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AmEx, Discover and U.S. Bank boost rewards credit cards

by Peter Andrew

Not too long ago, your blogger wrote in "Rewards credit cards: What do people really want?" about a fall in customer satisfaction levels among those who have rewards credit cards. Citing recent research from the Capital One Rewards Barometer, IndexCreditCards.com reported:

Back in November 2011, when consumers were asked whether they ranked their ability to earn rewards quickly as "very good" or "excellent," 52 percent said yes. That fell to 47 percent in February [2012]. Similarly, 55 percent rated in those top two categories the value of the rewards they received in November, but only half did in February.

Even before the virtual ink was dry on that piece, this writer's inbox was filling up with press releases from credit card companies announcing rewards enhancements. Your blogger may be narcissistic, but even he doesn't see a link between his news item and those press releases. Truth be told, card issuers have been working to boost the attractiveness of their rewards for some time now, and can't be feeling good that their efforts aren't impressing their customers. Maybe these new announcements are going to help.

American Express unveils new rewards partners

One of the findings of the Rewards Barometer report was that almost 60 percent of respondents thought they'd do better if their credit card companies organized more special deals with retailers. Well, American Express is already on this case. On April 16, it announced four new partnerships designed to allow those who have enrolled in the company's Membership Rewards program greater flexibility on redemptions. Those are:

  1. Groupon -- redeem points for gift cards or e-gift cards for use on daily offers.
  2. Seamless -- trade points for $10 e-certificates that are accepted on pick-up or delivery orders at 9,000 restaurants in 40 cities.
  3. Vente-privee USA -- use points for e-gift cards, and then buy through heavily discounted online sales.
  4. Virgin America -- another travel partner, adding to the many providers of flights and hotels through which AmEx points can already be redeemed.

Discover's latest cash back credit card

The Rewards Barometer found that many respondents don't like complicated rewards programs that require continuing efforts to stay enrolled. If you fall into that group, you may prefer to avoid cash back credit cards that attach conditions to rewards, such as making you re-register every quarter for each new category of rewards on which you can earn bonus points. But if you don't mind a little extra effort keeping up with cash back cards such as the Discover it™ Card may be easily worth your while.

Discover it offers a generous 5 percent cash back at restaurants and movies January through March on up to $1,500 in purchases with free and easy sign-up. And 1% cash back on all other purchases.*

Discover also announced other features, including a Cashback ConcerigeSM who guides a free, personalized online tour to help you get the most rewards for how you use your card. All this and no annual fee.*

*To learn more about this offer click here Discover it™ Card to access Terms and Conditions.

U.S. Bank launches iPhone application application for Ace Rewards Visa

Did you spot the "error" in the subhead? It says "application" twice. But it's no mistake. U.S. Bank really has launched a free iPhone application that allows you to make an application for a rewards credit card.

All you need is an iPhone and a desire for an Ace Rewards Visa credit card. Of course, if you lack the former, you can make an application online in the usual way. The real advantage of the app is that you can be approved in minutes, and once approved you can download a temporary virtual credit card onto your iPhone. You can then use that virtual card right away to make purchases anywhere Visa is accepted, and earn rewards redeemable for credit at participating Ace Hardware stores.

Published 04/18/12 (Modified 01/30/13)


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