New American Express credit card lets you pick benefits

American Express offers new cardMany credit card companies let you personalize the way your credit card looks, but American Express has taken this personalization one step further with its new ZYNC credit card, a card that allows you to pick and choose the rewards and benefits you want. You'll pay for the privilege, but if you can find a package that will save you more than the $25 annual fee, it might just be worth a look.

Consumers can customize their ZYNC card by adding bundles of benefits American Express is calling "packs." There are 10 packs currently available: Some are free; others cost $25 or more per year.If you're looking for a free pack, you can get one called Give Back, which gives you 1,000 Membership Rewards points for each logged hour of volunteer service and one Membership Rewards point for every charitable dollar donated using your American Express Card.

Or you can sign up for the Family Travel pack, which gives you access to a family travel specialist. Another free pack is the Personal Finance pack that gives you a complimentary credit report along with your credit score, as well as access to money management tools and tips. The last free option is a pack called Eco for 2X Membership Rewards points at more than 4,000 select green merchants.

The rest of the packs will cost you. Music is the cheapest at just $5 per year. You get 2X Membership Rewards points on concert tickets, pre-sale access to select music events and concert tickets.

There are three packs that cost just $20, Food & Wine (one-year subscription to the magazine, Food & Wine, and a discount on membership to the Connoisseur Club, as well as savings on cookbooks and wine guide); GO (2X Membership Reward points on airfare ticket purchases, lost wallet protection and travel discounts); and Connect (2X Membership Rewards points on mobile phone, cable, broadband and Internet charges, plus discounts on some mobile merchandise).

The two most expensive packs cost $25. These are Style (2X Membership Points at department stores and specialty retailer and Restaurant (2X Membership Points at restaurants plus special dining discounts).

When it comes to credit cards, I personally prefer cash back rewards. For instance, the American Express/COSTCO card offers cash back at varying percentages depending on the type of purchase you make. The annual cost of the card is combined with the cost of COSTCO membership.

Membership rewards cards can be limiting. They depend on the deals made by American Express and may or may not satisfy your needs at the time you want to cash in the points. But if you can find a pack in the new offerings by ZYNC to suit your lifestyle, you can reap the benefits. Just be sure check to see if the Membership Rewards you earn will make it worth your while to pay the annual fees.

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Credit Score and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Personal Bankruptcy.
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