5X dangers and headaches


A couple of weeks ago, at Frequent Traveler University, I showed multiple ways of earning 5 points per dollar for all credit card spend.  Soon, I’ll post an outline of these techniques, but first I find it necessary to warn you of some dangers and headaches these techniques offer…

American Express Financial Review

I don’t have first hand experience with this, but I know a couple of people who have recently had their American Express credit card accounts frozen.  They had been selected by American Express for Financial Reviews.  In each case, these individuals had spent large amounts of money at drug stores in order to buy reload cards.  They had paid with their American Express Hilton cards which earn 6 points per dollar at drug stores.  As part of the Financial Review, American Express asks customers to fill out IRS form 4506-T so that Amex can examine the individual’s federal taxes.  Presumably American Express does this in order to determine whether the individual can really afford as much as they have been spending.  Often, people get through the Financial Review unscathed and with their accounts restored.  Sometimes it doesn’t work out as well and the individual’s American Express credit card accounts are closed altogether.  American Express prepaid accounts are unaffected.

I don’t know what level of spend is likely to trigger a Financial Review.  It probably depends somewhat on your historical spend patterns with American Express.  It may also have something to do with your overall credit line: if you regularly spend right up to your limit, that could look suspicious.  Or, if you pay off your account multiple times per month, that can look suspicious as well.

Chase Account Closure

There have been incidents in the past in which Chase has abruptly, and without warning, closed accounts where they suspected customers of “perk abuse”.  This is where people use credit card benefits in a way that Chase determines is “not as intended.”  One example is where a guy bought thousands of 1 cent e-gift cards in order to earn 10 points per transaction thanks to his Chase Freedom card / Chase checking account combination.  Chase wisely shut him down.  For more details, please see my post “Why Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself).”

So far, I haven’t heard of any confirmed cases in which Chase has shut down Ink cardholders for abusing the 5X perk, but it could happen at any time.  No one knows what levels of 5X spending are safe.

Prepaid Account Closure

Many of the 5X Everywhere techniques rely on prepaid products of one type or another.  If you regularly load and unload large amounts of money to and from these accounts, you run the risk of having your account abruptly closed.  This has happened to many people with the NetSpend card (see “We’re sorry, there is a problem with your account“).  I haven’t yet heard of American Express doing this to anyone, but its always a possibility.  The worst part of having your account shut down is that the issuing bank may not be quick to send you your balance.  I know people who have waited about two months for their NetSpend checks, for example.  On the other hand, when this happens, there is no impact on your credit report so unless you have a lot of money tied up, it’s really not a big deal.

Prepaid Headaches

There are lots of little potential “gotchas” with prepaid products.  Here are a few:

  • Reload cards not working.  Many people have reported having trouble loading a Vanilla Reload card onto their new Amex prepaid card.  Sometimes these problems are resolved by simply waiting 24 hours and trying again.  Other times people have had to get everyone involved from Incomm (the company behind Vanilla Reload cards), to American Express, to the merchant they bought the cards from.  This has never happened to me, but it sure sounds like a huge hassle!
  • Fraudulent charges.  A reader told me about a situation in which he reported to American Express a large fraudulent charge that had appeared on his Bluebird account. American Express put the amount on an 8 day hold while they investigated.  That meant that this individual could not get to these funds (his funds!) for 8 days.
  • Fees.  I love the American Express prepaid products since they are almost fee-free, but most other prepaid cards charge fees for just about everything.  The MyVanilla Visa card, for example, charges 50 cents for each credit or debit transaction, and $1.95 for each ATM withdrawal.  The first time I tried to use my MyVanilla card at an ATM, the request was declined and I was charged a 75 cent ATM Withdrawal Decline fee.  When I called to ask why, I was told that there is a $400 limit per day for ATM withdrawals and since I had tried to withdraw $400, the ATM fee put me over $400.  Therefore, the request was declined and I was charged a decline fee.  Nice.
  • Limits. Each prepaid product has different limits regarding how much can be loaded, spent, or withdrawn each day or month.  These limits aren’t the end of the world, but they can make prepaid products a pain to use day to day.
  • Tracking expenses.  If you like to track credit card expenses through services like Mint.com, you might find yourself out of luck.  With most prepaid products its necessary to log into their own proprietary web site in order to view and track expenses.


Is it worth it?

The rewards in earning 5X Everywhere can be huge, but each person needs to decide for themselves whether the rewards are worth the dangers and headaches.  I do practice these techniques, but in moderation.  Due to recent news about Amex Financial Reviews, I plan to be even more cautious with my Amex credit cards.  How about you?  Has this post changed the way you think about “5X Everywhere”?

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Jacob: I’ve bought as much as $4500 at a time, but it really depends on each person’s situation as to how much is too much. Note that Office Depot no longer sells $500 Visa or Amex gift cards, so now the best available ones are $200 with a $6.95 fee. It’s not nearly as good of a deal as before.


Hey there!

How much in gift cards have you bought at one time at an office supply store?

I’m having eye surgery on Monday and they said they would accept multiple gift cards as payment as long as they work like credit or debit cards (score!), but I also don’t want to push the envelope with chase. I met the spend awhile ago and use the card for other things. The most I’ve bought in gift cards at one time was 2 $500 vanilla visas. Will 4 or 5 cards bring Chase knocking?


marathon man

Nick you are 100% right!


Paul: That’s a great question, but unfortunately, no one here knows the answer to that.


I’ve seen on previous posts that you should limit how much you spend at Office Depot on an Ink Bold card (like never more than 4K a month). Any idea if that would be per card or person? So if I had Ink Bold and Ink Bold Plus should spending 3K a month on both be OK?


MM: “Gaming the system” = “getting more miles/cashback/points/etc than the bank/hotel/airline/etc wants you to, often through very clever methods”. Who determines this? Whichever blogger happens to be spouting off at any given moment.

“too much” = “enough to trigger an FR”.


marathon man

I need someone to define “gaming the system” for me. WTF does that REALLY mean? Explain in detail, please, what it means to be a person who ‘games the system’ and who determines this and exactly how they do so?!
And on that note, what is “Too Much?” How is that defined, and by whom? Unless there’s a shortage like in a war where we all need to be rationed, or a company sets a pre noted limit, I am paying X for Y so the only TOO MUCH should be what I can afford or not.

Why banks don’t stop you from getting 5% on everything! Also: how to avoid baggage fees!…

BASICALLY, THEY DON’T WANT TO: The big thing among the gaming-the-system crowd the past several months has been reloadable prepaid gift cards–Vanilla reloads, Paypower, Netspend, etc. It seems that everybody has been writing about this topi…

marathon man

lol nah, I would mistakenly out deals or piss off more people than I probably do already.
On another note… FYI I was not FRd yet. Some people close to me have been though and it stinks–especially the waiting and not knowing if the income thing will work out as related to reasons I have given above.


Clearly, Marathon Man needs to start his own blog, lol.


I can’t be bothered with these reload cards. Too many problems. I’m spending my time buying GC and merchandise with the Amex sync and other offers. I’ve made hundreds of dollars of that stuff, and it’s less complicated and there are no feds running after me and I don’t have to worry about my cards being locked.

I have bought the occasional VR and that’s fine, but to focus on these seems to be too much work for me. Whatever floats your boat, i suppose.

marathon man

Another thing I have heard Amex is telling its soon to be former customers is: Well we feel your income does not match and so you should never have gotten our card to begin with! Then again what I find faulty in this are these things:
1) what if your income changes up or down. Are we supposed to always somehow notify Amex of these things? If I got a card say in 2004 and made $50k a year, should I call them to tell them I make $80k now? Or if I lose my job, should I tell them I make less now? What I get a new one next week that makes $80k now but with a different company than the one I had listed on my appp or in a different job title? Should I tell them this too? When and how? And why?
2) What is INCOME? On the FR we now know it is based on say the 2011 tax return. But where in the application do they state this as being the only way to determine income? What if your dead father left you a million dollars and you just put it under the mattress? Is this not a form of money used to live on? I think the FRists should tell the app-ists to detail more on what they need when you apply. Either that, or they should ALLOW this info when you get FRd. Why do they LET you apply saying you pull in $x a year but when you get FRd they only accept some part of this as valid data for their inquiry? Truly Cardinal-like, if you ax me.

marathon man

And lastly, there’s the matter of what some companies call ‘intent’… Yeah, Amex, like most companies will even tell some FRd people that the reason they dont like GC buying is because we are not using the card as intended, or using the GC as intended (again they have no proof but they can guess and that guess is good enough for THEM). They will claim that due to our abuse of intended use, they feel they should shut us down. So what truly really honestly sickens me the most is that I bet someone could probably go out and buy say 20 assault rifles with their Amex and have no problem with the purchases of them–you know, to get the points and all–but that person cant get Vanilla GCs without triggering the FR and some abuse of intent. Oh I know this is a sore subject (I have little kids myself so I can’t even get it all out of my head and it’s got me all depressed) and while the tragedy of CT and the loss of one’s CC use are by no means related, I am sure some here can see my point: Amex has targeted what we buy and it’s currently worse to buy GCs than anything else on the market and that just makes no sense to me and I am frustrated by it to the point of being mad.

marathon man

It doesn’t matter if you pay off your cards in full, quickly, or over time. In fact paying them quickly makes it look even worse, it seems. One would think the reverse, but if you pay them too quickly they can almost surely assume it came from churned and cashed out GC money, not from your own savings, even if it WAS from your own savings! And they tend to know what you bought and want to know why. I know I have bought many Visa and MC GCs because I need to pay bills that do not take Amex. My basement costs a ton of money to work on and some contractors will not accept the high fee Amex so I can actually give them $500 Visa GCs all day long. I can still earn points by buying these on my Amex cards though, but oh this is a no-no these days. My dentist doesn’t take Amex either but does anyone here know that a crown costs $1200 if you have no insurance for it? What if you find you need 8 crowns but just happen to have the money saved up to get them done? Why not buy GCs and use those? Well Amex may think you are up to something even if that’s the whole point. Again, it comes down to them deciding they just don’t want to give you points. In the wake of all this witch hunting lately, I personally have already moved my MR points on the latest 30% BA transfer deal. Lately, I don’t trust Amex at all to bank ’em for me in the least!

marathon man

I have been studying the FR thing for some time now and have seriously toned down all sorts of activity because of my fears of it. I cant really get new Citi HH Ccs because I maxed out my inquiries on that so buying with my HH Amex has been a mainstay for some time now. But the FR and other stuff like it has me up in arms…
Somehow somewhere any one of the entities involved in any scheme we do wants to not just stop us but also fk us for even daring to play these games. What they should do is to have better designed their service so it can’t be what they would consider “gamed” anyway, but since they don’t know how to or don’t think they need to spend resources to do this, instead they are bent on doing us in AFTER we commit a perceived crime in their minds. All they can do is to nail us if they perceive us as being the bad guy later. They think we are bad for doing exactly what their own cards allow us to do.
In the case of Amex they may let some HH super users survive the FR if their income was high enough but others become the example. I know many people here may be sick of being that example and some have had stuff like this happen too many times this year alone (Chase closures, points not posting, etc). It seems lately, either a promo fails, the store screws you, the cc screws you or you gotta sue somebody to try and get results but wait a long time for them to come or not. In the end that ‘free ticket’ cost can be a really huge headache and a lot of loss. It seems this time around, it’s not OD who is stopping the vanillas (or in this case CVS) and it’s not incomm who makes them, rather it is Amex.
I would bet that in Amex’s defense, if their way of determining ‘girth’ is by getting someone to reveal their 2011 income, then they need to feel a person has the propensity to pay a bill back when due. If they feel he cannot pay it back based on their terms, they can invent reason to close the person off. They can claim that someone like that could buy tons of gcs, cash ‘em or sell ‘em, take the money and file chapter 11. Amex would seriously lose out in that case, and the person would win huge. This is their out. In this model, I’m sure that they’ve gotten sick of people buying gift cards and just redeeming them and are starting to crack down. As well, they clearly have people on FT watching what’s going on—and reading these blogs as well! They go by patterns and risk, and any one of us could intentionally or unintentionally tip the scales in favor of justifying that notion.
In the case of Chase, they tended to NOT care as much—or at least until someone tried to give their points to someone else, god forbid. But for Amex, it is different. To me it is as if Amex must have had a more pressing financial crisis-related reason to crack down more and maybe it goes something like this:
(1) government had to bail out some big banks.
(2) Government also tossed in the security patriot terrorism laundering drug thing.
(3) we were among those affected.
(4) we need to trim the tree a bit.
(5) it is easier to fight a million little customers and appear to cut the fat that way than it would be to go up against the government or spend big bucks on big lawyers. A million people cannot effectively ban together to stop Amex, really. Not for this type of thing.
(6) we will go after our customers.
(7) after all the govt or something is after us.
(8) so we figure out who these may be by looking at this gig with big GC spends and FR a gazillion people.
(9) if they fit ok with our requirements (last years tax, or not too much big spend unless their taxes show they made a lot of money) we let them live.
(10) if not, they die, we look good for ousting who could be the problem and all is well. If someone happens to have a decent income and they did a lot of GC buying, then that may be ok, but we will get swaths of people we need to out anyway, just to fulfill some quota and look good to those watching over us!
(11) NEXT!
They are just playing a similar game to the one we are playing. A chur of sorts, but on a more massive scale.
The sad thing about the FR is this: Up until someone was FRd, their income was never a question, just like yours has yet to be –until it happens to you.
Of course many here will argue that something like 2011 income shouldn’t even BE the determining factor. After all a person who made, say $50k last year COULD lose his or her job tomorrow and then they have NO income and no way to pay back CC bills anyway. But a person who put $200k into the bank to survive the next four years doesn’t get by in Amex’s current standards, because this FR thing is based on income not assets or supposed savings. Not so fair. And maybe Amex thinks that $200k is churned money anyway, coming from their own CCs and use of credit limits to buy and cash out GCs. They will tell you they have no way to verify that the $200k you claim to have in your bank is even all yours. Was it obtained by other launderings? Etc etc. All bull.
With all this said, my summation of this is that they just plain don’t wanna give the HHilton points. That’s the true reason all this is taking place in the wake of many people having found a great way to get them on the cheap, and their ‘out’ is to invoke the FR to everybody lately. What a great way for Amex to save their company money, eh?


I get the impression that most FR are for obvious abuse from people who have income levels that are highly unlikely to support the “spend” that suddenly appears on their new reward cards. I suspect that lots of spend at specific stores (like CVS or OD) has little or nothing to do with getting FR – but everything to do with big spend vs little income vs historic spending levels. Even the most rudimentary fraud algorithm would pick that up in a nanosecond – as such, is there any surprise people get a FR under such circumstances? To me, the surprise isn’t that some get FR, but that more don’t…

If you have $5K credit limits on your cards and you are putting $5K on a new card in a matter of weeks, all sorts of alarm bells start ringing. If you have $20K CL and you spend $5K , I doubt anyone will raise an eyebrow, even if 100% at OD or CVS.


Grant: The problem with calling them to tell them your GC story is that one hand doesnt talk to the other. FR doesnt talk to the front line CS so any coding is virtually meaningless. Its always best to have a seasoned CC and have your income match what you stated so that if a FR takes place its only a pain not an acct destroyer.


@FM, I had a FR and there was a problem with my biz cards so I closed both over the phone. This morning when I log into my account, there are no warnings or problems, all personal cards look good. I call my FR advisor but she doesn’t work Mondays so I will call in the morning. I wanted to know if I still had to fax my 4506T form or if the problem was resolved.
If you got the Amex Hilton for VR at CVS, just be careful. I spent $503.95 once/twice a week to reach $3,000 min spend within 3 weeks and I think that was an alarm for them. I think if you called and told them you were buying lots of gift cards (especially around Christmas) they would be fine with it.



i had fantastic relationship with them with simply cash card since early 2007. i also had amex prg and biz card,

in october 2012 i think, i got the 2 spg cards cos it has good bonus deal, i just bought 1500 worth of furniture and another 500 the next 2 days at a store, they called and i replied and i even paid them few days later beofre they suspended my account. i told them i have been with you guys for years but they didnt care so rather than them closing for me, i called and closed all amex cards voluntarily.


I have bought over 150K of vanillas so far in 6 months span and no problems so far…no shutdowns or review. I have every prepaid and credit card you can think of. I do spread the love to all my cards though.


AMEX is getting “strange” recently. 10 days before the 2012 Small Business Sat, I added my wife as the additional card holder for my 2 AMEX cards (one personal & one Bus) — through AMEX webiste.

I got financial review call too for adding my wife as the additional card holder. AMEX wants so much info. which I just decided to close Both AMEX accounts.

Ozaer N.

For every headache, theres a cure! hehee…..only worth it if you can manage it all..if not, then its not for you. thanks for the post…very good posting.


I have Citi Amex AAdvantage. If I spend a lot at drugstore to meet my minimum, will I get a FR on this card? I really dont know this card is for Citi or American express. It has amex logo, does it mean it is for american expess?


Just wanted to respond to the posts above claiming that spending $500 or $100 or more at a “drug store” is out of the ordinary. While I’m sure there is some threshold beyond which it would certainly appear that something funny was going on, keep in mind the following:
1. Many people routinely spend some serious money on prescription meds. A $500 out-of-pocket expense is by no means unusual (thank your lucky stars or whatever deity you prefer, if you have no experience with such things; those with serious long-term health problems and/or crappy insurance know better).
2. CVS, Walgreens, etc. sell all kinds of things – take a look around next time you’re in one. They sell everything – DVD players, TVs, barbecues, all sorts of junk. Most of us think of them mostly as a pharmacy (and the source of prepaid cards) but they’re really kind of mini-WalMarts or super 7-11’s. There are other things in there besides drugs, chips and Coke.

Yes, you need to exercise some self control or you will call attention to yourself and suffer the consequences. Nobody can tell you what “too much” is because there are too many variables (your credit rating, your spending patterns, your record with the credit card issuer, etc., etc.).

Unfortunately, the only way to know where the “line” is, is after you’ve crossed it and you get smacked down. That makes it tricky!

Me, I buy one reload/prepaid card at a time. I spread my reload/prepaid card purchases across a half-dozen credit cards, issued by different institutions. Slow and below the radar is the way to fly.

The Kaptain

I went through an Amex FR. I got through fine since my stated income was accurate.

If you get a FR and the income does not match what you declared, all your cards are closed and new applications will be blocked.

Some people have had success getting cards again, but the people I have spoken too have had to wait multiple years and had to submit additional tax forms after applying for a card.

I can imagine that any especially unusual spend could cause a ban even if income matches…


@Sergey – I requested an 4k increase on my SPG thru the website last week and it got approved instantly. Aside from that, the same day I called Chase to increase the CL on my Freedom and was told the only ways to do this is to move credits from my other Chase card or a hard pull – Just FYI.


Not relevant to this post, but since one of the topic here is FR from AMEX, I want to ask for advice. I have plenty AMEX cards (including Business Platinum/Gold). My personal Hilton AMEX card has $2K CL, I requested from AMEX to increase the limit up to $5K, and received a letter from them requesting the “famous” 4506-T form to be faxed them. Is it a normal practice from AMEX? I never asked them to increase CL before (my other cards have $10K-$20K limits), so I’m quite uncomfortable to give AMEX such info in return of CL increase.


@Smitty06 – Makes sense but it’s hard to justify a couple, if not several, purchases of around $500 at a drugstore, not to mention the possibility of Amex being able to see exactly what you purchase. This is my concern!


I suspect a key here is large purchases at pharmacies. Normally there is nothing you can buy at CVS or Walgreens that would come anywhere near $1k so this is a big red flag for fraud software algorithms. The first time I bought 2 VR at a pharmacy it triggered an auto hold on my chase card that required a phone call to clear. Others have reported similar.
If you can think of a good reason (excuse) for why you spend so much at a pharmacy you can precall Chase or AMEX to let them know and this will avoid the fraud trigger.


Many people are spending lots of money at drugstores trying to use the remainder of their flexible spending account dollars before the end of the year.

[…] Home › Gift Card Churning › Risks and Dangers of Going for 5x Points Everywhere […]


Miguel: Thanks for sharing. That’s the first I’ve heard of a Bluebird FR! Yes, its great that they use modern technology like fax machines to make life easier for us 🙂


Rolling Ze Dice: Thanks. Its a tough issue because there are lots of people who spread lies about this stuff in order to try to keep these deals to themselves. I have no doubt, though, that there are real risks.


Anita: Yes, a couple of people contacted me, but I didn’t get any solid information about how much they spent or how quickly.


I think Amex FR varies from one person to another, but here’s what happened to both my husband & me. I applied for Amex Gold & Hilton for both my husband & me. The gold card got approved instantly and we had to call Amex reconsideration line to explain why we needed another Amex card. On my gold card, I put $5k of OD & $1k of VR at Walgreen’s along with normal charges for gas, restaurants, etc and $2.5k of Walgreens & $1.5k at OD. In my case, I’m not sure if spending close to $7k within a month triggered FR or my purchases at Walgreens did it. My husband put $2k of Walgreens on his Amex Hilton and 4 $206.95 GC purchase at Staples. Besides these 4, none of his transactions look suspicious as he made a lot more of the normal purchases than I did on my Gold card. I thought Amex would put a spending limit on our Gold cards after FR, but nothing changed. Because of the potential for another FR, I plan on putting Gold away after meeting the spend & transferring MR to a partner airlines. Overall experience = initial shock (kinda, since I happened to read about FR a couple weeks before), hassle & missing out on Amex small business Saturday 🙁


Teri: Thanks for sharing those details. Data points like these are helpful!


I would think that $10k at an office supply store every month is far less dangerous than at CVS or Walgreens.


@ace – yeah, i would agree with that. i unfortunately am unable to partake in the office supply store version of this, so i’m trying to get a sense of reasonable limits on the drugstore/amex avenue, or at least data points that would let me take a guess.


to echo an earlier question, are there any data points on amex FRs caused by hilton amex/drugstore purchases? i realize there’s not set pattern so far, but any data points would be helpful!


blake: I don’t have any facts other than that it happened.


abt tracking CC expense, i sit ones a week split the transaction on mint for gc purchase into other category from the GC transactions.


Its tricky stepping around these issues for sure. There isnt really a blueprint because each person circumstances are different.


I do 2K on each chard 2K amex bux gold,2K amex gold Bus (wife), 2K ink(OD visa card then vanilla card with the visa card). I buy mix of Vanilla and paypal card, pay back a portion from vanilla, portion using paypal debit card in walmart, and the balance from checking acct. I use the portion of OD visa card for target amex and do regular expense.


I haven’t had any financial reviews. I recommend “diversifying your risk” by not throwing all your eggs in one basket. For example, don’t go buying $20,000 in Vanilla Reloads with the same card in 4 consecutive months. I use a variety of techniques such as Visa Gift Card churning to run up expenses on Chase. I am more weary about AMEX than Chase.


Amex did a financial review of a relative of mine who ramped up spending on a Plat Amex by doing a few hundred thousand dollars of purchases of retail electronics in a couple of months. After an agreement to pay off the balances faster and repeatedly during each and every monthly billing cycle, the account was re-enabled. Took a bit less than two weeks to get that resolved.

Nick @ PFDigest

I paid off my Amex mid-cycle once after some big purchases and it was immediately locked down with a fraud alert. I unfroze it without issue, but just an FYI.


@S, what part of the SPG card bonus offer led to a FR from Amex? What behavior in a short 2 weeks could possibly have led to concerns by them about your usage of the card? Did you have a particularly low limit and were spending and paying off in chunks so you could hit the $5k faster?


stevento, there is a 4 digit number to match up VR card to Walgreens receipt. Check the 4 digits in lower left corner of VR card below the magnetic strip. These 4 digits appear at the end of the number on the receipt (both the itemized receipt and the activation receipt). At least in my case.


I’m still sittin’ on the sidelines for the vanilla reloads…but I read every word you write about it. 🙂


I had one instance when I was given the wrong VR card by the cashier (think of a three-card monty game played with the cards). Luckily, the activated card was still on the rack when I went back to the store the next day. Otherwise, it would have been a massive problem. Since then, I carefully check the receipt for the last 4 digits of the card. Walgreens doesn’t do that, BTW – they don’t list the number of the card on the receipt.
The difficulty of tracking expenses with GCs and VRs is an important issue for anyone who needs to document these charges for tax or reimbursement purposes. I wish there was an easier way.


“I haven’t yet heard of American Express doing this to anyone, but its always a possibility. ”

I did not get closed, but I had a review from Bluebird! “Your account is suspended for your safety” email, and I had to fax (yes, fax… of course I did it online) my Social Security card to prove my identity. In less than 24 hours account was restored with an apology.
I only use the Bluebird to pay bills, I buy VR ($2000-3000 per month if I run into that many) and deposit Paypal funds there (mostly from KIVA, never more than 30 or 40 bucks per month).

Rolling Ze Dice

FM, Happy to see you being a bit more transparent about this. A few months ago when this issue first came up, you and Leff were quick to dispel rumors as naysayers, but this stuff really does happen. I got a financial review for churning sign-up bonuses on AMEX! Anyhow, props for acknowledging the risks.


unfortunately I and my wife don’t have any amex cards becos now due to amex FR. It was all becos of the starwood preferred amex card bonus offer. we got the cards but after 2 weeks of using it and paying off, got that DREADED CALL and also online access suspended too and later we chose to close all amex cards voluntarily.

We are not overspending with chase cards to stay safe but i know someone who got his closed for similar reason!



Have people contacted you about FR associated with Hilton spend, or is there a thread about it? I’ve only read one such story…



I thought the American Express Financial Review was to compare reported business income/expenses against credit card spend.


I take the high road in this arena of “scare” tactics and run with the wind for as long as it lasts. I don’t need any credit cards, so if they want to shut me down, so be it. I will then live off of debit points/walmart money orders.
Thank you for your amazing blog btw.