American Express Co. says it is expanding the roster of products available through its Membership Rewards program to include household items, gas, and gift cards to casual dining restaurants.

The New York company's rewards program has long offered a broad range of luxury goods, including travel, entertainment, and high-end products. Amex said Wednesday that the new options are a response to the poor economy and that many cardholders are now looking for more moderate and functional rewards.

The additions include an Express Rewards Gas Card; home appliances such as air conditioners and washing machines; and gift cards to California Pizza Kitchen and Olive Garden restaurants.

Amex said in a press release that it has seen a "shifting demand" in cardholders' rewards preferences and "these economic times have many consumers looking for more flexibility and choice in the way they can use points."

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