You can always redeem your American Express Membership Rewards for British Airways Miles or Iberia Plus points, but now cardholders also can turn to the rewards program for purchases of FarmVille Purple Cows and Cafe World Amex Outdoor Fountains.
Think of it as loyalty programs meet social gaming.
American Express and Zynga, which operates Farmville, FrontierVille, PetVille, YoVille, Treasure Isle and Cafe World for some 225 million users, entered into a partnership where American Express Membership Rewards participants can use their points to pay for limited edition virtual goods, as well as physical and virtual Zynga game cards.
The Zynga relationship marks the branching out of American Express Membership Rewards into a new category and signifies the importance of social media generally and social gaming, in particular.
With social gaming on the upswing and FourSquare and some hotels offering badges and perks for local check-ins, it is only a matter of time before the travel industry embraces social gaming in a big way.
And, Zynga's Facebook game apps coincide with the travel industry's new focus on Facebook for travel bookings.
Incidentally, if you are interested, the FarmVille Purple Cow goes for 540 American Express Membership Rewards points and you can pick up the Cafe World Outdoor Fountain for a mere 1,080 Membership Rewards points.
While Amex and Zynga are currently offering four types of limited edition virtual goods, and virtual and physical game cards for now, the companies say they will continue to expand the lineup in coming weeks.
The FrontierVille Fancy Gold Hot Tub will be available starting Dec. 6.