The end of Plenti: Amex pulls the plug on multi-merchant rewards

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Following a series of high-profile merchant defections, American Express has notified consumers already enrolled and those seeking to enroll that the Plenti multi-merchant rewards program will end on July 10.

The program's treatment of merchant exclusivity, meant to entice participants guaranteeing that they would be the only one in their retail category participating in Plenti, may have proven too limiting. As such, the program had little value to consumers who did not frequent a list of specific merchants on a regular basis.

As of April 16, the website will no longer accept new enrollments in the program that the card brand introduced three years ago as a way for consumers to earn and redeem rewards at any of the participating merchant locations.

American Express also notified its followers through Twitter on April 16. All Plenti points will expire on July 10 when the program officially shuts down.

The end of the program was not unexpected, as various key retail participants had begun to drop from Plenti to concentrate more fully on their own rewards/loyalty offers or mobile commerce advancements. Plenti operated through a plastic card at the point of sale.

The final blow came in February when Macy's bowed out of the program, saying it would do so after May 3 — exactly three years to the day the program started. With that major participant out of the picture, Amex determined it would shut down the program.

Macy's decision likely was made easier in knowing that a month before its announcement, five other retailers in the program had dropped out.

The first sign of trouble for the program took place in October of last year when AT&T, the exclusive telecom in the program was the first to drop out.

For their part, the participating retailers gave Plenti a chance as the program was in a growth mode through the early part of 2016. Some retailers, still smarting from the demise of the Merchant Customer Exchange and its derailed CurrentC mobile wallet, were open to the concept of a multi-retailer venture.

As Plenti stumbled with its concept that all of the participating retailers were essentially at the same level in terms of consumer desire to redeem points, others like Fuel Rewards have taken the overall multi-merchant concept and adjusted it to funnel all of the rewards to the everyday purchase of gasoline.

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Loyalty and rewards Retailers American Express