My Experience with an American Express Financial Review

Perhaps one of the most “dreaded” things in the frequent traveler community seems to be an American Express Financial Review, and having recently gone through such a process, I wanted to let you know about my experiences, and what you should expect.

How did I know I was being financial reviewed?

Unfortunately, the biggest way people seem to find out that they are getting reviewed is their card getting declined at a merchant, such as was the case with me. I was at a local gas station filling up my car when my credit card failed to work in the pump. Not thinking much of it, I went inside to pay thinking somehow the pump was broken. Unfortunately, I was told by the clerk that my card had declined. Odd, I called American Express to find out that a suspension had been placed on all of my accounts. Soon after, I had received a call on my phone from an unknown number with an agent saying that I needed to call in immediately because of my account status. I was being financial reviewed.

Why was I getting reviewed?

Let me be the first to say that I have not done anything “suspicious” with my American Express accounts. I value my relationship with Amex, and I find their customer service to be well above par. So, in the interest of not wanting to ruin any relationship I have with them, I don’t do anything other than normal spending on my cards there. However, a certain transaction above my normal spending habits had “triggered” the review.

What happened next?

After speaking with the agent on the phone, it was very clear that Amex takes a no-nonsense approach to financial reviews. Not only did I find the agent assigned to my “case” very brash and to-the-point, but I also found out that general customer service agents are advised not to speak with you regarding any matter during the review, and the only person that you’re allowed to speak with is the financial review agent himself/herself – that’s it. I was given the working hours of my specific agent, and anything outside of those hours simply wouldn’t be dealt with – I’d have to speak to my agent himself. During the call, I was informed of the financial review, and that the review was to ensure I could successfully pay off the outstanding balances on my American Express accounts.

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The Review Itself

In order to verify my information, I was asked to verify some logistical biographical information such as my address, phone number email and employment status. All of this was done verbally over the phone. Next, I was asked to verify the financial source used to pay my American Express accounts (the linked bank account). Since I use a specific bank account to pay these amounts, I informed the representative that it wasn’t a true representation of my income or wealth, however they said that was okay and needed to be verified anyways. While on the phone, the agent conference-called in a representative from my bank to verify the running balance in my account for the last three months. At the end of the call, I was asked by the Amex agent if I wanted to provide any other bank account information, to which I declined. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable disclosing any additional financial information (not that I have anything to hide), including additional bank accounts and any money that may be in them. For me, that’s too far for disclosure, so I decided to only provide the information in my linked bank account, which I thought was fair. It’s worth noting that I was not required to provide additional information, but simply suggested to.

The Results

After my information was verified with my bank, I was informed it would take 3-5 business days for a decision, however that since I cooperated in providing the information thus far, none of my cards would be closed, and that the only action that may be taken is a credit limit adjustment. 3 days later, I received a follow up phone call verifying that the review was complete, and that two of my cards had an adjusted credit limit, based on the fact that I was unwilling to provide additional financial information. While the credit limit adjustment was not a huge impact based on my spending, I was concerned it was adjusted at all, though I guess can appreciate how Amex wants to ensure their customers are willing and able to pay their bills. All of my American Express cards have since been released from the suspension and are now fully active as they were before.

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Some notes on my experience with the financial review that you may find helpful:

  • There seems to be a general trend amongst those getting reviewed that you won’t find out in advance if it’s coming — you’ll find out the hard way when your card is declined or not accepted in most cases. Personally, I’d wish for a more tactful way of conducting this review instead of it appearing like some sort of German blitz campaign.
  • There’s only one person you can speak to about the review, which can be frustrating if they are busy, not in the office, or not working. In addition, the agents in the financial review team seem to be “no nonsense” and are not the most personably people in the world.
  • During the time you are being reviewed, all of your Amex accounts – personal and business – will be suspended meaning that you can’t use them at all. If you have a recurring payment during this time, you’ll need to make sure you have a backup, non-Amex card. For day to day purchases you’ll need another card, too.

If you’ve had an American Express Financial Review before, what was your experience?

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Comments

  1. says

    I got a FR about 8 years ago, maybe a little after my 2-year mark with Amex (only had 1 card with a huge limit). They asked me for my tax returns, which I didn’t really want to share with them. But, I caved and set a copy in and less than a day later my account was open again (with no adjustment) and have never had any further issues. I no longer value a relationship with Amex and if I got hit with another FR I would walk away at this point. I would have rather had a lower, but reasonable credit line with Amex vs the huge one they assigned and not go through the FR process.

    • says

      In total, among all cards, it was probably around $100K. That was them assigning that, not me. I need nowhere near that, but that’s what was given when I originally got my cards. I use a drop in the bucket compared to that.

      • Eli says

        You’re such a dumbass. You could lower your credit lines yourself and save yourself the potential FR.

  2. Kate says

    Would be helpful to your readers to know how large the expense was that triggered the review. Might help us from experiencing this process ourselves!

  3. David says

    After 15 years and over 200K in charges, if Amex ever flagged me for a “financial review” I’d drop them like a hot potato. They need to do a better job and perform their “review” before they issue the card, not come back years later and go on a fishing expedition in your finances.

  4. Kate says

    Sounds like you received some rough treatment from AMEX. Did you receive any apology or thanks for your business?

  5. William says

    I honestly find these “reviews” to be rather insulting. If you’re paying in full every month, and have never missed a payment, what do they care?

  6. choi says

    I got FR too two years ago after a major purchase from a fresh issued card that was just applied. however before I made a the phone call, I paid off the balance even when it was two days after it was posted. made the call but I was on the offense and counter every question she made. My balance was zero and she couldnt make me verify any financial information. just like you I had to wait for a decision the next day with her follow up phone call. from my take, you have to be aggressive and on the offensive side, dont let them wear you down with fear and intimidation.

  7. Joey says

    Was the charge that triggered the review from your business card or personal card?
    I hav never had this experience before and thank you for sharing your experience.

  8. dr kim says

    I had Amex cards since 1976, mainly gold, in many countries where I am banking as well. I found Amex in general rather incompetent. It is very difficult to contact a responsible person. They will try to avoid putting anything in writing. They avoid using their surnames. They make lots of mistakes but tend not to apologize. It is a poor product and I am only keeping a special card linked to Lufthansa. That card is based in Belgium.
    One day by reading an article of a travel writer I was persuaded to apply for a platinum card in the UK.
    My Bank in the UK not only approved but opened a special account for Amex. Amex at first agreed which made me in time for the BA rewards. Then it took time and time and only after enquiring may times it seemed there was a problem with the financial review. Who does this review? Their own department. They had contacted Amex Belgium or looked up figures. It seemed my Belgian Bank at one time, fairly recent, had refused payment of an Amex bll. This was due to a change in the direct debit syste of the Bank as they were switching to the SEPA system which is valid in the whole EU. The Belgian Bank had profusely apologized. I informed Amex UK but to no effect. Eventually the manager of Begian Amex then wrote to Amex UK that there had never been a problem with my account, that I was a highly valued cardholder and had spent cosiderabe amounts on my
    cards. In the end I did get the platinum card from the UK but by then I was too late for the bonus.
    Conclusions: Amex UK had incompetent staff doing te review. Amex Belgium never apologized to me but explained extensively to Amex UK. The so-called advantages of the platinum card amounted to nothing. I got better rates for planes and hotels on my own. Their ‘concierge’ service was terrible. Uneducated staff speaking a little English that had no access to information nor contacts with hotels, etc.
    Never get on the phone with Amex: it will take too long and you don’t have proof of what they told you. It is difficult but insist on an email address or fax and the surname of the person that uou are dealing with

  9. Giovanni Carlucci says

    i just got a financial review called about 3 days ago, i went ahead and submited my bank statements for the last 3 months like they requested i am freaking out also have mix emotions, i will call then tomorrow and see what happens

    • Bre says

      I received a call 2 days ago for a financial review I didn’t know I was under financial review until I got an alert to my phone that my card has been declined I’ve been trying to call the representative for two days they want I’ll call 17 times and left two messages they too I called 14 times and left two messages like most people who reply to this thread you have to speak with that person and that person only so I’m hoping that this goes smoothly I am prepared to provide them my bank statements and my tax returns I am just waiting after 2 days to speak to a representative who can help me I was told that you only have 14 days to complete the process I am as nervous and anxious As You Are

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