Macy's Inc.'s new American Express Co. card improves on earlier versions of the store operator's cobranded cards, which one observer said runs counter to a trend of disappearing rewards.

In particular, Macy's Amex cardholders can earn double rewards through the end of 2010 on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases. They also will get 15% cash back from the total bill at participating restaurants from Sept. 6 through Dec. 31.

"As retail card and other rewards cards came somewhat under siege in 2008 and 2009 in terms of profitability, it's nice to see the value [of this card] to the consumer is staying at the same or better levels than a year or two ago," said Steven Jacowitz, the managing director at Auriemma Consulting Group in New York. "I suspect part of that has to do with the shift from Citibank and Visa to American Express."

Macy's announced in March that American Express would replace Visa Inc. this fall as the card network supporting its Bloomingdale's and Macy's cobranded credit cards. Citigroup Inc., which bought Macy's credit card receivables from the retailer in 2005, issues the retailer's private-label and cobranded credit cards and switched the brand to Amex.

Cardholders still get savings offers through Macy's Star Rewards program, but they also may earn more points and get such Amex card perks as emergency assistance referral services while traveling and access to Amex's Daily Wish program, a service that features hand-picked products from travel to electronics at discounts of 50% or more. The card has no annual fee, Macy's said.

Some other programs, which Jacowitz would not name, may be restricting benefits of cobranded cards, but the new Macy's Amex card stands out because of its enhancements, he said.

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