Credit Cards

Is American Express Playing Games?

american express 1099s referral bonuses
Written by Dustin

Some recent issues with American Express has me thinking. Let me know your issues with American Express

Over the last year, I have had some family have experiences with American Express that has been a bit questionable. With some other issues that I have read happening to others, is American Express playing games with their customers?

Is American Express Playing Games?

My Business Platinum:

Right before I cancelled my American Express Business Platinum, I had made a booking using my 50% rebate. Since I was planning on cancelling my card, I wanted to verify with American Express that I would receive my 50% rebate. If not, this was going to make my decision a little harder, but American Express said I would receive my 50% rebate.

I booked my flight and American Express had actually made an error, so they had to adjust it. Either way it cost me 112,462 for 2 roundtrip tickets to Athens.

American Express said my rebate would come about 8 to 10 weeks after my booking even if I cancelled my credit card. Since I had it in writing, I felt comfortable to go ahead and cancel my card.

I canceled my American Express Business Platinum on February 3rd. This was right before my annual fee was due to post.

Once I cancelled my card, I actually went to remove the American Express Business Platinum from my American Express page. When I logged in, I noticed my point total had increased.

I checked the Membership Rewards page to see what happened.

Right after I cancelled my card, American Express released my points. I was happy about this, but thought if this was the case, why wouldn’t they just released them before the 8 to 10 week period for everyone?

I moved on from this, until I had a friend reach out for some help on an issue with his Hilton card.

American Express Hilton Surpass (Now Ascend)

When I was looking to apply for the Hilton Surpass, the refer a friend links were 25,000 points per referral. My friend had a link, so I asked him to send 2 links on over. One was for me, the other would be for my wife. He uses my links when I have them, so I like to return the favor.

Weeks had gone by, yet he never received his bonus points. I had recommended he call or message them to get this resolved.

Let’s just say he sent many messages and made plenty of phone calls, but those points never showed in his account.

His most recent interaction, American Express said they sent the points and Hilton said they didn’t show points being deposited. He pretty much gave up on ever receiving his points.

In addition he was done dealing with American Express and decided to cancel his American Express Ascend. The day he cancelled his card, something magical happened.

The points that American Express said they had sent a long time ago, were deposited to his Hilton account. It seems cancelling his card had pushed pending points, or points that were backlogged through to his account.

The largest problem I see here is the fact American Express wanted to give zero help in actually resolving this issue. Hilton had said they never received the points American Express said they sent.

You would think at that moment, to not only correct the issue, but also to have quality customer service (although American Express has clearly been failing here) they would have contacted Hilton to see if the points were received. When they found out the points weren’t received, they should have resent the points to Hilton for him.

There was clearly some underlying issue on why the referral points didn’t post. But, I have no idea what they are. Quite odd the points came from American Express right after closing the card.

Delta Business Gold:

Onto the next issue of points posting correctly and in a timely manner. My Mother-in-Law opened the Delta Business Gold when it had the 60,000 point bonus. She had hit the minimum spend requirement within 2 months and it was all organic spend.

Then she waited for her bonus to post. And waited. And waited. I read many accounts of this happening to others, so she wasn’t alone.

There were many promises on American Express that the issue would be resolved in a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks later, we would check back in just to be told a couple of more weeks.

The promises from American Express became hollow as they never delivered. I continued to push for her points although American Express never delivered.

Finally it reached a point of threatening to file a complaint (although, this probably should have been done sooner) and magically the points appeared into her account.

It look almost 7 months for her to have her bonus deposited to her account. That is absolutely unacceptable by any standards. This went way beyond their normal T&C’s, but they just made it sound par for the course.

What’s the Deal?

In the case of my points being posted sooner than expected, it could be that American Express computer system released them at the time of cancellation.

If this is the case, then American Express seems to be implementing processes where they are further limiting the redemptions you can make, by adding an 8 to 10 week hold period. If the system can release the points when I cancel, then they should be able to release them after I made my booking.

By making someone wait 8 to 10 weeks for their points, it does reduce the points in circulation. Thus reducing the possibility of redemptions.

Not everyone is sitting on high point balances and this means they’d have to wait until those points post in in order to make their next award booking.

I think the larger issue comes to the referral points and bonus points.

American Express has been hard at work making it harder for bonuses and recently even they’ve even frozen accounts for referrals. The referral freezing is a load of garbage.

If the person you are referring decides to MS their bonus, I shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions. If that is the case, please start taking back money from the affiliate bloggers when readers MS their way to a bonus.

It is quite the coincidence that my friends Hilton referral points were released only after he canceled the card. And that my Mother-in-Law’s bonus was released after making threats to push this issue higher.

American Express Playing a Game?

As the issue for customers with American Express grow, it seems like American Express is adding road blocks for people when it comes to their bonus points.

It almost feels that American Express is adding hurdles in hopes that the customer will just give up and move on.

After American Express latest addition to their credit card applications, I am not applying for other cards with them. I would need to see data points of how they handle their bonuses before I would consider that right now.

Their added language makes it, so they no longer need an explanation. They can just say they didn’t think you deserved a bonus.

Add in the fact they have been freezing accounts for referrals and frankly I am not sending my personal referrals out for people.

I am not sure if this is the route American Express wants to take. But it does seem like something is going on with American Express. Not to mention they aren’t really helping their case with vague application language and really poor customer service.


These are just my own personal experiences with American Express, but it seems fishy to me. American Express is holding bonuses, personal referrals, and even potentially reducing your ability to use your points for booking your travel. Maybe I am alone and these instances are just isolated. But if they aren’t then American Express needs to get it together.


In my last weeks article, I was giving away an American Airlines business amenity kit. There actually weren’t any entries, so there isn’t a winner for the amenity kit. Maybe next time, I’ll give-a-way something a little better 🙂

Have you had issues like this with American Express?

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

About the author


After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.


  • I read something a few days back about a blogger who was talking to American Express about something and the big Platinum signup with the 50% rebate came up. The rep said that people were signing up for the card, quickly meeting the spending requirements, getting the signup bonus, charging a ticket for 100,000 points, getting the 50% rebate rapidly, refunding the ticket, getting the 100,000 points back, then cashing out the 150,000 points into a transfer partner for immediate use. Often, this would happen before Amex would even get the annual fee paid, so they lost huge. That would explain a lot on why Amex slowed down miles or points appearing in a new account, although several months seems just nuts.

    • Hey Christian,

      That is pretty crazy and frankly I never would have thought about doing that. It would seem better if Amex punished those people rather than all of us. In doing so, Amex benefits by reducing the number of awards for people.

      Guess it’s a win win for them.

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!

  • I’m currently waiting for my SPG signup bonus that I should have earned in January. Was told yesterday via online chat after months of “investigation” that it was being “prioritized” and I should have them within a week or 2. Funny thing is I got the same “week or 2” message the past 2 times I asked for a status. I will have to escalate if not received.

    On a positive note, I did receive my 25,000 referral points for the Hilton ascend card before my friend even received his card in the mail.

    • Hey Dan,

      Definitely push that higher. I think it is really bad on Amex to hold points for that long of a time period.

      Glad to hear you got your referral points! Those are always great!

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!

  • I was actually going to write about this in the next day or so. I have an Aspire card that I have earned 80K in referrals. They have posted on my Feb and Mar statements but never hit my Hilton account. Amex has been completely worthless about it too. Very frustrating

    • Hey Mark!

      Seems absolutely nuts to me that Amex is clearly dropping the ball on this one. Terrible customer service! Hopefully you get your points soon!

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!

  • I had 20,000 referral points on my Hilton Ascend card back in February that posted to my Amex statement but never made it to my Hilton account. I spent an unbelievable amount of time chasing those 20,000 points. Over a period of 2 months, I spoke to countless numbers of reps and supervisors. Finally, after threatening to close my account, I ended up talking to a supervisor who gave me the points. Dealing with Amex is like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

    • Hey James,

      Really sad it even reached the point to cancel your card. I agree though, sometimes you get good chocolate and other times not so much!

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!

  • Like Dan, I am having the same issue with SPG signup bonus points. I’ve called, online chats, Tweeted, numerous times, spoke with supervisors, etc., and still nothing. I’m really at a loss and disappointed in the egregious lack of customer service. I get told the long explanation each time about the glitch, but I really don’t care. Just give me my points.
    Really at a loss with AMEX.

    • Hey Ray,

      That really sucks! I’d keep pushing that issue higher and higher. If they can’t get it, you could file and CFPB complaint. I am sure that will get their attention and hopefully correct the issue.

      Thanks for reading! I appreciate it!