Amex Vendor Pay. The ultimate path to free credit card rewards? (hint: no)

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If you have an Amex business card, you’ve probably received an email from Amex with the headline: “Introducing a new Card benefit to make paying bills easier.”

And, if you’re into points and miles, you may have taken particular note that they’re advertising the ability to use your Amex card to pay suppliers with no fee.  And, they explicitly state that you earn rewards when you do so.

Have we just found the ultimate no-fee perpetual point machine?  Can we pay a vendor (read: friend or relative) with our Amex business card and earn rewards for free?

Unfortunately, no.

I did some digging, and found:

  1. Yes, the service is fee free when you pay vendors with your Amex card.
  2. Yes, you do earn rewards on this spend.

So, what’s not to like?  It’s the way it works.

The Catch

The process Amex Vendor Pay uses to let you pay people by credit card is that it creates a single use credit card number for each payment, and emails that number to the person or company you want to pay.  The vendor, therefore needs to be able to accept credit card payments for this to work.  To do so, they have to pay the credit card transaction fee.

Ultimately, the process isn’t really fee-free.  It’s just that the person or company receiving the payment must pay the credit card processing fee.

Conclusion

Amex Vendor Pay might be a useful service for real business needs.  I don’t know — I didn’t evaluate it for that purpose.  But I do know that this is not the great manufactured spending technique that I had hoped.

This has been a public service announcement designed to prevent manufactured spenders from wasting time with this new service.  You’re welcome.

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