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American Express lets consumers pay with points via updated app

American Express has added a new feature to its mobile application that lets consumers pay with points via their mobile devices.

The Use Points for Charges feature lets card members redeem membership points to make a purchase anywhere that accepts an American Express card. Consumers simply pay with their card and then open up the app to find the payment and select use points for the specific charge.

“We want to connect our cardmembers and merchants in innovative ways along the ‘path to purchase,’ helping them decide what, where and how to buy,” said David Yoo, senior vice president of mobile products and services at American Express, New York. “We also need to engage and connect with them in those spending moments, not just when it’s time to pay their bill.

“We know that when cardmembers use their card benefits, it reinforces the value of membership and they are more likely to use their Amex again and again,” he said. “This builds loyalty, trust and makes American Express a go-to partner in our cardmembers’ daily lives.

“We want to be where our cardmembers are, and in this day and age, that’s on their smartphones. When we’re on our cardmembers phones, we can more easily help them with purchase decisions, prompt and remind them about their benefits, and really be where they are, in those spending moments.”

Pay with points
To access the new feature, consumers must first download the American Express app which is available for free for Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.

Then consumers must make an eligible purchase of more than $1 using their using your card that is enrolled in the Membership Rewards program.

Afterwards they can open the app to search for that payment in their statement. They will then have the option to select Use Points for that charge.

The app will automatically take the appropriate amount of points out of your account to apply it towards that payment.

Consumers can also use points to add money to a gift card for more than 70 brands.

The mobile rewards feature adds additional functionality to the AmEx app which already let consumers check their account balance, make payments, browse rewards options and load offers to their card.

Mobile AmEx
American Express has continually been working to enhance its mobile experience for card holders.

For example, it partnered with TripCase, a mobile travel app, to let consumers integrate American Express corporate benefits and flight information directly into the app (see story).

American Express has also been dipping its toes in the mobile payments space. Last month, American Express, Visa and MasterCard announced that they are working together to introduce a new global standard for online and mobile payments to make them more secure and simplify the purchasing experience (see story).

While American Express has not completely offered a mobile wallet, this rewards feature is step in that direction by connecting payments to its app.

“Amex wants to be top-of-mind in mobile as more people make buying decisions on the go,” said Cezary Pietrzak, director of marketing at Appboy, New York. “The more value the company can add to its app, the more interactions people will have with the Amex brand, which will increase its brand preference at the register.”

Mr. Pietrzak is not affiliated with American Express. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“Amex’s new feature shows there is still a lot of room for innovation in mcommerce – specifically, internal innovation,” he said. “Rather than looking to outside technologies like NFC or mobile wallets, Amex found a creative way to use its existing assets to provide value to its mobile users.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York