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American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression – Misleading.

It’s time to review another credit card offer hitting the malboxes and this time I’m taking a look at the very festive Christmas/Holiday offer from American Express for their Premier Rewards Gold Card.

Let’s start with the outside of the envelope.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

The inducement to open the offer is the card is NEW, you get $500 in gift cards to use for this holiday season and there is no annual fee, this year.

Since the offer hit just before Christmas the encouragement to open the card because you are going to get $500in gift cards is strong.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

The inside of the envelope is very festive and all about gifts. There is a clear plastic card that says “Your holiday reward: You can earn 50,000 bonus points worth $5001 at select retail and dining partners if you use your Premier Reward Gold Card to make $500 in purchases by 2/28/10. The clear card is actually hard to read by glancing at it. But the $500 is apparent and so is “Your holiday reward: You can earn 50,000 bonus points.” That is set against a light background so it makes it easy to read but the small grey print and the finer print below is set against a background that makes it harder to read. An accident, I seriously doubt that.

It would not fit on the scanned image of the inside of the envelope but the footnote 1 says:

To be eligible to earn bonus points you must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards program at the time of spend and you must charge $500 of eligible purchases between December 1, 2009 and February 28, 2010 in an eligible, enrolled Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. “Eligible purchases” include purchases of goods or services, which have not been returned or otherwise credited to your Card account, it does NOT include fees, Finance Charges, Cash Advances or similar means of accessing your Card account or the purchase of American Express Travelers Cheques, American Express Gift Cheques or other cash equivalents. 50,000 bonus points will be credited to your Membership Rewards account 6-8 weeks after you have met the spend requirement. Limit one offer per Card account. Bonus points may be redeemed for gift cards valued at $500 upon point credit with participating partners. Terms and Conditions for the Membership Rewards program apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms or call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276) for more information. participating partners and available rewards are subject to change without notice.

Now isn’t this interesting. From the minute you pickup the envelope, to the pretty picture of the gifts, the impression is if you apply for this card you are going to get $500 in gift cards for use this holiday season. Cleverly American Express says on the front of the envelope “Treat yourself to $500 in gift cards this holiday season.” But from the fine print you are not going to get them to use or give this holiday season because they are not going to arrive for 6 to 8 weeks after you have met the requirements. So how am I going to treat myself to them this holiday season? Misleading

American Express could have said “Earn $500 in gift cards this holiday season.” on the front of the envelope, that would have been a clearer statement and still provided inducement but the impression from the inducement that made it to the front of the envelope is deceptive and very misleading. The intention appears to have been to let the thought of $500 in gift cards to be a good bribe to apply. That’s in big print, the fact you get them two months latter, that’s in small print. What do you think?

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

The cover letter begins with a statement that would make the average person believe they have already been approved for this card. The letter says ” Congratulations are in order. You’ve earned an important distinction — a Card that reflects your achievements and compliments your life.” I’m wondering how I can be congratulated since all the recipient has earned is the honor of receiving the marketing offer.

If we look on the back of the actual application below there is a bold statement: This “prescreened” offer of credit is based on information in your credit report indicating you meet certain criteria. This offer is not guaranteed if you do not continue to meet those criteria, or any applicable criteria bearing on your credit worthiness established prior to your selection, or if the application is altered, or any required information on it is not complete, accurate, or verifiable. Additionally, this offer is not guaranteed if you have responded to another offer from us within the last 90 days or have been approved for another product from us.

So it really isn’t a definitive offer that you will actually get this card. Misleading

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

On this page we begin to really uncover the value of a ‘bonus point’. Apparently a bonus point is worth one penny (50,000 points = $500). So for every dollar you spend, you are getting a whopping one penny in bonus points.

  • You can earn points even faster with up to 5 Additional Cards with no annual fee.

    Would you really want to give out five more cards to people just so you could earn points faster? Isn’t that a huge liability for you? You bet it is. I can see giving your spouse one to use but who else would you give it to, kids, parents, friends? What would you say to them, “Please go use this card as much as you can so I can earn bonus points.” That’s great for American Express, but terrible for you. Don’t do that.

    American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

    There are some important statements made on this page. Here are some items we learn:

    • The annual fee is $175.00.
    • Bonus points won’t be made available until 6 to 10 weeks after the purchase.
    • Charges at department of superstores or warehouse clubs are not eligible for bonus.
    • “We reserve the right to exclude charges that we determine are not made for personal, family, or household purposes or with the good-faith intention of consuming the item charged.” I guess this means that business use of this card does not qualify for bonus points.

    American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

    What catches my eye right off is this page is labeled a Membership Certificate but it is in fact an application for credit. Also, the five card offer is very prominent as well.

    All you need to do to get the card is fill out your name and address, your annual household income, the employer name, telephone number and sign it.

    American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.

    Well we finally made it to the guts of the offer, buried and in fine print. Here are some things that are disclosed:

    • You can get more than five cards to hand out to others but they will cost $35 per card.
    • There is no grace period to pay your bill. “All charges made on this Charge Card are due and payable when you receive your billing statement.”
    • This offer is controlled by arbitration if you have a problem with the card. Arbitration by credit card companies has been found to be grossly unfair to consumers and many of the big credit card companies have dropped that requirement. “I understand that the agreement governing the account includes an arbitration provision, which impacts my opportunity to have claims related to the account heard in court or resolved by a jury, and to participate in class action or similar proceedings.
    • Here is a very interesting twist. Apparently the credit reports of the people you give the additional cards to may be impacted if you can’t pay the bill. They may also be responsible for their own charges. So in actuality they are going on the hook without completing a separate credit application because you handed them a card. “Additional Cards: I have advised Additional Card applicant(s) that you may obtain, verify, exchange, and use information about them in the same manner as described above, that they may be responsible for payment of their own charges if I fail to pay them, and that their own credit records may be affected by nonpayment of the account.”

    Interestingly, the full terms and conditions associated with this card do not appear to be included in the mailer.

    American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Review. Impression   Misleading.
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    About Steve Rhode

    Steve Rhode
    Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
    • military credit cards

      Nice information.And now a days there are a lot of facilities offering by different banks so that to increase the user rate.And recently military credit cards are offering the best facilities.The best thing about this card is it automatically pays you the rewards in your account monthly without the usual $50 minimum like most credit cards.

    • JPB

      “…have had a VISA for 6 years with a $5000 balance.”

      Sorry, meant to say “credit limit”

    • JPB

      Is there any way to know whether or not I would be approved for AMEX Gold which I got a solicitation for a few months ago?

      I earn about 30K a year, am an employee of New York City in the Criminal Justice field, unionized, have had a VISA for 6 years with a $5000 balance. I do not own a house or a car. I had serious debt and delinquency about three years ago, which I paid off 2 years ago and have an excellent record since then. My credit scores are excellent too, I think I have a 796 from Experian. Last year I was on unemployment and food stamps, and when those expired I started receiving mail offers from American Express.

      If I’m going to be rejected I don’t want to have wasted an inquiry which will go on my credit report. Any help?

    • Ron

      Very thorough examination of the AMEX offer. I agree with the author, that this Appears to be a good deal, but really is a loaded gun! I have to laugh at the comments I’m reading….those folks who think this is a “good deal” don’t seem to understand the fine print! AMEX will, from my experience, say Anything and Everything to get you to sign up, then they’ll pull the rug out from under you! I will NEVER have another AMEX card (after being a 26 year member) and I am closing our AMEX Merchant account and we will no longer accept AMEX for payment. This is a poorly managed company that will be bankrupt in about 10 years or less, based on how they are now running the business. Deal with them at your own risk! AMEX will ultimately cost you money, one way or another. Trust me…..I have used them for decades, and finally I have had it with their lame way of doing things. They are taking advantage of consumers, so deal with them at your own risk! I wouldn’t use an AMEX card if it had a positive balance on it and I did not have to pay it back!! Yes, they really pissed me off with their practices and I will never use their services ever again!

    • David

      Hands down, the richest sign-on bonus available. Author of this article is either aiming commentary to a lowest common denominator type consumer (who would be unlikely to get the pre-screened offer anyway) or is a poor judge of credit.

      Got the offer in the mail two days ago, applied and accepted. Will spend $500 on regular non-discretionary items, cash out the points to cards, and close the card before I get hit with the annual fee.

    • BM

      I have read all the fine print and find this card to be the best offer for people who have a good credit history and are good with their finances..Comeon $500 gift card for spending $500 in the next 3 months especially if you are using the credit card and paying it off at the end of the month. Also the $175 annual fee is waived for the first year and obviously you can cancel the card after a few months..

    • DP

      Seriously,

      If I didn’t know better I would say this is the first time that you ever read a credit card offer. Anybody with half of a brain reads these offers front to back to see the “catches”

      The fact is this is a great offer. Use your normal gas and grocery money on this card and make points. You get $500 in real gift cards at POPULAR places to spend and enjoy. Frankly I would say that your blog misleads people from seeing a good deal. If you are responsible with your money and you use a check card a lot, then this card is the way to go.

      I am assuming that your intent was done with honest intention as it looked as if you put some time into this “research” but really??

    • JK

      Dude, Its $500 in your pocket for charging items you were going to buy anyway. In 3 months you take the best value ($500 in Home Depot) then cancel. what the hck are you babbling about. lol

      • http://Website TK

        I signed up spent the $500 and got $500 in Home Depot e-gift cards.. I had no problems 100% bonus is easy money.

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