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Amazon sells nearly everything you could buy. They don’t always have the best price but they’re one of the most convenient ways to shop. By some estimates they have half of all e-commerce.
One thing that Amazon is very good at is understanding their customers and making it very easy to do business with them – from fast shipping and delivery to simple returns. They also make it easy to pay, allowing consumers to use myriad different currencies.
Meanwhile loyalty programs like letting customers use their points as cash in a convenient way, at least if the math works out. It gives customers something tangible. They can use a small number of points and get something of value (hopefully serving as a proof point that earning the currency was a good choice, and getting the consumer to double down). And it makes the currency more valuable to those for whom the last thing they want is more travel.
As a result there are several rewards currencies you can now spend at Amazon – including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Hilton Honors. It’s rarely a good idea to do this, because the best value is almost always going to be redeeming for one of the core options a program has (eg using hotel points for a hotel stay) since the program has to go out and spend real cash with Amazon for your redemptions. But it’s an outlet to use points.
Capital One will join American Express, Citi and Chase in allowing their points to be spend at Amazon with several of their cards “in the coming weeks”: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card as well as Quicksilver.
The key question is always value:
- Using cash back cards (like Spark Cash, Savor and Quicksilver) $1 in rewards can be spent as $1 in credit at Amazon. That’s par with cash back, so I’m not sure why you’d do this instead of capturing cash (although you do not lose value if you do).
- Capital One’s miles cards (Venture, SparkMiles) let you spend 125 miles for $1 credit at Amazon. That’s 4/5ths of a cent per mile in value, while the points are worth more when redeemed for travel or transferred to airline frequent flyer programs.
More options are always better, and you can get almost anything from Amazon. There’s absolutely nothing negative in this announcement but I don’t see this as how cardmembers should use their rewards and the value proposition here is competitive with others offering to allow points redemption for Amazon spend.
Coming on the heels of this week’s announcement that all Capital One cardmembers have access to special restaurant reservations through OpenTable it’s great to see another add-on by Capital One — over the last couple of years they’ve done more than any other issuer, I think, to try new things and add new benefits to their cards (with some being more valuable than others, of course).