Are The American Express Food and Wine Offers Legit?

Chances are, if you’re an AmEx cardholder at one time or another you have been pitched the American Express Food and Wine companion ticket offer, connoisseur club, or the cookbook series. Are these offers worth taking up or something you should pass up?

Over the years I have received all of the above offers, and today, I received this one in my inbox…

email sent to cardmembers offering a free book

I don’t really have much time for cooking myself but for $2.99 I figured “Hey, this could make a great gift. I’ll check it out.” I clicked on it and was taken to a page where I’m told to hurry because “supplies are limited.”

screenshot for reserving the amex promotion

The email said $2.99 and the page I was taken to shows $4.95; I’m assuming that must be a typo. Regardless, I filled it out and then scrolled down to the bottom to submit when I saw the fine print:

YES, please send me the 2011 Food & Wine Annual Cookbook FREE! My cost is $2.99 shipping and handling, which will be billed to my American Express® Card account. I will also enjoy the convenience of receiving advance notice of future books (never more than five per year). If I wish to accept the book being offered, I will do nothing and the then current retail price (currently $29.95) plus shipping and handling will automatically be billed to my American Express Card account.

Translation: I would be signing up for a continuity program in which my credit card would be automatically billed for future orders unless I opt out of them. The most notorious business that uses this marketing technique is probably the Video Professor, but a number of subscription services and supplements do too.


Are the American Express Food and Wine Magazine/book offers a scam? No, they’re not. American Express appears to be very upfront with how these offers work. For the right person, they do make sense. For example, the American Express Food and Wine companion ticket offer might save you a bit of money if you had a need for it.

However I think I will pass on their free cookbook offer. As mentioned, I would have little need for it and have no interest in receiving an ongoing shipment of $29.95 books. I admit, getting the first one for $3 would be nice, but I don’t want to hassle with the cancellation process after.

On a side note, if I were American Express I would be careful with these offers, because sometimes they might reflect negatively upon the American Express brand. Here is a thread on Credit Card Forum that touches on this subject: American Express $100 Restaurant Certificate

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

I tried the food and wine for one year and it was a great deal. but decided not to renew. Now my Macy’s/American Express Card is charging me every month and I cannot get it off my AE bill. I have written to both Macy’s and AM and now my bill is up to $28, I believe. they will not take no for an answer but I still refuse to pay it. I am going to Cancel my Card as soon as this gets resolved. I paid by check for the subscription and when it wxpired they charged it on my card with out my permission.

I signed up for ONE of these books three years ago. Last year I canceled out and got a refund. This year they signed me up AGAIN, even though I haven’t asked for it and have been in the process of moving. They overcharge for these offers and YES it reflects negatively on Amex. In fact, I am considering canceling the card once I get refunded, simply because of the trouble they put me through and I have no other charges on the card.