American Express debuts a new, feel-good rewards program

American Express CardAmerican Express' unimpeachable new rewards program, which everyone will likely approve of, is a piece of good news for an industry that has gotten a lot of negative attention recently.

There's plenty not to like about credit cards, so when we hear about a card company such as American Express offering a new perk that benefits their customers, we're happy to spread the news.

Inspired by their Members Project campaign (where you register and vote for a charity to receive funding from American Express), they're now allowing card members, if they choose, to volunteer as part of the 2010 Members Project and receive rewards points.

To make sure you're working with a charity that will bring in those rewards points, you need to find them here, at There are a ton of non-profits listed, from Step Out USA, a nonprofit that creates social, cultural, recreational and educational activities for adults with learning disabilities, to ProKids, which works for and with foster children.

For each hour of volunteer work you put in, American Express will give you 500 points, and you can use those reward points to buy groceries or gas or what have you. Or you can let them pile up and get something a bit nicer. You can collect up to 20 hours' worth of points a year, which comes to 10,000 rewards points. If you're feeling extremely giving, you can give those rewards points away to the charity of your choice, and they can redeem the points for groceries, gas or something a bit nicer.

So what does 10,000 points buy you these days? I contacted American Express and was told that you could get a $100 Neiman Marcus gift card, or a $50 American Express gift card or 10k white gold 0.15 CTW diamond studs or $100 off any travel you book through American Express travel, along with numerous other items.

And if you're a good soul who doesn't have an American Express card, they'll allow you to join the 2010 Members Project, volunteer and then you can give your points away to a deserving nonprofit. Or you can do your volunteering and apply, and, if you get the card, use the rewards points for yourself.

Either way, however you use the rewards, if it encourages people to get out there and do some good in the world, that's a good thing. So, nice job, American Express. If I knew how to insert a little audio file with applause on it, I would.
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