American Express offers $300 a pop to make cardholders disappear

For years, credit card companies have been offering premiums to entice customers to sign up. From frisbees and t-shirts to gift cards and teaser rates, the general theory seems to have been that anything that gets a borrower to sign on the dotted line is money well spent. Recently, however, a few companies have begun reversing the trend.

This week, American Express (AXP) began offering many of its cardholders a $300 gift card in return for closing their accounts. Basically targeting high-balance, low-activity accounts, the new program gives members until the end of April to pay off their balances. If they do so, they will receive the free gift cards.