American Express Financial Review: Update

A few months ago, I was hit with an AMEX Financial Review on my accounts. I haven’t written about my experience until now, so I hope this provides some insight as to what happens.

The promotions that American Express have been running are the best in the Canadian market. The following charge cards have improved offers:

Additional Reading: American Express Gold Rewards Card Welcome Bonus increased to 30,000 Points!

AMEX Financial Review Process

The AMEX Financial Review occurs when your accounts are locked pending a evaluation of personal and financial information. This is meant to ensure that you’re in a position to be able to keep your currently open accounts in good standing.

AMEX Financial Review

AMEX Financial Review

Most reviews occur because of various internal and external factors. If you’re spending a lot more than usual, or your credit file information significantly changes, that could be cause for a financial review.

You’re told to call contact a 1-877 number that leads to the AMEX financial review and audit team. To unlock your accounts, you have to provide:

  • Notice of Assessment (Canadian Tax Returns) for the past year
  • Recent Paystubs and bank statements of an account used to pay the card (three months suggested)

This could be considered highly invasive, so note that none of these are mandatory. You’re not legally required to provide anything – but it’ll just mean your accounts will likely be closed.

At the time of the review, I had three AMEX cards open – a credit card, as well as the American Express Platinum Business and Gold Business Rewards Card last year during their increased signup bonus – which are still ongoing! You can earn up to 75,000 and 40,000 points for applying for the Business Platinum and Business Gold Cards respectively and then meeting the spending requirements. The offers I’ve written about are the highest I’ve seen both publicly and historically, so getting either of these cards are fantastic deals.

Additional Reading: 75,000 Points for the American Express Business Platinum Card!

There isn’t one agent that’s assigned with working your case – I spoke with multiple people in the team, as well as the Credit Department once a decision was made. The normal customer representatives are not able to help at all. After sending in my information, I was notified that I had passed the review! Unforuntately, a limit of a few thousand dollars was placed on each of my charge cards. My credit card with AMEX was not affected.

Why Did This Happen to Me?

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea. I manage six figures in revolving unsecured credit excellently, and I’ve never intentionally missed a payment or paid interest on any of my balances. My credit is also excellent, so that doesn’t make any sense. If I were to hazard a guess, the most logical reason was that I made significant purchases amounts on my Business Platinum Card (five figures worth) over a few days.

Honestly, I found the process kind of time-consuming and redundant. I’m never at the point where I can’t pay off what I charge on my cards, so if they have just given me a call, it’d have been a lot simpler. It’s all worth it, though, when you get your American Express Business Platinum Card gets you into the new Delta SkyClub at SEA. Yesterday was my first visit, and I’m in love with the lounge.

Read about the detailed timeline of my American Express Financial Review in Canada here.

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  1. Curious what spending limit you received roughly. I got my FR couple months after spending 6 figures in a month (without paying back until end of cycle).

  2. If you refuse to give them the requested info and they close the account, what happens to the points? Do they give you a specific time frame to use/transfer them? Thx

  3. I got the same questions as Shaun,

    Also, does this mean you will be declined future cards? Or if so, for a temporary period of time?

    • They don’t necessarily decline all future cards… I got biz gold few months after refusing FR on personal gold (I moved out points before refusing! )… haven’t been able to get personal gold 2 years later with reason ‘due to past relationship’ quoting original personal gold even though I accepted and passed FR on Biz gold1+ year before applying.

      • Anon, thanks for sharing your personal experience – very helpful!

        I find it odd of AmEx that their decision to approve or reject your application is based on a particular card, rather than on your overall personal file.

  4. FR are not only due to concerns to ability to pay, they can be triggered by Anti Money Laundering regulations. In this case, an unusual spending pattern such as large amount purchases at merchant commonly used for laundering can trigger a review. You mentioned several times that you used The Mint to MF… this would definitely have been a factor triggering your FR.

  5. I’m under FR right now. I paid an S-corp painting co. doing business under an individual’s name a $3500 deposit for an exterior paint job on my house. The transaction was done via Square on my Blue Cash Everyday card. AMEX indicates that went to FR based on an indication I have a relationship with the painter due to a shared address. Previous or current, they won’t say. Apparently making a transaction with a someone you know or have co-habitated with is a no-no for AMEX.

    Of course, I have no relationship with the painter, familial or otherwise, and have never co-habitated with her. What I’m suspecting is that Square shared the GPS coordinates or physical address where the Square transaction took place (in my kitchen on the painter’s cell phone) and extrapolated that we co-habitate. I’m having a hard time finding another reasonable explanation since the painter and I never knew one another before doing this paining work.

    I’m being asked to provide 2 months of bank statements. I’m not being asked to provide some kind of proof I do not have a personal relationship with the painter. I’m not sure how 2 months of bank statements are going to satisfy AMEX that the painter and I don’t have a personal connection, but who am I to judge.

    We’ll see where it goes.

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