When I’m looking at signing up for a new card, there are several things I think about. How big is the signup bonus? Will I keep this card for the long term? How can I meet the minimum spending requirement? If I’m considering an AMEX card, I also have to worry about the Rewards Abuse Team (affectionately called RAT). Please stop saying it’s the RAT Team because that would be the Rewards Abuse Team Team. But if you say that, you probably still type in your PIN number at the ATM machine. If you don’t get that joke, maybe someone will explain it to you.
The RAT’s job is to find any reason to deny a signup bonus to any cardholder they feel is trying to game the system and sign up for cards just for the bonuses. Why AMEX thinks this practice is a bad idea would make you question why they offer huge bonuses in the first place if it’s bad for business but better to put the blame on the customers, right?
A big no-no for AMEX is buying gift cards to meet minimum spending requirements. The presence of a single gift card purchase has been the reason for the RAT to deny a bonus, even if you’d otherwise meet the requirement without it.
So when I’m trying to meet the minimum spend on an AMEX card, I watch every purchase, making sure there’s nothing to put up a warning flag. I’m not buying any gift cards, not even a $50 Starbucks card at a drugstore to give as a farewell gift to a co-worker.
I guess this is just an extension of my overly cautious approach to earning miles and points. While I want to earn enough points to allow us to travel in comfort and style, I’d prefer to just coast along under the radar and not make any waves.
Am I being overly cautious or just careful?? What’s your experience? How much has the AMEX RAT let you get away with before they slam the door in your face?
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