American Express Co. announced yesterday it is offering $300 prepaid cards to specific cardholders who pay off and close out their accounts because of lingering unpaid balances (CardLine, 2/23). AmEx mailed notices early this month to an undisclosed number of cardholders requesting that they enroll in the program, Molly Faust, an AmEx spokesperson, tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. Faust says only a small number of cardholders received the letter but would not provide a specific total. "This will allow us to manage our credit risk and help some cardholders eliminate their debt with American Express," Faust says. Cardholders who receive the letter and accept the offer must register online on or before Saturday and agree to pay off their entire outstanding balances by April 30. "These are accounts with high balances and little or no payment or charge activity for some time," Faust says. AmEx will mail qualified cardholders who meet the payment deadline $300 gift cards usable anywhere AmEx cards are accepted. AmEx, which has 44.2 million consumer and small-business cardholders in the U.S., Faust says, has been grappling with growing loan delinquencies and reduced cardholder spending. Faust says AmEx is open to negotiating with distressed cardholders to help them avoid defaulting on their card loans. "We encourage cardmembers who are having any kind of financial difficulty to call us to explore the options," she says.