Uh-oh. Amex is clawing back some airline incidental credits

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.

Amex Airline Incidentals Credit Clawback

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.

h/t Doctor of Credit and US Credit Card Guide

About Stephen Pepper

Stephen Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with his wife Shae and their dog Truffles. Finding opportunities to earn miles and points is one of the ways they can afford to do this, so he'll try to help you do the same for your own travels.

More articles by Stephen Pepper »

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Brian
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Brian

Didn’t even know such thing would be possible. Obviously if you get refunded for one charge you would need to make another charge to make up for it.

David
Guest
David

How would you handle a similar situation for a 2020 credit received on a refunded airline charge? I assume it is only a matter of time before they claw back 2020 cases too. I’d rather it happen this year so I can lobby AMEX to restore the credit and hopefully still use it in 2020. Doesn’t help me to have it clawed back in 2021 and not have a window to use the credit. Would you go as far as bringing the situation to their attention now?

david
Guest
david

Lmao remember when Gary Leff was telling people to do this

Smithy
Guest
Smithy

Of course, must have been a slow day for Gary’s usual boobs on a plane trash news for Gary

Daddy
Guest
Daddy

Maybe don’t game the system, people play with fire like everyone getting their AA accounts shut down (thank go more award seats for us who get miles in a legitimate way). So lets see her you pay a fee get reimbursed with the fee credit and then cancel it so you double dip, that is wrong and I’m glad AMEX is doing something about it.

Chris
Guest
Chris

Maybe don’t punish your customers for your screw-ups.

Rdover1
Guest
Rdover1

My assumption is that this will only affect the situations where the refund was back to the card, as this is clearly an oops by Amex. If the refund was to a credit kept with the airline, not so much.

dan
Guest
dan

amex will likely see cancellation / downgrade of many high-fee cards going forward

Jake
Guest
Jake

I doubt this will have any impact on that

AJ D
Guest
AJ D

I plan on canceling 4 different high ANNUAL FEE cards in my own wallet plus not apply for another 2 I had planned to and will be downgrading another one… so yeah I’m sure this will have an impact…I do plan to help every service member get SCRA benefits to get these for free and take AMEX for all they can…

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I’m doing that too got the United no fee(Thanks Steve) ,BMO no fee ,Green $150 . Bonus points + like 7 lounge passes total . Then dump all but United .
CHEERs

dan
Guest
dan

lol, what’s ur logic that this will not have any impact?

S I
Guest
S I

That seems to be the idea. They don’t want to do business with a bunch of moochers. Can’t blame them.

Creditian
Guest
Creditian

Cards with air credits are all premium cards. Amex is doing something against being premium customers, especially it’s unlike signup bonus abuse.

S I
Guest
S I

It is abuse. If they get rid of non premium customers on the premium cards, that makes their business more valuable. Kudos to amex for doing this.
A truly premium customer wouldn’t care about a few dollars being clawed back when they got a legitimate refund from the airline already.

Nun
Guest
Nun

They can definitely lose premium customers who care about time and hassle, even if they don’t care about a few bucks. It’s much easier to use these credits on Chase, US Bank, CNB and Citi. They also don’t even make you select an airline in January. Did Amex get that crazy idea from studying cell phone contracts?

Jm29d
Guest
Jm29d

“premium” cards with dining credits that you would use for delivery and fast food restaurants, and travel credits for economy class… that sounds funny

Creditian
Guest
Creditian

Well, AmEx should deploy those credits on FHR, makes more sense.

S I
Guest
S I

Don’t see why this is a problem. American express is just getting rid of the thieves and shop lifters.
Travel bloggers will be telling people not to steal toothpaste at Walmart next.

S I
Guest
S I

Stephen, your article says ” customers could be out hundreds of dollars.”
The only ones out that kind of money are intentional shop lifters.

If you go shop lift a tube of toothpaste at Walmart you will get the cops called on you, so stupid petiole better be careful out there.

Amex is doing the right thing here. They ought to go a step further and shut down repeat offenders.
It is sad that in today’s world very few people have any ethics or morality.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

SI
As in NONE Today HaHa ..

UB40
Guest
UB40

S I, can you see if you can get out of Amex’s as* possibly?

S I
Guest
S I

They financial review me every so often because I use their rewards to the Max. And then restore all my cards. I like companies that fire bad customers.

Charles
Guest
Charles

What’s being reversed might be something like award booking fees that a Diamond/Plat cancels the trip on legitimately. Or it might be flights cancelled within 24 hours, which could be legitimate but might also be abused.

LarryInNYC
Guest
LarryInNYC

It would absolutely behoove them to ensure that the available credit is correctly restored when one is revoked. A large number (maybe not the majority — no real way to know) of people who will get caught up in this probably had a genuine cancellation and, while they’re not entitled to the credit for the canceled incidental they should get it when they re-book the flight / incidental later on.

H XU
Guest
H XU

Ok I am going to be next dp, which was booked last year end

I used amex to pay for e+ of a reward ticket, but I had to involuntarily change to another route which there is no e+ to purchase as non ua metal

The refund showed up today

Let’s wait and see

Brands
Guest
Brands

My question is why does Amex make the airline credit so restrictive in the first place? Someone with a premium card is likely to choose the airline they fly the most, and most people will already have some sort of status with the airline, in which case they will likely have no need to pay any sort of fees. Amex is a shady business, and I have scaled back most of my spending with them because of it. Almost all of my spending is now within the Chase ecosystem.

USB
Guest
USB

Their goal is to NOT award these travel credits OR make it as difficult as as possible. Look at other banks and how they do this ..

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Correct my first AMEX card 12 years ago I Deep-Sixed it to hard to use..
CHEERs

Raghu Narayanan
Guest
Raghu Narayanan

Is this only for closed accounts or for new accounts as well?

dan
Guest
dan

will likely get a bill in the mail even on closed accts

John
Guest
John

Bottom line – if someone games the system they should be called out on it. IMO Amex customer service >>>> chase. Have had some issues where I have called or messaged and it got resolved right away. I even had a disputed charge that involved my daughter ( long story ) that was not found in my favor. I called , explained my situation and they ate the difference and refunded me the money after a 5 minute phone call. They have always gone above and beyond for me. I have the reserve as well and when I have called them they aren’t as responsive and courteous as AMEX.

JJJ
Guest
JJJ

I called Amex about a 2020 incidental credit for a charge that was already refunded by the carrier. They told me there is no way to reverse the incidental credit received and not to worry about it and that I can keep the credit.