Amex Going Clawback-Happy For Grocery Store Spend


When it rains, it pours.

After recent hits to manufactured spending due to both GiftCardMall and reducing the amount of cashback that can be earned through shopping portals from $60,000 of spend per month to $2,000 and GiftCardMall reducing the maximum Visa gift card amount to $250, American Express has unsurprisingly decided to join the party by clawing back bonus points earned on grocery store spend from their recent card “enhancements”.

They’re performing not-so-subtle sleight of hand by initially awarding all the points you’d expect to see on your account.

Hilton Surpass Amex initial points deposited

Those points haven’t lasted long though because Amex has promptly clawed back the bulk of the points.

Hilton Surpass Amex clawback

Some Delta cardholders have been experiencing the same issue, as have some Marriott cardholders. The clawbacks have been initiated by Amex and so it’s not like people are getting Bonvoyed in the traditional sense, but Marriott isn’t helping matters by referring to reversals of large numbers of points as a “goodwill bonus”.

Marriott Amex clawbacks

There are four weeks left to take advantage of grocery store bonused spend on Amex cards, but these clawbacks certainly make their cards less appealing if you’ll be doing any kind of gift card buying activity.


Have you had any points clawed back on any of your accounts? If so, was it for spend on Hilton, Marriott or Delta cards and what kind of sums have been clawed back?

Thanks to the person that allowed me to share the screenshots of their clawbacks for this post.

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quit Amex when they went to one bonus per lifetime….greedy credit cards company making profits off of people who cant afford it. …and for the haters: hate the game not the player…and guess who made up the game and wrote the rules? Amex, Citi, Chase….which one do you work for?

eponymous coward

I don’t hate them but there is an obvious incentive for them to nerf you for MS. I’m in this for the long haul, not to accrue points and then get shut down like those AA/Citibank players were.


this subject has been discussed for years, since the days of the mint. Someone mentioned the addage: Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Statistically the losses they sustain from MS are insignificant. The MS game is harder to play and they make so much more off of the people that pay interest that catagory and sign up bonuses are loss leaders It is bait that actually make the company way more than it cost them…..the people that treat MS like a part time job are not the norm….but billion dollar profits every quarter for Amex are…the reason they may be getting tighter is they made 76% less this quarter than they did last year.


I stayed home like a chicken, only bought a pack of cigarette in supermarket. I was tempted to go for the hilton lifetime diamond, oh well


Why do bloggers even push these AMEX cards? Shouldn’t they be doing their customers and readers a favor and ban AMEX adverts?

eponymous coward

Money from signups. Pretty good obvious who is buttering bread. But i haven’t been seeing clawbacks and I am gunning for an AMEX Hilton bonus. But it’s normal grocery and restaurant spend not buying gift cards.


I had 14,155 post and they took 14,103 away. I’m just glad they didn’t touch the 38k points I received on the May Statement plus I received 45,000 on my Marriott card.


Those are some seriously low numbers for Amex to bother with. I normally spend around $2,500 a month at grocery stores including a few gift cards to pay my mortgage, so I’d be in a similar range if I was going with anything but my gold card.


That is a pretty darn low number. Not to worry you but one wonders if they are so anxious to stamp out MS at least at the COVID bonus level whether they go back and clawback already posted points. I put somewhat low odds on that but as I see lower and lower numbers reported for clawbacks on recent statements one wonders if they won’t revisit already posted statements with COVID bonuses.


What they did was give me 3x points on all of my grocery purchases and then they took them all away and just left me with 12 points from from a $4 purchase at a non bonus category store. The other 43,000 bonus grocery points never showed up.


One more interesting thing is although I didnt get the points, they didnt take the amount away from my free night benefit tracker.


MSing with Amex cards these days is a pretty bad idea. Stick with MSR, and Chase cards.


Wow. For those of you thinking this is so rotten and sinister, why are you even reading this blog? Or have a points card?

eponymous coward

Because I know that if I don’t MS, AMEX will honor their side of the bargain, and my needs aren’t grandiose enough that I need to churn a six digit number of Hilton points in a month.


As of now no points from grocery spending on my Delta Reserve have been clawed back, but I only have done normal spending and haven’t purchased gift cards. Honestly this is why a lot of the analysis on how you could max out these categories was dubious – with Amex, you should only do organic spend

eponymous coward

Same. I haven’t been buying thousands of dollars of gift cards on my brand new Hilton Aspire because I’m not an idiot. Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.


LOL Dave “Bank Lies Matter”. Toppling the statue of Henry Wells

Billy Bob

Negative goodwell. LOL


I wonder if they are looking at only “large” transactions. I would love to know.


I think we’d all love to know


Base on what doctor of credit is reporting. Anything above $100 is getting place on hold for further review


That’s crazy. I normally spend $250-$350 a week on our normal grocery purchases. $100 is absurdly low.


Absolutely, we spend right about the same, as long as your are not buying gift card you should be just fine.


This is great news. MS needs to end.


Interesting viewpoint—can you explain further?


It’s really simple actually, I feel many people hate MSers because 1) they often kill awesome deals fro everybody else to enjoy, and 2) let’s be honest, gaming is not necessarily an ethical thing to do for many, and for good reasons. It’s irrelevant what banks do or whether Trump cheats on his taxes, what’s releveant is what YOU do. I got into MSing myself for the same reasons most people do and I’ll continue playing the system, but I’m not going to sit here and justify it with some “you too” bs.


I used to be a heavy MSer. Now I’m not because all of the cash out spots in my area went away. I used to be for MS when I could do it. Now I’m against it because I can’t. I’m a salty person, what can I say.


Sounds like we found ourselves a real hater. After all the redlining, illegal foreclosures, money laundering, LIBOR rate gaming and etc. the banks have done you should be supporting Bank Lies Matter and looking for statues of AMEX founders Wells, Fargo and Butterfield.


Do you really MS in order to battle corporate evil. Please.


You have no idea how many MSers unironically believe that (including bloggers I’ve met irl). These people are actually delusional.


If you’ve ever met ADK in person, you’d back off. He’s a really decent guy and has been at this longer than most. Back in the days when there would be more meet ups and we knew each other more in person we’d be a little less judgmental.

Billy Bob

Could be keeping it up will lead to more account closures.

eponymous coward

In all seriousness, anyone who thinks there’s a social equity issue in credit card use is ignoring the fact that poor people using cash and debit cards subsidize credit card use In the USA (the Brookings Institution has the goods: “ How credit card companies reward the rich and punish the rest of us”- Google’s your friend).

You’re not striking a blow for social justice by MS’ing. You’re Gordon Gekko saying greed is good. I’m not going to say banks are moral and just here (because that would be equally silly, they are motivated by profit) but come on.

MS’ing is beating the casino In a game that plays to their advantage. Banks, like casinos, don’t like to be beaten and can take you out of the game because it’s their bank or casino. If you want to play, sure, but it’s not some high-minded social justice you’re doing; it’s just what we end up doing because we want luxury hotels and Krug at 35,000 feet we wouldn’t otherwise get.


You lost me at comparisons to the casinos.

The Value Traever

EpoCow: thats a good data point ; they really are like casinos…and its true about the MS stuff….most of us do it to fly up front, recline down 180, take showers in planes, and be able to brag about it on social media. If we get shut down, its part of the game…or hobby as some folks are saying now.


I don’t MS, but was actually thinking of purchasing some airline gift cards at the grocery for future flights. Do we know what the clawback threshold is?


Ms’ing typically involves buying cash equivalents (or gift cards for stores that do not typically provide Extra bonuses,like amazon or Home Depot) . Since many cards already bonus for flights/travel (and can offer protections) maybe rethink your strategy. FM’s posts on this may help

T. Jones

Thanks for your input. I understand buying cash equivalents, and it’s just not for me.
It’s just that I get a better return on grocery spend than I do on travel spend. Specifically I use Amex EP for groceries (4.5x). I use my CSP for travel (2x). For slightly better travel protections, I could leave a little bit of the transaction for my Ritz card.
However, I don’t want to buy any airline gift cards at the grocery if Amex is going to claw the points back. That’s why I was asking.


Doctor of Credit reported that the threshold might be as low as $100. However, it is also possible that Amex receives Level 3 data from the grocery stores and if they see that you purchased a single gift card, they could claw back everything.


I don’t have any personal experience, but I heard that buying merchant gift cards are fine. I thought it was the Visa, MasterCard and Amex gift cards that Amex has issues with. But I guess they could argue that all gift cards are cash equivalents. So far my MR earning cards are still earning bonuses on gift cards, but I also don’t do that much spending. I try to stay under the radar with Amex. I’m sure they can see the L3 data as Chase has even said they blocked a transaction because they saw a gift card was being purchased.


Can anyone chime in on if AMEX distinguishes between closed vs open loop gc?


It may depend on what merchant you purchase them from and volume. Generally, I have heard closed is okay, but YMMV as Amex could argue these are cash equivalents. Could always ask the store if you can “buy” something for X dollars and then immediately return it as a gift card if you really want to be sure. However, be careful as some merchants penalize excessive returns (and please don’t actually make them restock something as it raises costs for everyone).


Read the terms on you card the answer is there. On the Hilton card the terms say gift cards and make no distinction between open loop and closed loop cards. Now as we all know Amex terms and Amex enforcement are often different but I expect they don’t go to much effort to make the distinction between type of GC and their terms certainly do not.


Any reports of this happening on Amex cards with grocery bonuses that are not pandemic related “enhancements” (e.g., Blue Cash Preferred and Old Blue Cash)?

Eddie Ed

Also my worry as last year Simon stopped counting as OBC first 6.5k in a similar clawback. The lag in awarding cash doesn’t help, but so far I’ve been credited…


lol, my HH got nothing for them to claw back; not even the base pts was posted since Apr. already stopped spend in June as nothing got posted; did see DPs that some folk’s aspire acct at least got the 3x base pt posted… better than nothing; just wonder how they manually made decision to give pts to some but not to others’ with the similar items of purch

amex CCs r likely dead to me , esp. those with AFs