Macy’s, Rite Aid, ExxonMobil and other major companies are joining forces with American Express for a new type of customer loyalty program that has not previously been available to U.S. shoppers: Shoppers earn points when they make purchases with participating brands, and then those points are good for savings at any of those stores.
For example, shoppers could earn points by purchasing anti-aging cream and lipstick at Rite Aid and then redeem those points to get savings when buying a dress at Macy’s. They could nab points by paying their cellphone bills at AT&T and then use them to get $2 off when they fill up their gas tanks at an ExxonMobil station.
Until now, loyalty programs in the United States have been highly siloed, with retailers offering points and rewards systems that only applied within their own stores. The participating companies believe that this setup will be more appealing to consumers because it is more flexible.
The program is called Plenti, and though it is operated by American Express, shoppers can use any form of payment as they earn or redeem their points. As the coalition announced the offering this week, participating companies included Hulu, Nationwide insurance and Direct Energy.
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The coalition hopes to eventually add more businesses from different categories such as food, auto and travel.
While Plenti is a new model in the United States, similar coalition loyalty programs have existed abroad for years.
The goal of Plenti is to deliver small savings to consumers on regular purchases, a mission that is different from traditional credit card rewards programs, in which a shopper might hoard points over the long haul to cash in for a big purchase such as plane tickets.
So, for example, if a consumer swipes her Plenti card at an ExxonMobile station and has amassed a certain number of points, she might get an on-screen prompt at the pump asking if she’d like to save $2 on her purchase today.
If not, you simply hang onto those points and keep accumulating more.