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Credit cards can already technically text or email you via spending alerts, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that one issuer is now able to message its cardholders on Facebook.
American Express officially launched its Facebook Messenger bot late last week. The bot, previewed at the Cannes Film Festival back in June, is designed to monitor an enrolled cardholder’s credit card purchases and then message them about relevant benefits, reminders and services.
What might the bot say exactly? Well, that depends on what card you happen to have and what you’re using it for, but here are some examples to help you get the gist.
- Someone purchasing an airline ticket out of New York with their American Express Platinum credit card (see full review here) would receive a reminder about the Centurion Lounge to which their card grants them access.
- An American Express Gold credit cardholder booking a visit to Los Angeles could receive restaurant recommendations for their upcoming trip.
- After buying a certain product, cardholders may receive a reminder about the purchase protection their card carries — which can potentially secure refunds for items stolen or accidentally damaged within a specified timeframe.
Of course, this current incarnation does it have its limitations; the Amex bot is not designed to handle customer service inquiries. You’ll have to call the issuer directly for that. And it won’t respond to messages that it’s unfamiliar with.
The service isn’t automatic —interested cardholders will have to connect their eligible American Express credit card using their account login and password. (You can find information on how to do so on American Express’ website and Messenger’s Facebook page.) Once you’re connected, messages will show up in your Messenger conversation on all devices logged into the Messenger account. Cardholders can also elect to receive push notifications.
Vetting Your Bots
Getting hit up by your credit card on social media may feel a little iRobot to some folks, but new wave notifications like this do have their upsides. Transaction alerts can help you avoid over-spending or quickly spot fraud. And they can also prove useful to people who are unfamiliar with the specific perks their credit cards carry. Of course, you’ll want to read the fine print associated with any of these services carefully before signing up to make sure you understand how it works, what data you may be sharing with your issuers and others, and how it’s protected.
Per its website, American Express and Facebook both collect certain data in accordance with their existing privacy policies. And the credit card company may share information with Facebook regarding the types of industries where you have recently made purchases (such as travel, dining or retail) and the average amount spent in those industries among all cardholders using the Amex bot, but the social media company does have limits regarding how it can use this data. Information is not shared with non-affiliated third parties, and cardholders can disconnect the bot at any time. (Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding data sharing and the bot.) [Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect that individual transaction data is not shared with Facebook as an earlier version stated.]
Doing Your Due Diligence
Whenever you’re utilizing newfangled technology, it’s important to maintain good internet safety practices. That means protecting accounts with long and strong passwords, regularly monitoring accounts for signs of fraud and notifying your issuer immediately to have a card replaced if you have reason to believe that it or a linked account was compromised. (American Express recommends disconnecting the card if you think your Facebook account has been hacked. It also recommends deleting your conversations with the bot and changing your compromised credentials right away.)
You can also monitor your credit if you ever have reason to worry about identity theft. (You can do so by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing two of your credit scores for free every 14 days on Credit.com.) Signs of identity theft include a sudden drop in scores, unfamiliar addresses and mysterious credit accounts you don’t remember opening.
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Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.