American Express’ New Card Member Perks Show How We’ll Spend in 2021

Courtesy American Express

What our spending looks like as we move into the new year.

Departures is published by Meredith Corp. and owned by American Express. While American Express Card Member benefits are highlighted in this publication, including through the links indicated below, the content of this article was independently written by the editorial staff at Meredith. Other Departures content paid for by American Express is explicitly marked as such.

It’s no secret that our spending habits shifted drastically in 2020. Some consumers took funds earmarked for plane tickets and funneled them into a new couch, and as Americans, our experiential spending declined as our retail goods-related spending increased. As we wade into 2021, American Express is charting how our spending may look as this year gets underway. And they’re tailoring their new Card Member rewards to accommodate how we’ll spend over the next few months, specifically emphasizing rewards on digital shopping across home improvement stores and food and wine retailers

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According to Amex Trendex, “The number of Amex Offers redeemed [in 2020] has more than doubled—topping 35 million redemptions—with dining and shopping the most frequently redeemed categories.” Amex Trendex also found that, in 2021, 53% of consumers are set to buy more online (and 79% of consumers spent more time online shopping in the last year than they had in previous years). When Card Members shop online, they can now get $30/month in statement credits with PayPal until the end of June, which means $180 back in total. Card Members can also get $50 back (twice) at BestBuy—and the same benefit when shopping at HomeDepot.com, for all the homeowners buying paint for a living room refresh and new plants for the new year. In that same home improvement realm, Card Members can get $50 back (twice) at The Container Store. The foodie-inclined Card Members can get $50 back (three times) when shopping at Goldbelly—for when you want paper-thin Russ & Daughters lox and caviar delivered right to your door—and $30 back (twice) at Wine Insider. And, as we all continue to spend more on groceries than in pre-pandemic times, Card Members can now get up to $100 back on Instacart purchases. All of these benefits, of course, are only granted on qualifying purchases and if a certain spending requirement is met. 


Courtesy American Express

There’s also a matter of travel spending, of course, and while international travel is largely off the table at the moment, with a vaccine on the horizon, many are setting their sights on future travel plans (and taking close-by domestic trips when possible). As the Amex Trendex report noted, “Road trips will continue to gain traction as will destinations that offer a lot of outdoor activities, whether that’s hiking at a national park or relaxing on a secluded beach.” That said, “many consumers are looking to make 2021 the year of the ‘vacation redo’ and are interested in rebooking previously planned vacations that were canceled due to the pandemic." 

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In that vein, Card Members can now get a complimentary night or property credit at an American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts property when booking through American Express Travel—and the same is true for Hotel Collection properties. (The value of the property credit and spending terms vary.) As Card Members move back into flying, they will soon receive access to lower fares on partner airlines, when booking in the next few months for travel through the end of May. The American Express Travel COVID-19 Information Hub has all the info about booking changes, for those looking to make reservations; the American Express Travel fee on modifications and new bookings is currently waived through the end of March 2021, and Amex Travel is honoring all travel provider change and cancellation policies.