Amex Temporary Card Issues
One of the things people love most about American Express is being able to start their minimum spend right away by getting their card instantly. American Express is one of the few issuers that gives you a virtual card number to use right away. I am here with a PSA though, because there are Amex temporary card issues and it is cluster cluck right now. I shared that these may be an issue in a previous roundup but we have enough data points rolling in (every day pretty much) that we needed to do a post on it. I'll discuss what the issue is, what the standard operating procedure should be going forward and how to get out of the mess Amex has made. Let's dive in!
What Is Going On?
We have received numerous reports of people not getting their welcome offer from Amex after using the instantly provided American Express temporary card numbers. Once you are approved for an Amex card they ask if you want a card number to use right away. This is to allow you to make purchases online immediately after approval and gets you using your card ASAP. Many people have used these to pay taxes or a big bill that is coming up. Knowing that American Express will give you an immediate card number makes their offers appealing for such occasions as an unexpected large bill.
The problem is that these charges are not tracking towards the minimum spend requirement. Usually Amex bonuses post a few days after the spending requirement is completed, heck even sometimes before it is, so people are wondering where there points are after these big charges. They are being informed that they didn't meet the minimum spending threshold yet, and the amount they are short is usually whatever they put on the temporary card.
The really strange thing is that these charges are earning the normal points but are just not showing up on their back end bonus tracker. That is what reps look at when you reach out versus adding up the spend on your account. In the past I have had a minor discrepancy with this even with a credit card (non temp number).
At this point the reps are just making up things, even telling a ToP Facebook member that a cruise charge didn't qualify towards the minimum spend. The taxes part I could maybe see, but not this. They are essentially clueless to the issue.
What Is Causing The Amex Temporary Card Issues?
So, what do we think is causing this? Our best guess is the backend system isn't syncing up the minimum spend and the card account for 24 – 48 hours. It seems there is a sink hole during that period where spending goes poof. People are likely still earning the points on the charges since that issue is corrected by the time the charge settles, and definitely before those points post.
What Should I Do If I Am Caught Up In This?
What do you do it you make a large purchase up front and they are saying it didn't count? The easiest option is to do the spend again unfortunately. That is assuming you have enough time left and can pull it off. I know it stinks, since your return is diminished on that spend, but this is the simplest fix.
If you would prefer not to throw good money in after bad you have a few scenarios to play out. You can always go down the customer service rabbit hole. You will likely need to wait 12 weeks from the end of the minimum spend period to get anywhere and then will need to fight tooth and nail for it. After a few phone calls that go nowhere I would demand a supervisor. I had a friend of a friend that fought for over a year for a bonus, and then once she got a supervisor they were able to post the points same day.
The other option is to file a CFPB complaint once the 12 weeks if up. Sometimes saying you are going to do this with a supervisor will be enough, as the person mentioned above did. Otherwise, it is worth filling out the complaint since they will have to at least respond to it. The response will likely depend on what the charge was.
A Word About Taxes
If you charges were something like a cruise charge then I think you will end up winning that fight, but it will likely take some effort. If your large charge was taxes then you may be looking at a tougher battle. People have been able to earn points, and welcome offers, by paying their taxes for years. But, just because it works doesn't mean it will pass scrutiny unfortunately.
American Express has denied people in the past calling tax payments cash equivalents (scroll down on this post for a couple of DPs). The vast majority of people earn their points / bonus with no issue on these charges but the reps will cite this as cash equivalent if it doesn't post automatically. Hopefully a supervisor, or a CFPB complaint respondent, will see this a different way. Having said that, this isn't as cut and dry as a cruise or flight etc. Knowing this may change how you answer the first part above.
Operating Procedure Going Forward
Going forward I wouldn't even mess with the temporary card from Amex. I would wait for the card to come in the mail, which is usually lightning quick from Amex anyway. It may be best to not start spending until 48 hours after your approval all together. No one wants to have to do their spend twice now, do they? It may mean planning the timing of your applications a bit more but I say better safe than sorry.
Amex Temporary Card Issues: ToP Thoughts
I feel bad for everyone caught up in this. I have been having my own issues with American Express over the last 6 months and their back end / system is a complete mess right now. There isn't much I hate more than having to call a bank to argue charges etc. Hopefully I gave you some good options if you are having Amex temporary card issues and missing out on your welcome offer because of it. I also hope that we have a good procedure in place going forward for you. Once approved be sure to put that Amex card on ice for a few days before wearing it out!
Share any data points you have on all of this in the ToP Facebook Group.