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Everybody loves cashback deals for credit cards, but the ways to spend your points can vary a lot from one card to another. To help address this, PayPal (Android, iOS) has been working with Visa and Mastercard to be able to spend points at merchants where PayPal is accepted, and today it announced that it's expanded this program to American Express. And that's not all.

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In addition to being able to spend your AmEx membership rewards points via PayPal, you'll also be able to use your American Express card to send people money -- in both the PayPal and Venmo apps. (PayPal's former owner eBay purchased Venmo's parent company Braintree in 2013 for $800 million, and PayPal kept Venmo [Android, iOS] when it was spun off in 2015.)

Facilitating this process is the new ability to add American Express cards into the PayPal app. In fact, you'll even be able to use funds located in your PayPal account to pay off your AmEx card, via PayPal's Instant Transfer tool. And if you're concerned about your American Express payment info getting into the hands of the bad guys, you'll be protected by its Token Service.

With tokens, the merchant doesn't get access to your actual credit card account number. Instead, the token is like a virtual account number, and it's used just for that transaction. The tokens are generated automatically when it comes time to make the transaction, requiring no extra steps by the purchaser. Since the token expires upon use, someone who intercepts it can't re-use it to fraudulently buy something later.

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Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay all use this system to protect your credit and debit cards from hooligans on the Internet -- and at physical stores where contactless payments are accepted.

Tokens aren't guaranteed to keep your info safe every time, though. American Express says only that it provides "greater security that may help lower the risk of fraud, all without interrupting the customer's checkout experience."

If you temporarily misplace your physical credit card, some issuers now also let you "lock" it within their app, then unlock it when you've dug it up later. This feature can permit recurring payments for the duration of the lock, unlike canceling your card.

Takeaways

  • PayPal announced today that it's expanding its collaboration with American Express in multiple ways.
  • You'll soon be able to spend your AmEx reward points within the PayPal app, use your AmEx to send money via the PayPal and Venmo apps, and pay off your AmEx card using funds located in your PayPal account.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.