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Update: The current sign-up bonus has reduced to 40,000 points.
Readers have been asking what they can do with 75,000 to 100,000 Membership Rewards points. A few weeks ago there was a 100,000 point American Express Platinum card and up to January 28th there is a 75,000 point The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN available.
1. Travel Using Pay With Points
The simplest way to use Membership Rewards points is to use the “Pay with Points” feature and get 1 cent per point towards air travel booked through the Membership Rewards portal. You get less than 1 cent per point if you book hotels and car rentals through the portal, so best to use Pay with Points for air travel.
This means that 75,000 membership Rewards points will get you $750 and 100,000 Membership Rewards points will get you $1,000 towards air travel expenses.
The advantage of using Pay with Points is that you get lots of flexibility with booking your travel because you don’t have to search for only low availability flights. If there is a flight for sale, you can use points to book it. You will also earn miles on the flight you book.
The downside is that the car rental portal often has higher rates than elsewhere and that you may be able to get more “value” by transferring to airline partners and then redeeming for international first and business class flights. But these are YOUR points so use them in a way which makes sense for YOU!
2. Gift Cards & Amazon
Another way to earn 1 cent per point is to redeem Membership Rewards points for gift cards. So 75,000 points = $750 in gift cards & 100,000 points – $1,000 in gift cards.
If you seek Big Clothing with Small Money then perhaps Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers, or Coach gift cards are for you.
Or if you want more Frugal Clothing with Small Money, there is a Gap Brands gift card which can be redeemed at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta stores.
Or you can redeem points for 1 cent per point for Victoria’s Secret, Home Depot, Pottery Barn, Gap, Nike, Zappos, Barnes & Noble, a few restaurants, and other stores.
You can also redeem for Amazon.com purchases, but you only get 0.7 cents per point, which isn’t a great value. This means that 100,000 points will get you $700 in Amazon purchases and 75,000 points will get you $525 in Amazon purchases.
3. TRANSFER TO Airlines
You can transfer Membership Rewards points to airline partners and then redeem for flights within the US, to Hawaii, and the rest of the world. The bad news is that most partners charge fuel surcharges on international awards which vary by the partner airline you fly on.
American Express has frequent transfer bonuses to British Airways, and British Airways Avios are a great use for short distance travel. However, the transfer ratio from AMEX Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios points is now 5:4, which isn’t as good as most other airline transfer partners.
At some point I’ll write a series on American Express Membership Rewards points, but until then here’s a great series of posts, from One Mile at a Time, on how to use Membership Rewards points after transferring them to airline partners.
If you want to travel on a suite in Singapore Airlines, transferring Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines is perhaps the best way to get it!
4. TRANSFER TO HOTELS
You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Starwood hotels (SPG points), but the transfer ratio isn’t especially good. You get only 333 Starwood points for every 1,000 Membership Rewards point transferred.
You usually get 1,500 Hilton points for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred, but up to January 31, 2013 you get 2,000 Hilton points. So 100,000 Membership Rewards points becomes 200,000 Hilton points or 75,000 Membership Rewards points becomes 150,000 Hilton points.
You can also transfer to Choice Hotels, but I don’t see much value in that unless you can snag a cheap room on points in Europe or other expensive destinations.
Membership Rewards points aren’t as easy to use as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but there are lots of possibilities if you investigate the options. Of course, none of these options may make sense for you, so study the options before applying for a card with a high spending requirement.
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