You know I love me some Ultimate Rewards points, but I’m all about diversifying. Membership Rewards points are my first choice when it comes to diversifying away from Ultimate Rewards, because in some cases, they can pack more value. So, I thought I would write a couple posts on how to maximize your Membership Rewards points.
It’s true that Chase has plucked away some of the best travel partners (and Executives) from Membership Rewards, but Membership Rewards has something Chase doesn’t….Transfer bonuses!
Transfer bonus promotions are definitely my preference when it comes to getting value out of my Membership Rewards points. It’s like free miles and points from above.
Transfer bonus opportunities
There are no sexy transfer bonuses right now, but history would prove that there will be soon.
Last year, there were 3 different transfer bonus opportunities with British Airways. I took advantage of the 40% opportunity (yeah, I missed out on the 50%) and transferred a good chunk of my MR points. That’s getting some serious value out of your points. And I’ll be flying to Dublin in a month in Business class for only 25k Avios! Raining miles up in here.
In addition to the multiple British Airways transfer bonuses last year, there was a sweet 35% bonus to Virgin Atlantic. This was a hot deal because Virgin Atlantic points transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio! I took advantage of this promotion as well, but of course, this was pre Hilton devaluation. You know, the good ol’ days.
There used to be transfer bonuses up to 67% with Delta, but we haven’t seen a Delta transfer bonus in 2 years. Maybe we will this year, but I wouldn’t count on it.
It seems that American Express likes to roll out their transfer bonus opps in Quarters 2 & 3, so stay tuned.
Sign-up bonus magnifier
Transfer bonuses with Membership Rewards helps you get a larger return on your original sign-up bonus. It’s like a sign-up bonus magnifier. I signed up for the 100,000 American Express Platinum card earlier in the year, and if I use those points when there’s a 40% transfer bonus this year, that would make my sign-up bonus value actually 140,000 Membership Rewards points. Awesome sauce.
There’s currently a 50,000 Business Gold Rewards Card(R) from American Express offer which could easily be turned into close to 75,000 if you took advantage of a transfer bonus.
The best public offer on the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold CardCard is 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in 3 months. The CARDMATCHTM tool was pulling up 50,000 offers for about a month, but that ended a few weeks ago. Hopefully something new pops up on there again soon.
Don’t forget about the 50,000 Mercedes-Benz Platinum offer, either ($475 annual fee not waived, but if you travel frequently, it’s easy to justify).
Taking advantage of transfer bonus promotions is the first way I maximize my Membership Rewards points, and it’s the one area where American Express is kicking Chase’s booty. But I won’t wait forever for a transfer bonus to use my Membership Rewards points. Even without a transfer bonus, there’s some great value to be had when transferring Membership Rewards points out to their travel partners. I’ll be discussing this in more detail in future posts, so stay tuned.
(Disclosure: I receive a referral credit for the Business Gold Rewards and PRG rewards cards. Thank you for the support if you apply through the blog!)
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— Geoff Whitmore