Why does anyone use American Express?

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betterinvestor2012
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Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by betterinvestor2012 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:10 pm

I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.

I do travel but only go overseas once year or two. Is this card helpful when overseas?

One of the things I have learned from being a Boglehead is to take the emotion out of finance and try to be more logical in the use of my money. When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out. What is wrong with me? Is there a justification for having this card? Apparently I just "can't leave home without it" :confused

dad2000
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by dad2000 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:17 pm

We shop at Costco. I think the $50 annual gets me the Costco membership for free, and I get 5% back on purchases there. We spend $5K+ there annually, so it seems like a no-brainer.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by edge » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:18 pm

I don't understand a single thing you wrote. There are plenty of rewards cards without fees, including Amex ones.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by DiMAn0684 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:19 pm

I use Fidelity AMEX card because it gives me 2% cashback on all purchases.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by yosef » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:22 pm

We use the Blue Cash card because we've been payed over $1000 back for using it over the last few years and we've never paid an annual fee nor a dime in interest. I can't say I understand the allure of the normal charge card AmEx with an annual fee.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by FedGuy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:23 pm

I use the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card because it gives me 3% cash back on all grocery purchases, with no annual fee, sign-ups, tiers, etc. I'm considering upgrading to the Preferred card because it will double the cash back for a $75 annual fee.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:26 pm

I accepted a PFCU AMEX to get rid of the foreign exchange fees when I am traveling. An unintended but much appreciated benefit is that I can use it at Costco. The card is free.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by camper » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:34 pm

DiMAn0684 wrote:I use Fidelity AMEX card because it gives me 2% cashback on all purchases.
Me too.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by daytona084 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:57 pm

camper wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:I use Fidelity AMEX card because it gives me 2% cashback on all purchases.
Me too.
Me too.

I have been keeping records and have to date I have earned $7670.00 in credit card cash rewards.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by nisiprius » Sat Mar 24, 2012 7:59 pm

betterinvestor, I don't know how old you are, but I used an American Express card for decades, because my dad had used one and it made me feel grownup. I had the idea that it MasterCharge (yes, old story) was OK for department stores and such, but that when you were traveling American Express was really the "right" card to use. I paid $75 a year for it. What finally led me to get rid of it was a three-week vacation at Walt Disney World at which my American Express card was declined about halfway into the second week at a Disney restaurant. We didn't travel a lot and Amex's computers decided we were spending more money than usual and decided to cut me off. A phone call cleared it up, but that's the point at which I learned that Amex's "no spending limit" means that there is a spending limit, you just have no way of knowing what it is until you hit it. I decided that $75 a year was too much to pay for the feeling of being grownup like my dad, especially if I was going to be embarrassed by having my card declined.

I ditched Amex--with a certain pang--and discovered that hotel clerks knew what a MasterCharge card was, did not act as if it emitted an offensive odor, and gave me just as big a smile when I slid it across the counter to them.

For a long time, Diners' Club (does it still exist?), American Express, and Hilton Carte Blanche were the credit cards, and carried an aura of privilege and prestige, while BankAmericard (now VISA) and MasterCharge (now MasterCard) were cheapjack, offbrand, second-rate cards that people could get if they didn't qualify for the real thing.

When I was in college, I received unsolicited BankAmericards and MasterCharge cards in the mail. No, I do not mean applications or invitations, I mean actual, functional, ready-to-use embossed cards that would go through an imprinter. They were very eager to win acceptance for their cards, and they wanted to get young people hooked on the plastic habit.

The repetition factor of dozens of ads like this gave one the impression that Diners' Club, American Express, and Carte Blanche were accepted virtually everywhere, whereas who knew whether MasterCharge and VISA might count as "other accredited charge cards."
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Sidney » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:14 pm

That isn't an AMEX thing, that is a fraud filter that is fairly tight (maybe too tight, who knows). I usually tell my CC companies if I am going to be traveling somewhere unusual or if I expect to have large, out-of-pattern charges. I've never had any problems from any card company.
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by tetractys » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:20 pm

I was sent a green Amex card with the Roman centurion head on it. I used it until a letter came saying the first free year was ending and it was time to charge an annual fee, and a rate hike, to which I answered with immediate cancellation. It was a little upsetting because when the letter first came I had the idea it was an upgrade to the gold, which was a new thing back then.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by V572625694 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:21 pm

An AMEX "Platinum" card grants you access to most airline clubs, which has been worth it to me.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by livesoft » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:23 pm

The Amex card is not helpful overseas. When a vendor sees it, they go, "Blech! We must charge you an additional 3% fee for Amex" at best and "We do not accept Amex" at worst. I have one because my company makes me use it.

For personal overseas charges, I will use a CapitalOne card.
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by nisiprius » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:41 pm

Sidney wrote:That isn't an AMEX thing, that is a fraud filter that is fairly tight (maybe too tight, who knows). I usually tell my CC companies if I am going to be traveling somewhere unusual or if I expect to have large, out-of-pattern charges. I've never had any problems from any card company.
Well, maybe they all do it, but American Express is the company that did it to me. They embarrassed me in public. I don't think that's a small thing. At the time, American Express was supposed to be for travel, and I don't know why it should have surprised them that someone might be using their American Express card while traveling. If they had a rule that lower-income cardholders were supposed to clear their travel plans in advance with American Express, I don't know why it had to be a secret rule.

Yes, I am angry about it still. Yes, after all these years.
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dhodson
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by dhodson » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:45 pm

yea the key is to use a free amex and not have a fee
i get a reasonable return on my costco amex and usaa visa

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by expat » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:46 pm

Because they have excellent customer service, great cash back and other benefits.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by sscritic » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:51 pm

As nisiprius and a few others have hinted at, there are credit cards and there are charge cards. They aren't the same thing. American Express offers both. I don't know if the OP was asking about a charge card or a credit card. Many of you have answered some question, but do you know if you were answering the OP's actual question?
I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.
Is this a word that means charge or is this a word that means credit?

The OP says he knows how to compare credit cards, so I suspect he is asking how do you compare an Amex charge card to a credit card.
When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out.
I don't like to answer questions I don't understand. How about you? :)

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by beckjl727 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:55 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.

I do travel but only go overseas once year or two. Is this card helpful when overseas?

One of the things I have learned from being a Boglehead is to take the emotion out of finance and try to be more logical in the use of my money. When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out. What is wrong with me? Is there a justification for having this card? Apparently I just "can't leave home without it" :confused
I don't know whats wrong with you, but I canceled my gold card with them about 2 years ago because of the annual fee.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:03 pm

Sounds like your problem might less be with AmEx and might more be with having the wrong AmEx product. If that's the case, look at the current AmEx lineup and see if something is better suited for you. Then call them up and ask to switch, just make sure you're asking about an AmEx serviced product (like Blue Cash) and not a FIA serviced but AmEx branded product (like the Fidelity card).

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by sscritic » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:05 pm

beckjl727 wrote:
betterinvestor2012 wrote:I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.
I don't know whats wrong with you, but I canceled my gold card with them about 2 years ago because of the annual fee.
There's nothing wrong with him. He said he switched back and forth to avoid the annual fees. I don't know how he does that, but he isn't paying any fee as I read it. His cost is the switching back and forth. Would you have kept your card and its twin if the only cost was switching from one to the other every year? That's a cost, but not really an annual fee.

P.S. My son and son-in-law take turns signing up for free or discounted HBO. One watches HBO, the other watches HBO GO on Roku. Three (or is it six) months later, they switch. I understand, but don't approve. What I do understand is that their cost is the cost of switching: call up to subscribe, call up to cancel, unhook the Roku box, move the Roku box, hook up the Roku box, call to subscribe. Rinse and repeat.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by kontango » Sat Mar 24, 2012 9:41 pm

I love our Starwoods AMEX card. We've built up a ton of points for hotels and traveling.

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Langkawi
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Langkawi » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:05 pm

livesoft wrote:The Amex card is not helpful overseas. When a vendor sees it, they go, "Blech! We must charge you an additional 3% fee for Amex" at best and "We do not accept Amex" at worst. I have one because my company makes me use it.

For personal overseas charges, I will use a CapitalOne card.
One strong benefit of using Amex overseas is that unlike Visa and Mastercard, Amex does not allow merchants to use Dynamic Currency Conversion. It's difficult to use Amex as your only card overseas because of the limited acceptance you described, but I'd use it as much as possible.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by bluelight » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:08 pm

nisiprius wrote: Yes, I am angry about it still. Yes, after all these years.
We had a similar experience with AMEX years ago. Ex-DH traveled occasionally for business so his employer told him to get an AMEX card and bill the company for the yearly fee. Most trips were in the USA for a week or 2, but then they had a problem in their Brussels office and sent him there. He ended up staying for 3 weeks.

All charges were paid, but he had barely returned home and the phone calls from AMEX started. The bills hadn't even been received yet and they were harassing us for savings account info. At first we didn't understand what was going on, but came to realize that while they said there was no preset spending limit, they actually calculated a secret limit based on your usual spending. When he went over that limit, they wanted payment NOW.

That episode left such a bad taste in my mouth that I have never had their card since. I've been sent more offers through the years than I can count, but no thanks. I'll pass.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by etarini » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:21 pm

I had a similarly embarassing experience while traveling, where my Citibank MasterCard was declined after a couple of purchases in the same department store in Florida, and I was equally furious, because I knew I was at least $15,000 away from my credit limit. A quick phone call to customer service re-opened my credit line, but I was still annoyed at the capricious algorithm that ensnared me. But I kept the card because I get American Airlines miles; and I have a Delta Skymiles/American Express card that we also use. Generally, airline cards return the equivalent of about 1-2% in flights, with a few additional perks thrown in (free baggage checking for you and those in your travel party, and an annual free companion ticket, which alone covers the annual fee in our case).

Eric

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by jpark1982 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:37 pm

I used to be a big supporter of American Express but they're starting to lose their appeal to me. I started out with the regular Gold card with MR points in 2006, added the Blue Cash in 2007, then the Clear in 2008. Finally last year added the Platinum, then Premier Rewards Gold card. But I'll give a few reasons why I'm starting to not like them anymore.

-The outstanding customer service is starting to not be so outstanding. Yes when business grows and you need to hire more telephone reps you're bound to get some bad ones. But the last few times I called they were just plain rude.
- It hasn't happened to me yet but I know of 3 people that I'm close with that got hit with the random financial review. Having to submit yourself to a 4506-T just to use a credit card can be a little too much. If it were standard practice then I wouldn't see the big deal with it but when no other issuer that I know of asks for one, then something's off.
- Sometimes quirky fraud prevention. While I appreciate a card company looking to protect me, sometimes it's a little too much. I had my card declined while checking out at Costco. So I had to speak to a rep while holding up the line, finally getting it cleared. No less than 4 minutes later shopping at the liquor store that's attached to the Costco in the same building while trying to buy a $20 bottle of wine I had the same situation. While I had the guy on the phone again I swiped anothe American Express card I had in my wallet and it went through. So while asking him why my first card was blocked for the 2nd time in 4 minutes he couldn't answer, nor why my other American Express card worked fine.
- Excise tax to transfer to FF programs.
- Lose of CO/UA lounges.
- Inability to combine membership rewards points between even spouses. Yes they'll pool all eligible cards under a single primary cardholder but if you and your wife hold seperate American Express accounts, good luck getting those points combined. At least with Chase and their Ultimate Rewards program you can combine between personal/business, husband/wife, pretty much anyone you have a card number and their name.
- Only card that waives foreign transaction fee is the Platinum, even the Starwood Preferred Guest which is aimed towards travelers charges 2.7%.
- Even though the list no preset spending limit, if you come close to their internal limit they'll ask for payment. I'd rather not tip toe around hoping that I don't go over this secret to me limit. I'd rather have my set limit that I know that I can comfortably charge up to.
- And finally at least for me is the dilution in cardholder base. For many years American Express almost seemed like an personal goal for many people, including me. I was so happy when I first got my Gold card, it made me feel like I took a big step in my financial ladder. I don't blame American Express for trying to increase their customer base but take a look at their Zync card. It was originally marketed towards the mid 20's, recent college graduate who for most don't have any experience with charge cards. So they apply for, get approved for Zync and build a relationship with Amex so in a few years when they start to make more money and start building their net worth hopefully they might graduate to better cards (i.e. higher annual fees). But when you start to hear that people with mid 500 credit scores are getting approved, people rebuilding their credit after using it irresponsibly just a short time ago, and people who a few years ago American Express wouldn't even consider giving cards to, you start to think that the membership base and the 'prestige' of being an Amex cardholder is being severely diluted.

There are some key benefits to Amex though.
- Biggest thing for me is the backdating. My first Gold card was opened in February of 2006. My most recent cards from December of 2011 reflect as being opened in December of 2006 on my credit report helping to lengthen my average age of accounts.
- Transfer bonuses to frequent flyer programs. Often you'll see 20-50% bonuses to transfer to other programs. But with the excise tax being charged it does have an impact.
- Product protection is usually pretty strong. But other cards are starting to get better.

I have such a sour taste in my mouth that I'm not even interested in the Fidelity card that runs on the Amex network and not issued by American Express themselves. Yes you get 2% cash back fixed, but right now I value UR at 2.7% when used for airfare and 2.2% when used for hotels, plus the fact that I get 2x on dining, plus more points when using the online mall with my Sapphire Preferred, I'm digging my Chase combo for maximizing cash back.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by tooluser » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:44 pm

It unnecessarily plumps up my wallet, but I have one because I'm a Costco member and that's the best way to purchase things there, due to the rebate and no annual fee on the card, versus no use allowed of any other card. It's silly and inconvenient to me, but I guess Costco makes money that way, and by golly many things are actually cheaper there, so I intend to keep shopping there. Also only one card swipe at the gas pumps there, and the gas is much cheaper than anywhere else.

I also have a work AMEX, which they tried to cancel this year for lack of use, but I made them keep it active in case of emergencies. I don't keep it in my wallet. Highly unlikely to be used.
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by daytona084 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:13 pm

BTW.... The Fidelity AMEX 2% Rewards card (mentioned by a few posters above) is administered by FIA Card Services (part of Bank of America).... So it is AMEX in name only. Kind of a hybrid card, like a Visa with an AMEX wrapper.

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Langkawi
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Langkawi » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:17 pm

wjwhitney wrote:like a Visa with an AMEX wrapper.
More accurately, an Amex with a Visa wrapper.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by norookie » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:17 pm

:D First impressions and all, yrs back, I keep a AMEXBlue......for emergencies only :oops:
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by gerntz » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:58 am

The free baggage check & free companion plane ticket each year more than covers the cost fee - and then some.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by desertbandit442 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:10 am

gerntz wrote:The free baggage check & free companion plane ticket each year more than covers the cost fee - and then some.
Same here. We travel (fly) 3-4 times a year and use the companion plane ticket each year, free baggage check and airline miles. My last flight cost $10 using miles.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by dbltrbl » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:20 am

I apologize for somewhat hijacking the thread. Delta Sky-miles card on their website does not give free companion ticket as some posters have mentioned. Would you be kind enough to let us know which Amex card gives you free baggage check and a free companion ticket every year?

Thanks.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by midareff » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:34 am

DiMAn0684 wrote:
I use Fidelity AMEX card because it gives me 2% cash back on all purchases.


+1

I use their 1 1/2% (FIDO) VISA for places (dentists and Chinese resturants) that don't take AMEX. I like the way they keep an eye on accounts and call if something seems out of whack. One was mail order pet supplies from another state (fraud) and the other was multiple gas ups the same day for a trip, which was outside my profile. I always pay in full electronically on the last day of the cycle and will be keeping both as long as they maintain the same terms and conditions.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by etarini » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:25 pm

dbltrbl wrote:Would you be kind enough to let us know which Amex card gives you free baggage check and a free companion ticket every year?
I had to call the Delta SkyMiles Platinum desk, and hunt around a bit on the Delta website, but I found the confirmations.

The "first bag free" for up to 9 people in the cardholder's party on the same reservation is listed on the Delta Platinum benefits page.

The Delta SkyMiles Platinum desk said that the companion ticket certificate is provided upon annual renewal, i.e., at the end of the first year of membership, not when you sign up (though there is currently a 20,000 mile bonus for new cardmembers), and I later found the link:

Companion Certificates

It varies for Gold, Platinum, and Delta Reserve, but here's what it says for the Platinum card ($150 annual fee) that I have:

"With the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, the rewards keep coming. In fact, just for renewing your Card each year, you'll receive an exclusive, money-saving SkyMiles Companion Certificate—good for one eligible round-trip flight. It's our way of saying thanks for being a Cardmember—and making it easier than ever to share your travel experience with someone special. And, you can now redeem online.

Each year, you will receive your Platinum Companion Certificate which allows you to bring a friend with your only cost the government taxes and fees ranging from $10.80-$27.60 (depending upon the itinerary), and entitles you to Economy seating."

Note that the fine print restricts the fare classes to L, U, and T, though they now have a certificate redemption page that will only display flights with available seats in those fare classes. I just booked my companion ticket online last week for Friday-Monday travel Boston-Detroit the last weekend in June and availability wasn't a problem. Usually we try to travel Tue, Wed, or Sat, the lowest travel volume days, when we're trying to get award tickets. All Delta purchases with the card are 2x miles, including the flight you purchase to use the companion certificate.

The other benefit we like is that if you charge $25,000 to the card in one year, you get an additional 10,000 miles. We put everything we can on our credit cards, then pay them off each month. So, using the 1% guideline for air miles, that's another $100.

I keep monitoring the various cash-back cards, but their policies and categories seem to change often, and they exclude the big-box and warehouse clubs, which is a big negative for us, and I haven't found any that were compelling enough to switch.

Eric

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by ddunca1944 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 12:33 pm

dbltrbl wrote:I apologize for somewhat hijacking the thread. Delta Sky-miles card on their website does not give free companion ticket as some posters have mentioned. Would you be kind enough to let us know which Amex card gives you free baggage check and a free companion ticket every year?

Thanks.
That would be the Platinum Sky Miles card (which comes with a $450 annual fee)

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by nomdeplume » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:06 pm

Mudpuppy wrote:Sounds like your problem might less be with AmEx and might more be with having the wrong AmEx product. If that's the case, look at the current AmEx lineup and see if something is better suited for you. Then call them up and ask to switch, just make sure you're asking about an AmEx serviced product (like Blue Cash) and not a FIA serviced but AmEx branded product (like the Fidelity card).
What are the practial differences or advantages, disadvantages between an Amex serviced product and a FIA serviced product?


WJwhitney later in tis thread said re the Fidelity Amex "So it is AMEX in name only. Kind of a hybrid card, like a Visa with an AMEX wrapper." Are there reasons to get or to not get a hybrid?

Do these hybrid cards have the same perks as a non hybrid, like the travel accident, purchase protection, availablility of the car rental insurance, etc?

Thank you.

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by desertbandit442 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:18 pm

dbltrbl wrote:I apologize for somewhat hijacking the thread. Delta Sky-miles card on their website does not give free companion ticket as some posters have mentioned. Would you be kind enough to let us know which Amex card gives you free baggage check and a free companion ticket every year?

Thanks.
I didn't say my (desertbandit442) companion ticket was free. Delta gold card fee is $95 per year, after the first year with it free, and to use the companion ticket is $99 for companion to fly domestic with me. Since we end up flying domestic 3-4 times a year, the $194 for one of our $400-$600 flights for my wife is worth it for us.

etarini
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by etarini » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:48 pm

ddunca1944 wrote:That would be the Platinum Sky Miles card (which comes with a $450 annual fee)
No, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card is free the first year, then $95 after that;
the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card is $150/year,
and the Delta Reserve card is $450/year.

Card Comparison

As noted in the link in my earlier post, Gold gets you a companion ticket in Economy class for $99, Platinum gets you a free companion ticket in Economy class, and Delta Reserve gets you a free ticket in First/Business or Economy.

Eric

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Cosmo
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Cosmo » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:55 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.

I do travel but only go overseas once year or two. Is this card helpful when overseas?

One of the things I have learned from being a Boglehead is to take the emotion out of finance and try to be more logical in the use of my money. When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out. What is wrong with me? Is there a justification for having this card? Apparently I just "can't leave home without it" :confused
A much better question is why haven't you switched to American Express Blue Preferred??? I seriously doubt you "ran the numbers" on this one:

1) 6% cash back on groceries (no brainer if you have a family)
2) 3% cash back on gasoline (do you commute or drive a gas guzzler?)
3) 2% back on everything else.

So in summary, you need to switch and get the American Express Blue Preferred. There is a $75 annual fee -run your numbers though, you will probably come out well ahead if you use your credit card on everything and pay the balance off in full -not unlike many people here do..

Check them out.

http://www304.americanexpress.com/getth ... -Preferred

Here is a recent post about American Express Preferred.

http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... st=1330048

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Cosmo
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Cosmo » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:00 pm

Just a quick word on frequent flyer credit cards. Over the last several years, airlines have drasically cut seating capacity due to the economy and soaring fuel prices.

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/breaking-ne ... ties.html/

Meanwhile, the growth of frequent flier credit cards have exploded. You do the math on this one. A greater number of passengers competing for a smaller number of seats. Good luck getting the flights you want. It is definitely achievable but I think it takes a bit more creativity than it used to. Me? No thanks.

Cosmo

Wolkenspiel
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Wolkenspiel » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:06 pm

livesoft wrote:The Amex card is not helpful overseas. When a vendor sees it, they go, "Blech! We must charge you an additional 3% fee for Amex" at best and "We do not accept Amex" at worst. I have one because my company makes me use it.
Major rental car agencies, hotels and stores accept AMEX in Europe and Asia without any problem. Small places may not, but that's what the other cards are for.
My reasons for having AMEX cards (in addition to VISA, Mastercard, debit cards etc):
- Costco
- 2% cashback/no fee fidelity (with a relatively low foreign transaction fee/exchange rate loss)
- Premium car rental insurance at $26/rental total

dayzero
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by dayzero » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:39 pm

$0 fees, $600-900 cash back per year

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Wading Ashore
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Wading Ashore » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:41 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.


I totally agree. See my previous posts, if you get a chance. I stopped using the Blue Cash card in August, for many reasons -- $75 fee not offset by cashback, much better deals elsewhere, significantly reduced customer service and support, overseas fees. Emperor's New Clothes story, perhaps?
FedGuy wrote:I use the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card because it gives me 3% cash back on all grocery purchases, with no annual fee, sign-ups, tiers, etc. I'm considering upgrading to the Preferred card because it will double the cash back for a $75 annual fee.
Are you sure? I just checked my account (Blue Cash, no-fee), and representative said cashback was .5%.
Jack shall have Jill, nought shall go ill, the man shall have his mare again, and all will be well.

Sidney
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Sidney » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:47 pm

Is it possible to convert a traditional Green AMEX to one of the Blues? Or do you have to cancel and reapply?
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

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momar
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by momar » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:49 pm

Sidney wrote:Is it possible to convert a traditional Green AMEX to one of the Blues? Or do you have to cancel and reapply?
Call and find out.
"Index funds have a place in your portfolio, but you'll never beat the index with them." - Words of wisdom from a Fidelity rep

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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by Alex Frakt » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:00 pm

betterinvestor2012 wrote:I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.

I do travel but only go overseas once year or two. Is this card helpful when overseas?

One of the things I have learned from being a Boglehead is to take the emotion out of finance and try to be more logical in the use of my money. When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out. What is wrong with me? Is there a justification for having this card? Apparently I just "can't leave home without it" :confused
Customer service. They seriously helped me out when I was pickpocketed in Vietnam in the early '90s. More recently, last year my wife was running a conference and needed to make a payment on the facilities right away. For various reasons, it was going to take a few days to get a check for the total so I called AMEX and they let us put the $32,000 charge on our card. Which brings me to the other thing we use it for, we have AMEX personal and business cards that are linked to one miles account (they call it Membership Rewards). We've cashed in the miles for multiple business-class tickets to Europe.

FedGuy
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by FedGuy » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:01 pm

Cosmo wrote: A much better question is why haven't you switched to American Express Blue Preferred??? I seriously doubt you "ran the numbers" on this one:

1) 6% cash back on groceries (no brainer if you have a family)
2) 3% cash back on gasoline (do you commute or drive a gas guzzler?)
3) 2% back on everything else.
It's 1% on everything else, not 2%. Unfortunately.

Wading Ashore wrote:
FedGuy wrote:I use the American Express Blue Cash Everyday card because it gives me 3% cash back on all grocery purchases, with no annual fee, sign-ups, tiers, etc. I'm considering upgrading to the Preferred card because it will double the cash back for a $75 annual fee.
Are you sure? I just checked my account (Blue Cash, no-fee), and representative said cashback was .5%.
Yes, I'm sure. Are you using the Blue Cash Everyday card, or the old Blue Cash card? The old Blue Cash card had a slightly convoluted system where you got a relatively low level of cash back, which varied depending on whether or not the purchase was in one of their "every day spending categories", with a higher level of cash back once your annual spending exceeded $6500 for the year. The Blue Cash Everyday card gets rid of all that, and gets you 3% cash back on groceries starting with the first dollar. It also offers lower levels of cash back in other categories, but I'm not as familiar with that because I use other cards for other categories of spending.

If you're using the old Blue Cash card, you should run the numbers and decide whether it's worth switching to the Everyday card. If it is, call them up and ask to switch.

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daytona084
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by daytona084 » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:04 pm

nomdeplume wrote: What are the practial differences or advantages, disadvantages between an Amex serviced product and a FIA serviced product?


WJwhitney later in tis thread said re the Fidelity Amex "So it is AMEX in name only. Kind of a hybrid card, like a Visa with an AMEX wrapper." Are there reasons to get or to not get a hybrid?

Do these hybrid cards have the same perks as a non hybrid, like the travel accident, purchase protection, availablility of the car rental insurance, etc?

Thank you.
From the Fidelity AMEX website http://personal.fidelity.com/products/c ... card.shtml...

Additional Card Benefits

No limits on rewards
No annual fee
24-hour customer service
Zero liability fraud protection and identity theft recovery service
Retail purchase protection for merchandise
Travel and emergency assistance, including car rental loss and damage insurance


Not 100% sure that is the same as the "real" AMEX card but basically I think the answer is yes.

jebmke
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Re: Why does anyone use American Express?

Post by jebmke » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:10 pm

Alex Frakt wrote:
betterinvestor2012 wrote:I have a confession, I have been an Amex user for over 20 years. I switch back and forth on the cards to avoid annual fees, but somehow I just feel this card is really not worth it.

I do travel but only go overseas once year or two. Is this card helpful when overseas?

One of the things I have learned from being a Boglehead is to take the emotion out of finance and try to be more logical in the use of my money. When it comes to credit cards, I run the numbers and almost all "rewards" cards seem like a waste. When it comes to Amex, for some reason I just cant throw it out. What is wrong with me? Is there a justification for having this card? Apparently I just "can't leave home without it" :confused
Customer service. They seriously helped me out when I was pickpocketed in Vietnam in the early '90s. More recently, last year my wife was running a conference and needed to make a payment on the facilities right away. For various reasons, it was going to take a few days to get a check for the total so I called AMEX and they let us put the $32,000 charge on our card. Which brings me to the other thing we use it for, we have AMEX personal and business cards that are linked to one miles account (they call it Membership Rewards). We've cashed in the miles for multiple business-class tickets to Europe.
I had similar experience once when I was working. I went to a company sponsored trade show during the set up day. All the marketing guys looked at each other and asked who brought the check for the food service. Blank stares. My company Visa had a limit so I called AMEX and told them to watch for a $50,000 charge for "Chickens" in the next 24 hours. It went through with no problem.

When I lived in Europe I ran into places that would only accept AMEX and not Visa or MC. Not often but more than once.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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