Efficient Non-Travel Use of MR Points?

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CarefulBuilder14
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Efficient Non-Travel Use of MR Points?

Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Thu May 29, 2014 2:46 pm

As I'm new to Amex, my PRG comes with a 50000 Membership Rewards point bonus after I spend $1000 in the first 3 months. I'm not totally clear on just how valuable points are. Some people say they can easily get $0.02 or more per point, and others say they only get a small fraction of a cent. I travel infrequently, fly coach and stay in cheap hotels, so upgrades/travel in general aren't probably the best use of the MR points for me.

I know there is some program allowing the use of MR points on Amazon, but I don't know if there's an unfavorable conversion involved - like 200 points only earning $1 of purchasing power. What suggestions do others have for efficient ways to use MR points outside of travel? Do some retailers with competitive prices treat 1 MR point as being worth more than 1.0000 cents?
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takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Fri May 30, 2014 9:49 am

If you want the most value per point it's generally through transferring to travel partners. IIRC gift cards are 1 cent/point and Amazon is a bit less -- 0.7 cents/point?

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Fri May 30, 2014 4:10 pm

Good to know about the different Amazon rate. I do use some of the retailers and restaurants with the gift cards, so that seems to be the way to go, using Amazon for whatever few points remain after gift cards.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

silver6054
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Postby silver6054 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:17 pm

Key thing about MR (and others to some extent): As noted, giftcard/other cashback at 1c per point isn't the most efficient use. But more importantly, if that is what you do, there are other cards that will give much better cashback rates. Really MR/SPG/UR make sense mainly when you transfer to travel partners (the 5x on the Freedom is perhaps an exception, but that has a low cap)

mrow
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Postby mrow » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:41 pm

If you think you'd use gift cards then you're really better off getting a BCP and buying those GCs at a grocery store. The first $6,000 worth each year are 6% cash back. If you don't travel MR cards are not the cards for you.

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Postby silver6054 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:44 pm

mrow wrote:If you think you'd use gift cards then you're really better off getting a BCP and buying those GCs at a grocery store. The first $6,000 worth each year are 6% cash back. If you don't travel MR cards are not the cards for you.

If you use gift cards, you can usually do better getting them through brokers. Giftcardgranny lists the best offers for buying and selling, a lot are more than 6% off with no cap.

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Postby mrow » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:15 am

silver6054 wrote:If you use gift cards, you can usually do better getting them through brokers. Giftcardgranny lists the best offers for buying and selling, a lot are more than 6% off with no cap.


If you plan your purchases out like that. You're looking at a week or so turnaround on an order from there. If you need something from Lowe's, for instance, on the spur the moment you're pretty much guaranteed to have a grocery store on the way there. With the BCP he'd still be better off making a purchase from somewhere like Giftcardgranny since he'd get the 1% cashback upfront.

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:40 pm

mrow wrote:If you think you'd use gift cards then you're really better off getting a BCP and buying those GCs at a grocery store. The first $6,000 worth each year are 6% cash back. If you don't travel MR cards are not the cards for you.


My spending currently varies a bit too much to really justify cards with annual fees. I'm a bit worried that right after I get a BCP that Chase and Discover (no AF) will start to offer 5.5%/5% cash back on groceries. BCE is reasonable, though.

I agree that MR points, long term, are probably not best for me when I can get cash. Still, though, getting an extra 50,000 of them is hard to beat (as far as I know) with an 'introductory bonus' on a different card.

I'm a bit reluctant to take the gift card route for regular purchases long-term as my spending habits change. Plus, I could get to Lowes and find they're out of the particular thing I want - and then find out that another store has it in stock or cheaper.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when

mrow
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Postby mrow » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:36 pm

CarefulBuilder14 wrote:My spending currently varies a bit too much to really justify cards with annual fees. I'm a bit worried that right after I get a BCP that Chase and Discover (no AF) will start to offer 5.5%/5% cash back on groceries. BCE is reasonable, though.

I agree that MR points, long term, are probably not best for me when I can get cash. Still, though, getting an extra 50,000 of them is hard to beat (as far as I know) with an 'introductory bonus' on a different card.

I'm a bit reluctant to take the gift card route for regular purchases long-term as my spending habits change. Plus, I could get to Lowes and find they're out of the particular thing I want - and then find out that another store has it in stock or cheaper.


At most Chase and Discover would offer that CB for 3 months a year. They also preannounce the whole years CB schedule so it's not like you'd be caught off guard by it... BCP is free the first year and if you decide to cancel after the first year they'll prorate your AF. It's your call though.

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Postby CarefulBuilder14 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:44 pm

mrow wrote:At most Chase and Discover would offer that CB for 3 months a year. They also preannounce the whole years CB schedule so it's not like you'd be caught off guard by it... BCP is free the first year and if you decide to cancel after the first year they'll prorate your AF. It's your call though.


Good point that they announce the categories in advance.

If the BCP $75 AF is waived the first year, I think it would only be part of a special offer. The public part of the Amex website gives no mention of a waived first-year fee.
Wallet: Prestige CSP SchwabPlat Freedom It Hyatt SallieMae AAPlat
SD: Arrival BrooksBros BCE ED IHG
Letting new accounts cool off since May
Really not sure what I'll add next or when



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