AMEX increasing annual fees while minimizing rewards

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Old May 21, 19, 5:51 am
  #46  
 
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Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
If you don't travel much with points or miles, the obvious answer here is to open up a Charles Schwab Platinum and transfer your 2 million AMEX points to $25,000 in cash
Such a shame to do that though, you can use 85k or 95k on *A with ANA and get a RT in J to Asia (and with slightly more, F), same kind of redemption for Europe, that makes it 10 R/T to Asia for 2 people at once (190k each time), and those are worth $4k, $5k, $6k... per person. That's potentially $100k+ worth, even $125k.
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Old May 21, 19, 6:48 am
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Originally Posted by Gasolin View Post
Such a shame to do that though, you can use 85k or 95k on *A with ANA and get a RT in J to Asia (and with slightly more, F), same kind of redemption for Europe, that makes it 10 R/T to Asia for 2 people at once (190k each time), and those are worth $4k, $5k, $6k... per person. That's potentially $100k+ worth, even $125k.
I agree, but itís not worth $100k if the OP has little interest in travel. The value of goods and services are determined by the utility the ultimate user gets - some value high end international travel at zero. For them, 10 shares of Amazon or whatever may provide much more value. Maybe he can gift the trips to relatives.
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Old May 21, 19, 6:54 am
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Chase certainly has ease of use over American Express and a good floor of value. American Express has more transfer partners with more ways to find a flight that you want. I agree if you are looking to fly domestic economy Chase with 1.5 cpp redemptions is likely going to be better than AMEX. Of course keep in mind if you are not MSing at office stores, I find MR points far easier to accrue than UR.

With MR you can book most United flights via Avianca or Air Canada. The only issue is that you donít have access to XN class saver fares. That gives Chase a pretty significant edge if youíre trying to fly on economy United metal.

Hyatt is a great transfer partner, however, personally Iíve found that Hyatt points are worth about 2.5x-3x as much as Hilton points. AMEX frequently runs 30% to 50% transfer bonuses with Hilton making the transfer ration 2.6x - 3x. So that is somewhat of a wash. You do get 5th night free with Hilton which you donít with Hyatt. Something brought to my attention recently which I never realized before is that you can frequently buy Hilton points for $0.005 each so perhaps never transferring to Hilton is the right move if you frequently are redeeming MR for airfare at a better than $0.01-$0.015 rate.

At the end of the day though, I think that for people who are using Chase for the $0.015 travel portal rate, they should simply switch from Chase to US Bank Altitude Reserve. This way you can earn 3x on almost all transactions via Apple Pay (pair with a Uber Visa for no AF 4% at restaurants) and you can redeem all of these points at 1.5cpp via Real Time Rewards. You can even search and buy on your preferred booking site or directly with the hotel for rewards, and via cashback portals to boost your earn rate.
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Old May 21, 19, 11:02 am
  #49  
 
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In the past year, I have found increased value in AMEX MR personal cards.

1. Gold Card enhancements: In the past year, the Gold Card was refreshed with 4x dining/groceries is great to pair with the AMEX Platinum card. I have no problem using a different card for my limited dining abroad.

2. Ebates.com: I have earned a shipload of MR points from ebates.com, which recently added the MR earning opportunity. I am not aware of a dedicated airline or credit card shopping portal which is better.

3. Airline Partner Transfer Bonuses: There are decent airline transfer bonuses for MR. Earlier this year I took advantage of a 30% Asia Miles transfer bonus.

4: IAP: IAP is now bookable online.

5. FHR: FHR now earns up to 5 points per dollar spent

6. Superior Airline Transfer Partners: Transfer partners such as Cathay Pacific and ANA cannot be beaten by Chase. Citi is comparable to AMEX MR with its transfer partners, however the Citi cards lack other perks offered by AMEX Plat.

For those who want hotel points, it is best to get a co-brand card for Hilton and Marriott. The same holds true for Hyatt with Chase. Unfortunately Marriott doesn't offer the same value as SPG did in the past. It would be understandable for those who want to cancel their legacy SPG/Marriott cards.

A case can also be made that co-brand cards are also best for domestic airlines, as the perks may outweigh the points constraints.

My American Express Platinum annual fee comes due next month, and I will be renewing. I believe that American Express MR Personal card offerings are in a better place now than they were a year ago.
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Old May 21, 19, 11:22 am
  #50  
 
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I still like AMex, but the $25k cap on the gold card is a killer. 4x on restaurants is nice but 1x on groceries after $25k is a huge devaluation in my opinion. And the recent decision to zero out Simon has me dusting off my CSR card. Will probably split spend between the two now where I have been almost exclusively Amex for the past 2-3 years. I will still use MR for Asia trips and for BA Avios for domestic US travel if/when there is a transfer bonus.
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Old May 21, 19, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by halamadrid View Post
If you are unable to get > $0.01 p/MR point or your travel/spending/lifestyle do not allow you to get >$0.01 then I'd say that's a clear indication that you are in the wrong rewards ecosystem and that is perhaps the root of your dilemma. Card companies are focused on profitability and that requires them to tinker with what customer behavior they decide to reward (one can agree or disagree with this of course and I'm not saying I support this). Depending on where you fall within this varying behavior spectrum will determine how rewarding a particular rewards ecosystem is for you. When the changes to Marriott happened my initial reaction was that I was now misaligned and needed to leave the ecosystem, but then I took a second look to see if I could realign and still get value from the program. When I did this, I found that by realigning I could indeed get really good value so I sort of doubled down. The Amex realignment that you mention really worked for me on the Gold side, but not on the Platinum side so I dropped that one.

As a side note, I constantly do the same evaluation with Hilton and haven't found a good alignment so I stay away from that ecosystem. However, I read plenty of people here that are getting great value from Hilton and I believe them and in some ways feel a sense of benign envy and congratulate them for being in the Hilton sweet spot. I'd say just keep evaluating and find your sweet spot in terms of rewards value for each ecosystem. You can also always park temporarily in the cash back ecosystem while you evaluate to maintain a certain sense of certainty on your returns.
I do not travel much, but when I do, it's usually on United (as I have a United Club membership) and stay at either Hilton or an SPG brand. More Hilton now as the Marriott redemptions are way out of whack. They really destroyed the SPG brand.


Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
If you don't travel much with points or miles, the obvious answer here is to open up a Charles Schwab Platinum and transfer your 2 million AMEX points to $25,000 in cash
I do not want to pay for the annual fee from Schwab, so that's a mute point. In addition, I may use them sometime, so I like to keep them in reserve. It's one of the reasons why I keep the Blue business card. However, since I do not travel much, I do prefer the cash back over points. When I ran my last business, I put everything on my business platinum and just had tens of millions of points. It was how I was invited to the Black Card; but turned it down because I didn't want to pay the fee (2007).

Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
4x on Membership Rewards gets me significantly more international F/J than 5% cash back. Based on my travel patterns, I'd be getting, at best, half as much value with simple cash back.
Again, I guess it depends on how much you travel. Airplane travel is a pain for me.
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Old May 21, 19, 12:37 pm
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Originally Posted by comptalk View Post
Again, I guess it depends on how much you travel. Airplane travel is a pain for me.
if you dont travel much or like to travel on airplanes then yeah, amex points arent as valuable as cash back and you arent in the target market for amex points. pretty much sums up this entire thread
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Old Jul 14, 19, 12:20 pm
  #53  
 
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I usually only use Amex for special deals such as: during restaurant week in NYC, they offer 5% back; and there are specific deals from vendors. Otherwise the % back from other cards is much higher. My goto cards are: Chase Saphire, Citi 2% mastercard on purchases, and Discover. Chase and Discover offer 5% back on certain categories per quarter.
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Old Jul 16, 19, 1:01 am
  #54  
 
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Originally Posted by knopfler View Post
I still like AMex, but the $25k cap on the gold card is a killer. 4x on restaurants is nice but 1x on groceries after $25k is a huge devaluation in my opinion. And the recent decision to zero out Simon has me dusting off my CSR card. Will probably split spend between the two now where I have been almost exclusively Amex for the past 2-3 years. I will still use MR for Asia trips and for BA Avios for domestic US travel if/when there is a transfer bonus.
I can't fathom spending $25000 at grocery stores, so I only imagine you are MS'ing, which is something Amex is cranky about even outside of initial sign up bonuses.
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