I am lucky to have locked in the 2 cents per point loophole with the AmEx Biz Platinum 50% before the 31 May 2017 deadline. Although the points take forever to post after redemption, I am more certain than before that we can still double dip by picking any card in the MR points pool. Now lets consider all the categories that earn MR points at 2 cents per point and recalculate as cash back assuming we use it for travel. It was Greg’s article at the Frequent Miler that prompted me to consider the old friend, The Amex Everyday Preferred.
As you read before, you need to use the card 30 times in a billing period for a 50% boost in points. The categories are 3-2-1x for Supermarkets, Gas, Everything. With the 50% bonus that becomes 4.5x, 3x, 1.5x, and with 2 cents redemption we get 9%, 6%, 3% cash back!
Moving on we have our old friend the Gold Biz AmEx of which I am planning to downgrade one Biz Pt back to since I ended up with two Biz Plat accounts. This card lets you choose your 3x category every year. You can pick from Airfare, Advertising, Gasoline, Shipping, and Computer Hardware (Includes iTunes). You already get 3x on gas with the Everyday Preferred, and 5x on Airlines on Platinum leaving advertising, shipping, Computer hardware as the only serious choices. At 2 cents per point, this is 6% cashback when used for ads, shipping, computers.
The last card I do not have yet, but for a moment I thought about getting it. It is the Morgan Stanley AmEx Credit Card.
This card gets 2x points on airlines, 2x at restaurants, 2x at department stores, 2x at car rentals for essentially 4% cash back when using pay with points while being grandfathered into the 50% points back with Biz Platinum. You would use this card for all categories but airline, because of the 5x on Personal Platinum.
Then I realized I already had a 2x card for dining and it’s the AmEx PRG or Primer Rewards Gold! I also need to start the second round of spend 01 July 2017. I hate department stores, and my wife is a TJ Maxxinista, so department stores are a worthless benefit of the MS Credit Card. Then car rentals fall under travel so Chase and US Bank have the better deal on that one at 4.5%. Plus my mom was tricked into getting the 5% Cashback TJ Maxx card for a single 10% discount, but that’s another story entirely. How dare they manipulate an old lady into getting a credit card, that’s my job! I was able to make my wife an AU on her already opened account.
Below is the current spend strategy for me for the rest of my time grandfathered into the old 50% back program:
|Category||Card||Points||Cash for flights @ 2 cents|
|Mercedes Stuff||MB Plat||5x||10%|
|Ads or||Gold Biz||3x||6%|
|Shipping or||Gold Biz||3x||6%|
|Department Stores||MS Credit Card||2x||4%|
|Car Rentals||MS Credit Card||2x||4%|
|Anything over $5k||Biz Plat||1.5x||3%|
|Anything else||Everyday Preferred||1.5x||3%|
Keep in mind these valuations are good for just one more year with 50% points back for 2 cents per point only for travel. I just wish I had a place to go! Now how does this compare to the Chase and US Bank Products?
|Category||Card||Points||Redeeming Points for 1.5 Cents|
|NFC (Apple Pay)||Altitude||3x||4.50%|
You can see that we get 1.5 cents per point for travel with the other guys for 4.5% cash back across the board. This is good for when AmEx essentially reverts to 35% points back for the same 1.5 cents per point in one year. The CSR is the clear winner over any AmEx for dining. The MS Credit Card is absolutly not looking so good now! Let’s look at actual cash back with the rest of my collection:
|Groceries||Blue Cash Preferred||6%|
|Gas||Cost Co Everyday Citi||4%|
|Restaurant/Travel||Cost Co Everyday Citi||3%|
|Cost Co||Cost Co Everyday Citi||2%|
Not bad for the time after 50%, or if I am unable to travel. The beauty of the MR points is the 1.25 cents per point for the cash out with Charles Schwab AmEx Platinum if I don’t want to travel. Keep the points in the MR pool, and don’t transfer them till you know what you are going to do with them!
As always please use the referrals here if interested, I made a chart of Cash Back Values here for your reading pleasure. The excel file shows points at 2 cents @ 50% bonus, 1.5 cents at 35% bonus, and 1.25 cents for Schwab Cashout.