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American Express, Twitter team up on retail deals

By Mark Jewell
AP Personal Finance Writer / March 6, 2012
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BOSTON—American Express card holders can use the Twitter online messaging service to get exclusive discounts and other deals from more than a dozen retailers under a partnership announced Tuesday.

Card holders signing up for the service can tweet a Twitter hashtag, or search term, that's unique to a specific offer. After the purchase, deal savings are automatically credited to that customer's American Express card statement within one to three days.

Customers with American Express consumer or business card accounts can visit a website https://sync.americanexpress.com/twitter to sync their card with Twitter and qualify for the deals. That involves entering a name, card number and email address.

The service is designed to streamline the use of social media to take advantage of discounts. A customer can stay on Twitter to qualify for a deal rather than being re-directed to a merchant's website, entering a promotion code and printing a coupon. A clerk at a checkout stand doesn't need to be notified about the discount because tweeting the deal's hashtag loads the offer onto a customer's card account. Savings are passed on to the customer if a qualifying purchase is made.

Typical offers are expected to be of the `Buy $50 worth of items, get $10 back' variety, said Ed Gilligan, vice chairman with New York-based American Express Co.

Sixteen retailers signed up for Tuesday's launch, ranging from Best Buy, Dell, McDonald's and Ticketmaster to Whole Foods Market. The retailers aren't paying to participate.

For American Express, the launch is a new avenue for its 97 million existing card holders to get discounts, while also potentially attracting new customers. Card holders who tweet deal hashtags send information about the offers to their Twitter followers. But to qualify, those followers will have to be American Express card holders -- a requirement that could entice non-customers to open AmEx accounts.

For Twitter, the launch is the latest step to create a moneymaking business model through advertising and promotions. The San Francisco-based messaging service has attracted more than 100 million users since its creation nearly six years ago.

Terms of the partnership announced Tuesday between American Express and Twitter were not disclosed.

It's not the first time the two have collaborated. Last month, Twitter introduced a service that's available initially to advertisers who accept or use American Express cards. It's an automated system geared toward small businesses enabling advertisers to manage their marketing campaigns and budgets without having to deal with sales representatives. Later this year, Twitter will open the service up to advertisers who don't accept or use American Express cards.

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