By now it should be no secret that Amex increased a number of benefits due to the Covid crisis. That bump in benefits enabled people to decrease the cost of card ownership (annual fees via credits and extra/enhanced benefits attached to some cards) and also have the opportunity to earn more rewards. Some of those rewards were capped, like the $7,500 in total spend with Marriott, while others like Hilton and Delta, were uncapped or essentially limitless. Uncapped at least in theory.
For the limited time Delta and Hilton promotions (and to a much lesser with Marriott), I increased my spend on two personal cards that earned those rewards. I’m one of many who spent generously on cards that paid out enhanced bonus points but have also anxiously waited for points to post to those loyalty accounts (and hopefully avoid a complete account shutdown).
All Talk, No Action
I wrote about my missing points about a month ago, with faint hope the points would actually post over time, but also some real fear that an entire portfolio shutdown might happen. At that time I had called Amex after noticing Hilton points were not posting to my account. The call was meant as more of a recon call just to try and get some high level information on what might be going on. The initial representative I spoke with sounded promising and transferred me to someone to see if an immediate transfer could take place. The next rep sounded positive too, but soon after checking, I was told those points had to all be “verified” because “there were so many”. That call ended without any points being allotted to my Hilton loyalty account.
A few nights ago I called Amex again to inquire to see if anything had changed. The rep I spoke with sounded like he was out of the country. He said that the points were “on the portal” and that “Hilton just needs to grab them”, and recommended that I call Hilton to have them take care of it. Seemed so simple! So I called Hilton, and got an entirely different story. Hilton said that it had no way of pulling points from Amex. The Hilton rep was eager to help once she understood the missing points dilemma and created a 3-way call with Amex. That call lasted 20 minutes and came to the same conclusion as my call last month. No rewards would be sent anywhere yet; they were essentially Covid earned and quarantined.
Here’s an update of what has transpired with my spend and points during the Covid promotions:
Points for the May statement posted to my Hilton account, but after that it gets weird. Roughly 480k points were clawed back for spend from the July statement. The trickle of points that were actually awarded for July spend posted around 14 days late. However nothing…as in zero, zip squadoosh, has posted to my Hilton account for the June statement. The June statement on paper says that I have well over a million points coming, but it’s pretty obvious that I won’t be getting that gift basket. It’s odd how points for the July statement posted sooner than the June statement. Although the spend and points allotted on the June statement were substantial, I’m not sure I’ll ever actually receive a single point to my Hilton account. If some points do trickle in, whatever method Amex has for determining what spend is receiving spend and what isn’t is obviously taking some time.
All points for spend in May, June and July posted to account without issue. No spending bonuses were available during this time, and all points for business spend were sent to my Hilton account.
All points for spend in June, July and August all posted to Bonvoy account. As a side note, the August points posted 14 days later than normal. I did receive the full points for the capped promotion ($7,500 in grocery spend at 6x). The August statement delay was a little odd as there was no grocery spend on my card at all; however there were some gift card purchases at office supply stores. From other data points that I’ve read about and heard from others in similar situations, Amex card points are either being clawed back or posting late. All of my (non-Marriot and gift card) spend did receive the normal (2x) points for August spend. On a recent FrequentMiler podcast, Greg and Nick speculated that points earned related to MS with Amex were fine (as long as there was an earning ceiling or a cap on spend), but that uncapped promotional points, like this generous Covid promotion, would not be kosher if MS was involved. It turns out that theory may be exactly what is happening.
No May statement miles (roughly 200k miles earned on statement) were sent to my Delta account. The May miles earned literally says “0”. That’s actually not correct, as there was spend on that statement that was not gift card related which should have earned miles, but I’m not going to argue it. June statement miles (over 300k) posted to Delta account, then all but 4 miles were clawed back from Delta account.
In summary I am “missing” roughly 500k Delta miles, and 2 million Hilton points, but did received all Marriott points for the (Covid) spend promotions that Amex .
Don’t Forget The Fees
Besides being out millions of rewards points via this RAT (Amex Rewards Abuse Team) infested promotion, I’m also out roughly $4,000 in fees linked to my increased spend to accumulate Delta and Hilton rewards. That money is completely lost and also doesn’t account for my time and other ancillary costs. However, at this point there doesn’t appear to be an entire account eclipse (shutdown) taking place. If that holds true, I’ll eat those fees and walk away quite contently. I’m well aware of the costs and possible gains associated with earning rewards en masse. Many people are kind of enamored with manufactured spend (MS), but as yet another example, it does have its downsides.
Not too long after initially writing about my situation, I saw a post at MilesPerDay that showed his Hilton points posting but then being clawed back. I knew that if he wasn’t getting a little over 400k in points, I was definitely not getting multiples of that figure to post. I then saw this video and got a little freaked out. This ordeal isn’t done yet, but I’m looking forward to its conclusion.