I got Financial Reviewed by American Express! In Canada!

We’ve heard many stories about the American Express Financial Review … in the States. As Canadians, we’re 90% smaller in population than the US, but is the review process the same?

I currently have three American Express cards – one which I’ve held for quite a long time, as well as the American Express Platinum Business and Gold Business Rewards Card, which I picked up 75,000 and 40,000 points for meeting the minimum spend. Both of these cards are fantastic deals, especially with my Business Platinum Card which I intend to hold past the first year. My favourite lounges in North America are the delightfully designed and catered Centurion Lounges.

American Express Centurion Lounge SFO

American Express Centurion Lounge SFO

The promotions American Express has been running are one of the best in the Canadian market, and they’re still available right now:

These are transferrable at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Avios and Aeroplan, which are both major programs I use heavily. For more details, read about the promotions for the cards here.

I’ve very rarely heard about financial reviews on Canadian-issued American Express Cards, so I was kind of shocked when I got a phone message a while back asking me to call a number at AMEX.

American Express Financial Review Timeline (in Canada)

The first contact I received from American Express was a voicemail message telling me to call them. I actually hadn’t used the card in a while, but when I did, the transaction did not go through. Because I was busy with a other items, I ended up just using an alternative card. I was assuming it was a fraud alert of some sort, and didn’t think much about the incident.

A few days later, I got a physical letter in the mail from American Express. It stated that:

Based on a a review of your American Express Card accounts(s), charge privileges have been suspended.

In terms of what an American Express financial review looks like, the statement fit right in. However, it also stated:

Once the balance in full has been paid, your credit performance may be reviewed to re-evaluate our decision.

That sounded kind of contradictory. Among other things, they also listed the other cards I had active, also advising that charging privilege were temporarily suspended.

At that point, I made a call to American Express customer service, who transferred me to the Financial Review and Audit Team. I spoke with a few agents there, who said that my card was indeed being audited. I was kind of shocked, because I only had spent on my Business Platinum Card a total of less than 5 digits (albeit posted in the span of a week).

Online, an account undergoing the financial review would looks as follows:

American Express Financial Review Online Snapshot

American Express Financial Review Online Snapshot

American Express Financial Review Details

The reason given to me for an audit resulted from “internal and external” reasons. The agent who took my call said this could be either due to credit bureau notifications (for example multiple recent inquiries or delinquent accounts). That would be an external factor. An internal factor could be metrics based on personal and financial information submitted during the application, as well as spending patterns. I am assuming that the latter was what triggered the review, as I’ve never paid interest on a credit card and I have a great credit score.

During the call, I was asked for three kinds of documents:

  1. Notice of Assessment (Canadian Tax Returns)
  2. A recent paystub
  3. Bank statements of an account I used to pay the card

These documents are essentially what American Express in the US have asked people being FR’ed to send, so that was pretty straightforward. The weirdest part was that the documents had to be faxed. Apparently, emails are consider insecure to send this kind of personal information? I was kind of shocked that there wasn’t a simple method to upload these securely online.

Conclusion

The financial review in American Express is rare, especially in Canada. AMEX has always been my favourite issuer in Canada, as they have excellent bonuses. The current promotion for the Business Platinum Card is a whopping 75,000 point signup bonus, which is the highest it’s ever been historically. This year, in general, has been a year of fantastic credit card bonuses. The regular TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is offering 30,000 points, while the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is offering a whopping 65,000 points after meeting requirements – this is the highest non-AMEX offer I have ever seen. I’ve sent in my documents, and I’ll report back on the outcome soon.

What has been your experience with AMEX (or the American Express Financial Review)?

For more information on the American Express Financial Review in the US, see View from the Wing’s post.

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Comments

  1. I was FR’ed in Canada last year and now have a (generous) hard credit limit on the business charge card. Pretty smooth and quick process. Took a few days.

  2. I don’t understand why the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite is worth getting. If you want the 65,000 miles, you will need to pay $399 for the annual fee + $99 to add the authorized user + $399 for the anniversary bonus (you’ll need to keep the account open for 12 consecutive months). That looks to me like $897 of fees for this card. It doesn’t look like a good deal to me. Am I wrong? Or I might be missing something.

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