7 Telephone Calls & 20 Days Later I Finally Get Both My American Express Starwood Credit Cards [Expired]

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Link:  American Express Starwood Refer a Friend 30,000 +5,000 Points Personal Referral

Link:  American Express Starwood 30,000 Points Personal Credit Card

Link:  American Express Starwood 30,000 Points Business Credit Card

On August 9, I applied for both the American Express Starwood personal and business credit card.  The sign-up bonus is 30,000 points (up to Tuesday, September 4, 2012) instead of the regular offer of 25,000 points, so I decided to apply for both cards one after the other.

As I wrote before, I don’t think the American Express Starwood card is a great card for regular spending for me, but it certainly has a very attractive sign-up bonus which can be stretched into lots of cheap hotel stays with Starwood Cash and Points awards.

I knew that I’d have to call American Express for my 2nd business application, because they flag a second application for the same card (even though 1 card is a personal credit card and 1 card is a business credit card) as a potential duplicate application.

However, it took 7 phone calls and 20 days to receive both the cards!  Collecting miles and points isn’t always simple and often times things aren’t as easy as filling out an application and waiting for the miles and points to coming gushing in.

But persistence always pays off!

My Experience

Day 1 – I applied for the Starwood personal credit card first and applied for the business credit card immediately afterwards.

I had only 2 other AMEX cards when I applied – an American Express Business Gold credit card and the AMEX Hilton credit card.  I never fill in the shorter application for existing card members, but always fill out the complete on-line application.

After applying, I checked the status of my application online, and both applications were received.

I called American Express at 866-314-0237 and the representative (call #1) told me that both applications were received.  I specifically asked him if he saw the business card application and told him that it was NOT a duplicate application and that I had applied for a business credit card as well.

I usually apply for business credit cards as well as a way to double-up on the sign-up bonus and many folks qualify for a business without even knowing it!

He indicated that he would make a note of that, but that my personal application would get processed first and the business application would take longer.

Day 4 – I’m impatient, so I called American Express (call #2) and the rep said that my personal application was being processed and that I’ll hear back from AMEX soon.  I was busy so I didn’t call back to verify if that was indeed true.

Day 5 – I called American Express (call #3) and the rep said that I have to provide additional documents to American Express and that I’ll receive a letter in the mail.  The last time this happened, American Express wanted me to fill out an IRS form 4506 and request the IRS to send American Express my tax returns.

I asked if I had to submit my tax returns, but the rep kept evading the question.  So I hung up and called back (call #4).  The next rep confirmed that I would have to send in my tax returns before the application could be processed.

I wasn’t happy.  Not because I had to provide the returns, but because I had already provided them 3 months earlier!

I completely understand why American Express wants to see my tax returns, and it is prudent to verify the income of an applicant before extending unsecured lines of credit to him or her.

But I had already provided a copy of my 2011 tax returns to American Express in May when I got approved for the Citi Hilton card.  I’d be providing the same information again since it is too early to file tax returns for 2012, and I was frustrated that American Express couldn’t find my earlier tax returns which I had submitted just 3 months ago!

I explained this to the representative, but she didn’t seem to care.  So I hung up and called back (call #5), and the new representative seemed apologetic, but kept on telling me how that was policy and that he couldn’t do anything differently.

So I asked to be transferred to a US call center agent.  I don’t have any hangups about speaking to an India-based representative (heck, I speak Hindi too!), but in this case,  the India-based representatives seem unempowered to do anything and keep on repeating scripted responses to my questions.

I’ll admit to being a little frustrated on the call, which I try to avoid, since the poor reps are not personally responsible for the mix-up, and probably have lots of angry customers calling in.  On the other hand, things happen quicker in India when there is a little controlled yelling & histrionics involved!

I’m not sure where the new representative was based, but he had an English accent.  He very patiently heard me out, and seemed surprised when I told him that I already sent in my 2011 tax returns 3 months earlier.

He put me on hold for ~10 minutes, and came back on the line and told me that I wouldn’t need to submit my tax returns again and that my personal application would be processed first and the business application would be processed 5 days later.

I thanked him profusely and asked him to expedite delivery of my business card when it was approved.

Day 11 – I got an email that my personal card was approved and that I’ll receive it in the mail within 7 to 10 days.  I called American Express (call #6) to process my business application, since it was still showing as pending online, but was told there was nothing they could do for 4 to 5 days.  I reminded them to expedite my card when approved since I had a business expense coming up.

Day 15 – I make my 7th call to American Express and the rep tells me that my business Starwood card has been approved.  But the card can’t be expedited to me.

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to use my Chase Ink Bold instead. 🙂

Day 20 – I receive my American Express Starwood business card in the mail.

Bottom Line:  The key lesson for me is that sometimes the pursuit of miles and points gets you caught in a beaurocratic maze with no escape.  And that things aren’t as easy as they seem (or are made out to be).

It never hurts to follow-up and escalate your concerns if you feel that you’re not getting anywhere.  Credit card sign-up bonuses are the easiest way to get lots of miles and points, but it is hard work sometimes!

But, oh, so worth it when you actually use those miles and points!

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16 responses to “7 Telephone Calls & 20 Days Later I Finally Get Both My American Express Starwood Credit Cards [Expired]

  1. Obviously your persistence pays off, and you’re second-to-none in terms of results, but in my own case I just don’t have the patience. If I don’t get a card (it only happened once ) I just move on to another vendor. There are too many out there to sweat the details! OTOH, I only have 140K miles total after a few years of doing this. The rest of my miles (another 100K or so) I got by actually flying. It’s enough for me though, I travel first or business and never pay anything substantial except those British Airways surcharges.

  2. I received my Starwood Personal AmEx card in the mail last week and I’m already working on my $5K spend. I didn’t apply for the Business Starwood…I was too chicken!

  3. This seems so random. Im the Steve that asked you some questions in your business cards page.
    I ended up applying for SPG biz and Amex biz gold I Thursday. As of today both accounts are approved. This will be my 4th credit card and 1st charge card open right now. Never heard a thing from them.

    • @Killington – Perhaps I spend too much time doing this, but I like to maximise each credit inquiry by getting approved for each card. I don’t pay for many flights, so this is the way I earn most of our miles and points.

      @Lively
      – $5,000 is a high amount to spend, but I like that we have 6 months to complete it in.

      @Steve – Congrats! I suspect my previous FR information may not have been available to the approving team. I didn’t have any issues when I applied for the limited time 75K offer a few months ago.

  4. I wrote over at another blog that I called and cancelled my app for the SPG business card. I found their slowness and complete lack of communications to be appalling. After several calls and 10 days of waiting they couldn’t approve, decline or even tell me the status of my application.

    I saw no reason to wait further for 5,000 extra points (maybe $100?). I’d rather deal with companies that want my business or have legitimate questions on my app. Chase had one issue because of an address issue and it was resolve with a single phone call.

    In my case I do have a legitimate side business. Nothing huge but definitely > $20K. In all my past dealings with loans, CCs, etc. I’ve never been declined or had any issues so I found this process very poor. How a company can’t even let you talk to someone involved in processing your app after a week is bizarre.

  5. I applied/received the SPG biz card a few weeks before the 30K SPG points promo came out and was approved in about an hour from applying and then AMEX ups next day air’d the card to me. Sometimes it pays to sign up outside the promo time period.

  6. Hi Daraius,

    Why do you not fill in the shorter form for existing cardmembers?

    Do you think it might have helped you in this case as you had already sent in tax info for a previous app?

  7. Here’s a very different data point:
    I applied for the business card first, then the personal card later that day (~4-6 hrs later).
    Business card instantly approved (I’d find out later by mail that they moved some credit from one of my personal cards to this card), automatically overnighted to me (at no charge, vs. Citi who charge $20 for expediting), received in under 48 hrs.
    Personal card deferred, of course. I called them and told them it wasn’t a dup, and they said they’d let me know within a few days or a week…
    4 business days later, Amex called me (!) about the personal app, asking if I would mind cancelling one of my existing and mostly unused cards (I had 4 cards from them at the time of these apps) in order to get this one. No problem, and great service. Card arrived by regular mail 3 or 4 days later.

    Rather amazing how variable people’s experiences have been with them. I’ve never had anything but fantastic service from Amex, and pleasant phone calls.

  8. I feel like this is the exact situation I would like to avoid. I have the SPg Amex and the Hilton surpass. I got them about 3 months ago. I am not rocking the boat and applying for the SPg business just for 30,000. Or to me just 5,000 pts. I like my perks and don’t want any troubles with Amex.

  9. US AIRWAYS MILES FROM BARCALEY CARD 40k offer

    is that US AIRWAYS MILES REDEEMABLE FOR GIFT CARDS?

    does the mile ever expire?

  10. Daraius,
    I got the Spg Personal card 4-5 months ago, 25K points. [Two A.E. accounts, Hilton & Spg personal].
    Yesterday 8/31, I called and applied the Business card by phone, it was approved right away for 30K points. The Rep. I spoke to was the same nice lady that 4 months ago I first time applied A.E. Business card_Delta Gold by the phone [ 30K Delta points, the account’s already cancelled]. My experience w/A.E., all my personal cards applied online, twice the Business card applied by phone. I don’t know if it’s better by the phone for the business card. In early Aug., I got the Chase Southwest Business card via online, yesterday I wasn’t sure for that Spg business card, but I got the approval right away. I will try next time applying a Business card online to see the difference by phone vs. online, will let you know.
    Enjoy your website as always!
    “A joy that is shared is a joy made double.” – English Proverb

  11. I was wavering on the SPG card for myself – but with the extra 5,000 points from my wife referring & 6 months to spend the $5,000 I figured it cannot hurt. Instant approval!

    That is 9 cards in 14 months for each of us – I can’t wait to get my free AMEX score again in February & see if everything remains status quo from last year.

    I had CITI Premier ask the second application again for a 4506-t for my wife – I think calling & saying I am her triggers something – so i sent it in it was 1.5 months but ultimately they approved it & they did not run a credit check again as the letter indicated & that is amnother 50,000 points via the other link you had.

    thanks.

  12. I’m really surprised that it took so many calls to get everything sorted out. Even with multiple applications on the same day, I’ve always had positive experiences with AMEX. There hasn’t been an issue with me sorting things out after a maximum of two phone calls.

    Did they ever say if they “found” your previously submitted financial information?

  13. “The links to the limited time 30,000 point American Express Starwood Personal & Starwood Business credit cards earn me a referral. But you can get an extra 5,000 points for yourself by NOT using those links and referring your friend or partner.”

    Comments like these keep me as a loyal reader of your site. Thank you not only for your full disclosure, but also for going that little bit extra to serve your readers’ best interests.

  14. Pingback: Starwood 30,000 Point Offer Ends Tomorrow | Million Mile Secrets

  15. Anyone has experience getting an already-denied SPG Biz application approved?