Oct 15 , 2010

Amex Canada offers innovative travel rewards card

MARKHAM--American Express Canada has introduced the American Express Gold Rewards card, which it says offers a new concept in the travel rewards market.

“We did a lot of consumer research, and we found that Canadians get frustrated when they can’t redeem their rewards points,” Trevor Van Nest, Vice President, Consumer Marketing for American Express Canada, tells Payments Business. “Redemption is more important to them than actually earning the points. This card is designed to make it much easier for cardmembers to use their rewards points to buy travel and accommodation.”

The American Express Gold Rewards card allows cardmembers to purchase a flight, accommodation or other travel, and then call Amex to pay with their points for the trip. “The phone call can be made up to 12 months after the travel purchase,” says Van Nest. “At this time, we don’t offer online redemption of points, however.”

As an alternative, cardmembers can transfer their reward points to their frequent flyer program. “We’ve signed up the market-leading frequent flyer programs for the card, including Aeroplan, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Alitalia, and Delta,” says Van Nest.

The card offers double points on both eligible travel purchases and everyday purchases at eligible gas, grocery and drugstore merchants. “Another benefit is that there is no membership fee for the first year, along with 15,000 bonus points,” Van Nest says. “American Express Canada has had a phenomenal response to the new card.”

According to a survey conducted on behalf of Amex by Angus Reid in September 2010, nearly 80 percent of Canadians participate in a credit card rewards program. The survey found that the most important factor consumers look for when choosing a rewards program is restriction-free redemption.

While 79 percent of Canadians collect rewards points, nearly one in four have let their points expire, and another quarter are sitting on "a large bank" of points, with no immediate plans to redeem them.



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