American Express launches mobile gift cards

American Express logo

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, American Express has partnered with some major retailers to let cardholders use mobile gift cards and cash them in right away on their smartphones.

Use your membership rewards points to buy smartphone-enabled gift cards, then go holiday shopping with them at a number of retailers, including Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, Pottery Barn, West Elm and Williams-Sonoma.

You can also use the cards to pay for items online or over the phone.

How it works: Log into your membership rewards account online or via American Express’ credit card smartphone app, then browse the mobile gift card catalog.

Use points to buy the card you want, and place it in your account’s gift card wallet. When you’re ready to pay, click "tap to pay" on your smartphone to show the bar code and gift card number at the register.

This new quick-pay technology doesn’t mean you can leave your AmEx plastic at home.

To make sure the mobile gift card is a valid one, you may be required to enter your card’s four-digit security code on the front of the card, plus the three-digit code on the back.

AmEx also offers more snazzy options for its tech-savvy users.

It has spiced up its apps for Apple and Android tablets to let you shop with your rewards points at 60-plus retailers.

An additional new feature is the tablet points summary, an interactive bar chart that lets you keep track of your past and present points usage via your tablet, so you can use your rewards more wisely in the future.

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