Please, Please Here’s $300, Now Just GO AWAY!

Check this story: AmEx Pays Some Cardholders $300 to Close Accounts.  Yes, you read that correctly, AMEX is paying off customers to simply GO AWAY!

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) — American Express Co., the largest U.S. credit-card company by purchases, is paying some cardholders $300 each to close accounts so the lender can reduce the risk of defaults as the recession deepens.

People who got the offer to “simplify” their finances must pay off their entire credit-card balance by April 30, according to New York-based American Express. Enrolling in the program cancels a customer’s account and may lead to forfeiture of reward points or rebates, the company said on its Web site. [More]

Implications of this are quite startling.  We all knew the credit card companies were in for trouble, but this seems quite rash, if not cunning.  Smart move on Amex’s part.  There may not be much left over for MasterCard® and Visa® once folks who need to take the bait.

Oh, and read the fine print.  You may not want to spend all $300, looks like it could be taxable income!

The whole thing makes me want to invoke the MasterCard® commercial:

…iPhone: $199

…MacBook: $999

…Apple TV: $229

…Getting $300 back from American Express because they think you’re a deadbeat: Priceless

This is what AMEX has posted on their website:

Enroll now to simplify your finances.

Enroll by February 28, 2009.

Pay off your entire balance between March 1, 2009 and April 30, 2009, and we will send you a $300 value prepaid card1 to thank you2. Enrolling in this promotion will automatically cancel your account3.

Enter your 14-digit RSVP code from your mailing, or if you are registered to manage your account online, enter your user ID and password.

The prepaid card will arrive within 4 weeks of the end of the promotion. The prepaid card can be used to help you with your day-to-day expenses including purchases at your pharmacy, grocery store, or virtually anywhere
American Express® Cards are excepted.4

If you are a Blue from American Express® or Optima®Card Cardmember and enrolled in the
Membership Rewards Express® program be sure to use any points before enrolling.

NOTE: By clicking the “Enroll” button, I certify that I have read and agree to the terms and conditions below.

TERMS & CONDITIONS
1. Please be advised that any funds provided to you by American Express may be considered taxable income to you.
American Express recommends that you consult your personal  tax advisor with any questions regarding any tax implications.
2. If the entire balance is not paid prior to April 30, 2009,  you will not receive the $300 value prepaid card and you must continue to make at least your minimum payments until your balance is paid off.
3. For Blue from American Express® and Optima®Card Cardmembers please note that any points accrued in your
Membership Rewards Express® program will be forfeited upon account cancellation. See Membership Rewards Express® program details for full terms and conditions. For Blue Cash® from American Express Cardmembers please note, you will forfeit your entire Rebate for the Rebate Year if your account is cancelled before the Rebate posts to your account.  See your Cardmember Agreement for full details.
4. Terms and conditions,usage restrictions and guidelines apply to the prepaid card. Please see Card carrier for details.

Sources:
AmEx Pays Some Cardholders $300 to Close Accounts (Update3)
Hugh Son, Bloomberg, February 23, 2009
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a32RTgL8bFSw

Enroll now to simplify your finances.
American Express, Accessed February 23, 2009
https://www215.americanexpress.com/olet/enroll.do?campaignId=balp1q09&offerType=prepaidcardoffer

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