Anyone remember the American Express commercial where a guy talks about how he was at a big client dinner and his credit card got declined? “I was so embarrassed,” the voice actor moans, and then goes on to relate how his father told him to get an American Express. With no pre-set spending limit, he informs us, he’ll never have to worry about being declined again.
It turns out that “no pre-set spending limit” does not mean “you can charge as much as you want as long as you pay off the balance on time”. It means “your monthly spending ability changes based on your spending history”. You can absolutely have a charge to your AmEx declined. Even better, since the limit changes continually based on your activity, you have no reasonable way to know when a decline might happen. It’s the worst of both worlds!
All this, and an annual fee to boot. Awesome! Where do I sign?
Of course, when you think about it, you quickly realize that there had to be some kind of limit. If there weren’t, you could buy a fully armed jet fighter with it. (Which would of course be awesome.) What rankles is that the advertising explicitly claims, and the wording “no pre-set spending limit” strongly implies, that declines are a thing of the past with an AmEx—which is completely and utterly false.
Fortunately, it seems that there is a way to handle charges that exceed your spending limit: pre-pay the charge(s) in question. Of course, I had to think of this and ask someone at AmEx about it; the three people I’d talked to before that hadn’t volunteered the information, or else just didn’t think of it. I’ve been assured that, having paid in advance, everything will go through without incident, even though what I’m charging is about an order of magnitude greater than the initial spending limit set for the card. We’ll see how things play out.
I just wish they’d been more open about all this in the first place. As a result of all this, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that my new card issuer has been lying to me. That’s not really the way I prefer to start a new relationship.
Anyway, I just thought I’d share this little tidbit for the benefit of anyone interested, including any future Googlers. Oh, and vent a bit in the process. That always feels good.