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?

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

34 comments
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34 comments

alexander December 1, 2015 - 5:17 pm

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!

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Kent C December 1, 2015 - 6:01 pm

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.

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MaxPoints December 1, 2015 - 6:36 pm

@ Kent. Ha. At first I was sure this was a scam, but the check has already been deposited.

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Kent C December 1, 2015 - 8:06 pm

In that case, I’ll look for my check in the mail.

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Ed December 2, 2015 - 12:25 am

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.

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Jon December 2, 2015 - 8:28 am

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.

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thehawk75 December 2, 2015 - 11:18 am

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.

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Jimmy December 2, 2015 - 4:42 pm

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.

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Jimmy December 2, 2015 - 4:53 pm

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?

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MaxPoints December 3, 2015 - 7:56 am

@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.

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Yani December 2, 2015 - 9:53 pm

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.

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omar December 3, 2015 - 5:59 am

I received a check too of 100. I had not been involve at any transaccion with American express since 2003. Strange.

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Kathy December 4, 2015 - 8:50 pm

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?

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MaxPoints December 7, 2015 - 6:44 am

@Katy I highly doubt that was the case, but feel free to give Amex a call if you want to be sure.

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Viviana Miranda December 7, 2015 - 2:38 pm

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…).

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MaxPoints December 7, 2015 - 7:55 pm

@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.

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Edgar Beauchamp December 8, 2015 - 2:12 pm

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.

Reply
Did You Receive A $100 Check From American Express? Yes, It's Legitimate - Doctor Of Credit December 10, 2015 - 8:45 pm

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Reply
Update on Amex's Unexpected $100 Gift - Point Me to the Plane December 11, 2015 - 7:19 am

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Jseda December 12, 2015 - 11:38 am

Hello MaxPoints

I received the same letter from American express with a $100 check dated Nov-25-2015

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Jimmy December 20, 2015 - 9:59 pm

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.

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Amex Continues to Give Me Free Money for Undisclosed Reasons - Point Me to the Plane January 13, 2016 - 1:14 pm

[…] month I wrote about an unexpected check for $100 that I had received from American Express. Although there were questions about the legitimacy of said check, thankfully it turned out to be […]

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Tina February 4, 2016 - 5:38 pm

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.

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Jseda February 5, 2016 - 9:40 am

Me too..!

i received the check in Nov , then in jan 6 i went to walmart to cash out the check and Feb 3 i received the letter reminding me to deposit the check.

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Tina February 5, 2016 - 9:44 am

Jace you had any problems with the check?

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Jseda February 5, 2016 - 9:53 am

No..

No problem so far.
i didn’t deposited, i cash it in walmart they charge me $1, they took my info from my driver license and have not receive anything from walmart saying about the check.

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Tina February 5, 2016 - 10:08 am

Thanks, I think that’s what I will do too!

Jimmy February 5, 2016 - 10:00 am

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.

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Freddy February 8, 2016 - 8:23 pm

Me too. For two accounts. I can’t afford to deposit them if it’s a scam and I’m going to be charged somehow.

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Jimmy February 10, 2016 - 8:19 am

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.

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Freddy March 12, 2016 - 4:20 pm

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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Freddy March 12, 2016 - 4:21 pm

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.

Ruth Ann Eddy March 22, 2018 - 7:40 am

I received a check from AmEx dated 3/13/18 stating that it was a reimbursement for the value of Membership Rewards which due to a technical error were not issued at the time they were earned. Have done no business with AmEx since 2013 and currently do not hold a card with them. I called the 1-800-528-4800 number and was told they could not find an account with my name on it and the last 5 of the account provided in the letter didn’t match my name.

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Jen March 23, 2018 - 9:59 pm

RuthAnn—
I got the same exact letter also dated 3/13/18, also stating the reimbursement for the Membership Rewards thing and I have not had an Amex card for well over 10 YEARS!! Check is for odd amount too, $35.57. Looks legit, routing and acct numbers, watermarks, etc. but I am afraid to put this in my bank. I fear it will make someone privy to my acct. numbers. I just don’t trust it. If you want to cash yours, do it at Walmart, don’t deposit into your bank!

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