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American Express has a merchant rewards program called Plenti,which they rolled out way back in 2015. It’s a cross-brand rewards program, where you can earn and redeem points across a variety of partners.
Plenti is a multi-brand rewards program by American Express, and is free to join for anyone over 13 in the United States. Simply put, it’s just like many other rewards programs, where you can earn points when you buy things. But because it’s multi-brand, you can earn points with one brand, and then redeem them on another.
It’s also independent of payment method, so you can take advantage of the program whether you are paying by cash, credit card, or debit card. There are some non-penalizing exceptions to this; for example, you earn more points at Macy’s when you use a Macy’s credit card, compared to a regular credit card.
I will discuss redeeming points first, for two reasons. One, it follows a much simpler scheme than earning points, and two, if you aren’t impressed by the “rewards,” you may not be interested in reading on.
When your account balance reaches 200 points or more, you can start redeeming your points. There are four merchants where you can use them at:
- AT&T (in-store only)
- Rite Aid
- Exxon/Mobil gas stations
1 Plenti Point = 1 Cent at these merchants. In other words, you can save $10 off your bill when you redeem 1,000 points. Simply present your Plenti card at check out, and you can use your points balance to pay for your transaction.
There are a few things worth noting here. You can only redeem up to 2,500 points (for $25) at Exxon and Mobil gas stations per transaction, but can use up to the full balance at other merchants. Additionally, points expire after 2 years, even if your account remains active. On December 31 of each year, any points that are at least 2 years old will be removed from your account. This actually means you might have more than 2 years to use your points (for example, points you earned on January 1 get almost 3 years), but it’s worth keeping in mind.
Now, here’s where it can get complicated. Plenti has multiple earning partners, but the earning rates vary by partner and within partner. To complicate things, some partners only earn points when you enroll in a specific offer.
The home page of Plenti contains a bunch of Partner Offers. For example, you can earn 1,000 points when you subscribe to Hulu, or 750 points when you rent a car for 2+ days with Alamo. Some offers are automatic, while others require a click to activate.
There are also Household Offers. These require you to link a grocery store loyalty card to Plenti, and when you buy specific items, you can earn Plenti points. Your grocery store partners depend on your locations, and you can find a list by entering your ZIP code. For example, in Philadelphia, I can link my GIANT loyalty card.
You can then enroll your Plenti account in a variety of offers, which are stackable with coupons and promotions from your grocery store.
Online Marketplace and Local Dining
Plenti also has an online marketplace, which is basically a cash back portal, but you earn Plenti points instead of cash back.
“Local Dining” is like most other dining rewards program. You provide your credit card number (without expiration dates and security code) to Plenti, and use that same credit card at eligible restaurants. You can use any credit card, and the credit card number is only used to track how much you spent. You earn 3 points per $1 spent with Plenti. This is also stackable with your credit card rewards, so using your Chase Sapphire Reserve will earn you 3 Ultimate Rewards points + 3 Plenti points when you use “Local Dining.”
Plenti partners with a number of merchants. With these merchants, your Plenti card basically serves as a loyalty card. As an example, when you shop at Macy’s, you can scan your Plenti card at check-out and earn:
- 1 point per $1 when you use your Macy’s credit card (otherwise 1 point per $10)
- 2 points per $1 when you use your Macy’s credit card on beauty & fragrance (otherwise 2 points per $10)
At AT&T, you can earn points with your bill and when buying devices:
- 1 point per $2 on devices, accessories, and other products in-store
- 50 points per month, per line, when you have Paperless billing and AutoPay
- Extra 100 points per month, if you have DIRECTV or U-verse TV
- Extra 100 points per month, if you have AT&T U-verse Internet
Every merchant has a different earning rate, and I won’t cover all of them here. This can honestly get a little confusing, but you can always visit Plenti’s Partners page to see the latest earning rates.
Transfer Membership Rewards Points at 1.5 Cents Each
From now until the end of 2016, American Express is letting customers transfer Membership Rewards (MR) points to Plenti points, with a 50% bonus.
Personally, I like to use my MR points on transfer partners like Singapore Airlines and Air Canada Aeroplan, which would enable me to fly First and Business Class on the cheap. However, I know some people simply don’t want to worry about transfer partners, and would rather redeem points as cash.
At this rate, you can basically use Membership Rewards points as 1.5 cents each at AT&T, Macy’s, Rite Aid, or Exxon/Mobil gas stations. Keep in mind, there are opportunity costs associated with redeeming miles; for example, you forgo any credit card points you will otherwise earn. However, if you’re someone that like to redeem points as cash straight out, this is one way to get more value out of Membership Rewards points.
The Plenti Credit Card (offer expired)
American Express is so committed to Plenti that even launched a credit card: The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex. This no-annual-fee card enables you to earn Plenti points, with the following multipliers:
- 3 Plenti points per $1 at Supermarkets (up to $6,000/year)
- 2 Plenti points per $1 at US restaurants
- 1 Plenti points per $1 elsewhere
They are running a sign-up bonus, where you can earn 5,000 points after spending $250 in the first 3 months of card membership. However, this card doesn’t make sense for most people. At its best, it’s a 3%/2%/1% cash back card. There are so many better options out there, even with American Express’ own offering.
For example, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card gives you 3x Membership Rewards (MR) points from grocery store purchases, with a 50% bonus on them if you use your card 30+ times in a month. I’d argue that MR points are way more valuable, but if it’s Plenti points you’re after, you can still transfer MR points at a 1:1.5 ratio to Plenti. This means you can get up to 3 * 1.5 * 1.5 = 6.75 Plenti points per dollar at grocery stores with the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Card. It carries a $95 annual fee, but they are running a sign-up bonus with 15,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months.
If you want a no annual fee card, I’d argue The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card (not preferred) is still a better option than Plenti. It offers 2 MR points per dollar at grocery store, with a potential to earn a 20% bonus when you use your card 20+ times in a month.
Plenti isn’t a program from which everyone can derive substantial value. If you shop at their partners, or if your grocery store participates in the program, there are potentials to rack up a ton of points.
However, their redemption partners are pretty limited, and the earning rates aren’t the best. Still, they sometimes have good bonus offers, which are much more lucrative than day-to-day earnings. Additionally, it is stackable with many other offers, like credit card points and merchant promotions. I can’t say that it should change your spending behavior, but I’d definitely enroll. At the very least you can earn points without even knowing, and a few dollars off a Macy’s purchase is better than nothing.