Friday, February 26, 2010

Membership Rewards, paying off (I hope)

For over 10 years now, I've been a member of the American Express Membership Rewards program. Every dollar I spend gets me a point in the program, which can be used for goods and services at an approximately 1% refund rate. This is pretty standard for the industry. The service costs $40/year, which isn't standard (most of the programs are free), but I pay the fee happily because of what Membership Rewards gives me in return. Flexibility.

Like most people, I use my rewards points for miles on airlines, getting free tickets and such. Unlike most rewards programs, the AMEX Membership Rewards isn't linked to a specific airline. Instead, you have the option of transfering your point to about 20 different airlines, including Delta, Continental, USAir, JetBlue and Virgin. This flexibility has enabled me to scout out the best times for a particular route and get on the plane in the cheapest way possible. In addition, sometimes instead of buying a ticket outright with my miles, I'll fill in the number of miles I need using that airlines rewards program, which I'm already a member of. So if I need 20 more points on JetBlue to get a free ticket, I'll backfill using my Amex points.

As a result of my lust of points, I use Amex for everything possible. When I was married ten years ago, I charged nearly the whole thing on Amex, netting me an instant 40,000+ points. In the ensuing years, even though I've used the miles relatively frequently, I've still managed to accumulate an account balance of 173,000 points on my card.

And now it's at zero. I pulled the trigger today on a sweet deal that Delta was having. Namely, transfer points to Delta's frequent flyer program by February 28, 2010, and Delta will give you up to a 40% bonus on the miles transferred. 150,000+ miles transferred triggers the 40% bonus, so I just dumped all of my miles that I've been saving for 10+ years into Delta. I will come out on the other side with 242,200 miles!

For many years now, I've been imagining what I could do with a whole lot of miles, and since I've been planning my wedding, it's become clear. Ali and I want to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We'll be in Aruba for the wedding. That's a long flight. A very long and uncomfortable flight. Which would be made SO much nicer if we flew business/first class the whole way! So there it is. I'm bumping us up!

5 comments:

Nick said...

Heard about the new Full Tilt promo? If you enter "INSTANT25" as the referral code on your new account you'll receive $25 + 27% rakeback + a 100% deposit bonus up to $600! Also, you'll be entered into weekly freerolls! What do you have to lose?

HighOnPoker said...

Jamie, now that you are down to 0, let me recommend the Citibank Rewards Card that gets Thank You points. I have an accout with ThankYou.com that is associated with my Citibank credit card, as well as an Expedia account that gives me bonus points to ThankYou.com. Collectively, within two years, wifey Kim and I got something like 5 round trip flights and one one-way flight, simply by paying for most things with our credit card and paying the balance every month down to $0. ThankYou points can be redeemed via Expedia, so you can fly, stay, or rent a car from any company via Expedia.

There is no annual fee.

I think I found it 18 to 24 mos ago when I was researching free cards with the best rewards. Check it out.

Nick said...

Heard about the new Full Tilt promo? If you enter "INSTANT25" as the referral code on your new account you'll receive $25 + 27% rakeback + a 100% deposit bonus up to $600! Also, you'll be entered into weekly freerolls! What do you have to lose?

Mike G said...

You're already at a beautiful island resort destination in Aruba - wtf is the point in spending 12 hours on a plane to get to another similar island resort thousands of miles away?

Jamie said...

Mike - You're definitely not the first to bring this up but we've already thought about this. The idea is that Aruba is a pretty place to get married, cheaper than having a wedding in New York/Connecticut where our families are, but is also a short plane ride to our attendees. On the other hand, there is nothing to do in Aruba except the beach, and yours truly is not much of a beach person. I can't do more than 3 hours on the beach before I'm looking to do something else. So Hawaii seemed appropriate because of the dozens of other non-beach related activities available to fill our time over two weeks.

The way I see it, I'm only adding the expense of a one way ticket to Aruba in order to get married there and then honeymoon in Hawaii.