Amex: paying cardholders to close accounts

From the National Post:

American Express Co., the largest U.S. credit-card company by purchases, is paying some cardholders US$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.

Chief executive Kenneth Chenault is shedding customers as rivals reduce credit lines, raise interest rates and cut back on mail solicitations to brace for future losses. The industry’s defaults are set to break records and may reach as high as 11% by year-end in a stress scenario, reducing American Express’s annual profit by about 40%, according to Brian Foran, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“This is an offer we made to select cardmembers to incent them to help pay down their balance,” said Molly Faust, an American Express spokeswoman, in a telephone interview Monday.

  1. LunchwithLou says

    I have heard of American Express business accounts having their credit limits slashed: $800,000 to $80,000 in a four month period.

    If this is widespread, because AMEX cannot finance the receiveabes or because it AMEX has to recapitalized its balance sheet, this means the financing mechanism for our economy has completely disappeared.

    Yesterday, a Japanese finance company filed bankruptcy with less than $4 billion in debt which it could not roll.

    A banking holiday on an international scale and a summit among all creditor institutions is obligatory.

    There are only debts throughout the world right now and we need a unified approach to mastering the resolution of our capitalist system, which in the past relied on trust to operate.

    The absence of credit means a complete absence of trust.

    Lou Polur

  2. Julian says

    You are exactly on the money. Absence of trust is why American Express didn’t consider my 7 year history of no late payments, no missed payments, always on time or sooner payment history. On 2/8/09 I learned my account was canceled. I promptly phoned in to investigate and resolved the matter. On 2/12/09 I received a letter where Amex formally apologized and sincerely regrets any inconvenience it may have caused by the cancelation. The promptly issued replaced cards for me and my wife. Just two weeks later, yesterday in fact I learned that the cards were canceled once again. How can they apologize one week and the next close my accounts down? The reps commented on my excellent payment history and said that their decision is totally and exclusively based upon credit scores and while they appreciate the fact that my account was always paid on time or before and in full, they would not reverse the cancellation. If racial profiling is illegal in this country shouldn’t credit profiling be also? The credit industry is out of control and needs to be overhauled. So much for working hard to keep my cherished Amex card blemish free. Thanks for the comments about trust. If Amex trusted their good standing customers, they wouldn’t be cutting the customers that do pay their accounts and keep zero balances. Amex is no longer on my Facebook friends list.

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