January 14, 2014
Up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points for small businesses!
A reader identifying himself as “farbster” recently pointed out to me an opportunity to earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points (Thanks farbster!). American Express offers a small-business service called “FX International Payments” which facilitates, you guessed it, international payments. Currently, the site is running a promotion in which it is possible for new enrollees to get up to 30,000 bonus Membership Rewards points:
According to the offer, once you signup and make one foreign transaction you’ll receive 15,000 points. Then, once you complete 3 more transactions within 90 days of the first one, you’ll receive another 15,000 points. As a standard benefit, they also offer 1 point for every $30 wired internationally.
For those interested, here is the fine print of the offer:
1. To earn 15,000 Membership Rewards bonus for activation of your FXIP account, you must satisfy the following conditions: (i) you must complete an FXIP application form and a Membership Rewards registration form and submit them to us (ii) your FXIP application and Membership Rewards registration must have been processed and approved by us; and (iii) you must complete at least one foreign currency payment through your new FXIP account no later than January 1, 2015. In order to earn an additional 15,000 Membership Rewards points, you must meet the conditions in the preceding sentence and you must also initiate at least three (3) additional foreign currency wire transactions within ninety (90) days of your first foreign currency payment. Same currency transactions (USD to USD) are not eligible for this offer. The value of the points received may be taxable income to you. Please consult your tax advisor if there are any questions about the tax treatment of points. Bonus ID 7786.
As you can see below, American Express usually charges $15 per transaction with this service. With a Business Platinum card, however, fees are waived as long as you are a card member. And, with any American Express OPEN card, fees are waived for the first six months. After that, they charge $10 per transaction:
I haven’t had the chance to evaluate whether Amex’s exchange rates are fair (I would guess so), but If you have a business that does a lot of foreign transactions it seems to me that combining this service with an Amex Business Platinum card is the way to go.
Really meant for businesses
I clicked through to signup for this offer only to find that the signup process is a bit more arduous than I expected. The application requires all of these bits of info:
- Business title
- Business phone & email
- Legal name of business
- Business type (S-corp, Nonprofit, etc.)
- Federal Tax ID
- Year of Incorporation
- Business address
- Goods and services for which the business makes international payments
- Staff size
- Asset size
- Average # of international payments per month
- Average value of international payments per month
- Countries in which business makes payments
- Bank details: account #, routing #, etc.
- Payment needs
- And more.
I plowed through the application and answered everything as truthfully as possible. Under Payment Needs, I honestly answered that the average number of international payments per month for my business is zero:
At the end, they asked for even more. They wanted my business financial statements and a voided check:
After uploading these things, I found out that it was actually optional to do so (I should have read the on-screen directions more carefully!). I then received an email with this content:
Thank you for your application to American Express FX International Payments. We will be in touch over the next few days to discuss the status of your application.
In the interim, we recommend that you provide us with the following additional documentation if you have not already done so:
1. Audited financial statements or Complete most recent Federal Tax return of the business
2. Copy of voided check for the bank account
This is not mandatory, but providing this documentation will help us to process your application.
I applied last week, but have not yet heard if my application was approved.
Should you apply?
If you have a business with real foreign transaction needs, I don’t see any reason not to go for it. 30,000 Membership Rewards points is a nice benefit! Plus, you can earn an additional point for every $30 wired internationally.
If your business does not do foreign transactions, it can’t hurt to apply, but you might want to wait to hear what happens with my application.
If you don’t have a business at all, I don’t recommend applying.
Has anyone already applied for this? If so, what has your experience been? Were you approved? What kind of transactions did you make? Have you received the signup bonus?