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American Express launches multi-brand loyalty program

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A handful of the country’s biggest companies announced out a new loyalty program Wednesday. American Express is teaming up with Macy’s, ExxonMobile, AT&T, Hulu, and others to create a program that lets customers gather and redeem points across the group of merchants.

Traditionally, loyalty programs have been exclusive to one retailer – one card for the supermarket, another for the drugstore.

This program, called Plenti, is different in that it allows points gathered a one merchant to be redeemed at another, says Abeer Bhatia, CEO of U.S. Loyalty with American Express.

“Let’s say you walk into a Rite Aid and you pick up soda, band aids, and you go and check out,” explains Bhatia. “You’re going to earn points at Rite Aid and these points will accumulate in a common points bank and then when you go next time, maybe, to an ExxonMobil or Macy’s, you can use those points.”

Customers don’t have to pay with an American Express card to get collect points. Bhatja says the company hopes the program will make new customers aware of their cards.  

The program may also help American Express target a different kind of customer.

“The appeal for American Express has always been targeting that higher-end, more upscale card holder than the other card issuers have focused on,” says Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

By partnering with companies with wide-ranging customers, like Rite Aid, AT&T, Macy’s, Schulz says American Express could broaden its base with a less-affluent customer and that the company could also be hoping for some good headlines after losing an exclusive contract with contract with Costco recently.

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