I’m a fan of alternative currency; that is to say, I’m interested in how concepts like “points” and virtual currency are adapted to real transactions. In a move that makes complete sense, American Express has teamed up with Amazon.com to allow Membership Rewards points as an additional payment method.
If you have an eligible American Express card enrolled in a Membership Rewards program, you can link your program to your Amazon.com account. Go to this page on Amazon.com to get started. The exchange rate between Membership Rewards points and dollars on Amazon.com will determine whether cashing in points is worthwhile when compared to receiving other rewards or using other Amazon credit cards. From the first reports, it appears each point is worth $0.007 when used on Amazon.com — that is less than one cent per point. If you’ve linked your account, let us know your conversion rate in the comments below.
This isn’t the first time American Express has come up with a method of using points directly with a merchant as currency rather than requiring an intermediary step such as requesting a statement credit or cashing in points for a check. Earlier this year, the credit card issuer devised ways for taxpayers to use Membership Rewards to pay the IRS.
Updated September 15, 2010 and originally published September 13, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @flexo on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.