Reward cards from American Express – beware!

I’ve made no attempt to hide my prejudice in favor of American Express gift cards lately as they have shown some extraordinary customer service and were the first to do away with monthly fees, but this agreement with National Gift Card to market a corporate volume rewards card seems like s step in the wrong direction.  It is no secret that gift card issuers, expecially open-loop ones, are scrambling to find other ways to ring up fees now that the new gift card rules are coming in August.  The most common tactic seems to be to offer cards that aren’t classified as gift cards and so are not beholden to the gift card rules under the Credit Card Reform Act of 2009.  This move by Amex appears to be just such a tactic.

While the rewards cards are offered at a discount to face value, and carry no monthly fees, they expire after 12 months and lose ALL of their value.  Seems rather drastic.  I would avoid these cards.