American Express Offers Credit Card To 3-Year-Old

If you needed any more evidence that credit card offers are on the rise, you need look no further than this story over at CNNMoney, in which the writer’s 3-year-old daughter received a credit card application from American Express.

“Could we start building a credit history for her?” the writer wondered after she and her husband saw the letter from Amex. “Or better yet, could we spend massive amounts in her name and then have her declare bankruptcy, only to erase the debt by the time she is ready for college?”

Alas, in order to qualify for an Amex of her own the daughter would need to be at least 18. They’ll give a card to a 13-year-old, but an adult must co-sign.

Since she couldn’t have fun bankrupting her pre-schooler, the writer decided to contact Amex to find out what was going on:

[M]y daughter was added to Amex’s direct-mail list because either clothing or furniture had been sent to her directly over the last few years. Which is true.

Some of those retailers sold their lists to American Express, and Amex extended credit card offers to a portion of those people who were over 18. (For the record, the company said there was no age or birthdate associated with my daughter’s name in their system.)

It’s expected that credit card companies will send out an eye-popping 3.15 billion (with a B) credit card offers this year. Of course that’s down from the peak of 6 billion in 2005.

So if you get a credit card offer for your little one, shred it up and throw it out. Maybe if they include one of those fake cards in the letter you can give it to your kid to play “retail addict” with the neighbors.

American Express offered a credit card to my 3-year-old [CNNMoney]


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  1. NotEd says:

    My dogs still get credit card offers on a regular basis.
    I just wish they’d apply for one so they could pay their own vet bills.

    • NotEd says:

      Getting a Platinum card made out to “Peanut” would actually make my day at this point.

    • longdvsn says:

      exactly…this isn’t news. They obviously signed their daughter up for something – and the mailing list was eventually sold to American Express. It happens every day to people who have signed up pets for some junk mail.

      Getting the junk in the mail doesn’t mean you can actually apply for the credit card – you’d be committing fraud if you did (or if the OP filled in the form with an eligible untrue age). But if the dogs somehow managed to fill it out on their own – well, that might be a different story.

      • longdvsn says:

        Correction…the only ‘news’ in the actual article is that, in general, companies are soliciting more credit card offers to people than a few months ago – possibly some economic sign about willingness to extend credit.

        But the 3 year old thing…waste of space. Did the CNN author really need to dig around for why her daughter received the offer??? The whole CNN article could be collapsed to one paragraph by leaving the 3 year old out of it.

        • fourclover54 says:

          Journalists get handed more ridiculous stories all the time, so following up on this is pretty natural.

    • packy says:

      I’ve stopped getting offers for my cats. When those offers start up again, I’ll know the industry’s really desperate.

    • Razor512 says:

      When I had a pet fish, I would sometimes request free samples of food in the fishes name. the fish eventually started to get credit card offers, when i showed the offer to the goldfish, it didn’t seem to care. (with a interest rate as high as what was in the offer, I wouldn’t care much about it either)

      • haggis for the soul says:

        My friend ordered samples in her dog’s name and now he gets invitations from Scientology.

      • One-Eyed Jack says:

        True story: I signed up for some PetSmart offers in the name of my cat, Ivan, who passed away last year at the age of 19. Over the years we’d gotten a couple credit card offers in his name and laughed them off.

        But when my cat was 17 or 18, I got a notice from our car insurance company listing his name saying, “there may be someone of licensed driver age in your household who is not covered on your policy.”

        A quick, hilarious, phone call to the insurance company cleared it up quickly. But still …..

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    Santos L. Halper?

  3. heart.shaped.rock says:

    I got an AMEX offer 15 years ago when I was on public assistance. I thought that was hilarious!

    • regis-s says:

      A friend of mine got one of those years ago. Not sure it was Amex though. She filled it out and they rejected her. She was pretty pissed because she had a decent paying job. Just not decent enough apparently.

      As for the original story, I think it would be far more disturbing if they sent the kid a real credit card.

  4. c!tizen says:

    I make my own credit savvy kids at home.

  5. Bella_dilo17 says:

    I got a Delta AmEx card in the mail, and I’m 16. They know that. But then on the papers it said I have to be 18. Maybe the rates and fees could be lower if they didn’t send expensive fake cards to ineligible people.

  6. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Taking “debt our children and children’s children would have to pay” a little literally, aren’t we?

  7. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    “If you needed any more evidence that credit card offers are on the rise….”

    “It’s expected that credit card companies will send out an eye-popping 3.15 billion (with a B) credit card offers this year. Of course that’s down from the peak of 6 billion in 2005.”

    So are offers on the rise or decline?

  8. operator207 says:

    How much does it cost these card companies to send out the mailings? Could we roll that back into something to “save the banks”? Please?

    • jeepguy57 says:

      See my post below – obviously these mailings work, or companies like AMEX, Discover, Chase, etc. wouldn’t continue to send them out month after month after month. Just because the smart consumers who read The Consumerist shred them, doesn’t mean thousands of schmucks don’t sign up and become very profitable for the card companies.

  9. theblackdog says:

    As I said over on the article comment area, I hope she shredded that app before throwing it out. Otherwise someone is going to have ruined credit before she has learned to ride a bike!

  10. sir_eccles says:

    People do know that “pre-approved” does not actually mean that you have been given a card, right? You still have to actually apply for it.

  11. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I just shredded a pile of credit card offers from Chase and American Express that have piled up over the last 2 months. I learned that the “opt out” call only lasts 5 years, so mine must have expired. I called to “opt out” again this past Saturday, and the recording said it could take 2 months for the offers to stop. I’ve gotten 4 offers this week alone!

    What’s especially aggravating is that when Chase purchased WaMu, they raised the interest rate on my no balance WaMu card to 29.99%, and when I called to close the card, they simply said “we’re sorry we couldn’t meet your needs”.

    Now they’re sending 4 or 5 offers a week for their cards. Why in the world would I ever do business with them again?

    • Mom says:

      You can opt out permanently, but you have to do it by snail mail. It’s worth the trouble, though.

    • Saltillopunk says:

      I thought I was the only one getting a ridiculous amount of card offers from Chase. I think I get about two a week. This is no joke! What is frustrating is the need to opt out. Why can’t they send a couple offers out and then if there is no acceptance, stop further mailings? I take the prepaid envelope and stuff it with junk and mail it back.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        That’s a good idea! I’m wearing out my shredder getting rid of this junk.

  12. unimus says:

    This is not even newsworthy unless the kids actually got approved.

  13. Cicadymn says:

    I usually get a couple a week. Always just tear them up and throw them out.

  14. Razor512 says:

    If she is 3 years old then let her use a credit card, you can never be too young to go into debt and have collectors calling you at all hours.

  15. typetive says:

    So when someone sends me a gift, that person is also giving my personal info away to the company that’s selling it to them – so that they can sell it? Isn’t it a breach of privacy for the company to sell private information that’s not given to them by a person who is able to “opt in?”

  16. oldwiz65 says:

    And the credit card companies wonder why people default on payments?

  17. stevied says:

    If companies would spend less on advertising …..

    or better yet stop wasting money on cold solicitations to random names….

    just think how much $ that would be saved. $ that could be used to reduce the merchant fees, reduce the interest rates to consumers or be returned to the stock holders of the company. Pick any one of the three and even all 3.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      I can’t stand these types of replies.

      Companies like AMEX analyze the hell out of this stuff. They know there is a positive return on investment for these things. With printing, postage and buying a mailing list, they may spend $2 to send a mailing out. But they will make hundreds off the schmucks that actually sign up. They wouldn’t continue to send these things month after month if they didn’t work.

      They MAKE more money by sending these out, not the opposite.

  18. mgro says:

    My 2-year old son received an actual Disney Visa card in the mail. This was about 10 years ago. All we had to do was call in and validate it. I called them to inquire why they sent my 2-year old a card and they said he was in their system. I wasn’t in the mood to see how much stuff we could get without paying the bill so we canceled it, but I still have no idea where they got his name. Ever since then, I still pull a free credit report on my kids names. Nothing bad (yet).

  19. maynurd says:

    Credit card companies have to raise their interest rates and fees to cover the cost of sending out all these credit card offers.

  20. evilpete says:

    I gave up my AMEX cards when they miss processed a payment for $3500 as $350 THEN BILLED ME for their error.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Years ago, I had HSBC double process a payment (over the course of 3 days, they accidentally did this to a bunch of people who paid online, which I found out because they sent a letter informing people if they’d paid during those days they may have been double charged). I didn’t have enough money in the account to cover the second payment. They agreed to waive the fee, but for the next year, refused to post any more payments from me until 10 days had passed, regardless of the fact that it was their error. Unfortunately, at that time, I was not a very knowledgeable consumer, so I didn’t fight it.

  21. JadePharaoh says:

    Well, I guess the economy isn’t THAT bad yet… if the credit card companies can still afford to give credit out to anyone and everyone…

  22. skepticalbunneh says:

    I love this shit, back when I was 16 I started getting mailers from AARP “It’s time to join and get the benefits!” Uhh yeah not really…

  23. energynotsaved says:

    My credit score is 766 and my income is up there, but AMX turns me down every time. Since I’m way older than 3, I’m too old, I guess.

  24. JonThomasDesigns says:

    Max it out and default .. Her Credit will be restored by age 10 .. perfect !

  25. Willow16 says:

    My 16 y.o. daughter just got a credit card application from AmEx last week which I promptly shredded. She has ordered clothes and Xmas gifts in her own name so that must be how they got her name and address. I did sign her up for the permanent opt-out a few years ago when she was getting credit card offers every few months – I wonder why AmEx can still send her offers?

  26. pot_roast says:

    So they sent her an **application** but not a card. The article even noted that.

    This is a non-story. It’s more about “Look, everybody gets junk mail” than anything else. Marketers sell lists. We know this.

    you can opt-out of pre-screening offers. I did that years ago and it cut down on the junk mail significantly.

  27. dolemite says:

    I’m seriously getting tired of getting American Express offers. About 1-2 times a month I get this huge packet from them, even though I called them and told them I’m not interest, and I’m on the list to do not offer credit cards (or something like that). I’ve got enough credit/debit cards, thanks anyhow. I don’t need one with a high yearly fee.

  28. Sully111 says:

    We fly with our kids all the time ages 6 and 3. Since you have to put all their information in the airline system because of the TSA the companies send out offers for everything. My kids get offers daily for all types of crap. You would think that they could just look at the birthdates and know that this 3 year old may not need that new Southwest credit card with free drink coupons. On second thought he could always give me the drink coupons.

  29. giax says:

    I got hundreds of credit card ads before I even got the SSN.

  30. lordargent says:

    I HATE the offers from American Express because they stuff the envelopes so much that I can’t just stuff the whole thing into my shredder unopened.

  31. Rhinoguy says:

    I carry a fake wallet, complete with those John Q. Customer credit cards all the time. It also contains obviously fake cash, a set of car keys for some car or other, a house key, fake “If Found” card. Of course I never seem to go anywhere that someone is likely to carjack my Cavalier Wagon and take my wallet and “credit” cards. I would love for some shlub to steal that….

  32. Jasen says:

    I’ve had these bastards call my house before asking for my daughter. She was 7 or 8 at the time.
    It’s a bit disconcerting when a grown man calls to talk to your 7 yr old daughter, and then starts to get pissy with you when you ask him what he wants. “You can only talk to her? Considering that she’s a minor child and I’m her legal guardian, I can guarantee you right now that you are not going to talk to her, so you better tell me what this is about.”

    Pisses me off that companies are out there selling our (and our kids’) names and phone numbers to these scumbags.