While it doesn’t influence our opinions of products, we may receive compensation from partners whose offers appear here. We’re on your side, always. See our full advertiser disclosure here.
Although the big, flashy sign-up bonuses are much discussed, not every deal you score with your rewards credit card is going to be worth thousands — and that’s OK! Like a grain of sand in an oyster, little savings can turn into a lot of rewards over time.
And, what’s more, you can find those small savings just about anywhere. From issuer savings portals to pop-up deals, card issuers and retailers are teaming up in a lot of great ways. One such deal I always love to take advantage of can be found in the banners at the top of Amazon.com.
A banner-ad deal and a two-click enrollment
Every once in a while, as I’m browsing for batteries and ebooks, I’ll spot my favorite Amazon/American Express crossover event that I like to call “points for percentages.” Basically, the deal offers you some percentage off your order — 20% to 40% is typical — when you redeem Amex Membership Rewards® points to pay for your purchase at checkout.
But wait, isn’t paying with points a raw deal? Yes, usually — but this is a worthy exception. The key? You don’t need to pay for your entire order with points. You can redeem as little as one Membership Rewards® point at checkout and still enjoy the discount.
You do need to enroll in the offer to use it. This is done in just two clicks: Click on the offer banner, then, on the new page, scroll down to click the “Enroll” button. Done! Your discount will be automatically applied when you use your American Express points during checkout.
Obviously, these deals tend to have an earnings cap. In my most recent usage, it was $20. Since I had a relatively large order in mind anyway, I easily redeemed a single Amex point and got my $20 discount. However, you can usually earn the deal across multiple orders until you reach the maximum discount amount.
The one caveat? You do need to use your Amex card to pay for the rest of the order. If you have the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, this means you give up your 5% cash back on that purchase. That being said, Amex often has Amazon deals in its Offers & Benefits portal, making it easy to double-stack your savings.
Always read the fine print
The trick that makes this type of deal so good is that you don’t need to sacrifice hundreds or thousands of points to get the discount. It’s the ability to use just one point that really makes the deal a great value. ($20 per point is about as good as you can expect!)
In other words, always read the fine print for any discounts and offers you come across. While the “fine print” often gets a bad rap for hiding all kinds of nasty surprises, it can also be home to some awesome details that end up saving you money or rewards.
It’s also where potential problems can be discovered — like realizing you have to enroll in the specific offer to earn the discount. You can also find end dates, usage limitations, and other useful tidbits tucked away that could make a big difference in your deal.
Factor in the opportunity cost
Even the best deals will often come with some sort of opportunity cost. In the case of this Amazon/Amex deal, it’s down to potential purchase rewards. As I mentioned above, using your Amex card to pay for your purchase can mean you’re missing out on the rewards you’d earn from another credit card.
If you have the Amazon card that offers 5% cash back on your Amazon purchases, you should factor that loss into the overall value of the deal. For me, the value was still high enough that the deal was a no-brainer. But that may not always be the case. Had I been required to pay for the purchase entirely in points, the low per-point value plus the loss of cash back would make the deal a lot less lucrative.