American Express And Foursquare Team Up At SXSW

American Express and foursquare are piloting a new discount program at this years South by Southwest convention in Austin, Texas. Foursquare’s existing Specials program offers rewards and discounts to customers who check in repeatedly, encourage their friends to check in, or get a certain number of people to check in at once. And AmEx is the de facto king of credit card rewards, having taken four of the top six spots in our latest roundup of the best rewards credit cards).

According to TechCrunch, foursquare made an impression at SXSW with a karaoke bus, a “Mayor Throne,” an actual game of schoolyard foursquare and a concert. Oh, and they’re testing out a landmark Specials program that is the talk of hipsters and social media glitterati everywhere.

The two companies will introduce the new program during the March 11-15 SXSW convention. Teaming up with over 50 Austin merchants, foursquare and AmEx are offering “spend $5, get $5” deals at stores near the Austin Convention centre. Participation is easy for American Express cardholders. They just have to:

  1. Enroll in the Austin program here
  2. Check into participating stores using the foursquare app on their smartphones
  3. Click a “Load to Card” button in foursquare, and
  4. Swipe their cards. If they spend more than $5, they receive a $5 statement credit.

The fine print is surprisingly simple: prepaid and corporate cards are excluded, but any other SXSW-goer with an AmEx card can participate. And for each person who participates, AmEx will donate $1 to Grounded in Music, an Austin-based nonprofit.

Foursquare won’t be making any money off this deal. Rather, they hope to convince new merchants to use their service, and eventually partner with other rewards credit card issuers for a loyalty-meets-rewards program. While foursquare users can’t check in simply by swiping, foursquare plans to incorporate it as the program grows.

“A big part of what we’re doing is building enhanced loyalty tools,” said foursquare founder and CEO Dennis Crowley. “We’re seeing that things like this can drive users.”

And for American Express, there’s money to be made in attracting new – and likely younger, “more hip,” and tech-savvy – cardholders, as a means of branching out beyond their typically older clientele. It also gives them a new foothold as electronic payments make a move towards mobile devices and away from plastic cards.

Merchants benefit from increased exposure, and customers get a nice discount. It’s a win-win-win-win, and it’s set to expand to more cities if the SXSW program is successful, though the two companies haven’t yet announced which cities will be next, or when a nationwide roll-out can be expected.

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