American Express, long considered the card with the most snob appeal, showed in 2013 it is reaching out to all consumers including the unbanked. Among the actions taken to expand the attractiveness of products for cardholders: Redeeming Points in Taxis; Offering a Free Shipping Perk; Introducing a Point Redemption App; Expanding its Airport Lounge Program; Launching an Incentive for Travelers to Earn Points for Reviews; Adding More Features and Options to Prepaid Cards; Making Business Cards Smarter; Developing a Textbook Buyback Program; and Launching a Program to Encourage Passion Projects.
Here are the inside details:
USE POINTS FOR CHARGES: American Express launched a Use Points for Charges feature in 2013 available in the American Express mobile app that gives eligible Cardholders the option to easily and conveniently redeem Membership Rewards points for practically any purchase, from gas and groceries to clothing and manicures, all on their smartphones. AmEx says unlike other rewards programs that only allow customers to redeem from a pre-selected list of options, Cardholders have the power to design their own rewards program and treat themselves by redeeming points for almost any purchase with an eligible American Express Card.
TAXI REWARDS REDEMPTION: Under a new enhancement announced last year, American Express cardholders can now use Membership Rewards points from American Express for their fare in NYC taxi cabs – in real-time, on the Taxi TV screen at the end of the ride. The program was rolled out on VeriFone’s in-taxi devices that process more than 200,000 payments a day in more than 7,000 cabs throughout New York City. VeriFone taxi cabs can accept Membership Rewards points, just as they already accept credit card payments. At the end of the ride, cardholders who have chosen to pay with “Credit” will be prompted by the Taxi TV screen to swipe their Card, as usual. When American Express Card Members swipe an eligible Card enrolled in the Membership Rewards program – and if there are enough points in their account – they will receive an on-screen prompt giving them the option to use points for their ride fare, including tip and tolls.
AIRPORT LOUNGES: American Express keeps expanding perks for its top cardholders. In 2013 American Express opened a new proprietary Centurion Lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Entry to The Lounge is complimentary for Platinum Card and Centurion members. Other American Express Card members can enter The Lounge for a fee of $50. Among The Lounge perks: southwestern cuisine designed by local celebrity chef Dean Fearing, creator of Fearing’s Restaurant in Dallas and named by James Beard Foundation as Best Chef: Southwest; a Texas-inspired signature cocktail created by renowned mixologist Jim Meehan or a glass of wine from a selection curated by our wine director Anthony Giglio; and complimentary spa therapies from the award-winning lifestyle brand, exhale.
EASIER LIFE FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS: American Express announced new technology capabilities in 2013 to help make travel easier for today’s well-connected corporate traveler while also encouraging alignment with a company’s strategic travel and expense program. The capabilities include a new platform that leverages social gaming mechanics to reward policy-adherent traveler behaviors; an integration with leading itinerary management solution TripCase; a new capability that updates Corporate Card charges in near real-time so travelers can manage expenses on-the-go; and a new traveler-facing mobile interface for American Express’s duty of care solution, AX CONNECT.
REVIEW REWARDS: American Express cardholders can now connect their Card with their TripAdvisor profiles to post Cardholder reviews, access exclusive Cardholder hotspot lists and get special merchant offers. TripAdvisor users will see an “Amex Traveler” badge after a Cardholder connects their eligible Card with TripAdvisor. Additionally, users will see a card icon and “Amex Cardholder Review” next to reviews on TripAdvisor when an American Express Cardholder has made a transaction with their connected Card and then written a review for that place. When a connected Cardholder’s first review as an “Amex Traveler” is approved and published on TripAdvisor, they will get a one-time American Express statement credit for $5.
SHIPPING PERK: American Express launched a new free 2-day shipping benefit in 2013 from ShopRunner for eligible U.S. Consumer and Small Business Credit and Charge Cardholders. ShopRunner offers free 2-day shipping, currently valued at $79 a year, at more than 80+ popular online retail partners, including Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Brooks Brothers, Toys “R” Us, PetSmart, drugstore.com and GNC, among others. With the 2-day shipping and free return shipping at 80+ online retailers through ShopRunner, American Express cardholders enjoy a stress-free online shopping.
PREPAID RELOADS: American Express launched a free nationwide cash load network and the addition of new money management capabilities to its full-service reloadable prepaid account during 2013. The new features include: Direct Deposit, Bill Pay, Mobile Check Capture, Personal Financial Management Tools, and Reserve, which allows customers can now put money aside for future expenses. American Express Serve customers will be able to take cash to the register at more than 14,000 participating CVS/pharmacy and 7-Eleven stores and add it to their American Express Serve Account. This is made possible through a relationship with InComm and its Vanilla Reload Network. American Express Serve customers can also withdraw money for free at more than 22,000 MoneyPass ATMs nationwide.
PREPAID UTILITY: American Express announced a new strategic partnership in 2013 with Riot Games to bring in-game rewards to League of Legends players through everyday spend with the American Express Serve Prepaid Account. The American Express Serve Prepaid Account enhances the League of Legends experience by integrating a reward-based system called RP+. The RP+ program gives gamers Riot Points (RP), the virtual currency used to purchase in-game items like extra customization or boosts, not only for signing up, but for every qualifying purchase made with the Card. Gamers who sign up for RP+ from American Express Serve have the option to receive a customized League of Legends Card with their choice of four popular Champions and original art from the game itself.
SMART CORP CARDS: American Express began issuing Corporate Cards with chip & signature technology to U.S. Corporate Cardholders. U.S. Corporate Cardholders can now experience a seamless international payments process as EMV technology becomes the standard for authorizing transactions around the world. Cardholders with chip & signature Cards will be able to use their Cards wherever American Express Cards are accepted, in the United States and internationally.
BUSINESS RECEIPTS: American Express OPEN introduced in 2013 ReceiptMatch, a new feature included as a part of every Business Card from American Express OPEN that matches images of Business Card receipts to transactions to their online statements. American Express OPEN Cardholders can send receipts from their Business Card purchases to ReceiptMatch in any of these three ways: snap a photo with the mobile app; forward a receipt over email to email@example.com, or upload stored receipts from a computer. ReceiptMatch matches receipts to transactions online by scanning the receipt for information like the purchase date, amount, and merchant name. Small business owners and employees can view and print stored receipt images and transaction details from their online statement.
TEXTBOOK BUYBACK: Serve from American Express entered into an agreement with Chegg in 2013, the student hub, to empower students to better manage their finances. Through this agreement, customers of Chegg, which connects students to the tools they need like homework help, scholarships, eTextbook and textbook options and more, will be able to receive payments through the company’s textbook buyback program exclusively through Serve from American Express. Students quickly gain access to the money that Chegg pays them for textbooks by sending funds to their Serve Digital Prepaid Account. Buyback funds will be sent from Chegg within 24-hours of processing the book.
#PASSIONPROJECTS: During 2013, American Express launched a new program that encourages people to pursue their passion projects. The #PassionProject brings together leading experts, how-to advice, personal profiles and a monthly contest to inspire consumers to pursue the projects that are important and meaningful to their lives. Through last year individuals who have a specific project in mind can share their passion project and vie for one of ten $2,000 awards. The ten monthly winners will be chosen based on the creativity, originality and quality of the passion projects submitted. American Express also launched a new Tumblr community to share inspirational stories, advice from psychologists and industry experts, interesting research and videos to encourage consumers to uncover and kick-start their own passion projects.http://www.tumblr.com/americanexpress
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