeks.

  • The06901

    @thepointsguy What makes you value your AMEX MR points at roughly 1.8 cents per point? I would love to get that much value from my MR points!

  • thepointsguy

    I always transfer them at 30-50% bonuses to partners like British airways and virgin Atlantic (and then transfer to Hilton 1:2).. Not hard to get that much value when booking biz/first or even short haul coach awards and booking nights at expensive Hiltons!

  • SKJ

    Has anyone who got the January Amex Platinum offer for 100K points bonus received the bonus despite having a gold rewards card? I pdf’d the acceptance notice and the page retrieved on the superscript notes about the bonus conditions (that when clicked went to nothing but likely were supposed to have had the notation that you don’t get points if you already had cards). I plan to use those docs if my points don’t show up on their own — but I was wondering if anyone else had been successful yet (eg getting the points even if already having a gold card – there was a lot of chatter on here about people expecting to be able to do it)

  • evodad

    this happened to me when I signed up for the 25K spg point bonus. It took a couple calls, but they did eventually give it to me.

  • BrandonTX

    File a complaint with the FTC or BBB. There was a large CFPB settle against Amex and the easiest/quickest way to get them to do as they promise is to complain to the government. There are several laws which protect us as consumers i.e. Unfair Deceptive Acts protection, False Advertising or Bait and Switch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nsaito Naoyuki Saito

    Still haven’t gotten my 25,000 MR points. I escalated the complaint to http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ and also tweeted to to them letting AMEX know that I did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nsaito Naoyuki Saito

    Now it appears AskAmex is ignoring me.

  • tivoboy

    My 100K points from the latest platinum promo hit about two weeks ago! yeah!

  • Tony Eljallad

    I am so pissed! I signed up for the card recently the $2000.00 25k Bonus and they are telling I did not sign up for the bonus, I clearly signed up for it I would not open the card without the bonus ! Im going to utilize their tweet account now!

  • James

    I called to confirm the sign up bonus after applying, and the representative confirmed my account was eligible. Curious why I wasn’t seeing points after completing the requirements, I called. Amex stated the representative must have been wrong, and my account had never been eligible at all!

    Customer service continued to “elevate the case” with zero resolution. Recorded phone calls proving what I stated “could not be retrieved.”

    I am terminating my relationship with AMEX. I do not do business with companies that lie to me. I will be filing BBB/CFPB/FTC complaints against American Express.

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