Amex sets up social media rewards offer
Groundbreaking partnership in online social gaming market
American Express has partnered with online social games producer Zynga to offer its credit cardholders virtual rewards via Facebook.
Amex is hoping to tap into the rapid expansion of online social games that are now rivalling computer games for popularity. Zynga produces the FarmVille and Mafia Wars Facebook games – FarmVille is currently the most popular gaming app on Facebook.
Cardholders will be able to redeem their reward points for virtual items from Zynga games. Zynga’s games have 198.5 million actively monthly users, according to market research company AppData.
To buy a item in a game, such as limited-edition virtual goods and game cards, a minimum of 200 Amex membership reward points is required.
While some might prefer real world rewards, Amex cardholders can now buy a purple cow on FarmVille for 540 points or a Manx Cat for 435 points. Players buy goods to build up their virtual farm or restaurant, as they progress in the game.
Players can also buy both physical and virtual gift cards with 1,000 points being required in the real world to get a US$10 gift card for retailers such as Gap.
Amex says it is the first financial services company to offer reward redemptions for virtual games.
For Zynga’s Café World game, rewards include fountains and stoves, while roadsters and robots are available on the YoVille game. 2,500 Amex reward points can be redeemed for a US$25 virtual game card, with a point equivalent to a US$1 spend on each card.
Zynga produces virtual game cards are for FarmVille, FrontierVille, PetVille, YoVille, Treasure Isle, and Café World.
An additional 20 virtual items are being released on December 6 such as the FrontierVille Fancy Gold Hot Tub, FrontierVille Fancy Gold Fountain, Treasure Isle Zebra, and FarmVille Golden Retriever. Also on December 6, card members will be able to redeem points for specific game cards such as FarmVille, and FrontierVille.
The partnership could entice Amex cardholders to start playing social gaming apps as they can now pay for things with points rather than money on their cards. Zynga will be hoping that any new members attracted will become hooked and eventually start spending real money.