American Express is making virtual wallets even more virtual by adding virtual money, or at least something resembling it: membership rewards points.

Amex announced that it will launch a new Mobile Gift Card program that will let cardmembers access their Membership Rewards points to purchase and use smartphone-enabled gift cards from their smartphones.

Users currently have the option of buying virtual gift cards from eight different retailers, including Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy and Pottery Barn.

"We know our cardmembers want the flexibility to use the points they’ve earned for rewards they want, when and how they want them," said Christopher Besendorfer, vice president for loyalty and membership benefits at American Express. "As the worlds of online and offline converge, we're finding new ways for cardmembers to use points, whether at home, on the run, and now instantly in-store with a Mobile Gift Card."

Cardmembers can use the Mobile Gift Card program to shop online as well. 

For more stories like this, visit the mobile/virtual wallet research center.

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