DONT LEAVE HOME WITH IT. That should have been what I was told when I purchased a prepaid AMEX card from American Express. I was traveling to Mexico and wanted the convenience of a credit card to withdraw money from ATMs when needed and pay for purchases with a bit more security than if I used my debit card
I did my research, compared the fees and costs associated with a number of pre-paid cards, and then I read a review of the AMEX pre-paid card in a national newspaper and decided it was the right card for my needs.
I purchased the card and deposited the limit, $2,500. When I signed up for the card I was informed that it would take up to 10 business days after I authorized AMEX to withdraw the funds from my bank account to place on the card. It was strange that AMEX immediately withdrew the funds from my bank, but I did not have access to the funds on the card for fifteen days.
Once I was finally able to access the funds on my card I was ready to travel. American Express touts the ability of card holders to use the card at thousands of ATMs worldwide and to use the card everywhere that takes American Express. Except rental car companies and most hotels
When I got to Mexico I went in search of an ATM to withdraw some of my money to use, only to find that NOT ONE ATM in all of Puerto Vallarta would accept my card or give me money. I then decided to go to an American Express Office to clear up the problem only to find that there were none. Then while shopping I found that no shops took American Express.
At this point I was out of money, except for the $2,500 dollars on my useless AMEX card, and had to return home early.
Once I arrived back in Pennsylvania I went to my local bank to withdraw my money from the AMEX card. Surprise, the card would only allow me to withdraw $200, plus a $3 fee. For the week. Thats right, the card, when it allows you to withdraw money, will only give you $200 PER WEEK. That was it, I had enough.
I called American Express and after a while was connected to a customer service representative named Kara 55391. Kara informed me that you can only withdraw $200 per week from the card. I told her that was ridiculous and where was that advertised. She said it was contained in the 8pt type in Terms & Conditions contained when I signed up for the card. News to me. I told her what happened on my trip and she responded with typical corporate speak that there was nothing she could do and that I should have completely read the whole agreement. Shame on me.
I then asked to speak with her supervisor, and she said she was the supervisor and that there was no one else I could speak to. I found this a bit strange and asked her who was her supervisor and how could I get in touch with them. She said there was no one I could speak with, but I could go to the web page and leave a comment. That was it and that was enough.
I then told her I wanted my money returned to my bank account immediately. She said that was not possible, that I could request a refund of the full amount on the card since it did not meet my needs. Well, I guess not being able to use it or my money would qualify for not meeting my needs.
She then said that she would process my return and it would take 15 business days (thats 3 weeks). I told her that was ridiculous, since they took my money out of my account for the card in a day they should be able to return it just as quick. She said no, that is how long it takes.
What she meant to say was American Express wants to continue to use my money as an interest free loan for the next three weeks before giving it back to me.
I am amazed and disgusted that American Express is allowed to get away with this. They took my money, used it, lied about where I could use the card and what I could use it on, then refused to return my money to me.
I am writing this to hopefully stop other people from getting fooled and used by American Express on this scam. They are generating millions on the interest from the float on your money, then generating merchant fees when you use the card, then not allowing you to withdraw your own money or return it to you. This card is a scam and a rip-off. Do not use it unless you enjoy being screwed.