Update for 2013: Back in mid 2012 the Bonus Points Mall was discontinued practically with no advanced notice. Unfortunately, American Express has said they have no plans to bring it back.
The best alternative for 2013 is ShopDiscover. It’s beats all the credit card malls because it gives you at least 5% cash back at nearly 200 online merchants. That’s mainly why I have a Discover card. If you don’t have one, check out my review of their rewards program.
The AmEx review below is now outdated and just left up for legacy purposes…
Nowadays almost every credit card company has their own bonus points mall for online shopping – they work like this:
- You login to your credit card account and then click to enter the “mall.”
- Once there, you will find a directory of online retailers. When you click one, it will take you to the store’s normal website.
- Once you’re on the store’s website, shop as you would normally. Your bonus points will show up within a few weeks on your credit card account.
The American Express Bonus Points Mall, as well as all the others, are basically made possible through affiliate relationships. The retailers give American Express (or whatever credit card company) a commission for referring the sale, and AmEx turns around gives you a cut in the form of bonus points.
Which American Express cards can participate?
All of the cards that have the Membership Rewards program can use the AmEx points mall. That would mean cards like the Green, Gold, Platinum, etc. would be eligible. All of the AmEx cards that have a different rewards program (like the Blue Cash and Starwood card) do not have access to the Bonus Points Mall.
What’s buried in the fine print?
The rules and limitations are pretty comparable to other credit card bonus mall programs:
- Cannot be combined with any other offer. That means you won’t be able to use coupon codes.
- Bonus points are not earned on taxes or shipping & handling charges. Some stores may have additional exclusions (like purchases of gift cards) and you will be able to see those exclusions when you are logged in on the American Express Bonus Points Mall website.
- Only available to U.S. cardmembers. Even if you are a U.S. cardmember, purchases that are shipped outside the U.S. “may not qualify”
- Bonus points cannot be earned retroactively to purchases you previously made outside of the mall. In order to earn points you need to be shopping through the AmEx Bonus Points Mall only.
The bonus points earned through the mall never expire and there is no cap to the number you can earn.
How do the rewards compare to others?
First of all I would like to remind you that Credit Card Forum advertises cards from American Express, Discover, Chase, Citi and many others, so there is no reason for me to sway you towards one issuer and not another. What follows is the honest truth.
Number of stores: There are more than 200 retailers participating in the American Express Bonus Points Mall. This is comparable to the number in the ShopDiscover program, but roughly half the number of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and the Citi ThankYou Bonus Center.
Rebate amount: On average, the percentage rebate amounts offered through AmEx are fair, but not the best. The bonus offers are constantly changing so I don’t want to quote any specific amounts, but I compared 5 of my favorite stores that participate and as of January 2011, AmEx wasn’t the highest for any of them (Discover was).
The AmEx Bonus Points Mall is a good program but the only thing I would like to see changed is for them to give higher rebates. By far the most generous program among the credit card malls is ShopDiscover. For second place, it would be the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
If you don’t have a Discover card, trust me the rebate amounts offered by their bonus mall is reason enough to get one of their cards (not to mention, the 5% cash back and signup bonus you get with the Discover More card).