Denny’s Daily Zinger: How American Express Treats Seniors. Hint: Poorly.

My American Express Gold Card says: Member since ’64.
This is my 50th anniversary as an AmEx cardmember.

I remember in 2004 being (1) hurt and (2) offended that I never received a thank-you card from CEO Kenneth I. Chenault for being a member for 40 years.

I doubt if I will receive a 50th anniversary card.

Chenault is a rude dude. In the average corporate database, how many customers have been active for 50 years? Not many, I’ll bet.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Offer
Two years ago, we received an offer from Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Unique Selling Proposition (USP): no fee for using the card internationally.

Since AmEx charges 2.7 percent extra on international purchases and since Peggy and I travel abroad two or three times a year, we went for the Chase offer.

I have gotten in the habit of using the Chase card for everything, using AmEx only for occasional Costco purchases.

We have 90,682 user points. I think that means we’re pretty good customers.

I currently have 63,000 points sitting in my AmEx Rewards account. This indicates I was not a deadbeat.

Why doesn’t Ken Chenault ask if I’m okay and send me a reactivation offer?

Takeaways to Consider

  • In this era of Big Data, does AmEx run actuarial stats on cardmembers?
  • Any cardmember since ’64 is likely to die soon. AmEx doesn’t want geezers running up big charges, only to assume room temperature. Estates take forever to pay bills, if they pay at all.

Denny Hatch’s new book is “Write Everything Right!” Chip Fichtner writes, “Denny: Almost through it. Great as always. Question: With any good book, I like to buy a dozen and give to friends and employees. Should I buy direct through you or from Amazon?” Click here to download (opens as a PDF) and read the first three chapters FREE. The title is also available on Kindle. Reach him at

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

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  • Tim Orr

    I too had a long-standing Gold card with Amex (not as long as yours, but nearly). When I finally balked at the annual fee last year, they offered me no help. Early on and for quite a few years, my long distance carrier paid for my Gold card, a deal offered me, not by the long distance carrier, but by Amex. Such deals are long gone, apparently.

    I had a huge problem redeeming my leftover points, partly because Amex had, in my view, diminished the quality of its point redemption selections. Once, I’d bought three iPhones for my employees with Amex points. Can’t do anything like that now.

    I have an Amex card through Costco now (necessary, of course, because that’s all Costco takes – other than cash). Can’t remember the fee. Might be very little.

  • John

    This reminds me of the cell phone companies. Always active and eager with promotions to snag new customers but weak regarding thanking their long time users.

  • Olga Perez-Cormier

    It is unfortunate that due to their scale I guess, so many of these large institutions have lost sight of the value of the individual customer. AmEx lost me years ago and will never see another penny from us. It appears they can afford to lose good paying customers.

  • Kurt Medina

    Hi Denny –

    I thought I’d just give you a little more ammunition in your Amex Zinger column …

    I too am a 50 Year Amex cardholder, having been a member since 1959. I too also currently have a Gold card. Except I suspect I pay much less for my card than you do for yours.

    Here’s why – Amex offers a SENIOR Gold Card to anyone over the age of 65 WHO REQUESTS IT. The fee is $55 per year, which includes Premier Rewards. A similar regular Gold Card with Premier Rewards is $175 per year. The key to getting this Senior Card is at the end of the first sentence in this paragraph: you have to request it. Of course, if you don’t know about it (and Amex doesn’t advertise the card), it’s very difficult to request it!

    I discovered the card totally by accident. I used to have a Platinum Card, to which I upgraded when DMA flew me to Brazil a few years ago to make a 50+ Marketing presentation at a Brazil DMA Conference in Sao Paulo. Part of the agreement was business class airfare, and a Platinum Card would let me bring my wife Pam along at no additional charge.

    After using that benefit however, I discovered that one could actually purchase two non-refundable business class tickets for less than the single refundable fare which the Platinum card required. So I telephoned to turn my card in and asked to regain my Gold card. There was a very nice lady on the phone whom I called and she noticed I’d been a member since 1959 and exuded her thanks for my continuing membership. But then she went further and told me about the Senior Gold Card. Much lower fee, Premier Rewards included, and everything else exactly the same as the full Gold card except for the fee. She switched me and I’ve been saving money since.

    I looked at the picture of your card in your Daily Zinger column and see no indication that your card is Senior. Therefore I assume you need to call them as well.