2020 is the year of the rat, but sadly American Express is trying to also make it the year of the RAT.
Amex’s Rewards Abuse Team (RAT) is starting to send out notifications to cardholders that received a statement credit for airline incidentals and subsequently had that payment refunded by the airline.
The email states the following:
We’ve charged your account referenced above for $xxx and we would like to explain why.
You already received a credit from the merchant.
We discovered that, while we issued you a credit under our Airline Fee Credit program, you also received a credit from the merchant for the same charge(s). to correct this error, we have charged your account for the amount identified above to offset the credit(s).
You will see this adjustment on an upcoming statement. There’s nothing further you need to do.
Thank you for your Card Membership.
American Express Customer Care
I suspect that contrary to American Express Customer Care’s wishes, many people won’t be feeling too thankful for their card membership with this development. While there was definitely the potential for gaming with the airline incidental credits, there’s a good chance that a significant number of cardholders will have statement credits clawed back who had no idea they were doing anything untoward in Amex’s eyes and weren’t even looking to have some ineligible airline charges offset by the credits in the first place. These are the $100, $200 and $250 airline incidental credits that come on select Amex cards like the Amex Gold, Platinum and Hilton Aspire cards.
One of the must frustrating features of these Amex clawbacks is that they’ll no doubt refuse to reset the airline incidental credit allowance to allow customers to use it towards “legitimate” charges, meaning customers could be out hundreds of dollars.
It’s not clear yet how far back Amex will be clawing back airline incidental credits that were subsequently refunded by the airline. Even if you’ve closed your credit card, there’s a good chance they’ll claw back ineligible credits and send a bill for that amount like they did with the Dell statement credit benefit on Business Platinum cards. What they’re willing to do for $1 with Dell they’ll no doubt be willing to do with airline incidental credits.