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Right now many Amex customers still have their Membership Rewards frozen after taking advantage of the recent 100K Platinum Card offer that leaked last May. Since that time, Amex reps have told customers a plethora of conflicting reports about what will ultimately happen to their points. I just had my points unfrozen and thought that I would share my experience with how I think I got them to undo the freeze.
Conflicting info from Amex reps
Like many others, Amex reps gave me tons of conflicting information.
I was told all of the following:
- My points would be available 92 days (yes, “92”) after I opened the card
- My points would be available 6 to 8 weeks after I hit the minimum spend on my card
- My points would be available 6 to 8 weeks after the closing date of the statement in which I hit the minimum spend on my card
- My points would be available 6 to 8 weeks after I made the final payment on my minimum spend
And those are just the explanations I can remember. All of these alleged deadlines came out to different dates and it was incredibly frustrating to hear something new and conflicting each time I called. I was hoping to book a trip to Norway via Aeroplan for Christmas so each week that went by with my points in limbo made me believe that trip was becoming less and less of a reality.
What I did
After hearing so many conflicting accounts, I decided to file a dispute with the Membership Rewards team.
As an attorney, I thought about sending in a demand letter, but I really preferred to resolve this without getting “legal” with Amex since I do value my relationship with them very much.
The dispute I had filed was on the basis that I had been told that the issue would be resolved 6 to 8 weeks after I hit the minimum spend and that it had now been 9 weeks without a resolution. It took a couple of calls to get this dispute initiated, as the first rep I spoke with insisted that there was nothing she could do except wait for the investigation on my points to be concluded.
Finally, a rep told me that he agreed the issue should have been resolved by the 8 week period and that he would be opening up a dispute. He specifically stated that he was referring the case to their “partner/liaison.” I’m still not exactly sure who these people are (what department they are in) but he told me that I would be hearing back within 2 to 3 business days.
After 3 days, I got a call from Amex regarding the dispute. To my surprise, they informed me that the proper deadline would be 6 to 8 weeks from the time that I paid off the statement that I hit the minimum spend in. That meant that I had at least another month to wait before I could expect to be able to transfer my points….
This made me highly upset and so I decided to vent a little. I respectfully and civilly expressed to the agent that I understood that it was probably not her call to unfreeze my points but that I was highly dissatisfied with the customer service on this issue and that it really had me considering walking away from Amex after everything gets resolved. I expressed that this was a big trip that I was looking forward to and that it was inexcusable that I never received any kind of notice or communication regarding the freeze over the past couple of months.
She heard me out and apologized for everything but after a few minutes our conversation ended with nothing else being said or done.
The freeze is over
After that conversation, I prepared myself to give up on the Christmas booking. With such limited availability already for my desired routes, I figured that another month’s time of waiting would make the booking pretty much impossible.
A couple of hours after my phone call with Amex, I got a little bit curious and decided to just try the transfer one last time. The rep had told me that attempting the transfers would slow down the process each time I tried but I really didn’t believe that (and didn’t really care at this point, either).
So I logged in and input a request to transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards to Aeroplan and to my amazement, it went through! I couldn’t believe it! Within 15 minutes, I had all the points needed transferred to Aeroplan and officially had my Christmas trip booked for 2016!
What all does it mean?
I think it’s really hard to draw conclusions from my experience because there have been so many different accounts from other people. It could just be a mere coincidence that a couple of hours after my phone call about my dispute, my points were free. But they also could’ve unfroze my points as a direct result of my dispute. It’s hard to tell but with some recent data points popping up with other getting unfroze, maybe it was just a coincidence?
So if your points are still froze, my advice to you is to try to get the issue referred to the “partner/liaison.” It should be easy to do if you already have a sound basis for the dispute (e.g., they told you 6 to 8 weeks and it’s been 9 weeks). There may be other ways to get a dispute filed with them with some creative thinking. If you can’t do that, I still feel like the majority of people will have their points unfrozen soon based on the recent data points, so you may only have to wait a bit longer.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.