Advice needed from MR experts - how to drain points?

Old Jun 6, 12, 1:37 pm
  #1  
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Advice needed from MR experts - how to drain points?

Hello,

I'm hoping you guys will be able to assist with this question. I am a total noob to Amex Membership Rewards. My father-in-law died last year and left 106K points in his account. The $150 renewal fee is creeping up, but my mother-in-law doesn't spend enough on her own to warrant this fee just to keep the points. She has gone through the account assumption process and is now able to spend his points by herself.

We would like to redeem these points at the best possible value before the $150 renewal fee comes due in July. I had been suggesting possibly the $100 Amex Gift card but contrary to some apparently out-of-date websites, it looks like the point ratio is 2 points to $1. Is there anyway to get closer to the 1 point per $1 ratio that I see was previously available?

Also, any known promo codes to get a reduction - such as free shipping?

We are planning a summer vacation and will leave in a little over a week, but the flights and hotels are booked on miles/points already. She doesn't really travel enough otherwise to justify trying to convert these points into some frequent travel account on her name, unfortunately. I suppose one option could be that she could convert back to Hilton or United in my name if that is possible to help pay for the points I originally deducted for her travel in the first place.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Old Jun 6, 12, 1:55 pm
  #2  
mia
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What type of card is it? Based on the annual fee I guess it is some variant of Gold card?

I suggest you begin by reviewing this thread:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...giftcards.html

Look at the list of transfer partners, be sure to note that the transfer ratio is not always 1:1:

http://www.membershiprewards.com/cat...readcrumb=true

Review this thread to understand how to transfer another person's frequent flyer or hotel account.:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...f-account.html
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Old Jun 6, 12, 3:42 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
What type of card is it? Based on the annual fee I guess it is some variant of Gold card?

I suggest you begin by reviewing this thread:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...giftcards.html

Look at the list of transfer partners, be sure to note that the transfer ratio is not always 1:1:

http://www.membershiprewards.com/cat...readcrumb=true

Review this thread to understand how to transfer another person's frequent flyer or hotel account.:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...f-account.html
Yes, it is a gold card. I'll take a look at the links you suggested and revert. thanks!
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Old Jun 6, 12, 4:07 pm
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OK, I read the threads. What I learned is as follows:

Right now their account seems to be offering a 20% shopping discount. $100 gift cards are 16,000 points. Not the greatest redemption rates, but with choices like Walmart they are good as cash.

With no impending travel plans, it's hard to suggest redeeming for miles. But it could be enough for a trip or two home on Air Canada I suppose. 1:1 ratio currently.

We could also try 'banking' them in one of my accounts, but results will vary whether Amex will successfully transfer to an account with my name on it. Only option here that really makes sense to me are Hilton since those are funding part of our planned vacation.

I had previously seen cash rates that were higher. Are those rates just long gone now? Any other active bonuses that people can suggest?
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Old Jun 6, 12, 4:12 pm
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mia
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Originally Posted by hellmutt View Post
... results will vary whether Amex will successfully transfer to an account with my name
There is no risk to testing this by "linking" your HHonors account to the Membership Rewards account. If the link works the transfer will also work. The transfer rate from Membership Rewards to HHonors is 1:1.5 .

However, you can do better if you transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic (not Virgin America), and then transfer 1:2 from Flying Club to HHonors.
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Old Jun 6, 12, 4:37 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
There is no risk to testing this by "linking" your HHonors account to the Membership Rewards account. If the link works the transfer will also work. The transfer rate from Membership Rewards to HHonors is 1:1.5 .

However, you can do better if you transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic (not Virgin America), and then transfer 1:2 from Flying Club to HHonors.
Allright, that's a good tip, thanks. Virgin Atlantic has the same rule that the account names must match, so probably I'd have to transfer from MR to a Virgin account in my name - if it works.

I think probably we'll opt for more of a cash option since my mother-in-law lives on a fixed income. Have to discuss it with her to see what she thinks.
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Old Jun 6, 12, 4:58 pm
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You will generally obtain more value if you choose a merchant giftcard rather than an American Express card. For example, Kohl's cards are 5,000 for $50.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 12:10 am
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Originally Posted by hellmutt View Post
OK, I read the threads. What I learned is as follows:

Right now their account seems to be offering a 20% shopping discount. $100 gift cards are 16,000 points. Not the greatest redemption rates, but with choices like Walmart they are good as cash.

With no impending travel plans, it's hard to suggest redeeming for miles. But it could be enough for a trip or two home on Air Canada I suppose. 1:1 ratio currently.

We could also try 'banking' them in one of my accounts, but results will vary whether Amex will successfully transfer to an account with my name on it. Only option here that really makes sense to me are Hilton since those are funding part of our planned vacation.

I had previously seen cash rates that were higher. Are those rates just long gone now? Any other active bonuses that people can suggest?

I'm sorry for your loss Hellmutt. You mentioned "Back Home to Canada". If the American Express is a Canadian card, you can send the points to Aeroplan with a transfer bonus: (Before June 18th 2012)
http://www1.aeroplan.com/promotions/...o_webup2953_AE

Then once in Aeroplan you can purchase a "Store" giftcard ($100 for 13,000 points) or an Amex Gift Card ($500 for 67,500 points or $1000 for 134,000 points)
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Old Jun 7, 12, 12:49 am
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Originally Posted by InsaneTravel View Post
I'm sorry for your loss Hellmutt. You mentioned "Back Home to Canada". If the American Express is a Canadian card, you can send the points to Aeroplan with a transfer bonus: (Before June 18th 2012)
http://www1.aeroplan.com/promotions/...o_webup2953_AE

Then once in Aeroplan you can purchase a "Store" giftcard ($100 for 13,000 points) or an Amex Gift Card ($500 for 67,500 points or $1000 for 134,000 points)
It's a US-based card, unfortunately. She immigrated from Canada when she married my father-in-law and they stayed in the US. Does this plan require the Amex Gold to be issued in Canada? The ratios you are showing are superior, although I don't know if that might be currency effects at play as well.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 6:43 am
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You can transfer the MR points to anyone's airline FF account or hotel points account. All you have to do is set up the account you want to transfer to in MR, then she can transfer the MR points to any family member's (or anyone, for that matter) airline or hotel account. The only thing you can't do is transfer MR to another MR account.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 7:48 am
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There is another option to consider.

You could get a no-fee card like the Blue card. The MR points would become "Membership Rewards Express" points and no longer be eligible for transfer. However, you could wait a while, open a new Gold (or Plat) card account, get a new signup bonus, and the points would again revert to MR points and be eligible for transfer. I don't know if this would be appropriate for your situation or not.

Regarding Aeroplan, if you can wait that long (and you probably can't) they usually have a year-end transfer promotion where converting 100K points will get you a 20-25K bonus.
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Old Jun 7, 12, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by hellmutt View Post
OK, I read the threads. What I learned is as follows:

Right now their account seems to be offering a 20% shopping discount. $100 gift cards are 16,000 points. Not the greatest redemption rates, but with choices like Walmart they are good as cash.

With no impending travel plans, it's hard to suggest redeeming for miles. But it could be enough for a trip or two home on Air Canada I suppose. 1:1 ratio currently.

We could also try 'banking' them in one of my accounts, but results will vary whether Amex will successfully transfer to an account with my name on it. Only option here that really makes sense to me are Hilton since those are funding part of our planned vacation.

I had previously seen cash rates that were higher. Are those rates just long gone now? Any other active bonuses that people can suggest?
Some of the gift cards offer 1m:1c ratios, e.g., Home Depot, and perhaps more with the bonus. If what you want to do is convert to cash (recognizing it's not the maximum use, just a decent one), look for those cards that fit her spending patterns.
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Old Jun 9, 12, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
Some of the gift cards offer 1m:1c ratios, e.g., Home Depot, and perhaps more with the bonus. If what you want to do is convert to cash (recognizing it's not the maximum use, just a decent one), look for those cards that fit her spending patterns.
I don't see Home Depot or Kohls on this list. I only see a few:
-Walmart
-Apple
-Cooking.com
-Golfballs.com
-Sony
-LL Bean

Am I missing something?
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Old Jun 9, 12, 1:57 pm
  #14  
mia
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Home Depot insists that its name is "The Home Depot" and the cards are alphabetized in the "T" category. What is the exact name of the card? One upon a time there were Gold cards which participated in a diluted version of Membership Rewards, then called Membership Rewards Options, now called Membership Rewards Express.

Try this link:

http://www.membershiprewards.com/cat...0Gift%2520Card
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Old Jun 9, 12, 4:46 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
Home Depot insists that its name is "The Home Depot" and the cards are alphabetized in the "T" category. What is the exact name of the card? One upon a time there were Gold cards which participated in a diluted version of Membership Rewards, then called Membership Rewards Options, now called Membership Rewards Express.

Try this link:

http://www.membershiprewards.com/cat...0Gift%2520Card
It's a Gold AMEX Membership Rewards Plus.

Strange, maybe I was looking at the wrong place, I was looking in 'shopamex' but I see the cards now that you referenced. This is very confusing.
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