Becoming undead and grabbing over 250,000 points

64

Thanks to a couple of overlapping promotions, I had the chance to earn over 250,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after adding 5 employee cards to my Business Platinum account.  The problem?  On Saturday, an Amex rep called to tell me that they couldn’t approve the new cards because a Social Security lookup indicated that I was deceased.  Uh… what?

Was I dead?

The Amex rep told me to go to my local Social Security office to get my record updated to show that I was alive.  I was skeptical.  I didn’t know why Amex thought I was dead, but I was pretty sure that the Social Security Administration didn’t think so.  I figured that if they reported my death, I’d be dealing with many other issues well before being denied for adding an employee card to a business card account.  Still, I was concerned.

I logged into my account on the Social Security Administration’s website to check whether I was really deceased.  While I didn’t find proof on their website that I was alive, I also didn’t find any indication of my passing.  In fact, there was information about how much I would receive from Social Security depending upon when I retire.  This wasn’t exactly proof of life, but I took it as a good sign.  It was akin to a mirror held close to my lips fogging over: not exactly “proof”, but pretty solid nevertheless.

Next, it occurred to me that Amex could have done a soft pull of my credit, and maybe one of my credit reports suggested I was dead.  So, I downloaded all three reports from AnnualCreditReport.com and searched for an indication of my early demise.  I searched for words like “deceased”, “dead”, “expired”, “six feet under”, etc.  Nothing.  Those reports were really long so I can’t say with 100% certainty that they supported my “I’m still alive” assertion, but I’m pretty sure that none said I was dead.

Becoming Undead

I called Amex on Monday after spending the weekend researching the rumor of my early demise.  I was prepared to send them Social Security screenshots, a summary of my latest physical, and my most recent Fitbit step counts.  It turned out that none of that was necessary.  The Monday rep didn’t even question my life or death status.  Instead, he verified some details and approved the employee cards.

I asked Monday Rep several times why Saturday Rep thought I was dead, but I didn’t get a good answer.  The most I got out of him was something like “you can call it a technical glitch.”  OK, fine.  At least I was now officially un-dead.

Next Step: Earn 252,500 points

I had referred a friend using my Business Platinum card while the “+4” referral offer was still available (details here).  By referring a friend to any Amex card from my Business Platinum card, I would earn 15,000 points plus an additional 4 points per dollar on all qualifying purchases for 3 months, on up to $25,000 spend.

On top of the “+4” deal, Amex also offered 20,000 points per new employee card after each employee spends $4,000, with a maximum of 5 employee cards.  So, I added 5 employee cards, and the hijinks described earlier ensued.  Now that my aliveness has been confirmed, and once the employee cards arrive, I’ll maximize the overlapping deals as follows:

  1. Spend $5,000 on each employee card, ideally with one big charge each for a total of $25,000 spend.

That’s it.  By doing that, I should earn the following numbers of points:

  • 15K Points: Via the referral bonus
  • 100K Points: 20K bonus points for each of 5 employee cards
  • 37.5K Points: This is the usual points for spend. The Business Platinum card offers 1.5 points per dollar for charges of $5K or more.
  • 100K Points: +4 points per dollar for all spend x $25,000 = 100,000.
  • Total: 252,500 Points

How can I make five $5K charges easily?  One way is to pay or overpay fourth quarter estimated federal taxes.  If I overpay I’ll (eventually) get the difference back after I file end of year taxes.  There are 3 different tax payment processors that accept credit cards, and each charges about 2% in fees.  Each allows up to 2 payments, so I would have to go through all three services to do 5 separate payments.  In each case, since fees are charged separately, I would need to charge the full $5,000 and accept the extra ~$100 fee on top of that.  I won’t, instead, pay about $4900 and rely on the ~$100 in fees to get me to $5,000 because I need a single charge of $5K or more to trigger the Business Platinum’s 1.5x earnings.  For more about paying taxes with credit cards, see: Pay taxes via credit card.

Update/Caution: In recent years the IRS has been very slow to refund overpayments.  In some cases, I suspect that the refund will be applied to the following year’s tax payment rather than refunded. Reader Tim reports that he overpaid taxes last year and is still waiting for repayment!

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Ben

The reason that I stopped adding AU was that I got to the conclusion it is damaging my ability to get more cards (5/24 or “too many cards”). But this is a business card… So, maybe it is actually a good idea.

toomanybooks

Do these have to be actual genuine employees?

Cavedweller

I don’t know but apply. I got one on another card Mr. Jim Shoe.HaHa

[…] buried Greg, the Frequent Miler. I laughed so hard that I was thinking about putting it in my Just for fun section, but decided on […]

Bonnie

How do you get the AX offer for employee cards/authorized user cards. I just got a business blue and AX personal platinum and have not received those offers yet.

Alex

For me, It showed up right away when I registered the card for online access. I didn’t jump on it immediately and it never showed up again. I’m gonna wait for some time as I need to take care of spending on other cards anyway but thanks for the advice to call Amex and ask them!

Chris

I see the same offer but it doesn’t say (I dont think) if the deal works for employee green/gold cards, or just employee plat cards. Any insight? Thanks!

Chris

I got a few of the green cards and started a chat with Amex to confirm they are eligible for the 20K MR points. The rep couldn’t find an answer, and needed to open an investigation. Amex should be getting back to me. I’ll update here when they do.

slaven

when overpaying your taxes in $5000 increments, will you be getting 1.5x on top of the current 4x+1 offer giving you in essence 7.5x on purchase (37500 points) or is it only 1.5x on original, meaning you will only get 5.5x (27500)?

Nick Reyes

Only 1.5 on the original $5K, not on the +4. Total = 5.5x.

Andy

Wow, Amex RAT is taking things a bit far by putting out hits on people. Glad they called it off.

Holly

Does Amex require SS#’s for “employees” ?

M.A.

Nope. Just signed up for a Delta Gold employee card for my “business” last night and they just wanted an employee name.

Harry

Yes they do. Copy of approval wording from Amex:
2.
Make sure each Employee Card Member confirms their Card when it arrives.
If we do not have their Social Security Number and date of birth, they’ll need to provide it when confirming their Card.

  • American Express needs this info to verify their identity and comply with federal regulations.*
  • If they don’t have a Social Security Number, they can call the number on the back of their Card for assistance.
Ben

@Greg,
To be more explicit. Can my cat be an employee?
I understand that you can activate the card and use it without entering the SSN.
However, will that put the main account in the RAT scope?

Cavedweller

I have been doing the Tax payment over pay just for 50 years .I get it back NOW in a couple of weeks from state and fed like $10K to $20K.

Akuma

Funny read. I thought about doing the prepaid taxes angle, but $500 in fees plus the $595 (soon to be $695) annual fee seems like a big up front cost for 250k points. I’m assuming no interest is paid on the $25k either, which would add to the cost depending on your situation and how much taxes you usually owe.

Cavedweller

Just Do what u NEED after MS, so figure it out .. BUT do $$ more incase of Posting dates and U add wrong.I always do a $1k more just to B safe….

Pam

Same thing happened to my brother at BOA. Someone there had erroneously transposed the last 2 numbers of his SS# on one or more of his records with them (but apparently not tax since he was getting annual 1099’s from them) – when that person passed my brother’s “estate” got a letter!

If it were me, though, I’d return from the grave to claim 250k sweet MRs

Cavedweller

Pam

If it was me I would some spend time on this and Track it Down. When u Do a Deal like he does u want everything to just fall in place.
Wanted a HELOC (20 years ago) the banks wouldn’t give me one because of 10 addresses on my credit report. A smart Italian banker @ BMO said “What can I Do for U sir” ? Done in 10 days, No fees even on 2st year because of their error.
Hawaii 2/11.
Take Care

Pam

Ok CD, so HAVE you dwelled in 10 different caves?! Covid sucked so much of the fun outta Hawaii for me & family, was very disappointed. Hope your trip is better, aloha.

Cavedweller

Pam
Some were P.O.boxes very Tight to live in.Me too on Hawaii only like 50% open and I’m in SB right now and a LA cruise 1/12 ..I canceled Eight in 20 months but did 3 in 2 months so a Lot of Catch up to Do !!
Merry Xmas

Alex

I’m not a tax processor so I don’t have much statistics but I believe in most cases the IRS pays out the overpayment reasonably quick. I also don’t believe they have a choice to apply the overpayment to the next year taxes if you chose the refund on your filing. Finally, if I recall correctly, after some time the IRS is required to pay interest on the money they owe and the interest rate is quite favorable.

One question I wonder about is if you have any concern about other people paying your taxes. I presume some of your employees are your wife and your son but others are less related. I’m just curious if it raises any red flags with the IRS.

Oh, and congrats on becoming undead. Funny you didn’t mention anything about how it is on the “other side”. Is it more like Ritz or more like Best Western? 😉

jason

Can you get the 20K points bonus if the additional cards are Amex Business Green and not the Business Platinum? Also, if you charge $5K on the additional Business Green card will you get the 1.5 points per dollar since it is a benefit of the Business Platinum?

jason

Thanks Greg. On a side note, I just called in to add an additional employee card for the 20K bonus (I added 4 previously) and the rep read me the term and condition stated that I can add additional employee cards for up to 99 employees and each will get a bonus of 20K for spending $4K in 6 months for up to a 1,000,000 points! I told her that I think she made a mistake and the website’s offer is only for 5 total employee cards. She confirm that the 5 cards offer for a total of 100K points is through the website and the 99 cards offer is available for people who call in to add employee cards. It would be a fantastic offer if anyone else can call in and confirm this. Although the math does not add up as 99 cards is 20K short of 1,000,000 points, I was too excited to correct her.

Tristan

Hilarious read! However, I’m really starting to take it personally that Amex does not want me to hire my household for three months. Grr.

Sayeed

That is so funny! Started the morning with a good laugh.

Holly

Does anyone know if overpayments of 2021 taxes can count towards my 2022 quarterly tax payments?

Harry

Holly unless I’m missing something, yes is the short answer. Now that’s if on 2021 return at the bottom of your 1040 you designate the overpayment to go to your 2022 tax bill. Forward just take the overpayment divide by four and subtract that amount from your 2022 quarterly tax payments.

Holly

Thanks Harry. I appreciate it!

Cavedweller

YES !!! My CPA asks me every year but U can do both if u want like 50%. . I say NO I want to Close the Books then just pay more at 4/15(first quarter). If I want to like I always do.
Keep it Simple never no trouble with the IRS..

Last edited 1 month ago by Cavedweller
Holly

Awesome thanks. If I get a 2nd biz platinum I might overpay by maybe 5k to hit minimum spend. Haven’t decided yet…

Cavedweller

Just Don’t make ANY mistakes then the Evil People Start Looking !!!
Good Luck !!

Last edited 1 month ago by Cavedweller
Brant

While reports of your demise have been greatly exaggerated, the tax advantages of such a condition can’t be overstated.

Grant

I’m looking forward to your upcoming memoir, “Becoming Undead” 🙂

dizzy

I overpaid taxes last year, it took 5 months to get the refund, and only after a lot of calling. I amended my 2019 taxes (filed 3/2020; amended 6/2020) and I am STILL yet to get that money back. I would be very cautious about it.

Ncsam

P2 and I overpaid our estimated taxes last year by a significant amount. We, and many others on Reddit, had each paid estimated taxes under our respective names, and the IRS did not automatically combine those payments until very late in the process. We ended up receiving our refund in early May, about 3 months after we filed, without any manual intervention. On the plus size, we did earn some interest, but certainly don’t overpay more than you can afford to/want to float for an extended period of time.

slaven

can u clarify what u mean by “IRS did not automatically combine those payments until very late in the process”? i planned on overpaying $25k towards my tax bill to IRS spread out over 5 “employee” cards.

Ncsam

If you file jointly, P1 and P2 can each pay estimated taxes under their names to increase the number of payments (i.e. 4 per processor vs 2). The IRS eventually automatically combines these payments into the primary filer’s account. Last year, this was processed slower than other years, resulting in a 3 month wait for our refund.

Sharon

Funniest post I’ve read in awhile! Thanks for the laugh!!

Captain Greg

Yea, this WAS my plan, but P2 is in Amex purgatory and couldn’t get approved for anything. Drat! She doesn’t have a single Amex card but 2 years ago she met a signup bonus down to the dollar for the delta gold card and put it in the sock drawer. That seems to make Amex very unhappy.

Either way, I’m working on the 5 employee cards with my second bus. Platinum signup bonus. That should get me close to 300k. Bummer I missed the opportunity for the extra 125k, but that’s the way it goes sometimes in the games we play!

Jan W

Ah! So that’s where Greg was–Amex purgatory!!

Allen

But according to IRS you can only pay max 2 times each quarter for estimated tax, right?
https://www.irs.gov/payments/frequency-limit-table-by-type-of-tax-payment

Mary Jane

Greg, congratulations on not being dead! By paying taxes to get the sign up bonus, aren’t you at risk of AMEX not recognizing that as a legitimate charge and not giving you the bonus?

Tim Grable

One thing to be aware of in overpaying taxes, you might not get the refund anytime soon. We did this last year and 9 months later we are still waiting for the refund.

Tim Grable

We did estimated taxes last year.

Mike Chicago

I don’t see why the timing of the payments would make any difference. The delays have been in return processing, which has been a total cluster since the pandemic began. And there is no discernible pattern I’ve been able to see, some large refunds are paid quickly, some are “processing” for many many months. IRS has stated that most of the delays are for returns with claims related to stimulus payments, earned income tax credit and child tax credits, but I’ve seen many returns with none of those being delayed for months on end. I even think some of the delays could be intentional as IRS lobbies for the $88 billion proposed for them in the House version of Build Better Better Act, about half of which is slated for operational improvements (which admittedly are needed). The other half is targeted for enhanced enforcement, with the political message of getting the rich to “pay their fair share”, but in reality if passed the targets will end up being the much easier to successfully attack middle class. Anyway, glad to hear you are alive!

Cavedweller

Nope I always pay 1/15 for the last year .I get my cards then and I never know
my Tax Bill till then.Better to over pay a little then Fees and Interest..

slaven

how is “overpaying end of year taxes different then overpaying estimated taxes”?

Ryan del Mundo

Can also confirm I’m still waiting on my tax return that I overpaid with the CC. This strategy used to work awesome but I’ve heard so many stories of refunds at glacial speed that I’m not doing it this year.

Cavedweller

Good don’t get burned. Mine is usually in by 3/1 and a couple of times 6/15 as in Data stuff. But I want the points and bank interest 1% ..

ktc

also overpaying & not getting refunds yet.

Cavedweller

That’s my CPA’s job and never had to call him..That’s why u Pay smart people..