Preparing for the Dreaded American Express Financial Review

American Express ‘financial reviews’ send shudders down the spines of frequent flyers (and Amex cardholders) everywhere. But in my opinion they shouldn’t.

So I’m going to explain what a financial review is, what we know about what triggers a financial review, and why financial reviews don’t worry me a bit. Your opinion may differ on whether these are a big deal — and that’s fair — so hopefully this explanation helps you prepare in case you’re faced with one.

This past weekend at Frequent Traveler University I answered an audience question, and Frequent Miler offered by way of followup that I should highlight the risk of an American Express Financial Review as part of my answer. I did, because I agree it’s something that is helpful for cardholders to understand — even if it doesn’t worry me nearly as much as it does some.

What is an American Express financial review?

American Express wants to make sure you have the ability to pay back the credit they extend to you. So sometimes randomly, and sometimes triggered by your spending which seems ‘out of pattern’, they initiate a financial review.

They may suspend your ability to place charges on their cards either right away or after some period of time (if you haven’t cleared up the review quickly enough). You’ll get correspondence from American Express, but some people have found out about the review by logging into their online account or because a charge they tried to make was denied and they called American Express to enquire.

American Express will request documentation of you — about your income (possibly pay stubs or an IRS form that will give them access to a copy of your tax return) or possibly confirming your address — and they will give you a deadline to respond. Then they will evaluate based on what you’ve sent them if you have too much credit from them or not.

What triggers a financial review?

American Express tries to detect patterns that they think flag someone likely to be using up a lot of credit, either with them or with a whole bunch of credit cards, that could call into question the consumer’s ability to pay their bill. American Express doesn’t want to get left holding the bag if you can’t repay.

Sometimes they flag accounts randomly. It could also be because you’ve gotten several new cards, either with them or other issuers. Or because when they pull your credit they see you are maxing out those cards. All are potential signs you may be overextended.

So American Express wants to test your ability to repay the credit they are extending.

There are more reports of financial reviews on charge cards than on credit cards (they’ve already evaluated your ability to pay in the credit limit they’ve set with credit cards). But they do financial reviews on credit cards too. They’ll look at how much credit they’ve extended to you, how much total credit you have with other issuers, and how much money you can document that you make.

And they will either give you the all clear, adjust your credit line to a level they’re comfortable with, or close down your account entirely. In many cases where they close down an account it’s because you aren’t able to show them you actually make as much income as you listed on your application. Most people who are honest on their applications wind up getting through a financial review with their cards intact.

Big charges relative to your income call into question your ability to repay. Sometimes they’re big charges as a result of ‘manufactured spend’ (buying effectively cash instruments) and sometimes as a result of having big reimbursable expenses from work. They may not be as confident as you are that your employer will reimburse you quickly enough to pay them back on time; what they are interested in is your ability to repay and not your company’s.

Another big trigger for a financial review seems to be new accounts where there isn’t already a pattern established, combined with large transactions right away. That doesn’t always raise a flag, but it’s a common one.

There are lots of theories about what else triggers a review, and no one outside of American Express knows for sure. Often the specific activities that people report are associated with new cards, with a lot of spend, or spend out of pattern. Some examples of what some people think have triggered reviews include international spending and purchases of precious metals, using up most of your credit limit, frequently pre-paying your account in order to get more access to credit, taking large cash advances, buying a bunch of Amex gift cards, adding a bunch of authorized users to your account, and having a large credit limit (over $25,000).

What happens during a financial review?

A financial review can be annoying, since your cards can be frozen while they perform the review. They aren’t always good about getting the information about their pending review in advance. In most cases I’ve found American Express to have very good customer service, and I don’t know whether the common reports that people find out other than through the proactive communication by American Express is a rare customer service failing, or by design (they are worried about your ability to repay, so they ask for the financial review, they don’t want to give you the heads up perhaps and encourage you to spend a lot more on your cards before they shut you off?).

A financial review is, more or less, just income verification — just like you have to do for other lenders like car loans or mortgages.

As a result the most common thing that they request are your tax returns (they don’t want the copy from you, they want to get the copy straight from the IRS to ensure it’s genuine). They’ll usually request IRS form 4506-T which gives them access to a transcript of your return. I have heard one or two reports of a request for form 4506 which gets them an actual copy of your return at a cost to you of $57, currently. I’m not sure if that was simply something lost in translation (the lack of the -T) or something they do very occasionally. Sometimes they ask for your most recent pay stubs.

Their review could be for address verification. They want to be sure they really know where you live, so they can find you if you don’t pay. They may ask for utility bills in your name sent to your home address, or for bank statements with your address.

Some people find this process extremely intrusive, as I say I understand why they want the information and I provide it to other lenders so it doesn’t bother me, but it’s clearly the case that American Express makes your willingness to provide them with detailed financial information a condition of doing business with them, and when they flag you for a financial review it’s take it or leave it.

My own financial review experience

I haven’t ever had a financial review on my personal cards. I currently have personal charge cards (Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold) and credit cards (Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors). In the past I’ve had Delta cards and the American Express Surpass Hilton card. I have business cards as well – a Business Platinum, and have had in the past had the Business Gold Rewards and Starwood Business card.

My business platinum card (for my real job) gets a financial review every year. They’ve actually been happy with audited financials or business tax returns that I provide, without getting them directly from the IRS.

After the first financial review they imposed a hard limit on the card — but it was several hundred thousand dollars. One time after a relatively ugly year on the financials they cut the limit in half. They’ve since raised it back up in subsequent years. Most of the time they’ve left the limit alone, though that’s probably my fault, they’ve asked how much credit I want and I’ve told them I was satisfied with what they were already extending.

I’m fairly surprised that I haven’t gotten a personal financial review: I have cedit limits from them that are much higher than the standard threshold folks worry about of $25,000 (the credit line has crept up over the past 13 years or so quite a bit). I have had big work expenses getting reimbursed. I’ve always paid my bill on time, but that’s not something that’s a get out of jail free card for financial reviews.

At some point their computers will probably flag me personally and I’ll have to verify my income for them. At that time they might well shrink my credit line a bit, but since I’ve been honest from the start about my income I’m not worried about getting fired as a customer.

Does it hurt you if American Express closes your account?

I often sense that most people posting big concerns about Amex financial reviews may not have been completely honest about their incomes when they applied, and they know that providing the requested information will cast them in an unfavorable light. But it’s not fair to dismiss every concern about verifying income this way.

It’s certainly possible that someone could have been honest about their income when they applied, then went back to school and now have a lower income (though likely will have a higher income later). It’s perfectly honest on the part of the consumer, but it’s still understandable that’s something American Express would want to know and consider when deciding how much credit to extend.

Let’s say your income is no longer as high as it was when you first applied for your American Express card, and once Amex sees the lower income you think they’ll close your card(s).

Some people won’t comply with the review request and instead of waiting for American Express to close their cards they proactively close their accounts themselves. Their goal is to avoid the accounts being reported to credit bureaus as “closed by issuer”

Most of the time that decision is based on a misperception that ‘closed by issuer’ hurts their credit score. It does not.

If a bank closes your card because you are delinquent on payments or in default on the card that’ll hurt your credit score — though there it’s the delinquency or default, not the closure, that hurts your score.

Losing available credit can increase your utilization rate — it reduces total available credit, so you’re using more of what you have, and that can bring down your score (this is independent of who initiates the closure).

And eventually, when the card ages off of your credit report in ten years, having closed the card can reduce the average age of your accounts (another reason independent of who initiates the closure).

Having an account closed by issuer does not hurt your FICO score. But it still doesn’t look good to anyone manually examining the report since they may assume the account was closed due to a problem or concern and they’re likely to have a concern themselves until they understand it better. (Relatively few requests for credit involve such a manual examination.)

My suggestion for most people is to just go ahead with the financial review, the worst case is generally account closure, so why bring that worst case on yourself? And even if your income has dropped markedly, they may just reduce their exposure to you by reducing your credit limit.

If American Express closes your account after a financial review, does that mean you’re banned for life?

If you close cards instead of proceeding with a financial review you can’t just ring up later to re-open the cards. When you close a card American Express will often expedite re-opening the account but not in this case, they will still want to put you through a financial review.

But if American Express closes your account that doesn’t mean you’re shut out for good, there are plenty of reports of successful new applications some time down the line. And sometimes those even go through with an instant approval. In all likelihood the triggers for the financial review (such as difficulty verifying an address, or lots of inquiries) were no longer present.

Give it some time, apply when you know your address is verifiable and you haven’t had a ton of other inquiries, and your score is high and you may be able to get an Amex card again.

Preparing for a financial review

The first piece of advice is actually quite simple, you can avoid the worst consequences of a financial review by being honest on your applications. That won’t prevent a review, but unless your financial situation has deteriorated substantially since the time you applied it will almost always keep your account from getting cancelled.

You should also have another credit card, from another issuer. Don’t carry just American Express. That way if Amex puts a temporary hold on your ability to charge as a result of the review you won’t be shut out. It could happen while you’re traveling abroad or when you have extremely important bills to pay by card right away. So having a backup is useful. And that’s not just true for American Express cards, it’s true for any card since other issuers have their own processes – it’s just that American Express has been aggressive and well-known for theirs.

If you do believe your account will get cancelled, because the income on your tax returns is much lower than the amount you had told Amex you made when you applied — or if you are not going to comply with the financial review — and if you have a Membership Rewards-earning Amex card, then you probably want to transfer out those Membership Rewards points before submitting documents for the financial review or letting the time period for doing so lapse. That way you won’t risk losing your points.

Finally, don’t sweat it. You are asking them to take the risk that you’ll repay, and if you want to do business with them they are going to want to assure themselves of your ability to actually repay. If you’re not comfortable with that, there are certainly other issuers who may not ask for the same level of personal information.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Pingbacks

  1. […] To avoid going over my credit limit, I’ll pay off my credit balance multiple times per month.  There is a chance that all of this will lead to an Amex financial review.  If that happens, I’ll send in whatever paperwork they require and hopefully get through it unscathed.  For details about American Express financial reviews, please see View from the Wing’s terrific post on the subject: “Preparing for the Dreaded American Express Financial Review.” […]

Comments

  1. Just got my business gold enhanced. Feel a little misled about the fact that there is indeed a spending limit. How is this different from any other card? However, I am excited to be using AMEX for my business. Right now we have: Citi: $10k, AmexCostco: $15k, USBankVisa: $15k

    We run up $20k – $50k a week in business expenses and pay it off several times a week. This has been a huge hassle with current cards and I’m hoping this one will help improve things. My business has several purchasers on the cards. We hope to gross about $500k this year. I’m hoping my limit is something like $30k – $50k, still waiting to find out. If it’s anything less than $10k, the card will be mostly worthless to us.

    Regarding a FR, I don’t mind sending them a copy of my quick books reports or a tax return every year. If they start asking for more crap, they will find themselves ditched in a hurry. When I’m making sevearl $10k ++ payments a week and zero-ing out the card every week, that should be all they need to realize it’s a legit business and there is no risk in what I’m doing. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m sure capital one would love my $200k – $300k a year in credit card charges if AMEX starts giving me issues.

    I also wonder what the learning period for the card is like? I had major issues for the first year with all of the other cards constantly going into fraud because they cannot predict the type of spending I’m doing. Assuming I’ll have the same issue with AMEX, and I’m not sure we have the patience for it. The first time I’m at a check-out counter with $10k in merchandise and everyone has to wait while I call my credit card company… that could be the end of AMEX and I will scream bloody murder to everyone around me about how much they suck while I whip out another card.

    What I’m lead to believe when applied: This is the serious card for serious business spenders. No, limits, no BS, no cards for bad risk people.

    What it seems like: They are marketing to everyone now, good and bad risks. Unless I have a 1 billion a yr company, there will be a limit that I have to work around. They are overly cautious and I’m going to have issues using their card.

    Thoughts?

  2. I’m surprised more credit companies don’t do a FR. My father in law died at 87 with 60K in credit card debt (he hid this from us, occasionally removing cash value from a whole life policy to pay down cards to get the minimum payment amounts back to manageable based on his fixed limited income). The credit card companies kept increasing his limits, he carried high balances and only paid the minimum. A basic FR would have looked these factors and that he was widowed with no assets The credit card companies lost out in a big way. But they extended huge amounts of credit to an 87 yr old man. It was clear he’d never be able to pay it off in his lifetime, and a FR would have shown no assets and too much credit had been extended.

  3. I’m curious about an earlier comment Joey made…is there anything about the VR load/unload game that could be considered kiting?

  4. I had a quick question. I went through a financial review last year due to charges I made on my business gold – I made a $4000 purchase of tickets on it which was unusually high for them based on my spending pattern. In any case after the FR, they concluded I didn’t have just cause to have a business relationship with them but all my personal details were in order. They closed my business cards and I still have my personal cards.

    Does this mean I can never apply for a amex business card again? Its over a year since this episode happened.

  5. This author is nothing but an American Express apologist. I like the way he doesn’t really explain that you could go years with hardly touching the card (as I did for the past 5 years: only placing a single recurring charge on it once a year for less than $200)while dutifully paying your required monthly payments with no issues and then, when you suddenly have an emergency purchase – say, an auto repair for about $800 – you get declined (despite supposedly having over $6000 of your limit still available!!!), only to find out that AMEX booby-trapped your account to run an automatic “financial review” when any activity within certain parameters suddenly appeared. In my case, this resulted in a nearly $7000 reduction to my credit limit, on a card that I ALWAYS handled scrupulously per OUR agreement. I never broke policy, yet — what this cheerleader posing as an author won’t tell you — is that now MY 726 FICO score is going to take a nose-dive because the cowards at American Express did not have the courage to contact me UP FRONT, BEFORE I ever used the card again, to tell me that I should leave it alone. So now, because AMEX has taken a good-paying customer (me) and jacked up his account, Experian, TransUnion, et al will now think it looks like my debt-to-credit ratio has blown out of control when that is indeed NOT the case. So, I’d like to personally “thank” AMEX for ruining good people’s credit scores (search online, I’m hardly the only person they’ve done this to. This is NOT the same as CLOSING an account and this DOES affect your FICO score; the 4 customer service reps I vented at over this even admitted it does!) as well as this sycophantic, “blame the victim” author (although I hesitate to use the word author, any other term would be far to rude, no matter how appropriate).


  6. It is stunning Amex just does not advertise on the statements and make it more in your face that the cards are not to be used for cash equivalents. Seems they could avoid wasting a lot of their resources doing financial reviews and pissing off customers.

    I am serious, I did not know and now they have a gun to my head. I understand them wanting to protect their interests, but not telling me the deal up front lacks. Maybe it is hidden in the terms that they change every time i open a statement.

  7. Interesting. Amex gave my son a Black card at the age of 23. He was not employed but was doing contract work. He had no assets but still they gave it to him. Now he has run up a$250,000 bill and they want to bankrupt him for not paying. Surely they should do better vetting of their card holders

  8. I just got a request for review with an immediate blockage of all of my accounts. I was very surprised, but I sent them all the data needed and the form(s) requested.
    My only concern is that they asked me for my income which I believe I slightly overspecified (about 10 percent up as I was not sure if certain overtime/reimbursements are accounted for, but it is still 120 or so without it). They asked for the 2012 tax return data (which is prior to my recent increase, but what can I do?)

    Anyway, I am concern that they would consider that lack of honesty but it was an honest man’s error. Anything I can do? I did mention the error when I called to verify that they’ve received the data faxed to them.

  9. Obviously not enough detail above to know but generally they might just reduce available credit rather than close accounts if you send them everything they want and there’s no real black marks there..

  10. Venting time…
    AMEX said that the flag was raised because I had several flight tickets that were purchased and returned (true, I have numerous refundable tickets). The reason so many showed up was because we had until very recently someone working for us who simply returned and purchased new tickets in lieu of changing them when needed, which resulted in multiple charges and returns. It is equal from an accounting balancing point of view, but not a good practice (but worked for them for some reason). I was actually surprised when I read the annual summary this afternoon looking for clues- there were $250k or so in tickets refunded, along with about $300k purchased of course. So, yes- I see why they got it flagged: Have it been simply 50k in tickets, fine. But they saw an amount that was notably higher, along with credits that were not clear to them or explainable. If I were a financial analyst, I would have flagged it as well.

    But, their CS is bad in this case. I am upset because (a) no early warning was given. I logged in to make a payment and saw all accounts are being held ‘hostage’ (somewhere between last night and this morning), I was not even allowed to make a payment to my account (which was the reason I logged in)
    (b) AMEX holds all accounts, not just the accounts in question. Personal and business. Even recurrent payments are now stopped. I have been spending an hour or so trying to figure out which card(s) hold which recurrent payments, and having the admin call the service providers and change the charge numbers. It is annoying to an extreme.
    (c) They called on the spot (I guess my website login triggered a phone call) and requested answers which I honestly believe very few people can provide without detailed check. Okay, I know the range of my income but exact number is hard. I also honestly can’t recall the spending charged in each category, and/or when (with so many flights, I sometimes forget which time zone I ended up in). A simple letter saying:
    “your account is up to review because…
    please provide this…
    please call us between a and b 7 days a week at…”
    would have been useful. For a 10+ years client, this was a surprise. Okay, venting ends

  11. American Express can suck my dick. I had a gold card for 12 years. As an airline pilot I travel almost exclusively outside the United States. One day in Abu Dhabi I tried to pay for lunch with my AMEX card and it was declined. After calling “customer service” I was told I was being reviewed. Now I have never in twelve years missed a payment. For several years I was averaging between $30,000-40,000 in charges a year. They never sent me a notification or warning. Just BAM! Card stops working. Is this how you reward loyalty and business? They wanted my last year’s W-2s, copies of my checking and saving account statements and my last three pay stubs. Needless to say I told them to cancel my account immediately and go screw themselves. Having a charge card shouldn’t be more difficult than applying for a VP position at a Fortune 500.

  12. I submitted an application and they emailed be back a decision that requires a tax form verification …does this mean I’m approved pending completion of financial/ address review ?

  13. I asked ax to give me a larger credit line..they passed me to several reps and finally the call was dropped..That afternoon there was a red flag on all my four cards saying my charge privileges have been cancelled but all my cards still work and when I called ax they said I was ok..Its been three days and hey are still flagged..I have no idea whats going on

  14. At the outset, please my apologies for this rather lengthy post. I really am in a fix, and wanted to provide as complete a picture as possible.

    Around the 1st week of June, was trying to meet a 10K spend on the Amex Plat Buss for 100K MR points, and so was purchasing GCs at the local store (was trying to put though the about 4K in two 2K transactions, which I then would load to BB). My second 2K did not go though due to a security alert, and so had to call in. My surprise to find that I was transferred to the dreaded AMEX financial review team, who basically said I needed to provide a 4506T authorizing Amex to evaluate my accounts. I have a healthy household income, have always paid balances in full, and have a FICO of around 810. So was cautiously optimistic that it will go through.

    I sent it in and was told that it would take 5-7 buss days for the process to be completed (and was advised that there might be either a limit to my accounts or no change, which was a relief). I had to leave for Europe for a planned vacation with my wife the next day (10th), and so was hoping that this would get resolved shortly. But nothing happened for about a week.

    I called in again to check the status (this was the 17th), and my case manger told me that when he contacted the IRS, they reported that I had NOT FILED a tax return for 2013! So there was no way for them to check my credit worthiness, and so the accounts might need to be closed. This was highly alarming, since I always get my taxes done well within time (this year was in March), and I have the physical copy of the return (this is of course the first time something like this has happened to me with my taxes and I am looking into that matter).

    I suggested that this was probably a mistake, and asked him for an extension, given that I was still in Europe (I had informed him before I left) and returning only after 4 days. His response was that the most he can allow me was until the 25th (in his words – “to be fair to all the other Amex customers”), and the only way forward was to request a transcript by mail through the IRS send it directly to AMEX.

    Seeing no other way around with me being in Paris at that time and no access to any other documentation, I quickly e-filed my taxes again that same night online, hoping that the 10 days I had might be sufficient for the IRS to maybe get my application in the system, and thus be able to offer AMEX a transcript. Unfortunately, although the IRS received and was the processing my return, it would take them 21days to do so, and so there is no way for me to get AMEX a transcript from the IRS.

    So now my situation is this – I have a tax return which is under processing, and might take anywhere up to another 2 weeks to get done. I only have one week with AMEX, wherein I need to have the transcript sent to me first and then mailed out to them (highly unlikely that this gets done). Best case scenario – I convince my case manager to give me an extension, but going by my conversations with my case manager thus far does not seem too promising. Scenario2: I preemptively close my accounts myself, and thus prevent my credit report saying that it was closed by the issuer. Scenario3: Just let it play out.

    I have about 40K MR points that I need to use up. I would like to transfer them to my Hawaiian Account (they have a bonus offer right now), but am not sure if this will work since there is a minimal fee/tax for the transfer that is charged to the Amex card, and since charging has been suspended, this will probably not go through. My other option is to buy something from the Amex online portal, but the redemption values are not really good. I have no balance on any of the cards, so using it for paying down my balance is not an option either.

    I am looking for advise on these possibilities:

    1. How do I go about convincing my case manager to give me an extension? My thoughts were to offer to send him my W2, my salary slips, my tax returns for the past 2 years (which I have), and also the tax documentation that I had completed in March but that did not really get filed. He seems a tough cookie, and as much as I would like to suggest to speak to a manager, I am afraid I might piss him off.
    2. Transfer my MR points out (either through the mall). I guess my delta points and SPG points would be safe. Then close out my accounts myself before they do it (if this is possible). In this case, what happens to the annual fees that I pay (I just signed up for the Amex Plat Business in April, so have only used up about a months worth of value). Do they refund it on a prorated basis?
    3. Do nothing and wait for them to complete the process. I am guess they will offer me a chance to do something with my MR points (I have seen earlier data points where people were allowed 3-6 months to use them up). Not sure if this is really the best option since I am completely at their mercy at that point.

    Please feel free to suggest other alternatives. I wanted to get some feedback and put together a strong action plan before I call in again to talk to the case manager. Any comments are welcome. I intend to call in again to speak to my manager on Monday.

    Again, my apologies for this long post, but really wanted to get my thoughts on paper.

  15. There is no way I would ever own an Amex Card. I have seen first hand what they do to their best customers at a whim. credit limits cut, closed accounts from some of their best customers that had a perfect payment history. I watched in disbelief actually calling my partner asking about his payment BEFORE it was due and he paid it off every month like clockwork. During 2008 their stunts caused thousands of people all kinds of havoc when they cut off credit lines and closed accounts without notice to some of their best customers without notice!

    This FR is really the limit. I just don’t understand why anyone would give up so much information to Amex just to hold their card. I have very large limits with Barclays, Discover, Citibank and Chase. I will never be embarrassed by having my card declined in front of my client because I know exactly how much credit I have with each one. I also get tons of points and cash back because of my business spending each month. If I need my cash I carry a balance once in a while but usually pay everything off each month.

    Amex used be a status symbol. It is not anymore. In fact they are marketing the blue cash card to welfare people now. Clearly no measure of status in my mind. Sorry I will not be a customer of theirs ever.

  16. I am trying to apply for an American Express card, I used to have one and got cancelled years ago, not sure why but I have tried 3 times recently and got declined for cancelled account, how long before Amex releases my cancel account so I can get another card from them again?

  17. I did what many do and freaked out when I woke up to use the bathroom at 3am, checked my phone, and saw an email that politely told me my Amex limit was dropped by nearly $4,000. I don’t have the world’s most perfect scores but I don’t abuse my revolving items and have never paid late. With Amex, I’ve never carried a balance or had any issues, either.

    I called the number and used the document upload feature and a nice lady called me back with a couple questions. I sent in my latest tax return (just the 1040 portion) and a nice letter explaining why I like my card and it’s benefits and such. Waiting for them to close my account I was nervous. I really do like the card and it’s nifty benefits and features. A couple days later I log in after lunch and my line was back to what it was before. No email or letter yet, but it’s good to see it worked!

    I don’t think the financial review is anything to sweat unless you know something is wrong with how you use your cards. It happens. If they didn’t raise my limit, well, I’d have used the line they left me with and moved on with my life until I could request an increase. Painless! Thanks for the info on it too, it really helped a newbie to the Amex FR.

  18. I just got my BRG card and need to put 10k spend in 3 months. I do have a legitimate business that’s my sole source of income, though this time of year I’m only putting $500-$1,000/month on Biz cards. Would goosing spend via Redcard put up any red flags? Normal Biz purchases for me are Walmart, Target, etc anyways. I don’t want Amex to think I’m going on a spending spree though. Also, any worry of Redcard talking to Amex charge card segment? I assume they’d know that my payments were coming from my Redcard account, or should I be withdrawing to my bank account and then just paying my bills from checking?

  19. We just received a call saying a FR was warranted and we needed to release our 2013 IRS tax return so they could verify income. Our income in 2013 was lower than what we made in 2014 because our business and personal income increased substantially and 2015 is even higher. Our spending is about the same and we pay off the bill in full timely each month. We own our home and cars and have no outside debt.
    I have an issue with any credit card company requesting my tax return, period. The small amount we put on Amex through business travel each month is not worth the privacy compromise in this day of identity theft but also, it makes no sense because we are in a better financial place in our lives and career than ever.
    I have a Visa with my bank – that is my only card now and I’ll probably open a MasterCard just to have another card in case of emergencies.
    It is not a house or a car loan where I could see them being concerned. As long as the bill is paid monthly in full per terms timely, no FR is needed.

  20. I just don’t understand why you would tolerate such BS. Does Amex control your life? Do you not have any credit with anyone else? When they ask for your 1040 simply say “no”. I’ve read every post above and can’t believe how submissive you people are. For the love of God….show some integrity.

  21. I’m not sure I would do the financial review either. I’d probably be okay with providing some pay stubs to verify income, but I’m not okay with providing my tax records or other account statements.

    I like my AmEx Blue Cash Everyday Card for the special offers, but other than that I like my Citibank Double Cash Card better. So… it’s not like I’d beg AmEx to keep me.

    I had an AmEx charge card over a decade ago. They declined a transaction and asked me to verify that I’m the cardholder over the phone at the merchant. Fraud protection. Fair enough.

    But, they had the wrong info in their system! I don’t know if it was my birth date or what, but I provided the correct info on both the application and the phone call. So, they wouldn’t let the charge go through. I got mad and told them to cancel the card. That was no problem. They didn’t care.

    They lost over a decade of business with me over that one incident. However, I did eventually respond to one of their offers a few years back and have been happy with the new card.

  22. We are undergoing an FR and after waiting days to have our case manager call us back we now tried to upload the bank statements of two years from drop box to their financial review upload. Well an error keeps appearing and we tried sending by fax (ring central system) When I finally called in they told me that the upload error is due to using a mac and to go to a library???? Seriously and they only accept the “old fashion” fax method. They suggested a fax service??? WOW! Not to mention their server was down all morning and is now back up. Then they tell me that all files must be saved ONLY with the cardholder name.pdf No other underscores or anything. I am interested in any suggestions from another mac user. Not heading to the library.

  23. Seriously AMEX doesn’t make any sense. I just went through a financial review, but only had to do a phone call to my bank to verif beginning and ending balances of my bank account for past two months. I have only had the card a few months, mind you. They also asked for the total amount in my account to date, which would have been a lot more if I was able to get ahold of the exact person I needed to speak with on my first attempt calling him. It was an ordeal because I could only spark with the person who started initial contact and their phone system was messed up so I kept getting routed to someone else’s voicemail. It was so frustrating.

    In the meantime I had bills to pay so down went my bank balance. I was certain they were going to cancel my cards. Finally on the last day before the deadline ended I was able to get ahold of this person and verify. It took a couple more days but they ended up only reducing one of my cards about 33% of the original credit limit amount. My other card was not effected. The follow up conversation I had with them is you can earn an increase later onice we see your spending and payment habits for some time in the future.

    So, here is the part that doesn’t make sense. It’s just a couple weeks later and I received a letter in the mail notifying me that my other card, which stayed the same originally had been increased by double. Really doesn’t seem like there is any rhyme or reason with them. Basically they just gave me back the credit limit from the one card they took and added it back to another card. Oh well, I’ll take it and just going to be more careful in the future.

    Have to say it did hurt the relationship AMEX and I have. I don’t trust them anymore because of this experience, but since I am using them to build my credit I am still willing to do business with them. Just going to pray everyday that they don’t do this to me again, because I have read that sometimes it can happen again even within a few months. Just terrifying to always be on guard with your credit cad company.

  24. I would not care to do it, I have been a member for almost 30 years. From my credit report (Australia) they seem to be doing a monthly periodic credit review *every* month. Never missed a payment and consistently spend 6 figures a year. Have had more issues as a cardmember than they have had from me. I cannot imagine they would want to lose me. One of the reasons membership appealed to me was that I was not obliged to declare my income, only that it was above 30K, and then 50K for the gold card. I did not take up the Centurion as it did not appeal to me, supposedly I have no spending limit on the gold charge card anyway. They can ask for my income, but I really don’t care to disclose, thank you very much, they have data scientists for that.

  25. I just called and cancelled all my Amex cards just because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of account review paper work. I’m glad I read this page because I thought that I had to go through their review, I still have to make payments on the accounts though.

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