Membership Rewards from American Express
Credit and charge card issuer American Express (Amex) had developed a strong reputation among consumers due in part to its Membership Rewards (MR) loyalty program, first established in 1991. Through MR, all Amex cardholders could accumulate and redeem "points" based on how much they spent, while customers with Amex's Gold and Platinum Cards received additional perks. By 2016, however, the U.S. credit card market had become increasingly competitive, with many credit card companies increasing their sign-on point bonuses for new customers. Chris Cracchiolo, Amex's vice president of U.S. loyalty, strategy, and global partnerships, had to decide how to position the MR program in the face of this competition. Should Amex begin offering more competitive sign-on bonuses and point redemption rates, or would this dilute the company's strong brand?