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Have you been blocked from making American Express referrals?

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Since October, an increasing number of HfP readers have reported that they are being blocked from referring people under the American Express ‘refer a friend’ programme.

Take a look at our forum here.

In their American Express account, they see the message “Your Account is temporarily unable to access the referral programme”. Why is this happening?

American Express blocked from referrals

The bottom line is that no-one knows.

Amex’s T&C restrict the referral programme from anyone whose Amex account is in default but this does not cover the majority of people who are having issues. The only relevant clause in the referral programme terms and conditions is:

Your Card Account’s eligibility to participate in the Referral Programme is based on your overall credit rating and other factors including your Account history with American Express.

Based on this thread in our forum, it seems that – if you call Amex – the staff can see a message about you on their screen but no-one has yet been told exactly what it says. No-one appears to have had the referral ban lifted.

Looking at the reports in our forum (and with the best will in the world, some people are unlikely to publicly admit abuse of the referral programme), it does not seem to be directly linked to:

  • the number of people referred
  • the ‘type’ of people referred (eg whether they are or are not obviously ‘friends and family’, which is a condition of referring people, presumably roughly verified by surname and / or geographic location)

Readers have quoted the following feedback from American Express when questioned:

“We base the eligibility for our referral programme on various factors relating to individual Card Members and their account history. This includes numerous factors affecting the Card Member profile, but we continue to monitor this over time.We automatically check the eligibility of their account at the time of login, as and when their circumstances change. You can start using your card and once circumstances change, you will again get the option to refer”

Blocked from American Express referrals


“Your Card Account’s eligibility to participate in the Referral Programme is based on your overall credit rating and other factors including your Account history with American Express. You can start using your card, and once account will be in good standing, our team will automatically review, the option will be available to refer”


“I have done a deep check, and I am sorry to know that your refer eligibility is not available as of now. Eligibility is based on these and other factors: account history, bankruptcy, credit rating, lending behaviour, missed payments, participation in internal payment holiday programmes”

My best guess (and it’s only a guess, since Amex is not going to tell us if they are not willing to tell the people involved) is that it is based on the QUALITY of people you refer.

It is very likely that Amex tracks back the profitability of accounts to their original source. This allows them to focus their marketing efforts on places that bring them customers who are valuable over the long term, as opposed to those that deliver lots of sign-ups but who subsequently fail to renew.

It is possible – and this is only a guess – that if you have referred people who have subsequently closed their cards shortly after receiving a sign-up bonus, Amex may have decided that letting you continue to refer people is not a great idea.

I am only surmising, however. I would suspect that your own personal profitability to Amex is also a factor, since it would be sensible to give some leeway to their best customers.

The bottom line is that if you want to retain the ability to refer people to American Express cards, I would recommend that you are careful about who you refer and how they use the card once they have it.

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Comments (122)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • AndyF says:

    Blocked here and my last churn was 4 years ago personally and I’ve referred once in the last 12 months. Although I’m not sure they lasted much longer than six months. It makes me nervous long term holding a large MR points balance. If they are going to just block or cancel accounts it reminds me of when they started closing down the account of the self-referrals in the states although I have never done that before.

  • aq.1988 says:

    Thankfuly, I currently am still able to refer. For those unable to, what does it say when you open the link you would have sent to someone previously? Does the web page not open? On the app its currently only showing my Gold card sub as 30k MR, but when I check a link I sent to someone on WhatsApp, it actually opens up with a 34k sub

    • JDB says:

      Yes, the Gold referral seems to have gone up to 15/34k MR and BAPP down slightly to 14/30k Avios.

  • Travel Strong says:

    (Duplicate comment out of reply sync)

  • Taylor says:

    The referral option disappeared off my app altogether? I googled “amex refer a friend” and clicked their referral page link and logged in. I was then able to send a referral link to myself..

  • AlanC says:

    Blocked +1 with max referral points last 2 years. Dad who has not referred anyone can still refer.

  • Munch says:

    I’m in the IT issue camp. Noticed the lack of referral back end of last year but had saved my referral link which has since worked when recently referring and the points posted correctly.
    I even noticed the referral link in my offers page on occasion since the issue but when you click through it I end up with the same message stating “Your Account is temporarily unable to access the referral programme”.
    Radom referral links in my offers, points still post when I used my saved link, vague responses from Amex, this must be IT issues.

  • FatherOfFour says:

    I think you can do it from the website and it then takes effect in the app. I rarely use the website, but whenever I do, I find features and settings buried all over the place.

    • Harrier25 says:

      You’re correct about selecting a default card on the website, but it doesn’t take effect in the app. It’s impossible to set a default card in the app.

  • Definitas says:

    I can’t see any way to refer from my BAPP. Does that mean I can’t refer or is the link hidden away somewhere?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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