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Some Amex cardholders can now enjoy 20% off Amazon purchases and other limited-time offers during coronavirus

American Express is now offering a variety of new benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic, such as 20% off Amazon purchases and points going further at the Amex Shop.

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Some of the offers below are no longer available.

American Express announced on April 10 that it will be offering a variety of new benefits to help cardmembers save on spending amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For a limited time, eligible U.S. Amex card members enrolled in Membership Rewards can save up to $50 on Amazon.com purchases and maximize the value of Membership Rewards points through Amex's shopping portal. Cardmembers will also be able to activate new Amex Offers on several categories of essential spending.

In addition, Membership Rewards cardholders will soon be able to earn 2X Membership Rewards points on Grubhub and Seamless purchases through the end of the year. An Amex spokesperson confirmed there is no specific start date yet, though they are targeting later this April.

These new benefits come on the heels of Amex announcing an extension to the amount of time new cardholders have to earn the welcome bonus, from three months to six months, because of coronavirus. In addition to rewards and perks, eligible Amex cardholders can contact customer service to discuss forbearance programs, such as waived interest and late fees.

Below, CNBC Select breaks down how the new Amex benefits work.

New Amex Offers in essential categories

Amex is adding hundreds of new Amex Offers for card members in key categories, such as home essentials, food delivery and takeout, digital entertainment, business services and wellness. Amex Offers provide statement credits or bonus points on eligible purchases at select merchants after you activate an offer and pay with your eligible Amex card.

These offers are available on various Amex cards, whether they earn points, like the American Express® Gold Card, or cash back, like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express.

Amex offers vary by location, card and cardholder. You may also need to meet minimum spending requirements and pay attention to the maximum benefit limits.

For instance, I have an offer for OmahaSteaks.com that states, "Spend $40 or more, get $10 back." The offer is available online only and ends on June 21, 2020. In order to receive $10 back, I need to activate the offer by clicking "Add to Card" and spend a minimum of $40 with my Amex card online at OmahaSteaks.com by June 21, 2020.

Amex gives 20% off eligible Amazon purchases up to $50

If you have an American Express card, such as the American Express® Gold Card or the American Express® Green Card, you may be selected for the following Amazon offer:

Get 20% off products sold and shipped by Amazon.com when you use Membership Rewards points at checkout, up to $50 total savings over the course of the campaign.

The terms for the offer state that the promotion ends either at 11:59 p.m. PT on April 20, 2020 or when 40,000 customers have redeemed the offer (whichever is earliest).

This offer is available by invitation only, so not all Amex cardholders will receive an invite.

While redeeming Membership Rewards points for Amazon purchases typically isn't the best value, limited-time offers like this are an exception since you can use as little as one point to get the 20% discount and save up to $50.

For instance, if you make $250 in eligible purchases on a variety of essentials, such as groceries and household cleaners, and redeem one point, you'd get 20% off your entire purchase. That would work out to a $50 discount, lowering the cost of your order total at checkout to $200. In this example, the one point you redeemed would have an effective value of up to $50.

If you choose to redeem more than one point, keep in mind that your points are often worth around $0.007 when you redeem them on Amazon.com, and redeeming your points for travel or gift cards usually gives you more bang for the buck.

When using this offer, pay close attention to the items you're adding to your Amazon cart. Make sure they say both sold and shipped by Amazon. Even if the items are sold or shipped by a third-party and state "fulfilled by Amazon.com" or "Prime Eligible," the items will not qualify for the 20% discount.

The 20% savings will be reflected on the final Amazon order checkout page if the items in your order are eligible for the promotion.

Points go 30% further at the Amex Shop

Amex card members can make their Membership Rewards points go 30% further site-wide when they shop with Membership Rewards points on the "Amex Shop" site through May 26, 2020.

For instance, if you want a new kitchen appliance for home cooking, an Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 6-Qt. has an estimated cost of $119.95 and typically requires about 23,990 points on the Amex Shop site. But with the 30% discount, an estimated 16,776 points are needed to purchase the item.

Take note, redeeming points for merchandise through the Amex shopping portal also doesn't offer the highest value compared to other redemption options like gift cards or travel.  On the Amex Shop site, one point is typically worth about $0.005, with some exceptions, but using this limited-time offer might raise the value slightly.

To find the value of one point, divide the dollar cost of an item by the points required for redemption. Using the example above, that math would look like $119.95 / 16,776 = $0.007. The value of one point increases through this promotion by roughly $0.002, though the value is still less than the 1:1 value you may be able to get with a gift card. 

If you decide to redeem points through the Amex Shop site and don't have enough points for the entire purchase, you can pay the remaining balance with your Amex card.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Green Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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