Going Uptown Online

The latest deal between Twitter and American Express has made it the "social credit."American Express and Twitter have teamed up to offer exclusive online discounts from 17 retailers that include Whole Foods Market, FedEx, McDonald's, Ticketmaster, Dell and FTD Flowers.

The selling point is a streamlined way to use a social media platform to access discounts, without going to a merchant's website, entering a promotion code or printing a coupon.

Twitter and American Express announced another collaboration a month ago that allows small businesses to manage their advertising without dealing with sales representatives.

This could be the tip of the iceberg as Twitter seeks to bolster its money-making business model and Amex leverages its 97 million cardholders — and creates a new reason for people to apply for one of its credit cards.

Marketing the connection with the phrase "tweet your ways to savings," Amex advises consumers to "sync" their credit cards to their Twitter accounts. The @amexsync account tracks special hashtags used by participating merchants to offer their exclusive discounts. It also credits the user's account — usually within two or three days, company officials say.

Amex insists the link is secure and no private data is being mined. For now, retailers pay nothing to participate. Amex said it wanted to ramp up the program slowly, but interest was so strong it signed up 17 merchants to start. It plans to add more.

Online discounting isn't for everyone. For those who thrive on it, simplicity, speed and ease are musts.

"In digital, especially mobile, the simplicity and non-clunkiness of the user experience is key," says Bradley Minor of American Express. "We want to be everywhere our card members and merchants are — and that is increasingly online and on their mobile devices — to deliver unique experience and offers that our customers expect from us."