American Express used to be my favourite card issuer of credit cards that earn lots of miles & points. Over the years, the prestigious AMEX standard has gone way down – the customer service is terrible, the sign-up bonuses are “once-in-a-lifetime”, and there hasn’t been any new card offerings that would attract customers. The one area where American Express still shines are the Centurion Lounges – they’re phenomenal and the main reason why I still pay $550 USD a year for my Platinum Card.

American Express has made some incredibly customer unfriendly moves lately, like shutting down accounts for no reason (even without financially reviewing them first), denying sign-up bonuses to new customers, and more. Well, it looks like AMEX is becoming worse and worse – I can report that AMEX is freezing Membership Rewards points for those who recently received a sign-up bonus or referral bonus. I find this incredibly frustrating as I referred a friend and received 10k AMEX MR points after he was approved and what did AMEX do? Credit me the points hours after he was approved and block my entire balance of 300k+ MR points so they can’t be redeemed or transferred anywhere. How did I find out? I needed to transfer points to Aeroplan to book Lufthansa First Class and I received this incredibly helpful message:

This action will not be completed at this time because your account is currently being reviewed to make sure all eligible purchases meet qualifying criteria.

I called Membership Rewards and was informed that my account is “under review” and the process could take “6-8 weeks” and during this time I wouldn’t be able to use my points for anything. You have got to be kidding me. AMEX just hit a new low – freezing the ENTIRE balance of points after a small 10k bonus?! And for 6-8 weeks?! Why the hell couldn’t they just hold the 10k for a month and not credit it instead?

Naturally, I asked to speak to a supervisor and then another one and another one… they were all incredibly unhelpful and incompetent and could not give me any more information nor could they transfer 25k to Aeroplan for me (it isn’t like I wanted to transfer all of my 300k+ points).

Dear AMEX: you have been terrible lately to the point where I want to stop using your products. You do not just freeze someone’s entire balance of points after a small referral bonus! It isn’t like this has only happened to me – there are plenty of reports online about people’s MR points being blocked after they received either a sign-up bonus or referral bonus. AMEX, this is insane and the fact that it takes 6-8 weeks for a review of my MR account is ridiculous. Imagine this happening to people who only have AMEX points and need to book their holiday as award availability has just shown up… or they want to book Lufthansa First Class through Aeroplan (14 days or less prior to departure).. they basically can’t and AMEX is telling them to F themselves… so much for award winning customer service and products…