- Credit-card giant American Express is testing out mortgage offers to select cardholders.
- The company has partnered with two firms, Quicken Loans and Better.com, to offer $2,500 to customers who refinance or take out a new home loan.
- It’s not yet clear whether the small-scale rollout will result in a larger effort with either partner for Amex, which is known for its high-end credit-card offerings that come with rich perks and concierge services, as well as hefty annual fees.
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American Express has partnered with rival digital lenders to test out how its cardholders respond to mortgage offers.
The credit-card giant is working with Quicken Loans and Better.com to target select card customers with offers to refinance or take out a home loan — the first time the company has launched an effort in the US around consumer home lending in recent memory.
Other card companies have made concerted efforts in recent years to capitalize on the colossal US consumer home-loan industry — which stands at $9.4 trillion in outstanding debt — with mixed results. Amex has largely steered clear of home lending products since the early 2000s.
But in recent weeks, Amex has quietly begun testing how its customers respond to mortgage offers tied to their credit cards.
Customers started popping up in online forums like Reddit last week reporting offers for a $2,500 statement credit from Amex if they purchased a home loan or refinanced an existing one.
Some customers were targeted with offers tied to Quicken, which has grown into the largest non-bank lender after launching its Rocket Mortgage digital offering in 2016, while other offers featured Better.com, a rapidly growing digital lending startup that has attracted more than $200 million in funding from backers — including American Express Ventures.
American Express spokeswoman Elizabeth Crosta confirmed the rollout of the offer to Business Insider, and said it was the company’s first offer to cardholders involving mortgages.
It’s a small initiative, but it could lead to something larger
It’s not yet clear whether the bake-off will result in a larger effort or dedicated service with either partner for Amex, which is known for its high-end credit-card offerings that come with rich perks and concierge services, as well as hefty annual fees.
Initially testing out the mortgage offers in small batches with two different firms will provide Amex a window into customer interests and preferences, Crosta said.
“We believe they both have compelling but different offerings,” Crosta said of Quicken and Better, adding that they were attracted to the digital-first capabilities of each firm.
Both Quicken and Better are providing dedicated staff to help Amex customers interested in pursuing the mortgage offer.
“We are thrilled to be working with American Express to bring a unique, white glove, digital-first mortgage experience to their card members,” Vishal Garg, Better’s founder and CEO, said in an email to Business Insider.
“Our partnership with American Express is a perfect fit. Just as American Express set the bar for card companies, Rocket Mortgage continues to raise the bar for mortgage lenders,” Michelle Damanskas, divisional vice president of business development at Quicken Loans, said in an email to Business Insider.
It’s a small pilot initiative, but it nonetheless signals an appetite to capitalize on the more than $1 trillion in home loans Americans take out each year.
While Amex won’t be directly lending for mortgages, partnering with a company that already has a top-flight digital platform would potentially allow Amex to further bolster its concierge services to customers.
JPMorgan Chase, home to one of the country’s largest mortgage operations as well as a chief rival to Amex in the credit-card business, has had success tempting its card customers with home-loan offers.
In 2017, Chase tested out offering holders of its spectacularly popular Sapphire Reserve card as much as 100,000-reward points, worth up to $1,500, to take out a home loan. It was a hit, and the bank revived it in 2018, with lower rewards bonuses, and expanded it to all cardholders.
Amex’s pilot offer is richer than Chase’s. But will the response generate enough enthusiasm to justify a permanent service to its card members?