Pay With Points


I championed a redemption experience at Ness that allowed customers to erase any healthy transaction with points. While it didn’t launch, I did get buy-in from all stakeholders and finalized designs for implementation.


Your credit card points are only valuable if you have attractive ways to redeem them. At Ness, we had already established a curated rewards marketplace of 50+ brands. However, we still spoke to customers that would ask for brands local to their area or more niche in general. There was no way our Partnerships team could build individual relationships with all of these niche brands.

This presented a real challenge. Ness points had to feel valuable to customers. Otherwise, they were going to shift spend elsewhere. But, we couldn’t offer every brand under the sun.


We kicked around several ideas to solve this problem and landed on two main ones:

  1. We could build a pay with points construct. Many other credit card programs offer this. The downside is that this is expensive depending on the value you associate with each point (~$0.01). There’s also very little room to drive down the cost. In our rewards marketplace, we could establish brand relationships to purchase gift cards at less than cost, saving us money on in rewards. This is difficult to do with purchase erasers.
  2. We could build a transfer relationship. In the same way that Chase lets you transfer points to United, you could transfer your Ness points to Thrive Market or Classpass (just an example, not a spoiler).

Internally, the momentum was swinging towards building a transfer relationship. This allowed us to effectively co-market through a brand partner and gave us the opportunity to negotiate a discount.

I ultimately drove the decision to instead launch pay with points. Customers could pay off any healthy transaction with points. They’d essentially redeem points for an immediate statement credit.

I had three main reasons I felt this was more effective than point transfer:

  1. Pay with points was entirely within our control so we could deliver it faster.
  2. Pay with points gave customers access to unlimited merchants through our rewards program. Customers would be able to use points on any healthy merchant, not just merchants we have in our rewards catalog.
  3. It aligned with existing user behavior.

On that last point, I surveyed a group of Ness superusers. Initially, I asked what they would like to do with their Ness points. Everyone ranked “Transfer to another partner” incredibly high on the list. But, when I asked them about their most recent point redemption on another card, virtually everyone used it for cash back. There was a tension between what customers said they wanted and what they actually did. I opted to go with what they actually did.

While building conviction for this concept, I worked cross-functionally to build out a business model that we then used to set the price per point. Once we had the business case solidified and everyone was onboard, we were able to build the UI elements. In this case, the UI was rather easy; it was trickier to rally everyone behind the idea.

One delightful element of the design: As you selected transactions we automatically would disable other checkboxes so you couldn’t select more transactions than you had available points. If you tapped a disabled checkbox, we’d let you know why it was disabled.

My Role

I was the main champion and driver behind this initiative. It took 2-3 months to get our Head of Product onboard. From there, I was able to sway other stakeholders including, eventually, our CEO and get buy-in to pursue the idea.