Ok, so I've spent a lot of time on the forums reading, and was well aware of what a Financial Review was, and many people in various threads recommended just letting the issuer go at that point. However, I was honest on my application and believed I would come out vindicated on the other end. I was right...but WOW it was a pain. I've detailed my experience here if anyone is going through something similar and would like to know how things work.
First and most importantly, why? One of my authorized users owns a business of his own. He used the card (legitimately) to make a purchase at this business. Let me tell you, If you have a business...legitimate charge or not...Write a check from business to business. It's not worth getting the points. This started the entire ordeal!
Next, my account wasn't flagged even long enough for someone to call me. I didn't even get an unauthorized charge notification. I happened to call in, and got forwarded to the FR department when I authenticated my card. As soon as I verified myself, they began asking me questions about the above charge; I was kind of in shock at all of it, I had no idea what had happened, or what was happening.
Whatever I told them, satisfied their line of questions and they said they reversed the pending cancellation. Unfortunately, they said that now that my account had been flagged, they had to do a full FR! My stomach was nauseus but I kept it mostly together, very calm just very surprised..."what? I don't understand? why? huh? You've locked my cards?!"After several questions, I concluded there was no other way through the end of this, there was no way to temporarily authorize things, if any autopay bills come through, they'll be denied, etc I either complied, or said byebye to amex. The later, to me, was completely unacceptable. I LOVE amex!!
From stories of other FR, I feel like mine was maybe a little easier as they did not require any tax forms, they just wanted to see two bank statements. I said, no problem. You'll have them in 10 minutes! I was maybe a little over zealous but about a hour later I had the statements downloaded as pdf, created a "secure email" account and had sent them to amex. I was told I only needed to send the account which I use as a payment source. However, If I chose, I could include a second account for them to take into consideration. I chose to send my investment account statement. I explained this is what I planned and was at no point told this would be a problem (more on that later). I was told it could take up to 48h for the documents to post where their department could see them. Now, I was in shut up and wait territory. None the less, I called at the end of day monday (day it happened), and every subsequent day at around 5 pm.
Monday evening at around 7, they had not received them. They claimed they submitted an email requesting priority review of the documents when they get received. This may just have been something they said to appease me. It didn't seem to be very fast from my perspective. Tuesday evening, they could not see them, but put me on hold to "look in another place" and found them. They said they were now being submitted to another department for review (i thought you WERE the financial review department?!?...but I digress). Wednesday and thursday evenings they said they are in the "finalization" department and that department will determine what, if any, limits might be changed.
Thursday evening late, around 10pm, I received several emails. My simply cash card ($6000) was being lowered to 4000. My personal gold(no set limit), blue business plus ($5000) and blue cash preferred ($6000) cards had all been given 3100 dollar limits each. Additionally, my Blue business plus card had been set so that it was no longer able to be spent above it's credit line. Every month my blue business plus card averages about 15k worth of charges, so this would make things rather difficult.
Monday morning during my first call, I had received someone in a US callcenter. Every subsequent call I had received India, or somewhere offshore. (I had forgotten how nice it was to speak to someone in the US every time, even at 2am) My plan was to speak to someone in the morning, and hopefully get another US agent. I unfortunately did not.
Friday morning, I called at about 10am. I got a thouroughly unhelpful person in an offshore callcenter that refused to explain the situation she insisted on answering with that circular logic that you're not entirely sure if they're doing on purpose to infuriate you, or if they legitimately do not understand your simple questions. after about 20 times asking to speak to someone in the department who actually makes these determinations (from previous calls, the finalization department) she forwards me to her manager. I ask him the same questions that I asked her. While still in an offshore center, he was quite helpful! Maybe he had just been working there long enough to understand better, or maybe the first woman was being intentionally difficult (i think this was it).
I asked, why was there a limit placed. The operating account I had sent him showed about 40k incoming and outgoing during both months (christmas, wish I made 40k net lol). He said that "from the one account that we accepted there does not appear to be enough 'liquidity (cash on hand).'" I said, "well of course it doesnt. The account in question is my business account. This account makes money, spends money...anything left, especially at the end of the quarter/year gets distributed to the shareholders (me) and then ends up in my investment account. Did you not get the statement from my investment account? There is far more than necessary in that account (IMHO) to justify the accounts without limits." He explains that they only cared about liquid assets. Not wanting to argue with him on the liquidity of stocks...they can be sold in seconds, I went for a simpler argument. I explained that on the same page there was a breakdown of $x in stocks, $y in bonds, and $z in cash. Upon seeing the cash figure, he was apologetic. He said that this detail was missed as generally they do not accept investment accounts. He said because of the cash figure, he was removing all limits as we spoke, and that the suspension should be over momentarily.
The process took about a hour and came in phases, the limits showed up, the suspension was removed, the ability to go over the limit was restored, etc. Can't remember the exact order but it definitely wasn't immediate and complete.
My account still forwards to the finanical review department, but all my cards are on, active, and I have even tested going over my limits. I have removed the authorized user who initially triggered this (even though the charge was legitimate...the extra points I get from his cards are NOT worth the massive issues I've had this week as a result.) The FR department said that once the emails get sent out, within 24h I will start getting regular customer service when I call.
FR transferred me to regular customer service and I spoke to someone who I explained the situation to, she was able to authorize a $200 courtesy credit on one of my accounts for the inconvenience of having no access to my cards this week, having several bills I had to follow up on etc, besides at LEAST 2 hours on the phone with amex themselves following up and making sure everything is ok.
I would have liked more... maybe $10k lol! ...but honestly, 200 sounded fair, and I didn't want to push my luck. It's more than most other banks would offer. $20 dollars or a free toaster or something...I'm not sure if it would make a difference, but the simply cash card she had pulled up has SIGNIFICANTLY less activity on it than the blue business plus card. I'm not sure, but I feel like I might have been able to get more MR value than 200 if she had looked that card up or my gold card instead...both of which have much more activity.
Congraulations OP on making it through.
do I understand this correctly -
triggering transaction was
Primary Account Owner = Biz A
Authorized User Owns Biz B
AU used card to pay BIZ B, their own business. For Example, CF Frost used your card to buy good from CF Frost, correct?
how much money was paid to the business with this card?
how much money was paid to the business with this card?
Excellent question... are we talking $100 or somewhere in the thousands?
I'm wondering now if I should even risk using my card when paying for lunch at my cousin's restaurant.
(Joking... sort of.)
Yes. AU Used at AU owned business, unrelated to me. Careful who you authorize.
It was a couple thousand at a restaurant for a legitimate catering order. Well within normal usage patterns. However, they said they tied AU card holder name to either the merchant account or to the business name. I didn't ask a lot of questions how they determined it. Seemed like a bad idea.
if it's lunch at your cousins restaurant... One, is your cousin an AU on your account, do you both have the same last name? how many points do you expect to make? Also, you know your cousin is losing money on it, just drop some cash. It's the only time I use cash pretty much. Friends and family business... That and tips. Same reason.
Ah, that makes more sense. I doubt a single charge in the thousands at a restaurant is normal for the average cardholder, which likely got the extra scrutiny. Once the transaction had their attention they connected the dots with the AU having a merchant account.
I'm not too concerned about using my card at my cousin's restaurant, but your situation does demonstrate that there is a "line" that those with AUs should be aware of. In my case, my cousin isn't an AUs on my accounts (nor am I on his) and my purchases with him are always in-line with a 'normal' meal (never more than $50).
As for him losing money on my purchases, the fees on my swipes are minimal due to the purchase amounts, and in any case the cost of running credit cards is built into his business model.