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So I was searching on yahoo looking to apply for a new credit card from American Express Blue.
I found http://www.creditcardzone.net/american.express.blue
It was right there. No searching through 1000 sites even the amex site was confusing. I appled on the site which just links to the american express blue credit card applcation on the amex corp site. What I liked was it broke through the clutter.
Check it out. Worth a lookie loo. :)
Dreadful customer service - Advantages: Cheap % rate for balance transfer - Disadvantages: Impossible to get sense out of cutomer support, Charged for trying to take money from a cancelled DD, Absolutely incompetent regarding customewr complaints
What a surprise! I went to the official American Express site and was so confused byt the 100's of cards they had to offer. I just wanted to apply for the American Express Blue credit card. I surfed around and found http://www.creditcardzone.net/american.express.blue This card is easy to use and is widly accepted. I was excited to use the smart card feature as well. Very cool. The Credit Card Zone web site was easy to navigate and so easy to apply and get my new card. Good luck and enjoy!
So there I am, just minding my own business when in comes an email from CD-wow. "Exclusive offer, just for you" it says. Yeah, me and the entire CD-Wow database of customers. So, investigate the email and there is an offer from Amex for a Blue Card - fill in the card and get 2 free CD-Wow vouchers, or two free CD's put another way, plus 2% cashback for 3 months and 1% after that. Knowing that I had quite a bit of furniture, tools and hardware to buy over the next few months, and given that I regularly stay in hotels (plus I'm a cheapskate) I decide to give it a go. Having filled in the forms on-line and then printed them off and sent them to Amex, I waited for the CD-Wow vouchers to come flying in. Got the new Blue, as did my wife and started spending - ouch! I'm relatively patient. I have to be, I have two kids. So after a month and no Cd-Wow vouchers, I phone Amex. 01273 number, wherever that is. From the accents of the people I spoke to on different occasions, I would suspect somewhere just outside Bangalore or maybe Pune? Anyway, regardless, I explained the situation and why I was phoning. 28 days after you first use your card, you will get the vouchers, I am told. But, I explain, I've already been using it for over 28 days (I used it within 2 hours of receiving it) "Ahh" is the reply - you'll get them within 14 days..... I already have a Corporate card, so I have set up internet access to the Green, I then add the Blue to the account. Wish they did yellow, I could go for the rainbow wallet effect. The website is a bit clunky compared to say Egg or Morgan Stanley (IMHO), but it is getting better Two
and a half weeks later, I'm on the phone again. Definitely within the next 14 days I will receive the mythical vouchers...so three weeks later I'm a bit miffed. Phoning again, I get a distinct feeling of deja vue. I then write a complaint to the online note service within the Amex website, mentioning fraudulent claims, watchdog etc. If you're going to be a bear, be a grizzly.... Within 24 hours, an automated response is received telling me I will receive a response within 48 hours (like Catch 22 that, I thought) Sure enough, I got an email from Amex shortly after another 24 hours saying they were chasing up the deal - then I got a phone call from Cd-Wow, telling me they had sent the vouchers via email - sure enough they had. Happy camper then. But wait, there's more. I came back from a trip to find the postie had been and dropped off a large padded envelope. I know I've upset some people, but a letter bomb? No, opening the envelope there is a Sony Walkman inside, with a packing list that references Amex - no letter though. I think that was Amex apologising. So, in terms of service, shaky start but the follow-up was good. Would recommend the email system rather than the phone approach, it certainly gets results faster. use of the card. As per the normal, Amex are not accepted in a lot of places - Woolies, John Lewis etc. However, all the major supermarkets, petrol stations, hotels and most online stores do. The beauty is the 2% - that mounted up very quickly. Compared to some other credit cards, the conversion of currency is quite good as well. One of my other credit cards charges you a percentage fee of each transaction for daring to use Jonny Foreigners cash, and gives you a poor rate of exchange for the total as well (and now
only give 1/2% cashback!) Amex give you a reasonable rate of exchange, no separate feed and still give 2% (initially) cashback. Overall, I'm a little Blue convert. Amex have given me a CD player, 2 Cd's and currently one hundred and something pounds for using their card to spend money I would have spent anyway (Sainsbury's, petrol etc) The customer service redeemed itself eventually, so 4/5 for the Amex Blue. Mr Amex - can I get a Gold now?
Firstly, I have to say that I really did want to love this credit card. Over the years, like many other people (I think) the persistance of the AMEX advertising campaigns with slogans such as "American Express?, That'll do nicely", must have *really* got to me. Even before ever having being a customer, I imagined this company to offer nothing but first class cards & services. It may sound a little sad, but just the idea of having an "prestiged" AMEX card in my wallet gave me a little buzz. So, I applied for an American Express Blue, a cashback card offering 1% cashback on all purchases, with a 3 month introductory offer of 2% cashback. I only want certain features from a credit card, and as such those features are the only ones I know anything about. I want long interest free period and a cashback scheme. So if it's APR details & lengths of introductory offers you need, I recommned other reviews or the AMEX site itself. I thoroughly believe that the only way to use a credit card is to pay the balance in full each month, so I won't ever be charged interest. You know it makes sense: your money is in your current account earning you interest for an extra 45 to 55 days, whilst the kindly credit card company is giving you back 1% of your total spend with them. It's like givng yourself at least a 1% pay rise. Doesn't everyone do this? Anyway I digress, back to Blue: I think the best way to explain why I have rapidly gone off this card is to show you how todays shopping trip went. I tried to pay for everything with my Blue card. Here is my trail around Newcastle city centre, buying as I went, with the results of whether I could use my Blue Card or not: Boots Chemist: No Tiger Tiger (lunch): Yes Superdrug: No (Assistant informed me that they stopped accepting Amex a while back) HMV: Yes Costa Coffee: No Co-op Supermarket: Yes Simply Greek (Dinner):No (Informed that card serv
ices offered by Lloyds TSB web, and that doesn't include AMEX) I'm still in shock about this card. Honestly, in the past few months only about 50% of establishments I have visted have been able to process AMEX transactions. Those adverts should be saying, "American Express? That won't do nicely". This problem is compounded by the fact that on first inspection the Blue Card doesn't look like a traditional AMEX card, meaning that store and resturant staff will happily accept the card, only to find out a few minutes later that their card machinery can't process it. On to the website: it has all the essential features you need, but I have to say that compared to a site like that of the Egg Card, the AMEX site looks pretty basic with its main page showing 6 big unstylish generic HTML buttons. No doubt you will have heard of the famous AMEX membership reward schemes and Air Miles schemes, but guess what?: As a Blue Card holder, you are not permitted to join these schemes. Even if you were permitted to join one of the schemes, they charge you around £35 annually for the privelage. So you can start building up points towards getting 50% off a stay at a health spa that you'll never get the chance to visit instead of earning cashback. It hardly seems worth it. Even paying for things online is a bit hit or miss. Amex card numbers are a different length to VISA & Mastercard, and are not accepted by a lot of websites (John Lewis being the main one, that I couldn't use my card for so far). I think the best way to use this card is that if you know you are going to make a big cash purchase, get a blue card and rather than pay in cash, pay by Blue and get yourself an extra 2% off the price. In fact, why not get a Blue card coming up to christmas, find a store that accepts it and buy all of your chrismas presents with an extra 2% off them? I know I really do sound like a cheap-skate sometimes, but
all the money I save goes towards reducing my debts. This company may have the best customer service in existance, but as so far I have had no need to contact them, I couldn't comment. It's certainly a stylish card with attractive features, but my experiences with using it and not being allowed to use it, mean that as soon as the double cashback period is over, I will stop using my Amex Blue card, and try to find a VISA or Mastercard with 1% or more cashback on it.
AMERICAN EXPRESS BLUE To Apply: Visit: http://www.americanexpress.co.uk Telephone: 0800 169 6767 Thesedays, you wont find many folk below a certain age without that essential just-in-case item about their person. An emergency condom or tampon for example. Not that I have much need for tampons - bar juvenile incidents in public houses - but since March 1999 I have had an emergency credit card in my wallet. It's called: American Express Blue. As shopping with it has historically proven a somewhat arduous task, it's there for those rare occasions when I need cash in a hurry. Like when I've hit my cashpoint limit, have maxed out my VISA cards and need more dosh. That just about sums up my Christmas in a sentence. ESSENTIAL CREDENTIALS Provided you're at least eighteen years old, have a permanent UK address, a regular income of at least £8000 per annum, a current account - and no County Court judgements - you are welcome to apply. For a decision within approximately ten minutes, an application form can be entered online; alternatively you can telephone and request an application form through the post. The credit limit is variable (£700-£10,000) and the figure decided upon will depend upon your disposable income and your credit rating. You will be notified of your credit limit upon acceptance and not before. All applicants have the right to cancel their agreements before the first instalment is due. Interest will be waivered although any goods purchased with the card must be returned. Active cardholders (those already paying instalments) who wish to close their account, must return all cards, pay off all monies owed and send a letter requesting an end to the agreement. FRINGE BENEFITS Firstly, credit where it's due (and no pun intended): For such a moderate credit card, American Express Blue should be applauded not only for offering refund protection of up to £200 per
item (to a maximum of £750), but also for the provision of purchase protection of up to £20,000 annually. When the card changed it's appearance (from the Statue of Liberty to the Blue Chip) to suit a more online generation, an unlimited online fraud guarantee was also introduced. Similar protection from competing credit cards (Capital One Classic springs to mind) comes at additional cost, so this should be quite impressive; at least it would be if more online stores accepted the card. APR AND ANNUAL FEES With 18.9% APR on purchases and 4.9%APR on balance transfers, AMEX Blue doesn't look particularly good on paper. It looks even worse when you consider the balance transfer rate increases to 9.9%APR after six months and the overall APR is adjusted to 20.7% if annual purchases are less than £500 pounds. American Express might argue that this is offset by the lack of an annual fee. However, spending less than £500 pounds annually will result in a membership fee of £15 pounds being imposed; yes - on top of the increased APR! And believe it or not, the contemporary Blue Chip appeal is diminished even further by a £1.50 or 1.5% (whichever is greater) surcharge on all cash withdrawals. ONE PERCENT MONEYBACK For every pound you spend with AMEX Blue, one penny will be given back; or rather, each penny will accumulate in a special section of your monthly statements, and after each successive twelve month period, will be credited to your account. Typically, the 'One Percent Moneyback' offer has fallen victim to the American Express trend of obfuscating positives with negatives: This benefit does not apply to cash withdrawals, balance transfers, nor any month during which the credit limit is exceeded or for which the minimum payment wasn't received in time. MONTHLY STATEMENTS At monthly intervals, AMEX statements are sent to British customers all the way from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The P
ony Express however, will not be required to return your minimum payment, as there are much easier methods available: Direct Debit, Bank Giro, Transcash or Cheque. All payments (3% of total balance or £5; whichever is more) must be received within twenty-five days of the date on the statement. Due to the distance involved, not to mention the state of the UK's postal service, statements are often received too close to the payment date. Thankfully, American Express are understanding at such times and tend to waive the penalty. DEFAULTS AND PENALTIES For overdue payments, bounced cheques and failed direct debits, a £15 penalty is imposed. Although the terms and conditions state a £3 fee for copies of records of transactions, and a £5 fee for copies of statements, I have requested both in the past and not been charged at all. Lost cards (unless stolen) cost £20 to replace - although again - I've had lost cards replaced for free. I'm not sure whether AMEX Customer Services are briefed to use discretion positively, but as I have friends and relatives who have had the same fees waived, indications are that penalties aren't strictly enforced. This can only be a good thing. 24 HOUR ONLINE ACCOUNT ACCESS One of the strongest points of AMEX Blue is the online service available. Although painfully slow at times (and definitely not restricted by my internet connection), it's possible to view unbilled charges as well as billed charges from any period. As the online service wasn't introduced until I'd already been a member for a couple of years, it's interesting to note that my account history is available back to day one. So, even if an old statement has been misfiled, it's easy to locate and print a copy online. Balance Transfers can also be conducted online and a Direct Debit mandate is available for printout whenever required. CREDIT CARD REALITY CHECK Sadly, th
e list of retailers who refuse AMEX is long, and with names like Dabs.com, IKEA, John Lewis, Littlewoods and NTL, it's hardly smalltown cowboys refusing to do business. Three years ago, American Express assured me of continuing work to gain wider-acceptance of the card, yet large companies are dropping support for the card in droves. Despite numerous complaints over many years, it's difficult to see results. At the most, an apology and a ten pound credit will be issued when you complain; an ironic gesture considering a ten pound cheque written on a rotting banana-skin might prove far easier to spend. With one time AMEX friendly companies now rejecting the card, you have to ask: Why? According to a spokesman from Dabs.com, the reason is two-fold: American Express not only charge more commission than other card companies, they also settle card payments in bulk at the end of each month. This policy is not only an administrative nightmare but also dents profits (consider lost interest) already hit by the high commission rate. CONCLUDING Since becoming a homeowner, I seem to have outgrown this card because my other (non-fixed APR) credit cards now charge less than 6%APR. Even so, I struggle to find a reason for my original application. Perhaps if it was a VISA card, it would be ideal for younger people on lower incomes, unable to get more competitive APR. But unlike VISA, the American Express brand is shunned by such an increasing retail audience that it's very existence is difficult to justify. I propose a new slogan: Do leave home without it!
I've had loads of credit cards over the years, and this one stands out from the rest. First up, an uncomplicated 1% moneyback on your spend is a nice straightforward inducement. No nasty vouchers or money off your next pair of glasses. It's far nicer just to receive an annual bonus of £xxx, depending on how much you spend. Second, this is the only credit card I have used which has drawn gasps of admiration from retailers. On several occasions, I've watched shop assistants cluster round the little blue ob ject to admire it. Weird. Finally, the Amex customer service is top drawer. To give you an example: I was in a dispute with a supermarket who claimed they had made a refund to my card which had not appeared on the statement. The supermarket blamed Amex for this. Amex scoffed at this (nicely), credited the money to my card anyway and then explained exactly how I could shaft the supermarket for being sloppy and dishonest. I did this, and received a further 300% of my original refund after the supermarket admitted their error (I had to write to the CEO, if you can believe that). The statements are nicely detailed - what more can you ask for?
If you are a poor struggling student, as I am, with debts on more than one credit card then American Express Blue is the card for you. They don't seem too fussy who they give them too - well they gave one to me!! If you transfer your balances from existing cards they will only charge you 4.9%APR for the life of the balance - a much better deal than other cards which will give you a lovely low rate but only for 6 months. On the down side they do charge an annual fee for the card - £12 per year which many other cards don't. Also I'm not sure what the standard rate is either - but you can always transfer you balance and then cut the card up! You also get 1% cash back, an online fraud guarantee and payment protection. The minimum payment is £5 or 3% of your balance which ever is greater.
Amex's "guarantee" of money back if you suffer Internet fraud using their Blue Card has been much trumpeted (eg in the press) - but what is it worth, really? At first sight it sounds a Very Good Thing, but I think they've fallen at the starting post with this one, and I'd be interested to hear of others' experiences. I saw a newspaper article (I think it was the FT) reporting on this fraud "guarantee" and mentioning that Amex said books and CDs were not covered. But as an existing Blue Card holder, all I got was a leaflet saying "Online Fraud Guarantee - Now you can shop on the web with confidence. Because if any unauthorised online payments are made with your Blue Card, you won't be held responsible". Underneath that was an item headed Refund Protection ("Should any UK retailer, online or offline, refuse to refund you for any covered goods within 90 days of purchase, we promise to refund you"). Now what does that mean to us simple card holders? Is the Refund Protection anything to do with the Online Fraud Guarantee, or are they separate "benefits"? Beats me… There's a tiny footnote against the Refund Protection item (but NOT against the Online Fraud Guarantee item) saying, in small print at the back of the leaflet, "Policy covers undamaged goods only and begins where any insurance or merchant returns policy leaves off. Up to £200 per item and £750 per Card Account. Certains [sic] goods excluded and policy subject to conditions of cover". No mention of books or CDs etc. How do you know what goods are excluded then? So, I called Amex customer services on the number given on my credit card statement. Was there any further leaflet, any policy document they could send me, which would enlighten me as to exactly what was or wasn't covered by the Internet fraud guarantee? Nope. OK, so I thought I'd try the e
xperts - I called the number given on the leaflet for "any questions" about the Blue Card benefits, 0800 597 6660 (any relationship to the number of the beast no doubt is coincidental…) No, there's no further information they are able to send customers about exactly what is or is not covered by the fraud guarantee. What about the newspaper article then saying books and CDs aren't covered? Ah, well, perishables are excluded, of course. "Of course"? How is a customer to know that if they didn't read the newspaper article? There's nothing about that in the leaflet sent to customers, and they're not going to send out any further info to customers explaining the scope of coverage. And since when is a book a "perishable"? (tell that to Dickens!) - they said, and I quote, "Well you could read it and then send it back couldn't you, so it's a perishable"… So - what's the verdict? Are Amex customer services confused about the difference between Internet fraud guarantee and refund protection? If THEY'RE confused, what chance have we mere customers got? And if there's no difference, how are customers meant to find out what things are covered by the fraud "guarantee", and what things aren't? Fat lot of good it will be to find out from Amex that sorry, no, you're not covered, AFTER you've been defrauded… If anyone has actually been the victim of fraud and got Amex to give them a refund because of this guarantee, do say - and do say too if you have had trouble getting them to do it. But you guessed it, I for one am not going to risk using the American Express Blue Card to buy over the Internet. It's stressful enough not knowing if I'm going to be defrauded, let alone wondering if Amex will or will not honour the fraud "guarantee".