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Heads up, Sprint customers: your carrier just announced that it's making a big change to its mail-in rebate program. And before you ask, no, it's not being eliminated. It is a good change, though, as Sprint and American Express have teamed up to announce that customers on the Now Network will begin receiving mail-in rebates in the form of a prepaid rewards card rather than a paper check.

The cards are good at millions of U.S. locations where American Express is accepted and never expire, although a $3 monthly fee will be charged if the balance isn't used within six months. Sprint says that some of the benefits of the new program include faster rebate processing, immediate use of funds once the card is activated, the ability to replace a lost or stolen card, and the lack of fees for activation or balance inquiries.

We first got wind of this change last month and, although it's happening a little later than we expected, it's still good to see Sprint begin issuing rebates on rewards cards rather than paper checks. I'm sure many folks would prefer to see mail-in rebates given the axe completely — similar to Best Buy, which doesn't dabble in MIRs  — but if the program is going to stick around, handing out rebates on American Express cards is a good way to do it.

Millions of Sprint Customers Get Faster, Improved Rebate Experience with American Express Prepaid Reward Card
Relationship Instrumental in Furthering American Express’ Expansion in New Payments

NEW YORK (BUSINESS WIRE), August 18, 2011 - American Express® (NYSE: AXP) and Sprint (NYSE: S) today announced a new program offering mail-in rebates via prepaid reward cards. Customers who purchase a Sprint phone and are eligible for a rebate will receive the mail-in rebate via prepaid reward card rather than a check.

The American Express Prepaid Reward Card can be used at millions of U.S. locations that accept American Express Cards. Benefits of the program for Sprint customers include:

Faster rebate processing
Immediate use of funds when customers receive the card in the mail and activate
Card may be replaced if lost or stolen
No fees for activation, balance inquiries or customer service

“Our goal is to provide premium quality and a great customer experience in all aspects of the sales process. With the help of American Express, we are able to streamline the rebate process and continue to offer our customers the best value in wireless,” said Bob H. Johnson, president-Consumer, Sprint. “The new program will provide a simplified rebate experience that’s faster than a check and safer than cash. Additionally, many Sprint phones will continue to qualify for instant savings.”

Sprint customers previously received rebate funds via paper checks that expired in three months. Once the Sprint customer receives the prepaid reward card, the customer can immediately activate and use the card. The Card has no fees until six months after issuance, when a $3 monthly fee applies. Most prepaid users typically use the funds soon after receiving the card.

“We are proud to serve millions of Sprint customers by providing a faster and improved rebate program through our prepaid reward cards,” said Stefan Happ, senior vice president and general manager of the Americas for American Express’ Global Payment Options. “Innovative partners like Sprint play an important role in our mission of expanding the company’s payment portfolio beyond charge and credit products.”

This announcement builds on the larger strategic initiative of the American Express Enterprise Growth organization to expand beyond traditional payment forms. In July, in the first such agreement with a wireless carrier, American Express and Sprint announced that the ServeSM mobile wallet application will be made available in the Sprint Zone to Sprint customers using select Android-powered smartphones.

About Sprint

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 52 million customers at the end of 2Q 2011 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 6 in its 2010 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.


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