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American Express and Foursquare Venture Grows Strong

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Last June we announced a new deal between Foursquare and American Express that would allow Amex cardholders to save money at major retailers including H&M, Sports Authority, and certain New York City restaurants like Shake Shack and Gramercy Tavern (Foursquare is based in New York). Nearly a year later, where is the partnership? Did people jump on the social media/credit card partnership bandwagon?

The answer seems to be yes, in droves. American Express now partners not only with Foursquare but with Twitter and Facebook – we wrote very briefly about the Twitter partnership back in March. All of these social media services offer discounts and deals for Amex card holders, but Foursquare seems to be the strongest partnership so far.

Foursquare is social media platform that allows subscribers to “check in” wherever they are – favorite bars and restaurants, parks, or any public place. Users can event create their own locations, giving their own backyards a title and checking in while hanging out. When someone becomes the most frequent patron of a place, they become the “mayor” of that location. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Foursquare has always been about location, and offering rewards and incentives based on users specific geographic activity. At the time of launching into venture with AMEX, the company has reached 10,000,000 members and 4.7million check-ins, according to an infographic on foursquare blog page.

Amex: Seeking the Young and the Hip

American Express paired up with foursquare originally in hopes that they could attract younger users – “We don`t tend to skew under 35,” said Edward Gilligan, vice chairman of American Express. “We hope this will help us stay relevant to younger customers.” Foursquare users tend to be young and tech-savvy, and American Express did their test-run of the program in Austin, Texas at the SXSW conference (South by Southwest) in March 2011. SXSW was originally a music conference but now is primarily a technology conference for the young and cutting-edge.

The response at SXSW was huge, with Amex cardholders in the pilot program spending an average of 20 percent more than those not in the trial-bargain-run. Gilligan said that rather than partnering with Facebook or Google, Amex wanted to access Foursquare`s base of users who already make use of their loyalty system rewarding them for frequent use.

“We`ve always done marketing with merchants to make offers to our card members, like [sending] offers through direct mail, [and putting] information about sales on the Internet, but those response rates tend to be low,” Gilligan continued.

Syncing Up, Checking In, Checking Out

So how great are these deals and how can you take advantage of them, if you`re an American Express card holder?

All you need to do is go to the site where you can sync your American Express card with Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter and follow the instructions to sync your card. Once you have done that, all current deals will be automatically loaded onto your account. When you go to a participating store, simply tap “load to card” on the day`s special, pay with your American Express card, and the discount will be automatically applied to your card.

There`s no need to clip or carry coupons, show your phone to the checkout cashier, or even tell anyone you are using the discount. It`s all automatically credited to your account in a few days.

The deals are good, too – spend $5, get $5 back on your statement, spend $50 and get $20 back, spend $15 four times and get $10 back – that last one is with, a takeout-ordering website that delivers food to your door without you even having to call in your order.

Clipping Virtual Coupons

Wise credit card users can reap huge rewards with this program – far bigger than the usual 1-2% cash back offered by rewards credit cards. In addition, the deals will be targeted to places you actually frequent. With other social networking discount sites like Groupon or Living Social, you have to sort through many random offers to find one that applies to you. With Foursquare, you`re only made an offer for a place if you go there first.

The days of coupon-clipping are all but gone as bargain-hunting goes virtual and retailers` ability to target specific demographics grows ever more sophisticated. If you have an American Express card, I recommend signing up for Foursquare today – and if you don`t, you can apply for one here at Don`t be left behind in the brave new world of discounts!

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