New Plenti Credit Card by American Express Could Be a Hit

A co-branded rewards card offered by American Express and Plenti.com is set to shake up the credit card landscape this summer. The Plenti Credit Card by American Express allows consumers to earn Plenti points for every dollar they spend, and -- in an industry first -- apply those points towards merchandise and services across a broad range of consumer categories. It’s the kind of rewards flexibility that many credit card holders could get used to.
 

A New Type of Credit Card

 
Plenti’s rewards program with American Express is being rolled out across the U.S. this month and has been well received by consumers so far. That’s because as a true “multi-merchant” card, the points you earn on it at one place can be used toward discounts somewhere else. Spending on your monthly cell phone bill, for example, can be used to earn points toward gas and groceries, utilities, car rentals, clothing -- even Hulu.
 
The no-annual-fee card lets cardholders earn 1 Plenti point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases, and every 1,000 points accumulated will result in approximately $10 of savings, according to Amex. You can save up the points too: they don’t expire until you’ve held them for more than two years (and even then, you can use them until December 31).
 
Amex furnishes the card with a generous sign-up bonus as well. Cardholders who spend more than $250 within the first 3 months of owning the card get 2,500 Plenti points -- a $25 value. 
 
Unlike most other Amex cards, you can run a monthly balance too, and Amex is even offering a 0% APR for the first twelve months!
 

Privacy Concerns

 
Some consumer advocacy groups have raised concerns about merchants potentially sharing consumer information among themselves. Since many different parties are involved in the rewards program, who exactly handles all data? 
 
Amex has moved forcefully over the past week to allay these concerns, and issued a statement confirming that it does not allow merchants access to transaction information from other partners.
 
"None of the information on what you buy and how much you spend is shared between the companies," asserts Charlotte Fuller, Amex’s V.P of Corporate Affairs.  Fuller used Macy’s as an example, saying the retailer would have no way of knowing what you purchased at, say, Rite Aid. 
 

No Amex? No Problem!

 
In an interesting twist, non-Amex users can participate in the Plenti program as well. All you have to do is get a Plenti points card to earn points at a range of participating merchants, regardless of the form of payment you’re using. Plenti has signed partnerships with a staggering number of businesses, including Exxon and Mobil, AT&T, Macy’s, Nationwide, Rite Aid, Alamo Rent-A-Car, Direct Energy, Enterprise, Hulu, and National Car Rental, to name a few.
 
Enrolling in the program is easy: all you have to do is sign up at Plenti.com, download the Plenti smartphone app, or sign up for the Plenti program at a participating merchant. Every time you spend money, either with a credit card, debit card or with cash, you can earn points by submitting your Plenti number during the transaction.
 

Decisions, Decisions

 
The Plenti program is so robust that some consumers might question whether they really need the co-branded card at all. Is the iconic American Express phrase, “don’t leave home without it” now obsolete with Plenti’s stand-alone program? Well, not quite. With the new Plenti program, you can leave home without it, although American Express’ branded Plenti credit card is probably still the best option for those who want to earn the most points they possibly can.

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