dcsimg
RealTime IT News

Loyalty Points Arrive at eBay

Got frequent flier miles? Hotel loyalty points to spare? Online auctioneer eBay is now accepting them as payment on auction purchases.

The new program, called Anything Points, is a way for eBay to introduce currency in exchange for loyalty and join the tradition pioneered by Green Stamps in grocery stores and frequent flier miles with airlines.

The company said it is partnering with Sprint Corp. and Hilton Hotels on the new program, which converts frequent flier miles and hotel loyalty points to eBay's own loyalty points.

With the help of online loyalty points exchange Points.com, customers of American Airlines, a unit of AMR Corp. can convert their frequent flier miles into eBay Anything Points. McAfee Security, a division of Network Associates is also participating in the program for purchases of its security and firewall software.

eBay said it planned to expand a number of vendors in the program in the coming months.

One of eBay's Anything Points is worth one penny, which can then be applied to pay for an item won on an eBay auction. But, like some currencies, exchange rates vary. For example, it takes 10,000 Hilton HHonors points to earn $10 of eBay Anything Points.

Both the buyer and the seller have to enroll in the program in order for the points to be exchanged, which are then deposited into a registered eBay user's account with PayPal, the site's payment facilitator.

The companies working with eBay are expected to use the points program to entice new customers. In Sprint's case, it might offer customers Anything Points if they sign up for new calling plans, which is part of a tradition of offering airline points.

The telephone companies have partnered with airlines for several years, giving customers free airline points, if they sign up for a long distance package of services.

eBay has set up a new web page at where it will try to get its members, and other vendors to sign-up for the program.

It remains to be seen how many customers or other vendors eBay will sign-up for the program.