American Express Pass Card Review

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Is the prepaid American Express Pass Card a good idea for 2013 or not?

american express pass card reviewPrepaid cards have surged in popularity over the past several years. Some get them because they can’t qualify for normal credit card, but others get them because they like how a prepaid card forces you to not spend more than you have.

American Express thought it would be a good idea to take the prepaid card a step further and create one specifically designed for teens. Let’s review the AmEx Pass Card to see if it makes sense…

August 16th 2013 update: The Pass card is no longer available. For a good alternative to it, check out this one:
The below review about the Pass Card is left up for historical reference only. Therefore, any information contained below may be outdated and inaccurate.

AmEx Pass = prepaid reloadable card

Unlike other prepaid cards on the market, the Pass Card was created specifically with both parents and teens in mind, with benefits that both will like. Here’s how It works…

1. Loading the Pass Card
The parent can add money using their American Express card or bank account. This can be done 24/7 through the AmEx website or over the phone. You can set up automatic deposits (like the same amount every month) and/or you can add funds whenever you wish.

2. Using the Pass Card
The Pass Card can be used for purchases anywhere American Express is accepted (which is pretty much everywhere nowadays). The Pass Card can also be used at ATMs – one free withdrawal per month and $2 per withdrawal after that. The ATM benefit is optional and can be turned on/off by the parent. Also, the card can be suspended (and re-activated) whenever the accountholder wants, so if you’re the kid, you better be nice to your mom and dad, ha!

3. Both teen and parent can view activity
The account’s spending history and balance can be viewed online by both the teen and the parent.

Pass Card benefits?

The American Express card benefits are what really sets it apart from the others on the market. Here’s a look at the benefits which are included at no additional charge:

Arranging Roadside Assistance: When needed, your teen can call the AmEx Pass Card customer service number and they will arrange roadside assistance. Please note that this benefit isn’t actually paying for the cost of roadside assistance, it is just a free service to arrange/dispatch it.

Purchase Protection: This is a benefit found on AmEx cards and to be honest, I was surprised to see that it was also included on the Pass Card. If eligible purchases made with the card are accidentally damaged or stolen within 90 days from date of purchase, this benefit will provide up to $1,000 coverage to repair, replace, or reimburse the item.

Global Assist Hotline: It’s unlikely your teen will be jet setting around the globe, but if he or she happens to be 100+ miles from home, like outside of the United States (i.e. school or church trip) this hotline is here to help. This service can provide your teen advice for a lost passport, locating English-speaking medical and legal services in the area, and a whole lot more.

Fraud Protection: You and your teen won’t be responsible for fraudulent activity if the card is lost or stolen.

No Overdraft Fees: It’s not possible to spend more than the amount loaded on the Pass Card, so you don’t have to worry about overdraft fees.

Requirements and fees?

The person that opens the account (i.e. parent) must be 18+ years old. The cardholder needs to be at least 13 years or older.

The membership fee used to be $3.95 per month. Good news… now there’s NO MONTHLY FEE for the card.

If the optional ATM feature is enabled, then there will be that $2 per transaction fee (excluding the first free one each month) plus whatever fees the actual ATM operator charges.

For reloads, you can do them for free if you do it thru your bank account and direct deposit.

Signup Bonus for 2013?

When it first launched a couple years ago, American Express offered a couple different promotions – one for $25 and the other for $50 – on new signups for the Pass Card. Unfortunately as of 2013, those promo codes are no longer available. The reason they don’t do the signup offers anymore is probably because now, you get the card without a monthly fee. However if they ever bring back a bonus in the future I will be sure to update this review.

Verdict?

I’m normally not a fan of prepaid cards, but this one seems to be a good value when you consider the costs are comparable to others, plus you are getting a lot of extra benefits and American Express customer support. Now that they axed the monthly fee, I think you really can’t go wrong with it.


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

19 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Frustrated Parent July 22, 2014 at 11:39AM

    You must be 18 or older for the Serve card. And the PASS card takes a couple of weeks to receive so you must plan in advance for this. And they are not Chip/PIN so useage overseas might be sketchy. My 17-year-old son is leaving in a couple of days for Europe and I was going to get him a pre-paid, reloadable card from Travelex so he wouldn’t have to carry a lot of cash. Only to find out today when I went to get one at the airport you have to be 18, which apparently is the case with many of the cards. So temporary options for kids younger than 18 are very limited.

  2. Natalie February 7, 2014 at 9:33PM

    We were Am X customers for eons. We got the PASS for our daughter and it has been all the bad service as many above have said and more. Today I called 6 times because our daughter’s old card had fallen apart and I had to order a new one. They double loaded the card with too much money and then told me I was not authorized to do anything about it since it was my husbands name on the card. Keep in mind, I ordered the new card, changed the pin and talked to 3 people one of whom told me he couldn’t load the card and that I had to do it on-line, later when I looked the card had been loaded twice. This is NOT AMERICAN EXPRESS and there is virtually no service on this card. DON’T GET ONE!

  3. Maria November 8, 2013 at 10:04PM

    Very poor customer service – The Pass card idea is great, but the customer service is really poor. I am a Gold card holder and have been used to great customer service from American Express. For whatever reason, the customer service for the Pass card is nowhere near what I am used to with the Gold card.
    My son’s card was suspended because he overspent by $24.99. Because it’s suspended, I cannot load money into it. All I wanted was to get the card unsuspended, load the card, and pay off the negative balance. I called 3 times over several weeks. Each time, I was told that the card would be unsuspended in 48 hours, which did not happen. On the 4th time, I was told it would be done within the day. At the end of the day, it still was not done, so I called a 5th time. I was told that whoever took my calls did not “do the needful” and did not give me the right information. In defense of the fifth agent I spoke to, he was quite helpful and was able to fix the problem on the phone (why that could not be done by the others, including one supervisor, I have no clue). I have decided to apply for a regular credit card for my son, and get rid of this Pass card. The concept is great, but the customer service leaves much to be desired. I just learned that the Pass card is no longer available – good decision on the part of Amex if the service cannot be delivered properly.

  4. Fabiola August 7, 2013 at 12:15PM

    Very disappointed with the pass service for my teenager, I gave him this card so his travels to his family in Germany where safe and he would have access to money and buy some stuff eventually, they (amex) desactivated the card while he was there, I went nuts trying to make them activate it again!! never happened, they said they were sending me another one which never arrived, worst nightmare ever!! Go with any other company!!
    I filled the card with almost $ 400, now they said it will take 15 biz days for them to give me the $$, total scam!!

  5. AMEX U SUCK March 25, 2013 at 8:49AM

    well one of friends told me about this card and she got it for her daughter.. but i guess it was before all of this started. But i totally agree w/everything mentioned above. i went to apply for the card via a customer service that THEY have printed to call 8774057277. what a joke they told me i couldn’t and had to do online bc of SSN ah hello that is the same reason Y i don’t want to do online.. then as a amex card holder corporate i should say i called them and i got transferred to prepaid card dept who then transferred back to same Customer Service rep that in a nice Indian accent informed me that i had to go online .. card seems to be a totally screw up…!!

    WILL NOT OBTAIN IT..

  6. blessy February 20, 2013 at 7:32AM

    I had loaded my Amex prepaid in June-July 2012 and never got the promotional $25 gift card. While reviewing my financial transactions yesterday, I noticed this and gave a call to Amex. After several minutes of waiting for them to verify this old promotion and that my transactions qualify, they deposited $25 to the prepaid card.
    Not disappointing.

  7. Stacey January 15, 2013 at 3:41AM

    I just loaded from my American Express card with no problem and have been doing so for a couple of years. The posters who say you cannot are in error.

  8. Very UNHAPPY Parent December 11, 2012 at 6:39PM

    You can no longer load funds to this card from your American Express card. In other words, American Express won’t take an American Express card! How ironic!!! This is apparently a new development and American Express did not notify card holders that it was changing the terms of the account. In fact as of today (12-11-12) the main website still says that funds can be loaded from the Amex card. THEY CAN NOT.

    I got this card for my teenaged son a year ago and I could instantly transfer money as he needed it. No more!

    The worst part is that now when you call the Pass Customer Service, they send you to someone in India who will say nothing other than “The card no longer offers this service”, meaning that you can’t load funds from your Amex. They can’t or won’t explain it. They’re no longer trained customer service people – they are some off shoot department in India. They won’t give you any information at all until you give them the PASS account number (which I don’t have because my SON has the card in his possession -duh) or give them your full social security number.

    And when you call regular American Express customer service, they essentially shrug and say that they don’t service those cards and that you have to call the number for Pass – in other words, you have to call the bozos in India. I finally talked to a supervisor and she’s just as confused as I am. Very nice – she was even saying that she was getting ready to load money on her own son’s Pass card from her Amex Gold and she didn’t even know she could no longer do that. If they don’t tell their own customer service people, it makes you wonder what the heck is going on!!!!

    This card is no longer worth the plastic it’s printed on. Unless you want to give your checking account information to who knows who in India, and then wait 2-3 days for the funds to transfer, you should NOT get this card. Might as well just get them a checking account with a regular debit card.

    Cutting the card into pieces.

  9. nothappy November 28, 2012 at 8:46AM

    I am not happy at all with this card any longer. The benefit for me was I could load funds instantly from my American Express Credit Card account to this card for my teenager. This way she always had funds available when needed whether using the card or getting cash from an ATM. I went to load funds on my daughter’s card and was told my AM EXP card could not be validated. I called and was told that now you can not use your Am Exp card to load funds, it has to be loaded from your bank account. So now it will take 2 – 3 days for the funds to hit the card. This is a joke, I am now opening a checking account for her and getting a Visa Debit card. Am Ex screwed up.

    • Jeff December 3, 2012 at 5:39PM

      Had the same experience. Was using the card for since March of 2011 and having it auto reload funds from my Amex card to my daughter’s card. I received an email saying the reload was denied a few days ago and logged in to my Pass account to verify my card information, then attempted to load funds manually. The transactions were denied without any explanation. After verifying there were no issues with my Amex card, I called Pass and was given the line about a policy change that only allowed funding from a bank account. I have not received any mail or email about a policy change and the website still has 2 options for funding (Amex card & bank acct). I could not find any information about a policy change on the Pass website and the account rep and supervisor were very vague about the timing of the policy change.

      One thing Amex did get right about this card is the name. I’m now choosing to “Pass” on it and find another card for my daughter.

  10. Robbin November 3, 2012 at 7:44AM

    Anyone saying that this card is easy is either an employee of amex or hasn’t got their card yet. This card is a Joke! I got it for my daughter and they take way more than their 3-5 business days to load it and to refund transactions as well. I even used my own amex to load it and its been 7 days and still no money. Forbid your child is in a jam and needs money ASAP. You would still have to wire the money to them. Waiting on this card is ridiculous. I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS CARD!

  11. rebecca mcglothlin March 3, 2012 at 5:59AM

    I am not happy with this card. They take funds from your account and they don’t post for 2 days business days. So if you say you want funds loaded on the 1st .. they don’t show up until the 3rd or later. AMEX is probably capitalizing on the float and you don’t know for sure when the funds will be loaded. My son has tried to use the card twice now to find out no funds are there.

  12. chainbucket December 29, 2011 at 2:14PM

    This card is an absolute disaster. My son and daughter have both had one for about a year, in theory great concept, especially for buying things online. But my son recently had his hacked, and someone charged $125 to xbox live in November. I called PASS got the card cancelled, got a new one. Then I called to to dispute the charges and get an immediate credit back, just like on a credit card. I made 6 separate phone calls to PASS in November and no credit and no dispute form. Then I decided to call the CEO of American Express (800-297-6196) and have called them 8 separate times, spoken to 5 different people, been promised by the dispute department that I would either get a dispute form via email or snail mail, and get the credit immediately, and nothing has happened, yet “we are embarrased and sorry for this”. The CEO’s assistant has told me, “well thats another department and we really dont have visibilty into the pass department, its kinda hard to get this fixed”. Are you f-ing kidding me? I called the f-ing CEO!!! So someone did call me back today, 12/29, Jessica, very ready, willing to help, left me a voicemail, told me to call back. SHE DIDNT LEAVE HER F-ING PHONE NUMBER! What a joke!

  13. niatesha thompson December 1, 2011 at 12:37PM

    Im really excited about my new card i am ordering it today yayyyyy!!!

  14. Ben November 18, 2011 at 8:04AM

    Nice review.. and Aimee thanks for letting us know that the american express pass shoots out emails. I love that idea. Definitely seems worth the monthly fee.

  15. Aimee August 31, 2011 at 8:31AM

    I got this card for my son after a promotion they were running. It is great. I love that I can auto reaload or reload as I choose and there are no monthly fees. He is one of the younger kids using it so he thinks it is cool he has a credit card that has his name on it. He will go a long while not spending anything and save it up. I get emails everytime he uses it so I am aware of what he is doing and where.

  16. Kat Conn August 13, 2011 at 3:29AM

    I just received this offer and at present 8-13-11 there is zero $0 charge for the card and its services. I really like the Purchase Protection option. I’ve utilized it before and it works.

  17. A Very Happy Parent February 3, 2011 at 5:26PM

    I signed up for the pass card for my son who is away at college. The flexibility to quickly load the card is a definite plus. I can call AMEX customer service when I am away from home and get the funds immediately posted to the account.

    Right now, I am truly happy with the card and the fact that the monthly charge is waived. I will reaccess later in the year.

  18. Buck Inspire February 3, 2011 at 10:50AM

    Excellent review. I currently don’t have American Express and never knew too much about prepaid cards, but always good to learn about options out there. Keep up the good work! :)

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