American Express Cardholders Can Now Tweet to Buy

American Express cardholders who link their card to their Twitter account will be able to purchase products, like a new Xbox or a gift card, directly from within the social network.

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Over the past couple of years, American Express has been actively working on ways for its members to interact with merchants online.

As a result, Amex cardholders can link their account to a number of social networks, like Foursquare, Facebook and Xbox Live, for the chance to unlock discounts.

This announcement today, however, marks the first time American Express is allowing consumers to buy things through social networks.

Leslie Berland, the SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, said a year ago, it started distributing offers and coupons on Twitter. In that time, she said, cardholders have saved “millions of dollars” from “thousands of merchants.”

Starting today, all cardholders will have to register to participate, even if they’ve used the service before, this time to provide a physical address for delivering products.

After that, it should be pretty painless to buy something. For instance, participants will be able to buy a $25 American Express Gift Card for $15 this afternoon by tweeting #BuyAmexGiftCard25. American Express will reply via Twitter, asking the user to confirm the purchase in a tweet. All products will be shipped via free two-day shipping.

Starting Wednesday, more items will go on sale, including an Amazon Kindle Fire HD for $150 and an Xbox 360 4GB console with three months of Xbox Live for $180. All deals will be offered for a three-week period.

While it’s easy for cardholders to participate, American Express is having to do a lot of work on the back end to make it run smoothly. There is a customer care support team to address any issues that arise, and it is working with a partner to provide the shipping logistics — neither function trivial … or cheap.

Berland acknowledges that it took “a great deal of work to think about every single use case.”

The commerce platform is coming to Twitter first, but it will also eventually come to Facebook and other platforms, Berland confirmed. Twitter is not getting a cut of the revenue from the transactions. “This is Chapter One,” she said. “We are very invested in Twitter, and we’ve taken it a step further here, but the best is yet to come. We are very confident that it will perform very well.”

To date, there have been very few examples of Twitter commerce. The most high-profile launch, perhaps, was by Chirpify, a Portland-based startup that helps merchants accept payments from a Twitter stream. Otherwise, the best implementation of selling products on a social network so far is likely by Facebook itself through its sale of gifts.

Here’s a video demonstrating how an Amex cardholder can redeem offers and buy something through Twitter:

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