A Totally Unexpected $100 Gift from American Express

Earlier today I received the strangest letter I have ever received from a credit card issuer. The letter was from American Express. Visible from the outside was the following message:

PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL

DO NOT DISCARD

PLEASE OPEN IMMEDIATELY

I had never received a letter form Amex with such a message, so I was instantly intrigued. I opened the letter and it stated the following:

Dear [MaxPoints],

We are writing to let you know that a previous application(s) you submitted may have been declined in error.

We are sending you the enclosed check in the amount of $100.00 for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This check can be deposited directly into your bank account. You don’t need to take any further action before using this check. The check must be deposited within 180 days of the date printed on the check.

[…]

Sincerely,

American Express Account Services

Indeed there was a $100 check enclosed.

I have no idea what prompted this letter. American Express has never declined any of my credit card applications. The letter does not clarify what type of application was declined, but I am not sure what else it could be. No specific account number is identified at any part of the letter.

I do not usually turn down free money, but for a moment I was not sure if it was morally correct to accept this check from Amex given the circumstances. Then I remembered a couple of headaches Amex has  caused me this year and figured there was no logical reason not to deposit the check. In any event, today is Giving Tuesday, so I will definitely be making a new $100 donation.

Have you ever received a similar letter from American Express? If so, are you aware of what prompted the letter?

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  1. hmm the lawyer in me is suspicious but you said you were never rejected. If you were rejected then maybe by cashing the check you are acknowledging that their mistake is fine. Otherwise, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, they could be in violation for an incorrect credit pull.

    It’s a stretch but I’m sure I could make the argument!

  2. Check the return address for Africa. The next letter may want $50,000 from you for a subsequent check for $1,000,000 from the Constable Chancellor of the Nigerian Conservancy.

  3. I got a “surprise” letter from AMEX last year, but it was of a different nature. Apparently one of their AMEX offers wasn’t posting statement credits properly. They sent me $40 even though I never made the required purchase. I consider it “partial payback”: after I met the required spend on a card I was denied the signup bonus due to the new (at that time) “once in a lifetime” rule.

  4. Fraudulent checks can take weeks to bounce or be discovered to be fraudulent. Funds are usually made available to the depositor right away, but if the check bounces, you are responsible for that money and the bank will take it right back out of your account. I would call American Express to confirm its legit.

  5. The ‘decline’ in question Could an order of gift cards due to ‘could not verify information’. But then again if that were the case, I think just about everyone of us would be getting a check — many of them in fact.

  6. My mother received the exact same letter. The address on the letter says: American Express PO Box 2672, Faribault, MN 55021-9672

    The letter includes a tollfree number 1-855-431-8776.

    She is unsure if you should deposit the check.

  7. My mother received the exact same letter. The return address is:
    American Express PO Box 2672, Faribault, MN 55021-9672

    The letter includes the following tollfree number 1-855-431-8776.

    She is unsure if she should deposit the check. What is she agreeing to if she does deposits the check?

    • @Jimmy Not sure she is agreeing to anything in particular if she deposit the checks when the letter does not specify why the check was sent in the first place. I would not worry about that.

  8. I know of 2 different people who got it and cashed it at Walmart. Walmart ran it through a check security system and they were told it was legit. I got one too and I deposited mine.

  9. I received the same letter and check today, and have had no dealings with the company. What if somebody else was trying to get a credit card in my name?

  10. Got the exact same letter a few days ago. Tried to deposit check today. Bank warned me that other clients, after depositing check, had had mysterious electronic withdrawals from their bank accounts, and that they had decided to put an 8-day hold on the check, if I chose to deposit it (they also told me that a neighboring bank is flatly refusing to accept these checks). I decided to hold off on depositing it, and I’ll call Amex tonight to check on the whole situation (I don’t remember being turned down for anything, by Amex…).

    • @Viviana, just spoke with both Amex and my bank. Amex is not aware of any check and they mentioned that they would not send such a check. However, my bank assured me that the check was real and that the funds are safe, as is my account info. Will provide a full update on the situation in a separate article soon.

  11. Got same letter with check. The routing number of the check is missing digits. There is no logo of the bank in the check.Looks suspicious . I have never being denied amex credit card. No water mark in the check. No account number on the check. It looks like and smell likes SCAM.
    If it is the scammer will get your bank account number when you deposit/endorse the check. Will call amex and see what is happening.

  12. My mother deposite the check on December 11 and no issue with check. It went through no problem. But I wonder: what are depositors accepting or agreeing to by depositing this check. It doesn’t say this is a class action lawsuit resolution so I believe it’s a preemptive strike so people don’t sue.

  13. I received this same letter back in November, I am hesitant to deposit, my first thought was scam. IToday I received a letter reminding me to deposit, just wanted to see if I anyone had any problems with theirs? I called Amex and they knew nothing of this check.

  14. Yesterday, I received a check from Chase for $500.

    The letter says:
    We attached a check for $500 for our error.
    Here’s what happened
    You were eligible for a payment program but weren’t mailed the offer.

      • I deposited the check and it cleared. So it’s a real appears to be real. Furthermore, the letter says Chase will send a request to the credit bureau reporting agencies to delete this account.

        • Deposited checks. It’s been 2 weeks and nothing bad has happened. Looks like it was legit! Not going to touch that money for a while though.

          • Deposited checks. It’s been 2 weeks and nothing bad has happened. Looks like it was legit! Not going to touch that money for a while though.

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