I would like to help out my dad. I apologize since I have no idea about credit cards.

So my dad has lots of money, no financial problems whatsoever. He has an AMEX credit card with no pre-set spending limit.

We vacationed to Amsterdam. My dad tried to purchase jewelry on his credit card worth $15,000. After a few minutes, the bank called to talk to my dad. My dad confirmed his identity and gave his details. Still there was no word. We waiting inside the jewelry store the entire time, waiting for an approval/decline. After 77 minutes of waiting in total, AMEX finally decided to approve the purchase.

When we got back from vacation, my dad wrote AMEX to ask for an apology. However, AMEX justified the long wait time. They said the human authorizer needed to make sure there was no fraud going on and that my dad had the ability to pay for the purchase, because the $15,000 purchase was the single biggest purchase he had made on his credit card for the last 10 years. AMEX said they had to really make sure that my dad's financial details and history could support the $15,000 purchase. But I think the human authorizer was just negligent at his job. 77 minutes to decide whether or not to approve/decline a credit card transaction, really?

My question is, does AMEX have a point? Does my dad have no right to an apology from them?

  • 2
    If I had to guess the "authorizer" was not actually the person your father spoke to. Most likely the person on the phone did the initial check but the purchase had to signed off by a higher-up. Any number of things could have delayed the approval since two people were involved.
    – Nosjack
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 10:49
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    What if someone stole your dad's credit card and took it to Amsterdam to buy jewelry, then kidnapped him and forced him to lie on the phone at gunpoint? These are the kinds of things AMEX are worried about. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 11:22
  • Better stated than my answer, my friend. Upvote on your comment! (smile)
    – RiverNet
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 12:05
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    Large purchase, jewelry, purchase in foreign country? He probably triggered ALL of the fraud flags.
    – eps
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 13:13
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    It is also possible that Dear Old Dad didn’t notify Amex of his foreign trip which would trigger even more red flags when a $15000 charge from Amsterdam showed up. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


Your question is a bit silly. What does it matter if AMEX apologizes? What does it matter if they have a point? How often does your father make large jewelry purchases overseas?

Economic freedom is all about choice. AMEX has a right to treat their customers anyway they choose. That could include for the representatives to never apologize to the customers. I doubt they have that policy, but they have a right to have such.

Similarly your father has the right to do business with AMEX or not. He could choose to use cash, or a different branded credit card. There are quite a few choices. If he is unhappy with their services he may want to move on to a different branded credit card.

Additionally, he could have done something different then just wait in the store. Like gone to a nearby café and had a coffee or something like that.

  • 2
    If by "a bit", you meant to be very kind, kudos to you. The question is nonsense, and (while I'm not going to do anything) members should consider voting to close. Ignore 'apology'. "Is it normal for a card issuer to take over an hour to approve a purchase?" In this day and age of reduced customer support, and Covid, I never assume I'll be able to get a response or a live person instantly. I make sure I have a bit of free time, eg working at computer, where I can reply to chat or grab the prone when the music on hold stops. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 11:40
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    It might also be useful to note they it is very likely other credit cards would have done the exact same thing. Maybe amex was busy that day and it took a little longer than usual, but every major company has fraud detectors that would be blaring warnings with that kind of purchase.
    – eps
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 13:11

Based on your own info, your father hasn't made such a large purchase in years. If you were Amex, wouldn't you want to be certain before approving such a transaction? It is likely that Amex has an approval change whenever certain red flags are triggered, and clearly your father hit at least one of them (maybe, and most likely, something not covered here), in which case several sombodies had to sign off on this.

I think I'd rather have Amex do this to make absolutely sure the charge is legitimate than to receive a statement saying someone managed to make a bogus charge on my card because Amex didn't do their job. You can't have it both ways. And to some small degree, where's your father's responsibility in this?

I'd be more embarrassed if Amex would have simply immediately declined the charge even though the purchase is legitimate (like many banks would when a purchase is so far out of pattern for the cardholder) than I would be waiting 77 minutes for them to say "yes".

As a rule of thumb, if you are planning on making larger-than-normal purchases on a credit card, especially if you're travelling overseas or a location far from your home, it is a wise idea to call the credit card company/bank before you do so to make them aware of your plans so as to prevent things like this from happening. It doesn't matter if the card has no pre-set spending limit - your father's actions are outside his normal spending patterns, and THAT is an automatic trigger for virtually any bank.

As for them apologizing, I think it's all water under the bridge. And rather than being angry at them, use it as a lesson on what to do (or NOT do) when making large overseas purchases with a credit card so that you can avoid this happening again in the future.

And as the previous answer pointed out, why not just go to lunch or a cafe and have coffee while you wait? There's no embarrassment here - it isn't as though Amex declined the charge unfairly. They were simply looking out for their - and your father's - best interests. Merchants, especially ones engaged in large transactions, see this all the time, so I doubt they made much of it.

  • "I'd rather have Amex do this to make absolutely sure the charge is legitimate" - only as an Amex shareholder. With fraud protection, the father had no liability anyway, right? Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 11:41
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    He may have no liability in the end, but have you ever had to go through the mess of disputing a charge on your credit card? (grin)
    – RiverNet
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 11:54
  • "You thought 77 minutes was bad? We'll show you 'bad' !" Exactly...... Good point. Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 12:09

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