I recently posted about my how Amex closed all my accounts. If there’s one thing readers of this blog know about me, it’s that I usually go into burn mode after something like that.
As such, I took this as an opportunity to investigate a lead I had: paying Amex via debit over the phone. The good news is that it’s definitely possible to make consistent payments to Amex via a debit card over the phone. The bad news is none of the gift cards I tried worked (although I didn’t try many).
How do I pay Amex with a debit card?
So far as I know, it’s only possible over the phone. You need to call collections, 1 800 921 6490. They’re open from 7 AM EST until midnight EST. Unless your account is actually in collections, you won’t get very far by entering your card number. Instead, when prompted, press 0 to be connected to an agent.
This is basically like how Citi’s system used to be, very hit or miss in finding an agent who will allow you to do a debit card payment. If you get one that’s not compliant, just hang up and call again.
What “debit” cards work?
Unsurprisingly, cards attached to a checking account in your name work. I mainly used major financial institutions like BoA or USAA, but I also tried some local credit unions successfully.
The PayPal Business debit card also worked… but it didn’t earn any rewards. Much like with Citi, this counted as a debit/PIN transaction instead of credit/signature. Nationwide Buxx cards also worked.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to try more, but I attempted to use a few VGC from Giftcards.com, the kind issued by Bancorp. Despite the similarities with Citi’s phone system, this is a major difference – it didn’t go through.
Feel free to try some out for yourself.
How long does it take for payments to post?
Whenever I made a debit payment, the agent would read through a standard disclosure. Part of it said that the payment can take up to 2-3 days to post and that if you have a payment due before then, Amex cannot guarantee that it will post in time. Despite that warning, I noticed that every time I made a payment, I would receive an email confirmation within the hour.
I even made payments up until the last day the balances was due, and they all posted fairly quickly. Note that I don’t recommend this; if a payment is due and you want to avoid interest, just use a regular payment method.
Anything else I should know?
This post is titled “almost” everything about Amex debit payments. As part of the standard disclosure, the agent would always say debit cards are not a standard form of payment and may not be accepted in the future. The original lead I saw mentioned that when they did it, Amex treated that person almost criminally.
I can’t comment on how risky this is in terms of account closure. I did all of my payments (about $10 000) after my accounts were already closed. I really can’t offer advice on whether Amex will institute adverse action if you do this.