0.5% base rebate on all purchases
1.5% rebate for certain "everyday" purchases (although it's never made clear what these purchases are).
These rebates are doubled once you have spent $6000 in a year, although this counter resets every year.
OK, so on the basis of this you could, just about, argue that the rebate is 3% if you only buy "everyday" items and spend a lot more than $6000 in a year on them. Hard to see how anyone could consume, say, $60,000 dollars worth of toilet roll and milk, but there you go.
So where is the other 2%? Well, it works as follows. If the account carries a balance in a month, then you get the extra 2% rebate. Great! What does it mean to carry a balance? It means that you get charged a "finance charge". And here's the dirtiest trick of all: you get charged a finance charge not on the difference between the balance and what you paid, but you get charged the finance charge on the full amount. And what's this finance charge? It's currently about 12%APR, or 1% per month (roughly).
So, despite the claims, it's impossible to get the full 5% figure. Because, although you might carry a balance to get the 2% extra, you end up paying 1% of it back in finance charges. This is pretty darn sneaky, and I'm betting that the boys in the Amex office felt pretty pleased with themselves when they came up with this
Of course, no one actually tells you this. I just spent 15 minutes on the phone with a Customer Service Rep trying to get an explanation of how the finance charge is calculated. She didn't know of course, and had to find out herself. Then she added that this information was in the cardholder agreement. I'm sure it is; I'm equally sure that no one ever reads the small print in sufficient detail to work out this stuff.
So, congratulations American Express. You are my Lying cheating swindling scum of the day. Tomorrow: Aerolineas Argentina (agan).