American Express says that South Africa will be the first of its markets globally to launch a new rewards card offering Gold, Platinum and Black Card members choice on how they utilise their points.

The financial services group said the card will put more than R139 million back in the hands of existing individual and business American Express card members.

Clients can use their points in whatever way they please – including paying with points at any American Express-accepting store globally, and withdrawing cash at any ATM, as the card immediately turns membership rewards points into a rand-based balance.

“With this, we are adding another layer of value to the Card member experience that sets it apart from the vast majority of other rewards programmes,” said Chris Wood, head of American Express Cards South Africa.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be able to give our card members cash back, especially after such a challenging and unprecedented time brought on by the global pandemic.

“Many of our top customers with high points balances will already have been automatically issued their new membership rewards card with the full value of their points loaded,” he said.

Wood said that card will also offer value to merchants that accept American Express because they receive the full value of the purchase transaction.

“Most rewards programmes require participating retail partners to sacrifice some profit when members redeem points for purchases,” he said, “but retailers that accept payment from cardmembers using their membership rewards card will receive the full payment value and retain 100% of their profit margins.”

He said that the purchasing power of the new membership rewards card is also not limited to inside the borders of South Africa.

“Card members can pay with their points for local and international travel bookings, lifestyle experiences, fuel, and even overseas shopping and cash withdrawals, once we are all able to travel overseas again,” Wood said.

A complimentary Rewards Card will be made available to existing American Express individual, business and corporate card members who are already part of the programme, and any points they have accumulated through membership of their current membership rewards programme will transfer to their new card.