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American Express Membership Rewards Launches Mobile Gift Cards

by on December 21, 2012 · 4 comments

in American Express, Shopping

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American Express has arguably been the most savvy credit card company when it comes to social media and consumer technology. This week they launched a new feature that allows people to instantly redeem Membership Rewards points for mobile gift cards on their smartphone and then redeem that card in-store on their phone.

Let me be blunt and say that the 1 cent per point value on these gift cards isn’t an amazing value by any means (compared to transferring points to travel partners, especially with transfer bonuses), but for those of you who are cash-strapped before the holidays but have points to spare and were considering using them on gift cards or for merchandise redemptions anyway, this could be an option for you. There have been many times in my life where I was “points rich and cash poor” and I used miles and points for non-maximal redemptions to help ease the strain of the gift giving season on my budget. At the end of the day, the best redemption is the one that makes the most sense for you. As great as it would be to transfer points for international first class travel, it isn’t a reality for many people so you might as well use points for what matters to you.

Mobile Gift Cards are currently available at the following 8 retailers:
Banana Republic
Gap
Old Navy
PBteen
Pottery Barn
Pottery Barn Kids
West Elm
Williams-Sonoma

How to Get Mobile Gift Cards

Amex Log In

On your smartphone download the American Express app (for iPhone or Android) or visit AmericanExpress.com through your smartphone’s browser and log in to your account.

 Amex Manage My Cards

Got to “My Cards,” scroll down and tap “NEW! Mobile Gift Cards.”

Amex Browse Mobile Gift Cards

In the Mobile Gift Card catalog, browse through the selection of cards and choose the retailer you would like to purchase a card for.

Amex West Elm Gift Card

Use the drop down menu to choose the dollar/point amount and tap “Checkout.”  Your smartphone will then display a bar code with a card number and pin which can be used to make purchases through the retailer.

For security purposes, you may need to enter the 4-digit security code from the front of your American Express card, and the 3-digit security code on the back of the card.

Amex decided to launch mobile gift cards because a recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey of U.S. general consumers showed almost a third of Americans (32%) plan to use their smartphones for holiday shopping this year, 16% will use reward points to offset the cost of holiday shopping, and the use of Membership Rewards Points usually increases by at over 30-40% during the holiday shopping season.

Although I personally get the most value from my points by redeeming them for premium travel experiences, it seems like a lot of people expect to redeem their points for present purchases this year, and if that’s a redemption method that interests you, at least you have another option that makes it easier this year to use your Amex points. That being said, earning 1 cent per points (1%) back on a Membership Rewards card that likely carries a big annual fee doesn’t make sense when you can get cash-back cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card that offer essentially 2% back on all spend.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • newToMiles

    Hi PointsGuy,

    I wanted to see if there was a business credit card version of the Mercedes Benz platinum card with the 50K rewards and if so, do you think itll get to 75k anytime soon?

  • Travel

    AMEX has several gift cards available @ discount. For example, $100 American Express® Gift Card – Especially for the Bride & Groom gift card costs only 12000 points — 8.3 cents per point value and it is still AMEX, one can use it anywhere. Or am I missing something here?

  • Lantean

    i have more MR points than you! ha! ;)

  • Point Guru

    You’re off by a decimal point. The 12,000 point offer is just a bit over 8/10 of a cent per point–not a good deal at all. You’re better off getting one of the retail gift cards that exchanges at 1 cent per point directly if possible.

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