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American Express Cardmember Gift Offers

If you’re an American Express cardmember, you probably recognize the annual mailings from American Express about their cardmember gifts. They usually send out a couple of these types of offers each year and if you’re like, many of them go into the recycling bin. The one I always remember is the offer of an appointment book and day planner, but they do a lot more.

This year, the offer is for a 2009 Food & Wine Annual Cookbook [3] that has a retail value of $29.95 (you can buy it from Amazon for $19.77 plus shipping). For the cost of shipping and handling, $2.99, we can get this book for free just because we’re a specially selected Cardmember. There is a money back guarantee on the shipping and handling costs too. If I don’t like the book, I can return it within 90 days of the billing date and get a full refund.

If you’re wondering how a Food & Wine cookbook fits with American Express, it turns out that Food & Wine is owned by American Express Publishing [4]. American Express Publishing is a subsidiary of American Express, as you probably would’ve guessed by the name. 🙂

What’s the catch? The “catch” is that you are enrolled in their “Cookbook Series” where you will be given advance notice of future cookbooks that you can buy. If you want to buy them, you do nothing and the books are sent to you and your American Express card is billed. If you don’t want the book, you return the advance notice card within 14 days.

This is known as negative option billing [5]. If you’ve ever had a Columbia House membership, then you’re familiar with how this works. The negative in negative option billing doesn’t mean it’s a bad program or that it is dishonest. Negative simply means you must decline an offer or it is automatically sent to you.

Is this a good offer? If you want the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook and don’t mind the added effort of declining offers or canceling the series, then it is a good offer. If you never cook or feel like online recipe websites are good enough, then it’s not a good offer.

As for us, I’ll take the Food & Wine cookbook for $2.99 please. 🙂