Opening An American Express Savings Account Is Dumb

Amex Card

CC: taxbrackets.org

I got a letter from American Express (Amex) a few weeks ago.

Usually I just shred those letters, but since my Financial Peace Univer­sity class is collecting credit card offers, I decided to open it up.

Turns out, American Express wasn’t selling me a credit card; they’re selling a savings account.

Saving With a Credit Card Company

I remember when I saw the first Capital One banks going up. I had one of their cards, but even so I thought it was a bad idea to bank at a credit card company. I wasn’t too surprised when the banks took off — even with their crummy accounts and shady practices, people really like Capital One. I think it’s the viking commer­cials.

With Capital One’s success, I shouldn’t have been so surprised with Amex getting into the banking game.

American Express: Scum of the Earth

American Express claims to be a different sort of Credit Card Company. They do things random things that go far above the call of duty for any business.

In one 1989 example, they covered the cremation and transfer costs of a family whose father died while out of the country. By trans­fer­ring $2,500 dollars on a Sunday, they saved the family a govern­ment sponsored grief. They never asked for the family to pay them back and they even followed up a few times to make sure the family was taken care of.

More recently, they donated $100,000 to the Japan relief efforts and waved merchant fees for donations to the Red Cross.

How can I call Amex scum of the Earth when they have stories like that? Because for every good story, there are hundreds of bad ones:

  • Dave Ramsey’s wife, Sharon, was asked by Amex why she didn’t divorce a man who can’t pay his bills.
  • Amex took $2,000 from a guy’s checking account even though they told him they wouldn’t.
  • After a man lost his job, Amex agreed to take payments of $480 a month until he got back on his feet. When he called back, they said “$520 is the best we can do.”
  • They call old disabled ladies 10 or more times per day in an attempt to emotion­ally abuse them into making payments.
  • After paying off her account balance, Amex charged a woman more than $300 dollars in fees on a closed account.
  • They transfer customers who are making payments to collections.
  • Amex’s collec­tions depart­ment: calls multiple times a day, calls neighbors and family members, and yell at people until they give up their disability income.

There are just a few of the horror stories. Most of these stories come from consumeraffiars.com. There are many more on the web and probably thousands that aren’t reported.

Over and over again, Amex proves they don’t care about customers, they’re willing to lie to get money, and they are okay ignoring the Fair Debt Collec­tion Practices Act.

This is not the way any business should be run. Companies like this should be shut down, not by the govern­ment, but by us. By spending our dollars somewhere else.

You vote with your money every day. If you have an Amex card, cancel it. There are a million other credit cards out there waiting for you (though, I wouldn’t recommend any of them).

Final Thoughts

I will not be opening an Amex savings account. This is non-negotiable. Any business who abuses their customers the way Amex does will never get my business.

This isn’t an oppor­tu­nity to get a high interest rate on a savings account, this is a chance to get in bed with an evil company. I’m called to a higher standard than that, and so are you.

What companies do you put your savings into?

Saving With American Express Is Dumb

18 Responses to “Opening An American Express Savings Account Is Dumb”

  1. Loren Pinilis October 13, 2011 at 8:07 AM #

    It’s cool that you’re so conscious of the busi­nesses that you patronize. As a proponent of capi­talism and market forces, I’m excited to see people making purchase decisions based on intan­gible factors such as the way a business treats the elderly or the poor. Even better, you’re spreading the word. If a lot of people follow your lead, then it opens up an oppor­tu­nity for an ethical bank to fill that niche.
    You should do a post on banks you DO recommend!

    • Alex October 13, 2011 at 8:46 AM #

      That’s a good idea, Loren. Thanks!

  2. Moe October 13, 2011 at 8:24 AM #

    Wow! inter­esting. To be fair though, we can say the same thing with Bank of America, Citibank, and many of the other financial insti­tu­tions. They are busi­nesses and they after our money. There is no integrity in the way they approach their customers. I currently have my pennies in a Federal Credit Union. They are good, I like them, but I wouldn’t trust them too much. When they want their dues, they’ll get their dues.

    • Alex October 13, 2011 at 8:47 AM #

      I’m with you on the mega banks. They’ve been getting away with this junk for a very long time. Like you, I prefer small local banks and credit unions.

  3. Pastor Matt October 13, 2011 at 3:11 PM #

    What about regular savings accounts? I’ve been told they help your credit score even though the return is minimal.

    • Alex October 14, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

      I hadn’t heard that. I’m pretty sure the only way a checking account can effect your credit score is if you allow it to go bad, at which point the bank will notify the credit agencies that you have a “bad account”.

  4. ixnayonthetimmay October 14, 2011 at 2:33 AM #

    Hmm… Good article, though I might recommend making one small change. Change the title to “Opening any American Express account is dumb.”

    Just a thought. :)

    • Alex October 14, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

      LOL! A good sugges­tion :D

  5. Joe Plemon October 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM #

    Alex,
    Good call: “Scum of the earth” says it pretty well. I am not surprised by all of those horror stories, but listing them like you did really accents the Scum claim. My question: are any credit card companies NOT scum?

    • Alex October 15, 2011 at 7:57 AM #

      If there’s a credit card company that isn’t scum, I haven’t seen it. lol

  6. Eric Speir October 14, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

    That’s a good thought to tell. I was talking to my wife yesterday about being loyal to certain brands. It’s dumb that we are loyal to someone that we’ve never met such as a credit card company. They just see us a number and they certainly don’t care if we sleep at night. In their marketing efforts they want us to be loyal to them but it’s not reci­p­rocal. We should keep this in mind with them.

    • Alex October 15, 2011 at 7:58 AM #

      Very true, Eric. All the loyalty is one-way, and we should be aware of that.

  7. Anna Knight March 7, 2012 at 1:48 PM #

    Here’s a good one. My husband who had been an invalid for fifteen years passed in 2004. I wanted to close a jointly held account with AMX. Mind you, i had been the sole income producer, $150,000 annually since 1987. AMX demanded an original copy of my husbands death certifi­cate. There was much wasted time and bickering prior the release of the funds. And to this day AMX sends offers to my home for my husband to which I am not eligible. The highest earnings laid claim ever to my husband were in 1982; $6000.00 for the year. Yet even deceased he is a more valuable client than I. imagine that.

    • Alex March 7, 2012 at 3:29 PM #

      Yikes. Though, I’m sadly not surprised.

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