About two months ago my wife received a pleasant surprise in the mail: a 150,000-point Platinum business card offer from Amex. We hadn’t tried out that particular card before, so we hopped on it. We weren’t expecting this offer, as my wife had just obtained an Everyday Preferred, plus she had just upgraded her Hilton card to a Surpass. So that’s effectively three offers we capitalized on in the space of a week or two.
So between that and the $20K minimum spend, it’s not too surprising Amex decided it was time for a Financial Review. What seemed to trigger it was the second charge for about $5K in the space of a week.
It was pretty annoying to have all of her accounts suspended for a few weeks, but it ended up not being that big of a deal. All you do is fax Amex an IRS form giving them permission to look at your tax filings, and then they take 5-7 business days (the official number–they took 9 business days for my wife) to make their decision. Fortunately we are not in the habit of exaggerating our income on our credit card applications, so we received an email from Amex giving us the all clear.
Apparently some people are more likely to get flagged than others. Gary Leff reports that he gets flagged every year for his business Platinum card. Which doesn’t seem like a great customer service experience, but presumably Amex knows what it’s doing here.
If you’re looking for advice on how to handle Financial Reviews, I don’t really have any, other than: (a) don’t lie about your income, and (b) don’t forget to fax in that IRS form to Amex when they ask for it.
A friend of mine took a different approach: he ignored Amex for three months, then called and threatened to cancel his card. For some reason, Amex backed down. I don’t recommend that approach, since he was perfectly content to walk away from Amex, but it is an interesting data point.
One final thing, and I’m not sure whether or not it’s related: a couple of days ago my wife received an unsolicited letter from Amex about her recently upgraded Hilton Surpass. It says, “After reviewing your account, we have decided to waive the Annual Membership Fee on your account at this time.” I have no idea why they’re waiving the annual fee, if this is something they customarily do for this product, or what, but I have no complaints.