$75 for two $500 direct deposits to Amex Pre-Paid

Amex appears to be targeting current holders of the Amex Pre-Paid card $50 for two $250 direct deposits or $75 for two $500 direct deposits. Personally, I’m a big fan of the American Express Pre-Paid card and Chase Ink Bold combo to turn lots of spending into 5 UR per dollar and have been doing it for a while but free cash always catches my attention.

Note that this post was significantly updated as more information was gathered throughout the morning. Firstly, if you aren’t aware of the benefits of the Chase Ink Bold card Amex Pre-Paid, you should really read Frequent Miler’s coverage here.

Assuming you’ve read that though, let’s take a look at this deal and whether it’s worth it.

The Offer

The offer above arrived by email promising a $75 Amex gift card (good anywhere that accepts Amex) for two $500 direct deposits to the Amex Prepaid card (as shown below). Mrs. Points received a similar offer of a $50 Amex GC for two $250 direct deposits to hers.  I’ve included the T&C at the bottom in case you want the fine print.

The Catch

First, thanks to David who commented that he participated in a similar (identical?) offer and that funding the Prepaid card reduces the amount you can load from Vanilla reloads. If you’re maxing those out, then there’s a significant opportunity cost to be aware of.  David probably saved me the trouble of messing around with this!

Is it worth it?

My scenario ($500 DD offer)

I do load $2,500 onto my prepaid card every 28 days which maxes it out so by loading $1,000 via direct deposit, I’d lose out on some Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Let’s do the math:

+ $75 : Value of Amex Gift card received for loading $1,000.

+ $7.90 : Fees for two $500 Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot that I didn’t buy but otherwise would have.

– $80.63 : Value of Chase Ultimate Rewards not received assuming $.016/UR.  ($1007.90 * 5 UR / $ * $0.016/UR)

= Net value: $2.27.

That’s a non-starter for me! Even if you move the value of a Chase UR down to $.0125/point (used to book paid travel), the benefit’s only $19.90.

Mrs. Points scenario ($250 DD offer)

She also maxes out the Vanilla Reload cards each month. Here I’ll assume that she loads (twice) $250 onto the card via direct deposit and then drops vanilla reload card from $500 to $250.

+ $50  : Value of Amex Gift card received for loading $1,000.

– $40 : Value of Chase Ultimate Rewards not received assuming $.016/UR.  ($500 * 5 UR / $ * $0.016/UR)

= Net value: $10.

Again, not worth it the trouble!

Summary

Very disappointing! If anyone has experience that’s different from David’s in that they could add money via direct deposit without impacting their ability to load from Vanilla Reload’s this could be a great promo. Note that you can actually repeat the promo for up to 3 Amex Prepaid cards.

Offer Terms and Conditions

Here are the key T&C’s from my offer. Those offered to Mrs. Points are identical except for the dollar amounts.

1 To receive a $75 Gift Card, (i) you must be the named recipient of this email, (ii) by September 30, 2012, you must set up recurring direct deposit to your Card of all or part of your paycheck in an amount at least equal to $500 per paycheck and two direct deposit transfers to your Card must have occurred, and (iii) your Card and your direct deposit instructions must be active and in effect at the time the bonus is fulfilled. Please allow 6 weeks after qualifying deposit for the $75 Gift Card to be mailed to the Card purchaser. American Express reserves the right to refuse or to delay payment of the bonus if it has determined or suspects that fraud has been committed in connection with the Card or this offer. Offer is available only to Card purchasers who are first-time users of the Card’s direct deposit functionality. Limit three (3) bonuses per Card purchaser — one per Card user, up to three users. American Express reserves the right to terminate the offer if it determines, in its sole discretion, that causes beyond its control have destroyed or severely undermined the integrity, administration, security, and / or feasibility of the offer.

2 Payments by the U.S. Government may not be Direct Deposited to the American Express Prepaid Card. This includes wages if you work for the U.S. Government, benefits such as Social Security, SSI, civil service retirement, VA compensation / pension, worker’s compensation, Federal tax refunds, etc.

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5 comments

  1. I just did a different promo where I got a $50 bonus for 2 $250 DDs. This DID impact my reload schedule…I called AX PP, and they confirmed that DD eats into the maximum cash/Vanilla reload per 28 days.

  2. Unfortunate but very good to know! Depending on your situation, this may make it not worth the trouble. I’ll update the post in a few minutes.

  3. greek2me · · Reply

    One way around the impact on max load of Vanillas is to just get a NetSpend prepaid card and load the $1k or $500 Vanillas you otherwise could not load on Amex on to that instead.

    1. Excellent point… There are so many ways to scale the Office Depot bonus category until you reach $50k or run out of reasonable means to get the cash off the NetSpend, Amex PP, or whatever you’re buying. Instead, it’s almost more a question of how much work I’ll do for another $75 or 5000 UR. For me I’ll let this pass but your point is dead on.

  4. I received the DD offer in May, and actually took advantage of it in June. The bonus credit posted a week later in July. It was a $50 credit onto the PP card, which is worth it for me, as it helps offset the ATM and Vanilla fees for my account. I have since cancelled the DD, and I can wait a few weeks to deposit the extra Vanilla reload card.

    I think the relative scarcity of Vanilla reloads is more of an issue…2 ODs near me haven’t re-stocked since they ran out of them.

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