American Express Partners With Macy’s, Exxon Mobil & Others For Coalition Loyalty Program

Forget about Costco, American Express seems to have moved on from being dumped by the warehouse club, announcing its partnership with a plethora of retailers and companies for a new venture: a coalition loyalty program.

The New York Times reports that American Express’s U.S. Loyalty division will operate a new program in which consumers can earn points at one retailer and redeem them at another.

The free program, called Plenti, is expected to launch in May with seven companies already signed on, including AT&T, Macy’s, Exxon Mobil, Rite Aid, Nationwide Insurance, Hulu and Direct Energy – a company that provides gas, electric and plumbing services under the names Benjamin Franklin and Mr. Sparky brands.

The wide variety of partners means you can earn points by picking up cold medicine at Rite Aid then hop over to Exxon Mobil to fill your gas tank at a discount, or earn points by purchasing a new coat at Macy’s and redeem those points the next time you’re in need of a plumber.

While Plenti is managed by American Express, consumers can earn loyalty points with any payment method including MasterCard and Visa purchases.

The program works by combining all existing loyalty programs – like Wellness Plus at Rite Aid – onto a single Plenti card, or a digital version on their smartphone for convenient access. Registered Plenti members then swipe or scan their cards at the time of purchase; or if they’ve forgotten their card, they can enter their phone number on the PIN pad to pull up their account during checkout.

Points earned through the program are good for at least two years.

According to American Express, the coalition loyalty program is a first in the U.S., although similar programs have been used in Canada and Europe for quite some time.

Abeer Bhatie, an executive with U.S. Loyalty, tells the Times that the company’s research proved there was a significant demand for a coalition program, but that it took about two years for all the pieces to fall into place.

While many of the companies taking part in the program already have their own loyalty programs, for other this is their first foray into rewards.

Representatives for AT&T, which doesn’t currently have a program, tell the Times that they see Plenti as a way to broaden their customer base and reward members for paying their wireless bill or buying products through retail outlets.

While the current version of Plenti already covers a wide range of businesses and consumer needs, Bhatia says that more partners from different areas of business are expected to be added over time.

American Express to Start Multi-Business Loyalty Program [The New York Times]