An American Express program on Foursquare stands to give the geo-location "check-in" service a big boost.
American Express and Foursquare, in a statement today, said "couponless specials" will be offered to consumers who buy services or products at participating merchants.
Under the program, a person would check in at a merchant who is offering a discount on Foursquare, buy a service or product, pay with her American Express card, and then receive the discount on her Amex statement.
At launch, participating merchants are H&M, Sports Authority, and four restaurants owned by the New York City-based Union Square Hospitality Group. An Amex cardholder who spends $75 at H&M, for instance, will receive a $10 credit.
Executives from American Express said they expect the program will "expand rapidly to include additional national and local merchant offers in the coming weeks and months."
Foursquare will not receive revenue from American Express, according to reports. However, its association with American Express could increase the number of people who actively use Foursquare, which claims to have 10 million members. And that could be key to the future of Foursquare, which has been facing increasing competition from rivals that include Facebook, Google, and Groupon.
Tristan Walker, Foursquare's business development director, said the program will help merchants determine the value of its Amex-Foursquare promotions. Metrics that merchants can track include impressions, check-ins, and "loads," which he defined as the special offers that are uploaded to a cardholder's account. He emphasized that Foursquare will not have access to cardholder account information or personally identifiable information, but potentially will be able to obtain metrics about consumer response to offers, broken down by merchants.
People who use Foursquare typically "check in" when they visit a location, such as a business, landmark, or other place. And some businesses offer virtual badges or discounts to people on Foursquare, using the service to reward loyal customers or attract new business.
American Express worked with Foursquare on a trial basis in March at SXSW in Austin, TX. At that time, American Express awarded $5 credits to cardholders who checked in at a venue participating in the promotion.
American Express does not rule out rolling out this program to Facebook or other sites. "We're very close partners with Facebook and they are a good platform to present these types of deals," said Luke Gebb, VP, global network marketing at American Express. "We don't have anything to announce, but that's a great example of what we want to do."
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.