Some holiday shoppers are finally using their heads

How do you buy stuff for people without spending money? Barter? Maybe. Stealing? Please don’t. The answer is credit card reward points. I have often used these in the past to buy Mrs. Planner and I something special, but leveraging these points for holiday shopping is brilliant. American Express has gone as far as to offer special holiday points deals. Too many times we aren’t getting the biggest bang for our credit card rewards buck. If you insist on using a card, than at least use the points wisely.

Consumers are finding that they can get what they want without spending an extra dime by using their credit rewards points instead of cash for purchases. Recently Tracey Beberman, vice president of Membership Rewards Marketing & Partnership, revealed her insider tips on how consumers can use points to cut costs, ditch the guilt and still get what they want this holiday season.

  1. Say Bye Bye to Buyers’ Remorse
    Redemptions for merchandise are up by double digits this year over last in American Express’ Membership Rewards program. That trend is expected to continue, if not pick up this year. There’s something for everyone on your list:

    • Holiday Hot Picks: This year, American Express teamed up with some of the hottest consumer brands to uncover their most anticipated items for the holidays and offer them for points instead of cash. The 2008 Hot Picks include Nintendo Wii Bundle (67,000 pts); Garmin GPS Unit (144,000 pts); Sony Reader Digital Book (48,000) and much more.
    • Membership Rewards Exclusives provides a limited number of last-minute offers at deep point discounts including electronics, apparel, athletic gear and much more from leading manufacturers.
    • ShopAMEX.com: With more than 1.7 million products to choose from and all available for points, ShopAmex is a one-stop shop for ALL of your gifting needs from sporting goods to beauty products to jewelry.
  2. Take in a show and have a delicious meal, without a hefty price tag
    Redemptions for dining and entertainment are up considerably this year and it’s no wonder why- these rewards offer an easy way to enjoy the company of friends and entertain yourself and/or others without having to foot the bill at the end of the evening. For example:

    • Dining gift cards and gift certificates can be used to treat family, friends, or colleagues to fine or casual dining experiences. Dining partners include Cheesecake Factory, Olive Garden, and PF Chang.
    • Entertainment rewards allow Cardmembers to use points for special events and experiences. This year, the popular concerts Cardmembers used Membership Rewards points to see included the Eagles, New Kids on the Block, and Neil Diamond. You can choose rewards from entertainment partners including AMC Theatres, Blockbuster, Broadway.com, Ticketmaster and Telecharge.com
  3. Take a trip, but leave the guilt behind
    Most people know that using points for travel is a smart strategy for offsetting travel costs. In fact, in a recent American Express Travel Survey, 87% of travel agents said their customers were doing just that to cut costs this holiday season. With some programs becoming more flexible, you don’t have to write off your holiday trip just yet. For example, with American Express Membership Rewards:

    • Pay with Points allows Cardmembers to fly when they want, where they
      want on ANY airline of their choice. And the best part is there are no
      black out dates or restrictions and Cardmembers can use points for all
      or part of their trip.
    • Points Transfer lets Cardmembers top off their existing loyalty program balance by transferring the points needed for free flight, stay or upgrade they want- and the the process is instantaneous with points being transferred immediately.

I am for anything that forces you to get creative with your finances. If you happen to have American Express points, then you should really look into this.

 

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