If you’ve signed up for one of the card offers from American Express, you may sometimes be required to undergo a financial review. This is done when Amex wants to ensure you can keep up regular payments on your account. Unfortunately, they freeze your account for the duration, so it’s best to avoid them completely. This article shares valuable information about how you can reduce your risk of being reviewed.
Understanding Amex Financial Reviews
The American Express Financial Review is a specific process that Amex applies to any of its account holders who they suspect may not be able to pay off their card payments. This allows the bank to minimize risks to itself from potential defaults.
They also don’t want to suffer the consequences of someone maxing out all of their credit cards and then disappearing. This is why account holders need to give their consent to a potential review or account closure when they first apply for a credit card.
Amex will freeze any accounts that you have with them until you can send them documents to prove that your income is the amount you have reported. They will notify you by writing a letter or making a phone call if they have chosen to begin a financial review.
The process will typically involve providing bank statements and tax returns. If you don’t give them any documents, they will simply close your account.
Once they are sure that you’re telling the truth and that your position is secure, they will unfreeze your accounts so that you can continue using your Amex cards as normal. The review will take 2-3 weeks and you will be speaking to a specialist dealing with your case. This is the only person you can speak to until you get an outcome.
There is no guarantee that you will pass a review if you are put through one, but there are ways you can reduce your likelihood of failing and avoid having them in the first place.
Once you know the signs of a possible financial review, some tips on how to reduce the risk of getting them, the ways to deal with them, and the possible outcomes, you will be in a great position to avoid receiving a request for one.
Signs for Financial Review
One of the most common complaints Amex customers have about a financial review is that they can be unpredictable and triggered by minor reasons. But some general activities can cause Amex to suspect you. If you are aware of them you can make sure you’re not engaging in them.
This is worth doing because when you do trigger a review, there are no ways you can get out of it. You have to complete the process for better or for worse. Here is a selection of the most common causes of an Amex financial review.
Overusing the Spending Power Button
The Amex website and mobile app have a Spending Power tool which allows you to check whether large charges to your credit card will be approved or not. All you need to do is enter the purchase amount and you’ll receive an instant decision from American Express.
However, the use of this tool has a daily limit on the number of times you can use it. This is because Amex wants to ensure that none of its cards are being used fraudulently. So if you like the tool and end up using it too many times in one day, you’ll automatically trigger a review.
Too Many Big Purchases at Once
You might see some expensive items you like and want to buy them. But if you make several large purchases over a few days which use up a significant chunk of your credit limit on a new card, then Amex won’t immediately suspect you.
But if that pattern of spending does not match the income you’ve declared, then that can be flagged up as a concern, which can then be the cause of a financial review.
High Credit Limits
If any of your Amex cards have a credit limit greater than $25000, or your overall credit limit from all of your cards combined is greater than $35000, this will trigger an automatic financial review.
American Express offers the ability to link your bank account so that you can use it to fund your credit card repayments. But if Amex attempt to take the payment and there is not enough money in your bank account, this will mean the payment gets refused.
And if any payments to Amex are refused, it will cause them to open a review into your account.
Rapid Income Changes
If the salary you declared when you applied for an Amex card and the salary you have one year later is far higher, then this may be a cause for concern. For example, if you applied with a salary of $50000, and a year later your salary is $100000, this is a substantial increase. In such circumstances, American Express will probably want proof of your income. This can be a tax return or pay stub.
Tips to Avoid Financial Review from Amex
Here are 6 key tips to focus on to increase your chances of avoiding an Amex financial review:
Be Careful When Sending Money to Others
If you’re sending money to someone you haven’t had any payment history with, or the sum of money is large, you could be flagged up for a review. This is because Amex will want to make sure that you’re the one in control of your account, especially if you’re sending a lot of money to someone you’ve never sent money to before.
It can also happen if you send several payments in quick succession. To avoid this, you can contact Amex to notify them that you are going to make an unusual payment.
Be Aware of your Normal Spending Habits
Amex requires you to supply your annual income upon applying for any card offers. They also apply credit limits to their credit cards. This helps them to make sure their customers are being honest about how much money they’re earning.
If you break away from your typical spending patterns by spending a lot more than you normally would in a week or month, then this could be seen as abnormal and a reason to investigate. So don’t make purchases that take you far out of your ordinary range, or you’ll quite easily be caught in an Amex financial review.
Notify Issuer of a Large Upcoming Expense
Following on from the above point, if you do have to make an expensive purchase for some reason, then the best way you can avoid a financial review is to notify your credit card issuer about it.
In this case, that would be American Express. If you don’t tell them, then they may assume that somebody has stolen your bank account details and is using your money for fraudulent purposes.
Be Honest About your Income Numbers
The easiest way to keep on top of your finances and avoid any suspicion from Amex is to be completely upfront and clear about the amount of money you earn. This will give Amex the information they need to understand the amount of money you are spending on your credit card.
If you suddenly increase your income from one year to the next, as mentioned in the previous section, this can come across as very concerning.
Meeting Minimum Spend Too Quickly
When you open an account with American Express and receive one of their credit cards, they’ll naturally want you to use it rather than leaving it alone. Often, once you meet the requirements, you unlock rewards and bonuses. But Amex doesn’t want customers to sign up just for the bonuses alone, so they put a minimum spend in place.
However, there is no reason to meet this instantly, as the time limit for meeting it is three months. The way to do this is to spend enough money, but do it gradually across the three months.
If you lack the money to pay off your statement, then a payment request from Amex could bounce. This means Amex has been unable to receive the payment they are due. This is one of the simplest reasons that people get reviewed, so to avoid it you need to make sure you have enough money to cover the costs.
How to Deal with Amex Financial Review
If you are in the unfortunate position of having to proceed with an Amex financial review, then there are a few ways you can get through the situation without suffering any more trouble than you need to. Here they are:
Be Courteous and Cooperative
The staff at American Express simply have a job to do and will be doing their best to resolve the situation. But they can only do this if you treat them well and help them to help you.
They also have to work in the interests of their finances, just as you do with yours. So although you may be tempted to become aggressive with them, that will not make the situation any better.
This one is very simple but can be easily forgotten by many people. If you’re trying to get away with something, like not sharing the full details of your finances, then it may not be discovered at the time, but eventually, your lies will come back to hurt you.
That’s because lies always have to be remembered, but the truth has evidence to support it. If documents are requested, then Amex will know if you’ve been lying or not.
Provide Requested Documentation
You will need to give American Express the information that they request from you. If you don’t, then your account will be closed as you won’t pass. Documents usually mean your bank statements and tax returns.
Sometimes you will be asked to fill out a 4506-T form, which authorizes Amex to collect a transcript of your Federal Income Tax Return from the IRS.
As with any stressful and time-consuming circumstances, the best thing you can do to make everything flow smoothly is to stay calm. You can’t change what’s happening to you, but you can change how you react to it. And if you know all of the tips in this article, and follow them step-by-step, then the situation won’t seem so traumatic.
The Possible Results After Financial Review
There are three potential outcomes for you after your review has been completed. It’s not quite as simple as passing or failing, and this is primarily because there are two ways you can pass. But once you’ve completed it, regardless of whether you pass or fail, you’ll have all the information you need to move on.
If American Express decides that there is nothing suspicious or concerning, that the information you have provided is satisfactory, and that you are not behaving unusually, then you will pass.
This means your accounts will be restored to normal and you can carry on as if nothing happened. You won’t be immune from another one in the future, so you’ll still need to be vigilant and follow the tips in this article.
Sometimes, you will pass the review, but American Express will decide to reduce your credit card limit. This could mean they’re skeptical of your income, or they think that the concerns regarding your finances are only minor. You’ve been given a second chance at this stage, and your credit card limit may rise again in the future.
If you fail, then American Express will close all of your accounts and may even put you on a blacklist preventing you from using their services in the future. This usually happens if you don’t give them any of the required documents, or you ignore their advice. If you avoid these mistakes, it’s unlikely you will fail the review.
You now have a comprehensive list of tips and tactics that will ensure you can take steps to avoid a financial review from Amex in 2020. You will know in advance the signs of an approaching review, and how to deal with one if you haven’t been able to avoid it.
You’ll also know what the available outcomes are. All of these details combined will give you a solid advantage when banking with American Express.