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You Can Spend Amex Membership Rewards Points at Amazon, But Should You?

by on September 14, 2010

Amazon and American Express recently announced a partnership where Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed for purchases on Amazon.com.

At first glance this looks like a great deal. Amazon sells damn near everything imaginable, while the selection at most online malls is restricted to appliances you probably don’t need, and vacations (or “experiences”) you’re better off booking on your own.  But at the end of the day it all comes down to how many dollars you can really get in exchange for those points.

Initial reviews over at Consumerism Commentary say that points are only worth 0.7 cents when spent at Amazon, while Amex has other options that could net you more than 1.0 cent.  For example, 10,000 Membership Rewards can be redeemed for a number of  $100 gift cards.  And these points can also be exchanged for a number of frequent flyer programs, where they could be worth a full cent or more, depending on your status in the airline’s loyalty program.

So when you find yourself with 25,000 points in the kitty, ask yourself – would you rather buy $175 of Amazon goods, get $250 worth of gift cards, or get a plane ticket easily worth $300 or more?

Other options

You can’t beat the array of options offered by Amex, but if you shop at Amazon often, you may be better off with an Amazon Rewards card from Chase than an Amex Membership Rewards card.  Amazon rewards points are also redeemable at 1.0 cent, plus you earn 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and drug stores, and 3 points per $1 spent at Amazon.  So if your goal is just to get good deals on Amazon purchases, this card nets you a full 3% rewards. You can’t beat that.

Amazon Credit Card
Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa Credit Card
Apply Now

on Chase's
secure website

starstarstarhalfstar
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on purchases
thumbsupPros
  • No annual fee
Annual Fee Signup Bonus APR , Variable* APR Promotions
$0 3,000 Amazon.com Rewards Bonus Min APR: 14.24%
Max APR: 22.24%
Purchase: None
Transfer: None

Then there’s also the Citibank Forward card, which earns 5x points on movies, books, music, and restaurants. Talk on the street is that Citibank classifies all Amazon.com purchases as books, so you could earn 4-5% back in the form of ThankYou Points, rather than just the 3% that the Amazon card pays. Note that this only works with actual Amazon purchases, and not the third-party retailers who sell on Amazon. Also, it’s only a matter of time before Citi figures it out, so your results could vary.

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