All Articles Tagged "american express"
It’s easy to take for granted direct deposit or hitting up the ATM for some quick cash, but there are thousands of Americans who rely on a fragile system of money orders, payday loans and pawn shops when it comes to maintaining their finances. Tyler Perry narrates the new documentary “Spent Looking For Change” which debuted last week, and reveals some alarming statistics regarding how many Americans are handling their personal finances.
“Spent: Looking For Change” looks at the lives of four families who represent the 70 million Americans who rely on alternative banking services such as money orders and pay day lenders. The difference with this documentary is it just doesn’t discuss Americans living off of social services, it tells the story of hardworking Americans whose options have been limited by financial setbacks. Tyler Perry recalls his own struggles before he became financially secure and how he relied on services that basically exploited his situation by charging him large amounts of money to access the very little money he was making:
“I cashed all my checks at the quick cash and I was always upset about how much it cost to cash the check.”
“I had to do a lot of wiring. My mother was always pissed at how much it would cost, the check wouldn’t be but $20 and it would cost her $15.”
Perry hopes this documentary will educate and motivate people experiencing similar setbacks.
In an interview with Essence, Perry explains what he means when he uses the phrase, “It’s very expensive to be poor.”:
“Eighty-nine billion dollars is spent in these services. When you’re poor, you can’t just go to a bank if you don’t have the credit to open up a bank account. You have to rely on these services. If you go to a check cashing service, you have to pay for that. If you use one of these pre-paid cards, you have to pay for that instead of having a regular credit card. So it’s very expensive to be poor.”
He also commented on why he chose to narrate the project, sponsored by American Express:
“I applaud American Express for doing this because the truth is that nobody knows. When I put this on my Facebook page, everybody was saying, ‘Oh people just need to stop living above their means’ But people aren’t living above their means; they’re living by any means necessary. These are hardworking people who are not trying to take welfare and who are not trying to be in social systems, they are trying to work. This woman in the documentary, Tiffany, she’s a single mother, she’s a nurse, she has all these different degrees and then her mom gets cancer. Sometimes things just happen and it’s difficult to move through. So that’s why I wanted to be a part of it and show all of America that 99% of the time people aren’t making these choices, these choices are being made for them.”
Financial literacy is something that is all too often overlooked in our communities. So many people are working hard to avoid being on welfare that they end up being taken advantage of in the process. To view “Spent: Looking For Change” visit Spent Movie.
The holiday season for most small business owners is fraught with ups and downs. Competing against big-box companies is never easy to do and at times a small business can get lost in the shuffle. How are you supposed to gain customer attention when mega-retailers are throwing discounts, promotions, and shopper incentives around like candy?
While small businesses can’t offer the same vast array of products at rock-bottom prices as the larger shops, local stores can hone their unique edge – an intimate and personalized shopping experience and outstanding customer service, for one. Helping business owners convey the differences meant to capture customer attention is American Express.
Enter Small Business Saturday, a program started in 2010 and set for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Predictably, this day is becoming a marketing event in line with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In 2012, consumers who were aware of the event spent $5.5 billion at independent merchants, according to the National Federation of independent Business and American Express ( via The Dallas News). And although sales at privately held retailers have been dismal this year (at a nearly two percent drop, according to financial firm Sageworks) retailers remain hopeful that they will experience a nice bump during this special day.
Through Small Business Saturday, Amex has begun to generate buzz around the idea of supporting independent and locally-owned businesses. On this Amex site, readers are encouraged to go out on Saturday, November 30th, and embrace their community treasures. While on the Shop Small Neighborhoods site consumers can “Be a neighborhood champion,” by joining a neighborhood circle to connect with local small business owners, or fellow neighborhood champions, and share ideas and prepare for the big day with an online group. Amex has given consumers an added incentive to shop small at a qualifying small business location, by giving shoppers $10 back when they spend $10 or more. The Small Business Saturday map makes it that much easier for anyone to locate qualifying businesses in their area.
For business owners, Amex has created a streamlined process to join in and get access to personalized marketing materials for free. By telling them what your business is known for (through the creation of a marketing campaign) you are given the opportunity to be featured on the Shop Small Neighborhoods page. Some other marketing materials include: a digital banner, to promote your business online; printable signage, like decals to display in your business; and suggested social media and email templates, email and social posts to help you get the word out. Additionally, with the help of Amex’s 2013 four premier partners (Twitter, U.S. Postal Service, FedEx Office, and Foursquare), business owners receive benefits from special offers and services. For example Twitter is offering $100 in ad credits to help small businesses get the word out for Small Business Saturday this year.
Get in on the action! Shop local, get money back, feel good, repeat.
When big business America comes to mind, we think of every old moneymaking white face from Donald Trump to Bill Gates. After all, older white men dominating and creating businesses has been the norm in this country for eons. Luckily, though slowly, the business world has started to change, drawing women and minorities into the fold. The Fortune 500s are beginning to mention more Latinos, Asians and blacks as its CEOs, executives, and head advisors. Latinos, Asians and blacks are also making strides when it comes to creating and broadcasting businesses. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs alone have showcased the benefit of enterprising. With that in mind, it’s time that we give nods to some African-American CEOs and entrepreneurs who’ve been making strides in big businesses while we’ve been none-the-wiser.
KENNETH I. CHENAULT, AMERICAN EXPRESS
Since 2001, Chenault has been the CEO of American Express, constantly promoting its success, which is evident when he hosted the unprecedented revenue of $33.80 billion dollars in 2012. Chenault was born in New York and graduated from Harvard Law School. His yearly compensation at American Express is well into the multimillion dollar range.
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American Express is giving us more ways to shop, because that’s exactly what we need.
The financial service company has partnered with Twitter to introduce “Amex Sync,” which will let cardholders sync their accounts with Twitter in order to buy things using special hashtags. Customers already had the ability to learn about new discounts via Twitter. But this takes the social media integration to another level to include the ability to actually purchase goods. A statement from American Express (quoted in Business Insider) says that, starting today, users can buy a $25 Amex gift card for just $15 “by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard25.”
Once you activate your account, you’ll start interacting directly with the @AmexSync handle. This, of course, adds to the perks of having an Amex card. For Twitter, this could be a moneymaking opportunity. And for shoppers, here’s your chance to buy a little something without clicking away from your Twitter timeline.
After the jump, we’ve got a short clip with the details. If this proves successful for Amex, certainly other card companies will follow suit. Will you be shopping on Twitter any time soon?
Guess It Really Is Hard Out Here For A Pimp: American Express Sues Terrence Howard For Unpaid Credit Card Bill
Earlier this month, we reported that things were looking up for actor Terrence Howard since he and his ex-wife had finally reached a settlement, putting an end to their ugly divorce battle. Unfortunately, there seems to be no rest for the weary as Terrence will probably find himself in yet another courtroom in the coming months. According to Global Grind, American Express is completely fed up with the Red Tails actor’s reluctance to pay his credit card debt and is slapping him with a lawsuit in an effort to recover the unpaid money. The financial service corporation is also requesting that an additional ten percent be paid on top of the money owed.
How much money does a person have to owe before American Express gets fed up enough to drag them to court, you ask? Legal documents, which were filed back in November in the Los Angeles Superior Court revealed that the Hustle & Flow actor owes the company $33,474.79. It is also being reported that AMEX is not only filing claims against Terrence as an individual, but also against his company, Al Chemist Productions, Inc.
So far, the actor’s legal team has not filed any court documents in response to the claims made by American Express. Hopefully Terrence has the money to pay his bill and mistakenly forgot to send out his payment, although he wouldn’t be the first celebrity who attempted to completely bail on debts owed. The timeframe in which Terrence was given to repay his debt was not revealed; however, one would think that taking Terrence to court was probably AMEX’s last resort in getting him to pay his bill, since I highly doubt the company wants to be making headlines for suing a famous client.
What do you think of AMEX’s decision to sue Terrence?
As the holidays approach, some consumers will receive refunds and restitution from credit card companies, a penalty for misleading consumers with deceptive credit card practices.
Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a consumer finance watchdog organization that was launched in 2011 in the wake of the economic meltdown, ordered American Express, Discover, and Capital One to payout more than $425 million in refunds.
“We think this is definitely a case of enforcement getting better,” Bill Hardekopf, CEO of credit card comparison site LowCards.com, told the Sacramento Bee. He said the CFPB “is establishing the fact that they mean business. Their ‘calling’ is to look after consumers and they are trying to show that they will do just that.”
Of the three credit card companies, American Express subsidiaries were ordered to pay $85 million to around 250,000 cardholders for a variety of illegal practices going all the way back to 2003. Capital One is sending $140 million to two million customers who purchased Capital One financial products after August 2010 and who may have been deceived or didn’t understand the products or items they were buying.
Lastly, Discover will pay $200 million for deceptive telemarketing tactics, including implying that certain paid features were free benefits and not explaining various fees and payments. More than 3.5 million customers will receive funds.
Bank of America, not part of the $425 million CPFB crackdown, is also refunding customers after some deceptive debit card practices that caused millions of customers to receive unfair overdraft fees. Bank of America is refunding $410 million to customers.
So keep an eye on your credit card accounts and mailboxes in the coming weeks if you think you are eligible for these refunds. You can learn more online.
With the nation’s sentiment turning somewhat sour about Black Friday (many complained that store openings on Thanksgiving night intruded on the family gatherings for both shoppers and workers) the time was right this year for Small Business Saturday. Add to that the focus on small businesses — supporting them was a big talking point during the presidential election — and you have buzz for the day unlike any that’s likely been experienced in the past.
New York’s Mayor Bloomberg announced today that a matching grant program worth $5.5 million will be available for small businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. A total of more than $45 million in loans and other financial assistance will also help.
President Barack Obama and the rest of the White House has been crowing about Small Business Saturday on Twitter today. The President and the First Daughters Sasha and Malia were out shopping today at a local Arlington bookstore (he bought 15 children’s books, according to Reuters) to support the day.
And American Express — which founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 — and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills were on the Today show yesterday talking up the opportunity to shop at local businesses. (Video below.)
Widely reported numbers say that small businesses created two out of three jobs in this country over the past 20 years. American Express founded the day three years ago and says more than 100 million people came out last year.
For black businesses, Small Business Saturday could be just the thing to jump start businesses. Pointing out the many difficulty that black retailers have — from the troubles with financing, lack of a strong network, or old-fashioned racism — The Huffington Post’s Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson talks with entrepreneurs who are trying to capitalize on the special day and all of the digital avenues available to small business owners nowadays.
“It drives traffic both to our Internet business and to our brick-and-mortar business,” Jamyla Bennu, owner of Baltimore’s Oyin Handmade, told the website.
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the black community (“the number of black-owned businesses in the U.S. increasing by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007,” HuffPo quotes the Census Bureau’s latest Survey of Business Owners), but the means to get businesses off the ground or stay afloat aren’t always there.
The Grio provides a list of small black-owned businesses that you can try out for Small Business Saturday and beyond. Did you shop at a black-owned business today?
American Express and Wal-Mart have partnered to create Bluebird, a prepaid card that, the AP says, “acts like a checking account but without the fees that have increasingly frustrated shoppers.” Those fees include overdraft charges and monthly fees.
In addition, the card will have some of the features and benefits that one would find with one of today’s digital accounts, like the ability to deposit a check into your account using a photo of the check and direct deposit capabilities. Banking can be done at the Wal-Mart checkout, which Amex’s group president of Enterprise Growth, Dan Schulman, called the “moral equivalent of a bank branch at retail.”
According to a Citi Research analyst, only about 15 percent of Walmart purchases are paid with a credit card, a small portion of the many people shopping at the “world’s largest retailer.” Moreover, about eight percent of Americans (17 million people) don’t have a bank account, with another 18 percent (43 million people) classified as “under-banked.” The FDIC recently found that more than one-fifth of blacks don’t have a bank account. With its emphasis on low and no fees, Bluebird provides an alternative for those people who may otherwise be paying a fortune for alternative financial services like payday loans.
Even a checking account comes with a cost. A press statement about Bluebird includes this startling stat: a basic checking account costs customers, on average, $259. (The Huffington Post puts it at $144.) Overdraft fees can take costs into the hundreds or thousands. Bluebird doesn’t offer overdraft.
For American Express, this is a turn towards a new market of less affluent customers. By targeting this new consumer, some suspect that the two companies are trying to take on big banks. But HuffPo points out that those customers who have turned away from banks have gone to credit unions. And people who bank with traditional banking institutions are unlikely to leave them for this sort of an option. More than anything, it will likely act as a gateway for many to reliable financial services.
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(New York Times) — American Express recently announced a new service that gives shoppers 180 days to return eligible purchased goods. It also covers certain return shipping and restocking fees. The company isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its heart, of course. It will cost you $49.99 a year, and shoppers with any type of charge, credit or debit card (not just American Express) can sign up. The offering is called Premium Return Protection. The service, an expanded and enhanced version of what the card company previously offered on select cards, seems to be a good value for power shoppers; people who hate dressing rooms and stores in general, and prefer to shop online; and people who often suffer from buyer’s regret. The new offering also comes as many retailers have tightened their own return policies.
(USA Today) — Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the kickoff of the holiday gift buying season, and it’s vitally important to retailers. Most Americans, of course, head off to giant stores. But this year, American Express has launched an initiative encouraging Americans to spend some of their holiday dollars in small, local stores. They’ve declared the Saturday after Thanksgiving “Small Business Saturday.” Even though this originates as a corporate initiative, “Small Business Saturday” is a great idea. By choosing a day in the most-important shopping weekend and giving it a specific name — Small Business Saturday — American Express is hoping this will catch on the same way as Black Friday for giant sales and Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, for sales online.