Over the last year or so Amex is really cranking out the offers for prepaid cards and social media promotions. At this point, I can’t even count on one hand the number of prepaid card products that they sell.
Now Amex is pushing their cleverly named “American Express Prepaid Card,” and offering a free $25 bonus when you load $200 on the card by June 30, 2012. According to the T&Cs you must load $200 on the card at the time you order it.
Now comes the annoying part. In order to load the card you cannot use a credit card. This is totally ridiculous because if you’ve ever seen Amex gift cards at the grocery store, they all allow you to pay with credit card, you can even order Amex gift cards online using a credit card. Perhaps this card is marketed toward people who can’t qualify for an Amex charge card or credit card, and who want the benefits and protection of using a credit card. In fact, one of the nice features of this card is purchase protection where you can be reimbursed for loss or damage of something you purchased using the card with 90 days of the purchase. I’ve used this feature several times and it works almost flawlessly. Over Thanksgiving last year I stupidly left my brand new Kindle Fire on an airplane and Amex reimbursed mefor the total cost after only 3 days!
How does this card work?
For purchases this card works like any Amex card, and can even be used overseas. In fact, you can also use this card at the ATM and withdraw cash from it. The ATM fee is waived once per month and costs $2.00 every time thereafter.
The difference between this card and a regular Amex charge/credit card is you must load this card with funds before you actually use it. There are several ways you can load the card:
– Direct deposit from your employer (I have no idea who would consider this)
– Transfer from a bank account (takes 5 business days)
– Purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak at participating retailers, load funds on the MoneyPak and then call 1-800-GREENDOT to transfer the funds to your Amex (If this is marketed toward people who have a hard time managing their finances, I highly doubt they will be able to figure this process out).
– Load cash on the card via the Vanilla Reload Network found at a participating retailer
Should I get this card?
As I mentioned, this card is marketed toward people either people with insufficient/bad credit, kids, or possibly employees. Hence, most of my PRCP readers will probably not be interested in this card for two reasons: 1) You don’t earn points or miles with this card, and 2) You can’t use your credit card to put funds on this card.
However, I do HIGHLY recommend that you sign up for this card to get the free $25. Then either cancel or stop using the card, or you could keep it as a backup just in case you all on hard times. I would simply sign up for the card, load it with the $200 from my bank account upon sign up, then withdraw the funds from an ATM (you will still have to pay the ATM free despite the fee being waived on Amex’s side). I found an ATM near my house that charges just $2.00, so my net profit will be $23 after I’m all done. A bit of work, but you can’t argue with $23 free from Amex!