Taking the American Express Passbook pass for a spin

By , Sep 27, 2012

Want a quick and easy way to access recent purchases and account balances made with your American Express card? If you’re running iOS 6, then you can now do so with Passbook.

First of all, just to clear up any misconceptions, you can’t actually purchase goods via Amex using Passbook — that functionality doesn’t yet exist. What you can do, though, is sync your Amex card with Passbook to access the convenient features mentioned above — balances, recent transactions, and the like.

As someone who uses Amex exclusively for almost every purchase, large and small, I’ve been anxious to try out Amex’s Passbook offering ever since it was first announced that they were on board. Here’s what I found…

The first thing you must do before syncing up your Amex card, is visit Amex’s dedicated Passbook site on your iOS 6 device. Once there, you’ll be asked for the following information: First and last name, Email address, Amex card number, and your CID number.

Once all of the necessary credentials are filled out and submitted, the American Express Passbook pass will be loaded in the browser to add to Passbook. It’s actually a fairly painless process; you don’t need to login to your Amex account, or anything of the sort. The only downside, is that you must repeat this process over and over for each card that you’d like to add to Passbook. Depending on how many cards you have, it can begin to become a bit tedious.

Once the Amex pass is loaded into Passbook, you’ll have quick access to the following information: The first name and last initial of the last name on the card, the outstanding balance, and the last authorized charge, including date.

Whenever a new charge is processed on your card, you’ll receive a push notification alerting you to the charge once it hits Amex’s systems. If you’re on the Lock screen, you can slide to view the pass with new transaction, right there on the Lock screen.

Let me just say, that it’s great that Amex is gung-ho about supporting Passbook. As a big time Amex user, I welcome the ability to get a quick glance at my account balances and last charges, across all of my iCloud synced devices.

I will say that the actual look of the passes leave a lot to be desired. Amex makes some good looking, if not iconic looking pieces of plastic. Amex cards, in general, look anything but generic, but its Passbook passes are about as generic as they get. The passes are a deep blue gradient with boring white text. Even if you have multiple Amex cards loaded in, it’s hard to discern the difference, because each pass looks identical.

It would be nice if Amex decorated its Passbook passes to look similar to the card that they represent. In my case, my Amex Platinum Card, and the pass created for it, looked 100% identical to the pass created for my SPG Amex. Sadly, the front of the pass doesn’t even provide the name of the card that the pass is associated with. All of the Amex passes say “AMERICAN EXPRESS” at the top in bold white lettering, and nothing more.

On the back of the pass, you’ll notice the last four digits of your Amex card number. Currently, that’s the only way you can tell the difference between multiple Amex passes (besides the obvious difference in transactions that grace each card). The back of the passes also include the last five transactions to hit the card, along with the ability to enable or disable automatic updates as transactions hit the wire.

Lastly, you’ll find some handy hot-linked customer service numbers, along with a few links to various parts of Amex’s website.

To make a long story short, don’t expect to find a wealth of account information via Passbook. You’ll find a brief list of recent activity, your account balance, and that’s about it. Hopefully Amex is just getting started when it comes to fleshing out its Passbook support. I see tons of potential there, even if it doesn’t support the ability to initiate actual transactions.

Despite the somewhat limited nature of Amex’s offering, and the drab look of its passes, I still think this is a major step in the right direction. Here’s hoping the likes of Bank of America, Chase, and Citi jump on board as well. True mobile payments might not be here just yet, but it’s good to see a big bank jump on board so quickly, don’t you think?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • http://www.facebook.com/dietermarkus Markus Hudobnik

    thats pretty cool. :) i hope chase adds support

  • http://twitter.com/warrenskipper Warren Skipper

    Isn’t this possible through the Amex app?

    • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

      They seem to be dipping their toes on the water here. Yes you can access said information through their app, but what’s happening is passive information flow with Passbook. Once you set it up the info comes to you, without you having to go into the app. I’m sure in the future they’ll send merchant offers based on location.

      • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

        Well put.

      • http://twitter.com/warrenskipper Warren Skipper

        Ah, I see. Thanks

      • Quicksingle

        Not if they are using Apple maps, it`s comically bad.

  • Lol

    Really? You’re going to make the main picture a non-iPhone running “Passbook”?

    • Jason

      Was thinking the same haha

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      It’s a picture from Amex’s official passbook page. Ask them. And Passbook isn’t iOS exclusive. Other developers can use it.

      • Lol

        I read the article about the Android PassWallet app, but that’s really just a Passbook imitation app that reads data from the .pkpass file.

        Passbook the app included in iOS 6, however, is in fact Apple iOS exclusive.

        Also, I don’t think Amex would know why you decided to choose that particular picture as the main, when every other picture is clearly iOS :)

      • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

        I meant the file format, not Passbook as an app itself. I should have been more clear.

  • http://twitter.com/rooneytimothy Timothy Rooney

    How does it handle payments? Will it pop up when your statement is available? Would be nice to be able to actually one click pay too.

  • http://www.grischke.net/ Maciek

    Bollox. It’s typical: “Cards issued outside the U.S. are not eligible for this program. Please see Program Terms & Conditions for more information.”

  • Bob

    Jeff you’re rich!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001809600195 Nada Tosnas

    Once again, people outside of the US are left to rot

  • webguy77

    Surprised their legal and infosecurity folks were cool with this without re-logins after initial registration …esp in financial services.

  • tonyblunt

    This app appears to show pre-authorizations as if they were charges, which has resulted in me contacting vendors to question charges which never actually appeared on my bill…..

  • Cape Summer

    Would be perfect if companion card for the same account would show up as well.