Why the 75,000 Point American Express Business Gold Card May Not Be Worth It [Expired]

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A lot has been written on the American Express Business Gold which offers 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within 4 months.  Sure it has a large number as the sign-up bonus – 75,000 points – but it has a large number for the minimum spending requirement as well ($10,000).

HigH Spending Requirement

You have to spend $10,000 within 4 months to get the 75,000 point sign-on bonus.  If you’ve run out of other cards to apply for or have no problem meeting the minimum spending requirement, the 75,000 point Business Gold card may make sense to apply for.  But most folks have only a limited amount of money which they can spend on credit cards and their sign-up bonuses.

So by spending $10,000 in 4 months on the American Express Business Gold, you’re diverting money AWAY from other (potentially more lucrative) credit card sign-up bonuses.

For example, you could get 2 Citi American Airlines cards for 50,000 miles each after spending $2,500 on each card within 4 months.  And 50,000 points with the Chase Ink Bold after spending $5,000 within 3 months.  So the SAME $10,000 earned you 150,000 miles & points –  100,00 American Airlines miles and 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

I can make the contrast more extreme by including the somewhat targeted Chase United card which could potentially get you 55,000 United miles after spending $1,000 within 3 months or the Barclays US Air card with 40,000 miles after your 1st purchase.

My point is simply that you should go BEYOND the headline sign-up bonus and see if the card makes sense for YOU.  Bigger is not necessarily better.

American Express has had previous versions of the Business Gold which offer 50,000 points for $5,000 in spending, which may be a better offer for many.  I’m pretty sure that we’ll see that offer again (no inside information & just a hunch).

Financial Review

Ah, you say, but you can use Amazon Payments and Vanilla Reloads and cross that spending hurdle.  Yes, you certainly can, but it may not always work out in your favor.  In my previous experience, feedback from readers, and folks on this FlyerTalk thread, you are more likely to get a Financial Review from American Express by spending on the Business Gold card than on any other card.  Even legitimate business spending has triggered a financial review.

My best guess is that American Express is really sensitive to high volume of spending on the Business Gold charge card and a sudden ramp up in spending on the card leads to a financial review.  But this is only a guess.

All your American Express credit cards are suspended during an American Express financial review and you usually have to fax in a form allowing American Express to review your tax information and sometimes send them your bank statements.  I don’t enjoy this, but see this as the cost of doing business with American Express and partaking in their credit card offers.  And I do think it is prudent for a bank to verify the income of people to whom they lend money.

But here’s how it may not work out in your favor.  If you claimed to have an ebay or Amazon sole proprietor business which generated income, but didn’t file a Schedule C (which details sole proprietorship business activity) with your tax returns, American Express may decide to cancel your account.

I’ve been approved for American Express business cards with only a few hundred dollars in income and readers have been approved for start-up business which aren’t generating any income.  But know that your business gold card may be cancelled during a financial review if you don’t have any Schedule C income.  Of course, you can always explain that you haven’t yet filed your tax returns for 2012, but the Financial Review folks aren’t the easiest to convince.

Many folks don’t get a financial review with the Business Gold card, but I just want to point out what may happen.

Bottom Line

75,000 Membership Rewards is a big sign-up bonus.  But don’t let that distract you from the equally big $10,000 minimum spending requirement.  This card could make sense for many, but be sure that you can comfortably meet the minimum spending requirement and that it won’t take away from other good sign-up bonuses!

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31 Responses to Why the 75,000 Point American Express Business Gold Card May Not Be Worth It [Expired]

  1. Hold for 100k points for $3k personal platinum

  2. The financial review info is very interesting. Actually that should be a titled topic unto itself. I know this site and others have suggested ways to justify an application for a business card. It’s nice to see Darius actually detail the consequences if you are caught being dishonest. Personally I am an Amazon merchant who does file a Sch C. However, I know many do not and don’t fear getting caught. That’s not only a potential problem with AE but with the IRS. Starting in tax year 2011 and beyond, if you don’t report your web revenue (over a certain amount), the IRS will get it anyway courtesy of filing requirements of Amazon and other sites via form 1099-K. Amazon was so kind to send my 1099-K last year. I have a family and for me, going to jail for fraud is not an option, not that it would be likely, but paranoia can have it’s benefits.

  3. Amex Financial Review is definitely something to avoid. After having to fax them a few forms, then my last 2 pay stubs, and my last three months of bank account activity, they reduced my credit limit on SPG personal from $9k to $3k but did not touch my Amex Hilton honors card (which I was using to spend $3k at cvs on VRC). If you aren’t willing to go thru these types of problems (usually takes 10-14 days to restore access), you should proceed with caution.

  4. Yes, I had a biz PRG and got an FR after doing lots of fake spend and had all my Amex accounts shut down. I haven’t been able to get any Amexes from that day.

  5. MMS said ‘ If you’ve run out of other cards to apply for’.

    Ain’t it the truth.

  6. A clarification and a question:
    First the clarification: you cannot use Vanilla Reload Cards to reach the minimum spend. From the terms and conditions of the offer: “Eligible purchases are purchases of goods and services minus returns and other credits, and do not include fees or interest charges, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of reloadable pre-paid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Membership Rewards program terms and conditions apply”
    Now the question: I am an independent contractor, in that sense I have a business. I got approved for the card yesterday and I plan to reach the 10,000 through my regular spend. Will that get me a financial review? If I risk it I would rather cancel the card before I even get it.

  7. I got the FR from AmEx due to the Business Gold. I file no Schedule C but I made it through anyway, albeit with a reduced line.

    It was a pain having all of my AmEx cards frozen in the interim though. In my experience, AmEx didn’t care about showing business income–they just wanted to see that I had income from any source to justify their risk of offering me credit. Good thing, too, because all I have is my 1040 and a Schedule D for my cap. gains.

    What triggered my FR was a $3,000 AmEx gift card purchase.

    The worst part of it all is that I am completely unable to purchase AmEx gift cards now. I’ve tried about 8 different cards and every order gets rejected due to “unable to verify information,” which is a BS response. I think I’m blacklisted from the gift cards for some reason. Customer service is zero help because they can’t/won’t tell you what the problem is.

    Anyone have any insight to that problem?

    Doug

  8. You’ve certainly gave me something to think about. Great post.

  9. I just started a business Dec 2012, and when this Amex Card appeared with the 75K bonus I almost freaked, my first business card. I applied, had to jump though the hoops like others, and was approved for a nice 10K limited. I’ll meet the spend in two months with my travel. I’m learning all about MR and how to use them. Also the renovation of my house starts next month, going to be a very good year for points for this person!

  10. i was just thinking about this in the morning. time is running out and it’s a decent offer but FR would suck… what to do? :(

  11. Excellent article. Very helpful and insightful.

  12. @HansGolden – I had that happen ~4 years ago, but was able to get cards again after 6 months.

    @dhammer – I still haven’t run out of cards, but I’m getting there!

    @David S – In practice buying Vanilla Reload cards and gift cards from stores earn points and count towards the minimum spending requirements since they are coded as a purchase from the store. I don’t know the exact trigger for getting a financial review. But I know that the business gold card is particularly prone to financial reviews.

    @Doug @Grant @Kent C @Max @Tony
    – Thanks for sharing your experience!

    @Lively – Glad you found it useful.

    @Lantean – Only you can decide what to do!

  13. Oh please, amazon and VR are not fraud. It is a free cash advance. very easy to prove with your statements. amazon is eating the transaction fee and the bank is not getting their exorbitant cash advance fees. boohoo.

  14. Thanks for the advice . I’ve been debating whether or not to sign up for this large bonus. I thin I’llpass due to your advice. I have too many gift cards to get rid of first .

  15. Great post with useful info and “food for thought”. Thanks! My spouse and I received the Amex Plat 100k point offer by mail in December with the $450 annual fee (not waived for first yr). We would need to spend $5000 within 3 mo to obtain the 100k MR points. Although I am confident in our ability to reach the 5K minimum spend in 3 mo, I am not yet convinced that it’s a good deal when weighed against the other offers out there for less hassle. Also do not want to risk (or worry) about a financial review by Amex. Additionally, I prefer Chases’ UR points.

  16. I have a question unrelated to this blog post but I was not sure how else to ask. I am looking at mileage flights on AA for dates around Christmas 2013. I am finding NO mileage saver flights available in the dec 21-23 range for any location I’ve chosen. What is the deal??

  17. Now this was a useful post. I’ve been staying away from VR, and not applying for more AMEX cards {have the Hilton and SPG} for precisely this reason. But 75K did have me salivating. Which is actually silly, since I currently have more miles and points than I can use. With still more in the pipeline. :D And I would have to use “artificial spend” to meet both the 10K, and the minimum spend on my other recent cards. You’ve confirmed that my reticence makes sense.

  18. AMEX “pre-approved” me for the 50k with $5K Biz Gold spend knowing full well I do not have a separate business(I am a W-2 employee with some business expenses).
    I answered their short questionnaire with 100% honesty..boom all set.
    Whether I use VR’s or not(I do) to hit the minimum is a moot point.
    Preapprove(bordering on harassment) me? Deal with my spending.

  19. I agree not to sign up just to sign just to do it. But if Delta or SkyTeam is on your radar then I still think its a good card. There is so much opp to earn spend that 10k or 5k or any #is really relevant any longer. I would concur with others that say to be honest when reporting your income or earnings to any CC application. No need to lie on a CC app.

  20. @Margaret- I’d go to flyertalk.com and ask your question on the AA forum. Include your city pairs.

  21. What if you have minimal sales as an Amazon merchant in 2012 and were actually at a loss?

    I had to buy a printer, shipping supplies, etc and made a (small) net loss in 2012 but have since started selling more items and made a profit in 2013 so far. What would you recommend I do if faced with a FR?

  22. You can get a biz cc for any type of business. Dont have to be making a profit or even generating a lot in sales. Everyone has to start somewhere, why not let a CC help get you off the ground?

  23. Kent C – worse yet is if they decide to press charges for being “dishonest”.. if you set up an amazon payments account and make a payment to your spouse/relative/friend and state it is “goods/services” in order to avoid a cash advance fee.. there are some arbitrage opportunities out there such as the coins in the past.. any ‘dishonest’ transactions or credit card applications could lead to wire fraud charges.

    people should read up on articles like this before committing fraud on cc applications or misclassifying transactions: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/moneymatters/dealing-with-credit-repair.shtml

    this article helps one understand why they should pay off all charges each month, especially if the person deceived the CC company to get the card.. http://www.cardratings.com/will-a-little-white-lie-hurt-your-credit-application.html

  24. “Wire fraud charges”? C’mon, let’s get serious. I’ve had folks steal my credit cards from the mail and go into banks and steal several thousand dollars. And the credt card companies didn’t seem interested in prosecuting. The idea that they’re going to go after folks who buy Vanilla Reloads — and that the Feds would take such a case — is beyond absurd. Let’s keep it real.

  25. FWIW, my wife applied and rec’d the Amex Gold. Did not “commit fraud” (face palm). She put her expected business income in the $0-$49,999 category. Of course, she’ll be hovering right around that zero level. But she does have mid 6 figure income, so she gets just about any card she wants. Her problem is hard pulls despite being a 1%er (which is hugely ironic considering her financial position vs broke college students who apply – and get – the same number of cards).

    As for Dariaus’ silly post today that you’d be diverting cash from other cards is patent nonsense. Anyone can meet spend these days IF they have half a brain. But since this site caters to the one’s without half a brain, maybe good advice…

  26. I must not have heard about this unlimited source of making minimum spends…

    Where I am, there are no VR credit card opportunities (cash only everywhere around here). AP is only $1K per month. Other than putting up all of the $ on Kiva I’m not sure what else do to, especially since AmEx Gift Cards won’t take my orders.

    Guess I have less than 1/2 a brain…

  27. Hmmm… I guess you can put me in the 1/2 a brain category. 3K in 3 months is usually the max I can find spend for. The only thing that I don’t pay with a credit card is my mortgage. No VR opportunities where I live. I just got the Ink Bold a couple of months ago which requires 5K spend in 3 months. Luckily I was able to pay my wife’s graduate school tuition with the Ink Bold, to be able to make a good chunk of the minimum spend. For a while I was making minimum spend by making accelerated car payments (paid off a 5 year car loan in 18 months). And I’ll be darn if I’ll buy things just to buy things. My wife and I live well within our means and except for a 44K balance on our mortgage, we have zero debt. My financial adviser even advised taking some of my savings and paying off the house, as interest on savings is practically zero at the moment. Remember, always contribute the max to your employer sponsored retirement accounts and get the employer match. Save now, enjoy later.

  28. @Margaret – You could try setting an ExpertFlyer seat alert for the flights which will email you when the seats open up.

  29. Pingback: 75,000 Membershi Rewards Points With the AMEX Business Gold Card (Up to March 14, 2013) | Million Mile Secrets

  30. Pingback: 50,000 Membership Rewards Points With AMEX Business Gold | Million Mile Secrets

  31. Great article. Thanks for the info, it’s easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a “IRS Schedule C Form”,I found a blank form here: form link http://goo.gl/iWMZbh

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