In the points and miles community, hearing the phrase “AMEX financial review” can cause panic and anxiety. It’s something that a lot of points collectors fear, especially those that are heavily invested in American Express credit cards.
About a month ago, one of our subscribers, Kanniappan, told me that he was notified by American Express that he was under a financial review. The review was triggered after he made two charges via PayPal, both of which were used to transfers money to others. American Express contacted him and asked for additional documentation. They also alerted him that the Paypal payments were against their policy. Though most frustrating was that they put a hold on his account, so he couldn’t use his credit card until it was resolved.
As many of you know, this is not an uncommon story or experience. In fact, I went through one a few years when I bought several gift cards on my business card, so it can easily happen to you.
To start, let’s discuss how you can reduce the risk of review.
Reducing the Risk
1. Be careful when sending money to others:
Kanniappan mentioned that his two PayPal transactions triggered the financial review. Since banks are concerned about money laundering, transferring large amounts of money to others can raise a red flag. This is especially the case if you do it multiple times in a short amount timespan.
2. Be aware of your normal spending habits:
Financial reviews are generally triggered when the issuer detects something out of the ordinary. The process is automated, and their systems look for spending patterns that are different than your normal habits. Be careful making a large purchase on a card within a short timeframe, especially if the card is new or if it hasn’t been used very often.
3. Notify issuer of a large upcoming expense:
If you think you’ll be making an extremely large purchase that may be out of your normal spending pattern, it’s worth letting the issuer know your intention. This can also reduce the chance of a fraud alert on your account.
4. Be honest about your income numbers:
American Express allows you to request a line of credit increase by providing your total annual income. Inflating your income amount can definitely trigger a financial review, especially if the reported increase doesn’t sound reasonable. I recommend being honest with your stated income so you won’t have any issues proving it if asked by the issuer.
5. Clicking the “Spending Power” button (more than once):
Sebby from AskSebby mentioned this factor in one of his video, which was really interesting. He clicked on the Spending Power button which confirmed that he was eligible for a larger purchase. However, since he clicked on it more than once, he was immediately hit with a financial review, even though American Express approved the requested spending limit.
If you end up getting a financial review, there are generally three outcomes that can occur. American Express will:
- Confirm your information and release their account hold
- Release the hold on your account, but lower your credit or charge limits
- Deem you to be too high of a credit risk or find a discrepancy in your stated income, and close your account
If you do find yourself in the situation that you are under financial review, you’ll want to follow these tips.
Tips for Dealing with an AMEX Financial Review
1. Be courteous and cooperative:
It may seem frustrating and ridiculous to you, but remember that American Express is trying to protect their business. Be courteous, cooperative, and professional. And more importantly, avoid being annoyed or angry with the specialist that contacts you.
2. Provide requested documentation:
Provide any documentation that can help your case as soon as possible. In this situation, being proactive and responsive can help influence the situation. If you think you there may be additional information that American Express should consider, don’t hesitate to document it and provide it to the financial review specialist assigned to your case.
I know that this is a scary situation. However, know that it happens all the time. As long as you’re not lying or misusing your cards, you’ll likely pass. And if you happen to fail the review process, things will still be okay. There will always be new card offers and issuers in the future, so don’t worry if things don’t work out.
Luckily for our subscriber Kanniappan, he was contacted by American Express a few days later and informed him that after reviewing his spending and payment history, they were canceling the review and removing the hold from his account. They did warn him against using services like PayPal to transfer money to others, but he essentially passed without issue.
I want to personally thank Kanniappan for sharing his experience with us, and even urging us to share his story in order to help others. His experience helps us to understand and deal with similar situations!
Have you ever had a financial review from American Express? If so, please share your experience below. Also, let us know if you have any questions.
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