American Express will roll out its new loyalty program, Plenti, on Monday, allowing U.S. shoppers for the first time to earn rewards points through a variety of purchases, from paying a phone bill to filling up at the pump.
Unlike other loyalty programs such as frequent flyer plans, Plenti isn't tied to a single company or credit card issuer. Users can join for free and don't have to be American Express members.
Customers will be able to accumulate points through purchases at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Rite Aid, Macy's and a number of other companies, which can then be used for discounts at any participating vendor. Plenti points racked up by buying gas or a Nationwide insurance policy, for example, could earn discounts on an electric bill from Direct Energy or milk from Rite Aid.
"It will really be the first time where U.S. consumers, on a single program, can take the rewards they've earned in one industry and take it to another," said Abeer Bhatia, chief executive of US Loyalty at American Express.
Loyalty programs aim to keep customers coming back by allowing them to earn points toward discounts or other rewards. But these programs are often tied to just one or two retailers and limited in how they can be used.
Plenti's program is straightforward. A customer signs up at a participating merchant, on the Plenti app for smartphones, or on Plenti.com. Every time a customer spends money, either cash or by using a debit or credit card, they will earn "Plenti Points" after giving their Plenti account number. The number of points a customer earns on a transaction will vary from merchant to merchant.