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From AMG To Amex: Mercedes-Benz Introduces Partnership With American Express

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On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 12:57PM | By: Andrew W Davis

From AMG To Amex: Mercedes-Benz Introduces Partnership With American Express

NOTE: The author does not hold himself out as providing any legal, financial or other advice, does not make any recommendation or endorsement as to any investment, advisor or other service or product, and does not offer any advice regarding the nature, potential value or suitability of any particular investment, security or investment strategy.

And as the author more than likely has neither the financial fortitude nor the credit score to qualify for a “regular” American Express card, let alone a Benz-branded oneand let’s not even get into affording an ACTUAL Mercedes-Benzconsider all financial choices carefully before investing on his snarky whim.

His lack of financial prowess aside, Mercedes-Benz IS a car company, so their decision to put their good name on Amex cards gives your favorite automotive editor/writer a reason to FINALLY cover a Wall Street Journal-style story. Sweet!

It seemed strange to me that a company like Mercedes-Benz would “brand” credit cards in this day and age, as according to my 2010 edition of “What Words Journalists Must Use Together” says you can’t say “credit” without the next word being either “crisis” or “crunch.” But as I said at the outset, I’m a “words” guy, not a “numbers” one, so it has to make financial sense to someone, even if that someone isn't me.

That aside, even I know one thing about credit: the strict “hierarchy” of credit cards—with only a few types of card from each of the four companies—no longer exists. Take American Express, for example. It used to be that they had a “regular/green” one for losers, a “Gold” one for losers with decent jobs, and a “Platinum” one for everyone else who wasn’t Jay-Z or for any other reason couldn’t qualify for the vaunted—and now dead—“Black” card.

Now Amex offers “Premium Rewards” and “Flexible Payment” cards, “Prepaid” cards, “Travel (airline) Partner” and “Hotel Partner” cards and—the subject of this story—the brand-new “Specialty Partner” type of card, of which there is only one “partner” at the moment: Mercedes-Benz.

There are two types of Mercedes cards, the “regular”—“Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express”—and the “Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz.” Each card offers similar features and fees as most other Amex cards—including Membership Rewards points—but there are a few Mercedes-specific features as well.

Both cards offer “five times” the per-dollar membership points for money spent at Mercedes-Benz dealerships—definitely Benz-related—with the regular card also offering “3X” on gas purchases (not so much).

This may not make it clear why you’d want a Mercedes-Benz card over another style or brand, but according to Amex’s own site, it offers “Exclusive Benefits for DRIVING Enthusiasts” who can then “enjoy Mercedes-Benz benefits” like:

A “certificate toward the purchase or lease of a new Mercedes-Benz after spending $5,000” for $500 (regular) or $1,000 (Platinum); a “waiver for excess miles at lease end” of 1,000 mi. or 2,000 mi., respectively; and an “annual reward certificate for Genuine Mercedes-Benz Accessories” of $50 or $100.

I’ll leave the boilerplate fine print to you, but seeing as how they have annual fees of $95 (regular) or $475 (Platinum), you should do a careful cost-vs.-benefit analysis as to whether your situation if a differently-branded card better suits you.

Amex's own roster includes Gold and Platinum “Delta SkyMiles” cards, a “Delta Reserve Card,” a “JetBlue Card,” “TrueEarnings Card from Costco & American Express,” “Hilton HHonors” and “Hilton HHonors Surpass” cards and…

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