Monday, February 23, 2009

American Express Wants To Help You 'Simplify Your Finances' -- Will Pay You $300 If You'll Close Your Account


Well, this sure is a different kind of deal. Instead of paying you a bonus to join, New York-based American Express will give you a $300 American Express prepaid card if you agree to say goodbye. American Express says that it is making this "deal" so that customers can "simplify" their finances. Sure. The offer, which isn't available to everyone, requires a 14-digit RSVP code. Customers are receiving this offer via U.S. Postal and email.

Let's get something straight here. If you receive this offer, American Express is telling you something: please leave. Note also that in order to get the $300 prepaid card the customer MUST pay off his or her entire balance by April 30, 2009. If the balance is not paid off by April 30, then you will not receive the $300 card. But your card will still get closed. That's a heck of a deal.

Here is a picture of the offer from American Express's Web site (click to enlarge):


You can read the fine print here (click to enlarge):


You may be wondering why American Express doesn't just close the accounts of these customers, which would save American Express $300. Here's why: the $300 prepaid card is acting as an incentive for the customer to pay down the balance in an expeditious manner. The customer has exactly two months to get that balance paid off; if he or she does, the $300 card is theirs. Not a bad strategy by American Express.

The "we want to help you simplify your finances" language is a joke, of course. But, hey, this is American Express. It has never really been good at this sort of thing.

Anyhow, be on the lookout for the offer. If you receive the offer, be sure to let me know. I'd like to see what kinds of balances are being targeted here.

Here is a direct link to American Express's offer (link).

Related Articles:

  • American Express Will No Longer Use Spending Patterns To Slash Credit Limits

  • American Express Appears to be Stepping Up Its Slash and Burn Campaign

  • American Express -- The Game Plan

  • Bad Shopping, Good Shopping? Well, Good For American Express

  • Being Penalized For Shopping Choices. Consumer profiling?

  • American Express Rates Credit Risk By Where You Live, Shop

  • Are Your Shopping Choices Hampering Your Ability to get Credit Line Increases?

  • 289 comments:

    1. You think this deal applies to those in default?

      ReplyDelete
    2. No. It applies to people who likely have large balances. Or to people that Amex is worried about defaulting.

      ReplyDelete
    3. And I bet if you are receiving one of these offers and you continue to keep the card open and pay in small chunks you will definitely see balance chasing and other AA's..

      Something is really perplexing me though. It's clear amex wants balances paid. Yet, Amex is introducing more and more new credit card products, not charge, credit products. I know they recently renewed a huge contract with Delta. Maybe it is they want people to pay down who they think will default.

      I guess Amex really wants you to use these credit cards as charge cards...

      ReplyDelete
    4. Wish they would have offered that to me instead of just flat out closing me. I have strung out my payments with them since it turned into a very low priority to me.

      ReplyDelete
    5. Yeah, it's interesting who actually receives these offers.

      Any significance of April 30th....

      (wonders)

      ReplyDelete
    6. Josh, all bets are off (regarding balance chasing). The deal does say that after your account is closed you will continue to enjoy your current terms (APR). But that doesn't mean that Amex won't keep lowering your limit.

      And you know what I think about Amex and the charge card (from the story I wrote 7 months ago):

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2008/07/american-express-my-game-plan.html

      ReplyDelete
    7. April 30 is NOT the end of American Express's quarter, so not sure what the significance is.

      ReplyDelete
    8. Odd that they didn't do the end of their quarter. I imagine this would only be available to those with a significant balance. Or, like you said, someone they think will default with a significant balance.

      ReplyDelete
    9. You know that Amex watches accounts like a hawk. I am thinking large balances. And I am thinking customers who are considered "at risk."

      ReplyDelete
    10. Wow. I don't even know what else to say! Then again, I shouldn't really be surprised...it IS Amex.

      ReplyDelete
    11. M, at least they're paying people to leave. Ha!

      Hope you're doing well.

      ReplyDelete
    12. I'm hanging in here, CM. :)

      ReplyDelete
    13. I paid the the previous bad girlfriend I mentioned in another thread OVER $300 to leave. It was worth every penny!

      ReplyDelete
    14. Some things in life have higher levels of disbelief than others. This one is near the top of the list.

      If their reasoning (can we use that word with Amex?) is going after people they are worried about defaulting, then those people probably aren't going to be able to meet the 4-30 deadline.

      If they are targeting people who can afford to pay off in +- 60 days, then the people would be foolish not to take the offer - but those are the people who aren't in danger of defaulting.

      ReplyDelete
    15. FLT, I agree. You see me throwing out ideas because who knows with American Express. They just leave you guessing.

      ReplyDelete
    16. lol Bob, This wasn't the normal daily fees, this was an actual "please leave, I'll give you anything" termination fee.

      ReplyDelete
    17. So Amex is just doing a preemptive debt forgiveness deal. Be prepared for the standard 1099C as a goodbye kiss.

      ReplyDelete
    18. Amex is clear about this being possible income. I would expect a 1099 if someone takes advantage of this.

      ReplyDelete
    19. I love that sunset picture. How peaceful...

      Hmm...the sun is setting on you as a customer :)

      ReplyDelete
    20. That's true, Josh. Didn't even think of that. Sunset on the customer. Nice.

      ReplyDelete
    21. "If their reasoning (can we use that word with Amex?) is going after people they are worried about defaulting, then those people probably aren't going to be able to meet the 4-30 deadline."

      Far Left,

      Presumably they're just trying to get as much risk off their books as possible. What this says to me is: "We think you're going to default. We would prefer it if you would default with another bank instead of us."

      Some people might be able to do a balance transfer or otherwise pay off the card for the $300 -- then, as far as Amex is concerned, the risk is somewhere else. It's obviously not going to work for everybody, but given how concerned Amex is about risk exposures, it's at least worth a shot.

      ReplyDelete
    22. Pete, sounds like you're on board with my thinking. I think you're right. Worth a shot to offer the $300. Perhaps some of the "at risk" borrowers will roll on.

      Of course, if they're already in the risky category, might not be easy for those customers to roll on.

      But as you said: it's worth a shot.

      ReplyDelete
    23. You'll definitely get a 1099...I got one for a car rental loss payout! They've since sent a correction to the IRS, but they are sending them out en masse...

      ReplyDelete
    24. Thanks, Anon. That's what I figure. AmEx is pretty well known for sending 1099s.

      ReplyDelete
    25. Great thinking on Amex's part. They come out with less risk, the former customer parts ways from Amex with possibly a positive view.

      Knowing Amex's love for #'s and algorithms, I wonder what sort of customer would this make sense for. Obviously Amex isn't going to freely hand out $300 unless their benefit far exceeds that.

      I'm guessing Amex is targeting people who are already late on other lines of credit. So maybe Amex figures they might see if they can be the first to cash out before the customer becomes completely insolvent.

      ReplyDelete
    26. Sean, I think it makes sense, too. Maybe Amex is hoping that a customer will do a BT to another card, which would just shift the risk to the new lender. Or, perhaps these are people who have a moderate balance $10,000<.

      Obviously not sure here, but whatever it is I am sure that Amex has thought this through. I'd give it a whirl if I was Amex.

      ReplyDelete
    27. One thing for sure, AMEX never fails to come up with something new. Though, it might not always be the best thing to be on the receiving end of that something new. No such letter my way, all I get so far ~ besides MR rewards and benes ~ are thanks for my biz...

      ReplyDelete
    28. True enough, Trev. Not always nice to be on the end of an AmEx communication.

      No problems with AmEx with me. I keep getting preapproval notices. Have not bitten. May later this summer, though.

      ReplyDelete
    29. Now I might consider leaving for say $1000.
      What next?

      First they stereotypically analyze my spending habits, than they send me a letter telling me what they "CAN" do to my account in a "Change of Terms.etc"

      And now they might offer me money to close my account. OK, I'll stop being sarcastic.

      I kind of doubt if I'll qualify anyway, they are always paid up. And they are always sending me special deals too.

      Actually that probably is a good way for them to get paid on some accounts and lower “their: debt, at least they have thought of a way to do it that really is at both parties best interest in our current economic climate. They are doing better than the other companies.

      CM ~ about those pre-approved offers, I got 0% intro APR and 3.99% on transfers offer from Discover and bit and they denied it and offered me 19.9% with $39.99 annual fee, declined it of course. I think they were wanting me to enter balance transfers and they probably would of accepted it...now they are still sending me stuff to reapply...I just got a similar one from US Bank, seriously thinking about it, but afraid to. Sorry for getting off topic, just remembered.

      ReplyDelete
    30. SuzQ, feel free to post your comment in the off topic thread.

      I think Amex might be on to something here. Good way, if people bite on this offer, to offload some of that risk.

      Sucks about Discover, by the way. Entice you with a potentially good offer but then you go for it and receive something that doesn't look too good. I would have declined the offer too. Don't like annual fees.

      Regarding US Bank, you see what happened with Discover. Not assurance that US Bank's best published offer is what you'll actually receive.

      ReplyDelete
    31. I am one of those folks who got the offer -- I make over 100k -- I owe them about $8000 as I did a zero balance transfer when they opened the account for one year -- I no longer charge anything and am working to pay down the debt I have -- have never been late on a payment and have a credit score over 700 -- but I live in phoenix AND I work for a bank as a mid level exec. So -- I think they have profiled me and want me gone. I will be happy to comply.

      ReplyDelete
    32. banker, I very much appreciate the note.

      How long have you had the balance? Do you make the minimum payment? Well over the minimum payment?

      They could be worried, as you said, about your location and job. Very likely, actually.

      ReplyDelete
    33. I think the primary purpose is cash infusion more than risk reduction. I think the April 30 date was just selected as a compromise - early enough for a quick impact, late enough to give people time to scratch up funds (tax refunds, etc.) to take advantage of it. I'm guessing AmEx would target those who they think are able to pay down balances faster but don't choose to. Reminds me of the Citi $550 offer to encourage people to pay more than their minimum ...

      ReplyDelete
    34. I'm annoyed to not have a balance with them.

      ReplyDelete
    35. I have had the account for a year at 0% it was a balance transfer (i NEVER charged anything on it) - I did not make beyond the minimum payment while it was at 0% -- was planning on using my annual bonus to pay it off -- well -- (thanks Mr. Obama your comments cut my salary by 15% even though my bank made profits -- it isn't the big wigs that are hurt by such comments -- its the average employee (sorry - I digress)). The interest just started two months -- and I am making slightly above the minimum as I paid off another credit card first. Now I am ready to pay it off and plan to have that done within the two months or so. The $300 is just an added bonus to what I already planned.

      ReplyDelete
    36. Anon, it's probably both. Quick cash infusions. And reducing risk. I say that because these customers have to close their accounts. If you just wanted a quick cash infusion, you'd allow these customers to do the quick payoff -- but also keep the account open.

      Because the accounts are being slammed shut, I think there is a risk component here too. But I am with you. Definitely cash infusion too.

      ReplyDelete
    37. banker, thanks for the added color. My guess is that AmEx considers you a "slow payer." It wants to hasten the process -- and it's willing to pay you.

      Sounds as though you have a plan in place. Grab the $300.

      Thanks for writing.

      ReplyDelete
    38. Jake, I almost missed your comment.

      You'll have to work harder to get in on these "deals."

      ReplyDelete
    39. I'd close the account yesterday for $300!!

      Is this offer even real?

      ReplyDelete
    40. Jake, is the offer real? Of course it is. Feel free to call AmEx and ask them about it. Also, while you're at it, see how much they'll pay you to close your account.

      Maybe they have another deal for other customers. :)

      ReplyDelete
    41. By the way, if anyone has a copy of this letter, I'd love to get a scanned copy so that I can put it in the story. You can email me at plastic101@gmail.com. Be sure to redact the personal information from the AmEx letter.

      ReplyDelete
    42. I'm not getting a deal, LOL!

      Those fellatists owe me $0.46!!!

      ReplyDelete
    43. Jake, tell them that you'll exchange your 46-cent credit for a $300 credit. :)

      ReplyDelete
    44. I also keep getting preapproval notices. They apparently want me to have the whole card portfolio.

      ReplyDelete
    45. And if you have all those AmEx cards, the thinking goes, you'll have no need for any card outside of AmEx. (Rolls eyes.)

      ReplyDelete
    46. No question they suffer from jealous lender syndrome.

      ReplyDelete
    47. Absolutely. AmEx is the most jealous card issuer out there.

      ReplyDelete
    48. DGF is primary and needs the available credit for utilization purposes and it's age helps me. I use it every few months to buy clothes so real activity is shown.

      I'd still boot them for three hundred bucks, LOL! It's only a matter of time before they CLD us anyways, might as well walk away with money for cigars or other crap.

      We know the CLD is coming.

      ReplyDelete
    49. Jake, you'll cross that bridge when you get there (the CLD).

      Just do what you've always done. Be a responsible borrower.

      Can't do a whole lot more than that.

      ReplyDelete
    50. By the way, if any American Express employees are reading this, feel free to shoot me an email any time. My email address is in a previous comment (above). I'd love to know why American Express does what it does.

      Confidentiality guaranteed.

      Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    51. The deal is not terrible but really is is that good? Say that a person owes balances on other cards with high interest rates that have also been CLD or closed by grantor. Example $10,000 balances. An interest rate above 3% on any card is costing the person more than the $300 giftcard plus you need to add the potential income tax owed. Now the Amex interest rate would have to be played into consideration, but again, if given the choice to pay a low rate Amex vs say a high rate Chase, both with high balances, you would be doing yourself a much bigger favor to pay the highest rate always. That is.. assuming of course the person wants to pay and not default.

      Also, telling a customer ahead of time "regardless you will be closed" sort of invites the potential defaulter to run up the charges now, before the card closes, or else..

      ReplyDelete
    52. You'd have to do the math, Anon, as you said. Chances are that some of these balances are sitting in low-interest, or 0% interest, deals (see banker's comments above). Probably doesn't make a lot of sense to bite on this offer.

      AmEx wants its cash. It's willing to pay a fee to get it back.

      ReplyDelete
    53. After factoring in BT fees, interest rates, taxes,etc... how many people is this really a good deal for?

      Amex being strapped for cash doesn't make this a great deal.

      ReplyDelete
    54. I think most of us would guess that this is a good deal for AmEx.

      ReplyDelete
    55. Touche', LOL!

      I hadn't considered their feelings.

      ReplyDelete
    56. Haha. You've got to be a little more sympathetic, Jake. AmEx needs all the love it can get.

      ReplyDelete
    57. I'd actually budgeted a bunch of money to pay off my Amex card with my next paycheck, but now I'm wondering if I should wait and see if I can make money on the deal.

      ReplyDelete
    58. Anon, if you're eligible for the deal, you'll receive the offer before February 28 (which is just five days from now). This targeted offer has a short shelf life.

      But, who knows, if this program is a success -- AmEx may start offering this program to even more customers in the future.

      ReplyDelete
    59. The Wall Street Journal's "The Wallet" has picked up the story. The Journal has a call into American Express -- to get their take on the situation.

      American Express Paying Customers $300 To Leave?

      http://blogs.wsj.com/wallet/2009/02/23/american-express-paying-customers-300-to-leave/

      ReplyDelete
    60. The Consumerist has a story on American Express's $300 deal as well.

      AmEx Pays Some $300 To Zero Their Balance And Leave

      http://consumerist.com/5158598/amex-pays-some--300-to-zero-their-balance-and-leave

      ReplyDelete
    61. "or anywhwere else that AMEX cards are excepted"... lol the 'excepted' flips that statement into a negative ! proofreading anyone ?

      ReplyDelete
    62. Haha. Good catch, anon. That's in the first picture posted above. I guess American Express was in a hurry to get that page up!

      Thanks.

      ReplyDelete
    63. Why can Amex just apply the $300 to cardholders balance and then close the cards?

      I would love it Juniper or Capital One can do this.

      ReplyDelete
    64. When I noticed AmEx balance chasing my Optima ($30,000 limit dropped slightly above my $13k balance) I paid it off in full only to be rewarded the next month with a reduction of my credit limit to $500. I called and sent several emails and the response was always that the reduction was due to a high balance, even after all balances were paid off in full. The CS reps could not explain any other reason for the reduction - I have never been late on any payments, have always payed well over the minimum required, and have never been in any danger of default. Frustrated with the run around I canceled all 3 of my AmEx cards on the spot (gold, optima platinum, and a business gold). I'm happy to oblige and take my business elsewhere.

      ReplyDelete
    65. Anon, I think this has to do with AmEx giving customers an incentive to pay off the balance ASAP. If you just paid customers $300 -- and closed the account -- the balance would still be sitting there. The customer would have no incentive to pay off the balance quickly.

      ReplyDelete
    66. Jeff, I've been blogging here since July. I've heard so many stories like yours. SOP for Amex. I did a story on Amex chasing balances.

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2008/10/american-express-appears-to-be-stepping.html

      ReplyDelete
    67. Thanks! Well if I was an Amex customer, I would be more motivated to PIF by the deadline if Amex were to apply the $300 to the balance. oh well.

      Too bad, Amex was THE card to get back in the day.

      ReplyDelete
    68. CreditMattersBlog, thanks for covering these stories, hopefully investors and potential customers will read these before they choose to do business with AmEx. The balance chasing and negligent credit reduction impacted my FICO by over 50 points in one month, although my score has since recovered.

      ReplyDelete
    69. Anon, amen. I remember, years ago, when carrying an Amex card signified something good. Now? It's just another card.

      Having said that, some people still strive to get an AmEx card. The brand hasn't been killed completely. Those who haven't been paying attention, still yearn for the card.

      It's just another tool. Nothing more.

      ReplyDelete
    70. Jeff, glad to hear that your score recovered. Once a customer starts getting "chased," it sucks. In the near term, the score can get hammered. But once the balance is paid down -- the score can bounce back.

      To be sure, AmEx isn't the only one who has chased balances during this era; it's just the most high-profile example.

      As for the $300 offer, I believe that AmEx is the first to make this sort of offer. I would not be surprised to see more card issuers do it.

      ReplyDelete
    71. "Having said that, some people still strive to get an AmEx card. The brand hasn't been killed completely. Those who haven't been paying attention, still yearn for the card."

      Agree. My fiancee only started getting solicited for an Amex Green Card since I added her to my Blue Card account and raised her credit score. She never would have qualified for it with her old mediocre credit score.

      ReplyDelete
    72. SLEZE, I know several people who don't care. It's AmEx. They want a card. They don't think that AmEx's recent antics will impact them. Won't happen to me. You know the story.

      I've tried to take a big-picture look at AmEx, though. Generally, I imagine that a lot of the stuff I point to isn't all that widespread. It's just that it gets a lot of publicity, so people think it's more widespread. Take financial reviews, for example. I imagine that financial reviews are rare. But we hear about them so frequently because we're plugged into this stuff.

      Anyhow, best to you and your fiancee. Thanks for posting.

      ReplyDelete
    73. The Huffington Post has now picked up the story as well.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/business/

      ReplyDelete
    74. The Wall Street Journal has updated its story -- with a comment from American Express.

      http://blogs.wsj.com/wallet/2009/02/23/american-express-paying-customers-300-to-leave/?mod=rss_WSJBlog?mod=personalFinance

      ReplyDelete
    75. This appears to be fake. There are misspellings in the alleged offer. The card is good where American Express is "excepted" instead of "accepted" for instance. Has anyone asked American Express about this.

      ReplyDelete
    76. American Express has confirmed it, Anon. It was just a poorly written offer.

      Here is the confirmation:

      http://blogs.wsj.com/wallet/2009/02/23/american-express-paying-customers-300-to-leave/?mod=rss_WSJBlog?mod=personalFinance

      ReplyDelete
    77. I got a similar offer from GE. I have 4K outstanding - it is on no payment/ no interest till June 09 promotion. They offered me $100 if I paid down before Jan 09. I did not take the offer.

      ReplyDelete
    78. Anon, first I have heard of GEMB (GE Money Bank) doing that.

      Thanks for the heads up.

      ReplyDelete
    79. Wow, front page headline on Huffington Post links here.

      ReplyDelete
    80. Vince, I always appreciate the publicity. I can tell you this: The Huffington Post has a TON of readers. My traffic is off the charts right now. Hope the site doesn't break! Ha.

      ReplyDelete
    81. I am here from Huffpo, congratulations on your fine blog.

      This offer looks too strange to be real, but I guess it is. Desperate measures?

      ReplyDelete
    82. Nutty, your guess is as good as mine. I think you're right. Desperate measures and all that.

      American Express would not say how many people have been targeted. Here's what they told the Journal, though:

      “The intention is to help cardholders lower their debt and encourage responsible management of their credit,” said Ms. Faust.

      Uh, yeah. Right. You can rest assured that this is a better deal for AmEx.

      ReplyDelete
    83. I decided to pay off my AMEX account. I had a balance of about $1800.00, had never been late and had no delinquincies on any of my accounts. They then decided to close my account. I did not mind not having access to the credit limit; what I was angry about was the fact that their closing the account and documenting it as such affects my FICO score negatively although I was a great customer. I called about is and asked them to allow me to close it and they refused saying that the measure cannot be reversed. I am therefore being punished for being a great customer and I'm not sure what I can do about it.

      ReplyDelete
    84. Anon, you're right about the closure and FICO. Just a quick note, though. Even if they marked the account as "closed by credit grantor," you don't take a hit for that. But the closure itself -- and the consequences that it plays with FIC (especially utilization) -- is what you have to worry about.

      ReplyDelete
    85. I see a reason for this incentive -- think of the current person who is in over their heads -- they've got 3 or 4 cards, and they are paying the minimum. Now they get this, and say, "hey I want that $300" so they use one of their other cards' checks to pay this card balance off, get the $300, and voila, Amex unloads bad debt off on to some other bank.

      ReplyDelete
    86. Can't you just see what will happen to Costco over this, as they only accept AMEX cards..

      ReplyDelete
    87. Anon, yep. I am with you on that thinking. As long as the customer has a way to pay it off. Could prove difficult, though. AmEx might be targeting customers who would find it difficult to balance transfer or just flat-out pay it off.

      ReplyDelete
    88. Anon@1:17, there are other American Express cards out there that are not offered through New York-based American Express. I have a USAA Amex. If that was my only Amex, I could still use it at Costco.

      But that's not to discount what you're saying. Costco has aligned itself with American Express. It is not immune to stuff that's happening at American Express. Not sure what the impact is, of course, but you know there has to be some trickle down.

      ReplyDelete
    89. This is like paying the daughter's boyfriend to drop her and move to another town.

      ReplyDelete
    90. Anon, LOL. That's exactly what it is. And don't come back! That's what AmEx is saying.

      ReplyDelete
    91. I'm not sure that this is a bad deal for anyone. It is clear that it is good for Amex as it increases their cash intake and lowers their risk. It is good for the consumer who now has an incentive to pay off their outstanding debts. Those with a good history with Amex probably wont be involved. What is the down side to this?

      I don't have a personal Amex, just one provided by my employer. I always keep a very low, or zero balance on my BOA card. I never buy anything that I can not pay off in a few months at most. Living beyond your means by way of over extending your credit risk is a very bad idea that has lead to the economic problems we have today. I say good for Amex for being fiscally responsible and offering cash to people who pay off their debts.

      ReplyDelete
    92. Here's the deal. You use a credit card to BORROW money from the card company. They in turn charge you INTEREST. You agree to this relationship when you receive and use the card. You OWE them whatever money you borrow from them. Whenever you OWE somebody something, then that entity has an amount of control over you and your life. So if you don't like it, don't carry revolving credit card debt!!! It's not rocket science.

      ReplyDelete
    93. hi, I pay off my American Express every month, on a yearly fee card, so maybe I'm a good test of what's going on. I feed all spending possible through Amex because I have early, very early! Altzheimers and it's a way to keep track of outgo.

      I'd be happy to let you know what happens if you can tell me a date that their switching should be completely over. I'm not an online commenter, so don't know-- will this url get back to you later on?

      ReplyDelete
    94. Anon@1:30, precisely. That's why I recommend using credit cards and paying in full. That way you avoid the shenanigans that these card issuers play.

      ReplyDelete
    95. Tried enrolling. Wasn't eligible.

      ReplyDelete
    96. Second Anon@1:30pm, I monitor all of my comments. I get an email alert whenever someone posts something at my blog. The deadline for this particular deal is February 28. I don't think you'll be included in this deal, though. Sounds like you have a charge card. Very likely that AmEx is only targeting credit cards that are allowed to carry balances on them.

      ReplyDelete
    97. Anon@1:34pm, you have to receive an RSVP code number. Otherwise, you are not eligible.

      ReplyDelete
    98. Its funny how they have this deal going on right around TAX time!!!:-)


      I dont think I would trade my amex for $300.00.

      ReplyDelete
    99. Alaskan Assassin (nice name, by the way), exactly. One of my readers mentioned the tax angle previously.

      ReplyDelete
    100. It's an interesting idea.

      You pay off your balance, get a $300 credit card/gift card and you have to spend that money which will put money back into the economy.

      Sounds interesting?

      ReplyDelete
    101. "anywhere American Express Cards are excepted."???? WTF. It's accepted, not excepted! Amex needs to spend that money on better proofreaders.

      ReplyDelete
    102. So Amex has found a stimulus plan that might work.

      Didn't Amex receive TARP funds? :)

      ReplyDelete
    103. BCC: exactly. When I first saw the site, I thought it was a spoof because of that typo!

      ReplyDelete
    104. Wow, I hate AMEX :) I just paid off an account last month and they closed my account immediately afterwards. I had hit the ceiling of my credit line about two years ago and was incurring over-limit fees, but I've cleared that up and have been paying regularly (twice the minimum) with no late payments since. I guess I should have waited it out! :)

      ReplyDelete
    105. I wonder where there coming up with all this extra money to give away?

      Thanks on the complement!!!

      ReplyDelete
    106. Tabby, no guarantee that you would have received the offer if you had waited it out. Plus, you're better off for paying down that balance -- and staying off Amex's radar.

      Keep on chipping away, Tabby.

      ReplyDelete
    107. Alaska, Amex wouldn't say how many people it is targeting. I can't imagine that this is a huge program. I have a lot of readers. I've only heard from a few who have been targeted.

      Amex did get some TARP coin, though. Maybe it's putting some taxpayer $$ to work. :)

      ReplyDelete
    108. Unfortunately, they closed the account immediately after I paid off the balance :( Except for that little hiccup 2 years ago, I was a perfect customer for 11 years. Is it worth calling them to find out why they closed it? Or is it probably just part of this "targeting"? I lived in Detroit until about 6 months ago, so I wouldn't be surprised if that's why.

      ReplyDelete
    109. Tabby, Detroit definitely could have played a part. Plus your balance. AmEx has been targeting geographies -- in addition to industries that customers work in. Detroit would be a suspect location, I'd guess.

      ReplyDelete
    110. mabe they should pay me $300.00 to stay with them.LOL!

      ReplyDelete
    111. I received this offer: I had a 2.99% transfer "life of balance" offer several years ago. My credit limit was 12,700. I took it for about 6,000, and used to pay off part of my 7.99% equity. We have never been late on any payments, but recently cards have been cutting back on our credit limits. Amex has been cutting back every month by whatever we pay. Currently our limit with them has been cut to about 5800.00. We are both working in recession proof jobs and are extremely financially stable.

      ReplyDelete
    112. They waived my annual fee last year. They're paying me to stick around for the first year. We'll see what happens when renewal time comes around.

      ReplyDelete
    113. Damsel, American Express is chasing your balance. Plain and simple.

      Read this story:

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2008/10/chasing-balance-what-it-is-and-why-it.html

      They've been doing that, right?

      ReplyDelete
    114. I wonder why they chose $300.00 as the amount?

      ReplyDelete
    115. AA, no idea. Probably figured it was a nice number that would appeal to people. But you'd like to think that there was some math involved.

      ReplyDelete
    116. Oh, yes, I'm aware. My husband and I have perfect credit, and back when they were handing out money like candy several years ago, we got all kinds of balance transfer for life offers. Which we took and paid off higher APRs with, so now the highest APR we have is about 7.99% fixed (of course we know they can change that, but...) but we have noticed that even though they are honoring their BT offers, which range from 1.99% to 5.99%, everytime we make payments, the limit goes down. We don't care, because we never charged anything on them anyway, we just transferred and parked the card except for our one a year 3.00 purchase. We knew the game we were playing.

      ReplyDelete
    117. Must be a lot $10,000 balances outstanding for them to make this offer. When banks stopped lending many business gold cards were used in their place instead creating the cash flow problems and higher than ever defaults.

      ReplyDelete
    118. Damsel, sorry for assuming that you didn't know about balance chasing. You sound like you're on the ball. You know how the game is played.

      Thanks for commenting.

      ReplyDelete
    119. i'm not sure i'm buying this.
      i talked with Amex this morning and they deny offering any such promotion, but perhaps more suspiciously, there's a glaring typo in your reproduction of their offer page:
      "...virtually anywhere American Express is excepted." it should be "ACCEPTED".
      hard for me to believe the editors would have missed that.

      ReplyDelete
    120. Oh, yah. We know the games, :). My only thought is I wonder if they ever will change the terms of their BTs for life. I mean, wow, if they did that, they must really be hurting.

      ReplyDelete
    121. Anon@2:12pm, earlier I mentioned that this offer was likely targeted to credit cards. But you might on to something there. Charge cards also have Sign and Travel options. I bet some charge-card holders have been moving balances there too.

      ReplyDelete
    122. Anon, the Wall Street Journal has already confirmed the story.

      See here:

      http://blogs.wsj.com/wallet/2009/02/23/american-express-paying-customers-300-to-leave/

      ReplyDelete
    123. it looks like a win win situation for amex

      ReplyDelete
    124. I think so, AA. Smart move by Amex. Maybe not great publicity; but good financial move.

      ReplyDelete
    125. I don't think this has anything to do with TARP funds. Since they are only giving the 300 dollars after you pay off the balance, they're just taking a 300 dollar hit on whatever you are paying off. If they're doing it to increase their cash reserve, it makes a lot of sense. Personally, I've stayed away from AMEX because they've always seemed fishy to me. I guess I was right.

      ReplyDelete
    126. Turtar, you're right, of course. Just having some fun at Amex's expense today. Not every day that readers get to poke fun at Amex. Usually it's Amex that is doing the poking. :)

      ReplyDelete
    127. Our poke is a tickle compared to there poke.

      ReplyDelete
    128. I got an AMEX blue card three years ago after I retired and discontinued my 25 year old AMEX Gold. They begged me to take it, which I did in order to have backup for my main VISA.

      I have never used the Blue. Do you think I can charge 1000$, pay back only the minimum and get 300$ to close the card they begged me to take?

      ReplyDelete
    129. Haha. Probably not, Randy. I think they're looking for "slow payers" too. You probably aren't on their target list.

      ReplyDelete
    130. Isn't there something that can be done to bring public attention to this? I believe that we should have some recourse in this especially if we consistently payed way over the limit and paid off the card voluntarily. The worst part is the affect on the FICO score.

      ReplyDelete
    131. Anonymous:::

      Write to CNN

      ReplyDelete
    132. Anonymous:::


      also make a ireport on cnn

      ReplyDelete
    133. Contact Drew Griffin over at CNN. Tell him that I sent you!

      ReplyDelete
    134. CreditMattersBlog.com wrote about closing credit card accounts: "But the closure itself -- and the consequences that it plays with FIC (especially utilization) -- is what you have to worry about." This is the first time I have read that a customer decision to close a credit card account could actually have any sort of downside on a FICA score. A couple of years ago I closed a credit card I no longer needed; I've been diligent about doing this precisely because I had a couple of dings on my credit report and I'm trying to be disciplined about keeping things clean and raising my score. It seems like they've got you both ways: you're bad if you have too many credit lines open; you're bad if you try to close lines so you don't have so much open.

      ReplyDelete
    135. I see a comment or two where readers are falling for the bait of applying for CC teaser rates and then only being approved for a higher interest rate.

      Please beware this goes to lowering your Credit Score.

      ReplyDelete
    136. Does American Express have no concept of good publicity? Because it sure as hell doesn't seem like they can manage it. Every step they take seems to be the wrong one.

      CM, holy crap! You have really blown this place up - haven't you!?

      ReplyDelete
    137. Anon, I think CM is bringing PLENTY of attention to this!

      ReplyDelete
    138. DC, it isn't bad if you have too many accounts - it is bad if you have too many "new" accounts or too many inquiries. But both of those "bads" go away in time. Having too few accounts leads to a possibly lower average "age" which can hurt badly.

      Once the account is open - the damage is done. You might as well keep it (even if you only use it very rarely) and let it help with utilization. Closing it will *NOT* help you in any way.

      ReplyDelete
    139. I may have received this offer, but probably thought it was junk mail and threw it out. If you refuse the offer, I'm not clear if your account is closed anyway, or balances are chased and then your account is closed?

      ReplyDelete
    140. If you do NOT take them up on this offer -- meaning you do not respond to it -- nothing happens to your account, Anon.

      HOWEVER, if you do enroll in the program, your account will be closed. Even if you don't manage to pay the balance off by April 30, your account will be closed if you enroll in the program.

      You can call AmEx and see if you are eligible for the deal.

      ReplyDelete
    141. Thanks for clearing that up, CreditMattersBlog! I'm a first-time visitor and am impressed with your timely responses!

      ReplyDelete
    142. Things were nice and quiet this morning until a few sites starting pointing to this story. For several hours my traffic was measuring about 19 million page views for the month and 14 million visitors. That was based on the hourly traffic flow, which means that I was getting huge traffic.

      Of course, the site will get back to normal by the end of the week. But I much appreciate the traffic. Nice for the blog to get some exposure. Lots of people are interested in credit right now.

      ReplyDelete
    143. Anon, one thing my blog is: responsive. I get an email alert whenever someone posts a comment. Generally, I respond to messages within five minutes. If I am away from my desk (rare), you'll notice a longer lag. But, by and large, expect a response within a couple of minutes.

      ReplyDelete
    144. My husband and I have a Costco Amex that gives an annual cash rebate. He travels a lot and charges his last minute flights as well a lot of other travel expenses, but everything is paid off in full each month. So we just got our annual rebate which was a nice sum. Just wondering if Amex will want to get rid of us as customers. They get the fees from the transactions (sometimes the balance is over $20k a month) and we pay the annual Costco membership fee ($100), but our rebate was a lot more than that annual fee.

      ReplyDelete
    145. Anon, you're likely safe (at least you won't be getting this $300 promo). Amex is targeting folks who are carrying balances. Don't know how high the balance needs to be, but we do know you have to have a balance to get this offer.

      You sound like Amex's ideal customer. You charge large amounts on the card and you pay it in full each month.

      ReplyDelete
    146. Is this offer only for AMEX cards where you can carry balances or does it apply to gold and platinum cards as well? (charge cards)

      ReplyDelete
    147. Pjc, not sure which cards are being targeted. Definitely the credit cards are being targeted. That's where most of the balances will be carried. However, if charge-card customers have been using the Sign and Travel option, there could be balances there as well. In that case, it would make sense to target those customers, too.

      But I don't know for sure. Just thinking out loud here. Amex hasn't said which cards -- or how many customers are being targeted.

      ReplyDelete
    148. I always pay my AmEx bill in full but I would still like the same offer.

      ReplyDelete
    149. I have a gold card that i use for day to day charges and pay in full each month and i dont use the sign and travel option.... should i be worried to get the offer or if you pay your balance in full you are somehow safe?

      ReplyDelete
    150. pjc, you won't be getting this offer. NO worries.

      ReplyDelete
    151. Anon, my emailbox echoes your sentiments. Some of my readers (who don't carry balances) wish Amex would offer them this deal to go away. :)

      ReplyDelete
    152. Bloomberg has picked up the story now as well.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601213&sid=aDhMMI9EMl5Q&refer=home

      ReplyDelete
    153. CM: it looks like Bloomberg is citing you -- very good!

      ReplyDelete
    154. Pete, exactly. Nice to see the reporter giving me credit for the story. Often it doesn't work that way. Indeed, Hugh Son, the author, could have done that story without citing me at all. That he gave me a tip of the cap is nice.

      ReplyDelete
    155. I got this offer. I've been with them for nearly 8 years with a blue card (I can carry a balance.) I believe I started with a $5500 limit and at one point they up'd me to $18,000. I've used that card to pay for a lot of my home projects since I've always had a really great rate on it (better than my HELOC). I am currently carrying a balance of $13k. Though I haven't used the card in ages, they have been systemically dropping my limit to be a couple of hundred over the current balance. That's annoying because no matter how much I pay onto it, it always makes me looked maxed out. At least they haven't up'd my rate though. I didn't read the offer past you balance would need to be paid in full by 4/09 since I knew that was an impossibility. Maybe they will close the account anyway.

      ReplyDelete
    156. I've had an Amex Gold charge card for a couple of decades but started with an Amex Green right out of college. An American Express card WAS a prestigious card back then because even if you had good credit, you still had to have some minimum salary in order to qualify for the card. Like Corvettes back then, when you limit supply/access, you create "prestige". I've turned down their platinum charge card invitation three times because I have no desire to pay a $300+ annual fee for plastic prestige. But I'm a definite fan of Amex.

      My guess is Amex has never been comfortable with credit cards...and customers who carry a balance from one month to the next. They jumped on that bandwagon back in the '90's when Americans were bingeing on plastic. With the economy in a downward spiral and unemployment going up, your paying history and credit record is no longer a guarantee that you'll have a job next month. They're preemptively dumping their credit card holders. I bet in another couple of months, the yardstick they're using to identify the dumpees, will be even tighter. Unfair?...yeah. Insensitive?...yeah. Thoroughly ruthless good business?...you bet!

      Donna

      ReplyDelete
    157. Donna, thanks for the comment. See my story here about my game plan when I got my Amex card last summer:

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2008/07/american-express-my-game-plan.html

      Note what I say at the very end of that story. In total agreement with you about Amex not being comfortable with customers who carry a balance from month to month.

      ReplyDelete
    158. Anon@4:46pm, thanks for that note. The more I hear from readers who have received this offer, the easier it will be to figure out the kinds of balances that are being targeted.

      Thanks again.

      ReplyDelete
    159. I don't have an Amex...you think they will pay me $300 to STAY away?

      ReplyDelete
    160. Not sure, Lion. Maybe you can get them to pay you to be nice to them. Haven't you written nice things about Amex in the past? Ha!

      ReplyDelete
    161. Looks like the NBC affiliates are picking this up on the Internet. I've seen several NBC sites with this story.

      http://www.nbcdfw.com/around_town/shopping/AmEx-Will-Pay-You-to-Close-Your-Account-.html

      ReplyDelete
    162. I have a Citi Card Amex? Will I be a candidate for this rebate program?

      ReplyDelete
    163. I also received this offer, but it doesn't make sense for me to take it. Like Damsel, I took advantage of the 2.99 BT offer years ago, and they have been balance chasing my account for several months now. The current balance is about $3600, and I only pay the minimum. We have a few other cards carrying balances, all with higher rates. We have been making all our payments on time, but our total debt is around $25k, so I am sure we are "high risk". Even if I could pay this off, it will be last on my list.

      ReplyDelete
    164. Anon, nope. This deal is coming out of the New York-based American Express. The Centurion Bank.

      Citibank only uses American Express's payment network. Citibank underwrites its own Amex cards. Thus, no on Citi.

      Thanks for the comment.

      ReplyDelete
    165. Jen, makes perfect sense. No point in paying down a 2.99% BT when you have bigger fish to fry. Tackle the higher APR cards that you have.

      ReplyDelete
    166. MSN MoneyCentral has picked this story up now.

      http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2009/02/23/amex-paying-cardholders-to-close-accounts.aspx

      ReplyDelete
    167. Amazing how bad things are going for these banks that they are now offering 300 for closing and paying your account. It's actually pretty scary and should be a red flag to all of us that the next shoe is dropping.

      ReplyDelete
    168. There can be little down that Amex is trying to move up in the payment line. This is a way for them to possibly get paid ahead of other lenders. Pretty smart.

      ReplyDelete
    169. Does it perhaps help them justify their BailOut money to have less accounts? I was recently targeted by Amex and my account closed for wholly illegitimate reasons. I have had NO other credit problems with anyone else and I have a great score, yet Amex cut me off for NO REASON..

      ReplyDelete
    170. Hell, I have been trying for years to get them to close my account and send me the small credit it has on it. Why don't they help *me* simplify my finances?

      ReplyDelete
    171. Anon, American Express has been closing accounts for some time. In fact, they've been doing it for years. Check out my index of American Express stories. You'll see what I mean.

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/search/label/American%20Express

      ReplyDelete
    172. Anon@8:23pm, thanks for the chuckle. You have a small credit that Amex refuses to turn over?

      ReplyDelete
    173. I'm wondering if Am Ex could consider this a settlement and report it as such to a credit report. Part of me thinks that they'll charge the $300.00 gift card to the closed account and then report it as an agreed upon loss.

      If one enrolls in the program they are already setting themselves up for a "closed per the lender's request" line on their credit report. Showing something like this as a settlement isn't hard to imagine.

      ReplyDelete
    174. lookingglass, your comment goes to show me how little trust there is for American Express these days.

      But, no. Your scenario probably wouldn't come to pass. However, the $300 prepaid card is likely going to be reported as income (see AmEx disclosure).

      ReplyDelete
    175. Reuters out with a story:

      http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idINN2335219120090223?rpc=44

      ReplyDelete
    176. Interesting what the banker stated about profiling. I got a call from Amex a few weeks ago asking for my occupation and I wouldn't say. I still have the card with no offer to close.

      ReplyDelete
    177. Congrats on all the new exposure, CM

      Word of it even brought me over to the Huffington Post! :P

      ReplyDelete
    178. I have a Gold Card that I pay a $75 yearly fee as well as a fee each year for the rewards program. I charge from $1,000 - $4000 per month on the card and pay it off monthly. So far I have not received the $300 offer.

      ReplyDelete
    179. Mish has weighed in on the story too...

      [Revised Slogans:

      "Don't Leave Home Without It" needs to become "Don't Leave Home With It".

      For our Canadian friends, "Ne Partez Pas Sans Elle" needs to become "Ne Partez Pas Avec Elle"

      "Lifetime Membership" needs to be changed to "Lifetime Membership Maybe"

      "Use The Card. Reap The Rewards" is clearly outdated.

      "Cancel The Card; Reap The Rewards" more accurately describes the current state of affairs.

      Indeed, "Membership Has Its Privileges", a $300 bonus bonanza to anyone politely asked to leave.]

      http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/02/cancel-card-reap-rewards.html

      ReplyDelete
    180. I just called AmEx and inquired about the $300 "credit", as well as to see if they'll be willing to take any volunteers for this offer.

      While I was told that I'm not eligible, I did come across some additional information.

      Apparently what they don't tell you is that YOU (as the customer) will NOT be actually instigating the cc closure. It will be noted as a credit card company closure, which will negatively affect your credit report. (Yips)

      I'm not entirely sure of all the details (or if my information is accurate), but it sounded more like your credit report will note it as something similar to a debt settlement with AmEx versus a customer requested closure.

      For anyone who does get this offer, you might want to be weary and ask how this will come across in your credit report. Personally I rather have a good credit report (for when I do decide to purchase my first home) than a $300 credit. The $300 won't do me any good if I get turned down for a mortgage or a loan.

      Can anyone confirm if the "debt settlement" categorization is correct?

      ReplyDelete
    181. I just received by monthly statement from Amex Blue and they jumped my rate from 7% to 10.25% even though I have been a loyal customer since 1987, excellent record also. I called to find out what had happened, they said everybody's rate was increased and some more than mine. So in order to improve their bottom line, to make up for all the lousy CC holders who received a card if they could show that they could fog a mirror, we, the people who pay on time get to pay for the those who don't. No way Jose, I closed my account within 24 hours, and will NEVER use AMEX again. I also fired off a letter to their VP congratulating her for doing such a great job. What IDIOTS, chase the good customers away. And please tell me how this will stimulate the economy?

      ReplyDelete
    182. Anon, I recently wrote a story about "closed at credit grantor's request." There is no negative event by that happening.

      Read this story:

      http://www.creditmattersblog.com/2009/02/things-i-see-while-looking-for-credit.html

      ReplyDelete
    183. Anon@11:05pm, you are not likely to get such an offer. You do not carry a balance. This offer is being targeted at those who do have balances.

      No worries.

      ReplyDelete
    184. CMB - Thanks for the info. I'm glad to hear that it won't affect a credit report negatively.

      I'm learning quite a few things on your site and already find myself becoming addicted to reading all the articles and comments.

      -Anon 11:20 & 11:22. :-)

      ReplyDelete
    185. AMEX IS A PIG COMPANY!!BEWARE OF THEM THEY WILL FIND A WAY TO DESTROY YOU FINANCIALLY LIKE THEY ALMOST DID TO ME !!!BARRY

      ReplyDelete
    186. Is anyone *NOT* picking up this story?

      I don't think Barry likes Amex....

      ReplyDelete
    187. GET AWAY FROM AMEX IF YOU CAN!!!!THEY WILL HURT YOU FINANCIALLY AND EVEN EMBARRASS YOU BY CALLING YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND TELLING THEM YOU REFUSE TO PAY THERE 29 PERCENT INTEREST FEES!!STAY AWAY FROM THEM!!!I IMPLORE YOU

      ReplyDelete
    188. Almost every news outlet has picked this up in one form or another, Lion. Was a crazy day at CreditMattersBlog.com.

      ReplyDelete
    189. Anon@11:22 and 11:20, it's like that. I remember when I first started learning all of the nuances of this stuff. I couldn't get enough. I wanted to know everything.

      I've been devouring this kind of stuff for about three years now.

      ReplyDelete
    190. Great blog. I, too, am having trouble with American Express. I paid my bill in full one week before the due date. They sent a subsequent bill stating that I owe additional finance charges. I've sent several letters to Am Ex but I've not received a response. It's a year later and I'm still fighting. Shame, shame, shame on Am Ex :-(

      ReplyDelete