These days just about every credit card company has its own bonus points / rewards mall for its card holders to do their online shopping. These malls typically work like this:
- The card holder logs into his or her online credit card account and then clicks on the site “mall” icon.
- This brings our card holder, now shopper, into the card issuer’s mall. Upon arrival the shopper will find the mall’s directory of online retailers. When the shopper selects a retailer, the process now takes the shopper to that retailer’s online store’s normal website.
- Once in the store’s website, the shopper does the shopping voodoo that he or she does doo so well, shopping as one normally would. Whatever bonus points are applicable will post to the card account in a week or two.
The American Express Bonus Points Mall is constructed just the same as any of the other rewards malls. It is basically a focal point of as many affiliated relationships as possible with retailers, discounters, travel sites, any sites. The retailers, or any affiliated site, give American Express or whichever credit card company mall it is a commission for referring the shopper to come buy on the affiliate’s site. AmEx then turns around and rewards the shopper with a cut of the action as reward points. Too cool, eh?
Which American Express cards participate?
At this point in time, it appears that all of the AmEx cards that have the Membership Rewards program can use the AmEx rewards mall. This would include the AmEx cards such as the Green, the Gold, the Platinum, the Black, the Blue (is any color missing from this list?) would all be eligible. However, all of these different AmEx cards are ones that each has a unique, different rewards program, such as the Blue Cash and Starwood card do. Downside is that some of these AmEx cards do not give access to the Bonus Points Mall to their cardholders.
Clarifying the fine print …
In general, the rules and limitations are pretty much the same as the other credit card bonus mall programs:
- Rewards often cannot be combined with any other retailer’s offer. This means that the shopper often will not be allowed to use retailer coupon codes.
- It goes without saying that bonus points cannot be earned on taxes or shipping and handling charges. Some stores sometimes have additional exclusions such as purchases of gift cards and one will be able to see these exclusions when one is logged in on the American Express Bonus Points Mall website.
- Some benefits are only available to U.S. card members. Check purchases closely because even if one is a U.S. card member, the purchases that are shipped to a location outside of the U.S. may be a purchase that does not qualify;
- Bonus points will not be earned retroactively on purchases one previously made outside of the mall. To be able to earn points one must be shopping through the AmEx Bonus Points Mall exclusively.
NOTE: The bonus points received via the mall shopping never expire and there is no cap to the amount of points one can earn.
How do AmEx rewards compare to others?
First of all the reader would do well to realize that every article, every forum, every blog likely favors some issuer’s set of card version over another issuer’s set. These articles have shown no favoritism as it evaluates and report on so many of the major card dealers such as American Express, Discover, Chase, Citi and many, many others, so there is no reason for this article to sway the reader towards one issuer and not another. What follows is the best information the author has been able to compile and be close to the truth.
Number of stores: There are over 200 retailers that are participating in the American Express Bonus Points Mall. This is closely comparable to the numbers of merchants in the ShopDiscover program, but roughly about half the number of retailers in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and the Citi ThankYou Bonus Center.
Rebate amount: The rebate amount percentages offered by AmEx are considered to be fair, but are definitely not the best. The AmEx bonus offers seem to be constantly changing so it becomes very difficult to quote any specific amounts, but having compared 5 of what seem to the “peoples’s” favorite stores that participate in various credit card malls and as of January 2012, AmEx was not the highest for any of them. Discover was.
Is there a Verdict?
As the reader can see, the AmEx Bonus Points Mall is considered to be a good program but the one thing many consumers would like to see improved is for AmEx to give higher rebates. Hands down the most generous program among all of the credit card malls is ShopDiscover. In second place, that would be the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
If the reader does not yet have a Discover card, trust the many people who exclaim it wonderfulness that the rebate amounts offered by its bonus mall is reason enough to get one of these cards. This is before they mention the 5% cash back and signup bonus one gets with the Discover More card.