Posted by Chuck on May 18, 2015
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Published on May 18th, 2015 | by Chuck

6

How Much Are AmEx Offers Worth Annually?

The Gravy Train

Amex continues to come out with great deals through their Amex Offer program. The beauty of it is that the offers are really scalable since each person can have multiple cards.

Credit cards, charge cards, business cards, authorized users, third-party Amex cards, Bluebird/Serve cards, Bluebird/Serve subaccounts. It’s really possible to have lots of Amex cards and get lots of free money taking advantage of these offers.

It does take a while to get all the cards set up properly in separate logins and synced with Twitter, but the initial effort is well worth it and makes signing up for the offers very easy. Personally, I have the public offers automated by using the SyncAssist tool. If you don’t want to pay the $15 annual fee, you can use Tweetdeck to make it almost as easy to register all the cards in one shot.

Since the gravy train has been continuing full speed ahead for a while now, it’s worth taking a look: How much are Amex Offers worth annually? Take one single Amex card and calculate the value you can get by making use of the Amex offers for a full year.

The question is interesting on its own, but it could also have ramifications with regards to applying for credit cards or paying annual fees on Amex cards. The Amex Offers could be viewed as a benefit to offset an annual fee, no different than an airline credit that many cards offer or any other benefit. Let’s try to put a clear dollar value to the benefit.

Calculations

Of course, like everything else, the value will depend on the person. How much do you use the offers?

  • Do you only use the offers which are at your preferred merchants or the ones which are literally free money?
  • Do you also use the offers at stores which sell gift cards which you then use at other merchants?
  • Do you go a step further and use the offers to buy gift cards and resell them?

I find myself in the third category of someone who will use just about any way of profiting from the offers, particularly if it can be done online.

Let me attempt to calculate the value of an Amex card for myself.

The Figures

Just about a year ago, I switched from Bluebird to Serve. My Amex Offer credits yielded $330.

alternative 330 serve screenshot

And if I hadn’t botched up on Small Business Saturday, the total would have been $360.

I also have an Amex credit card which was opened just about a year ago and it’s showing $450 of savings over the year.

amex amount saved amex offers

These figures of $330/$450 are the gross amount received from the offers. It’s not the actual profit of the Amex Offers. Many times the credit came by purchasing a gift card and reselling it. In those cases, most of the offer credit may not have been profit. For example, I may have purchased a $200 gift card from Zappos which got me a $50 offer credit. My profit on the deal could have been just $10.

After reviewing the savings history on my Amex credit card, I concluded that the actual value of the card was around $216 profit. The Serve card which isn’t eligible for targeted offers I came to a figure of $193 profit (I added in the $30 for Small Business Saturday).

Amex credit card – $216

Serve card – $193

Initially, my assumption had been that there would be a large disparity between the value of a ‘real’ Amex card and a ‘generic’ card like Serve which can’t get certain offers which are targeted to Amex credit cards. After looking through the history, however, I concluded that this wasn’t the case for me. Of course, this will vary widely depending on how lucky you are with getting targeted offers on your cards.

Notes

A couple of notes on my calculations:

  • I did add portal cashback into the calculation. For example if I bought a $250 gift card and got $25 back from the portal and $50 back from Amex, my calculations viewed the gift card as having cost $175 and the profit is based on that number.
  • Credit card points were not added into the calculation.
  • I did not count a few offers which weren’t scalable. For example, I got $5 back from spending $10 at FedEx. Since I only had one purchase to make at FedEx, it wouldn’t help me at all to have 6 Amex cards over having 3 Amex cards. I just needed one card to get the discount. If we’d want to calculate the value of having just one Amex card, we can add $38 for a grand total of $254.

Single Amex card – $254

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it’s fair to put a value of around $200 annually for each additional Amex card one can procure, given the current conditions, if someone is pretty aggressive about taking advantage of the offers. For a more moderate user, $100 per year could be a fair estimate.

One important thing we need to point out, however, is that there is a significant amount of time that goes into taking advantage of these offers. I’ve written before that I conscientiously decide on partaking in these sort of deals/offers/manufactured-spend based on their return for the time spent. In the case of Amex Offers, it helps if you have a bunch of cards since taking advantage of multiple cards invariably takes much less time-per-card than taking advantage of one single card.

To throw out a number, I’ll estimate an earning rate of $50 per hour (though this could be totally off). This includes the time of setting up the cards for Amex Offers, verifying that each card has the offer, making the purchases, reselling what has to be sold, paying the bills, ensuring the offer credits posted, and following up with Amex the few times that they don’t post correctly.

If someone wants a better rate-of-return they could just do the free money opportunities, like Small Business Saturday and the like. Even then, there’s really time that goes into it and it’s not completely ‘free’ from that standpoint.

Let us know your own calculations/figures in the comments.

Props to PF Digest who mentioned this topic a while back.

See these posts to learn more about Amex Offers:



6 Responses to How Much Are AmEx Offers Worth Annually?

  1. JB says:

    Hey Chuck, this post is way better than the hotshot from last week. It’s interesting to see how the numbers add up but frankly, I don’t care 😉 As long as any particular offer makes financial sense to me I’m down for it as I know at the end of the day (or rather year) I’ll come out with a profit – not limited to Amex Sync offers but to all gigs out there, one time or on-going.

    The one thing I still haven’t understood is the way cash-back is being treated on Amex cards when using these offers. I think they simply subtract the credited amount from the purchase and calculate the rewards dollars on that lower total? It’s very hard to track Amex cash-back anyway with the huge delay between earning and receiving it…

    • Chuck Sithe says:

      Yes, I just recently took note of this myself: On OBC, I had all 5% category spend, besides for $50 Lowes purchases. Now on my May statement, I got the cb for the March-April purchases and it’s showing only $40 eligible for cb.

  2. Glenn says:

    Chuck,

    Great post as always. Made me look up my numbers which were similar. Must have been hitting similar deals.

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