Before the rollout of the American Express Everday cards, this decision would have been something really strange – a partnership between McDonalds and Amex to allow payment with Membership Reward points. I mean, who was going to use their Amex Premier Rewards Gold card or Platinum card to earn points and then burn them at McDonalds, right?
Using Points at McDonalds
But, with the Everyday cards, the target is obviously more for the average consumer with the grocery store bonuses, usage bonuses, and lower/no annual fees. So, allowing people that are earning points that way to use them for food at McDonalds would seem to make sense from a marketing angle. As an another way to incentivize people to use points, during the launch period (which has already begun but will hit all participating McDonalds in December) American Express will donate $1 to the Ronald McDonald House for everyone who chooses to use points to pay.
The way it will work is when the Amex MR card is swiped, the option will come up on the screen to pay with credit or points. It will show you how many points it will take (no mention on what their value will be) and it will ask for confirmation. If using the drive-thru, you will have the option to pay with the app or from Amex’s website (as a refund on that purchase).
What I Love About It
Obviously, I will not be doing this! But, I love that American Express is hooking up to allow this as it will see some (if not many) consumers using their points on purchases like this. I love it because that will mean more people will focus their points elsewhere than on travel which should mean that the chances of Amex making points more difficult to use for travel (or devaluing them) are much smaller.
I mean, imagine the family that is using their no fee Everyday card for purchases to hit the 20 purchase monthly threshold and about $600 a month at the grocery store for 1,440 points (considering the 2x points at grocery stores and the 20% bonus on points for hitting the 20 purchase amount). They have said it will be 1 cent per point valuation (or, as they say $1=100 points). In our example, this family can eat at McDonalds every month and have $14.40 worth of food for free, based on their spending.
I think this is a terrible value, for sure! Of course, some will find this appealing and that is what I love. The more people that begin to use their points for redemptions such as this, the less of a chance that American Express will devalue their points for travel purposes. That will see more of a diversity in redemption options so those of us that use them for travel should find that we are in a minority which should prevent Amex from wanting to devalue them for us.
On the downside, we have seen that American Express will get rid of benefits/programs that they think are not being used by a majority of their customers…