Well friends, the day is unfortunately here: As of tonight at 11:59PM Eastern (or perhaps even earlier), you can no longer cash-out American Express Membership Rewards at 1.25 cents each with the Schwab Platinum card. That makes it a great time to remind you about the often forgotten no-annual fee Morgan Stanley Card from American Express which I first learned about from the mostly defunct Windbag Miles, and then forgot about completely until the Schwab cash-out changes were confirmed. As of today now, it’s officially a member of the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Heroes club.
Let’s talk about this card:
- It earns Membership Rewards
- It bonuses at 2x on department stores, restaurants, car rentals, and airfare
- It has no annual fee
- You can transfer to airline partners
- You can cash out Membership Rewards to your Morgan Stanley account at one cent per point
The last bullet is the kicker, though the others are noteworthy too. This card may now be the best option for converting Membership Rewards to cash in an above-the-board sort of way. Yes, the Schwab Platinum gives you an extra 10% uplift on cash-out, but you also have to have a Schwab Platinum card and pay its $695 annual fee, which I guess you can offset slightly with Clear and a stupid gym membership.
Running the numbers quickly by moving the decimal, you’d have to cash-out more than 695,000 points with the Schwab Platinum at 1.1 cents per point to offset the annual fee of the Platinum card versus just cashing out at 1.0 cents per per point with the no fee Morgan Stanley Card; if you’re cashing out any number less than that over the period of a year, you should really be using the Morgan Stanley card and not the Schwab Platinum. As a really, really small incentive for getting the card, you’ll get 10,000 Membership Rewards as a sign up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months, and I’m guessing you’ve never gotten that signup bonus before. Right? It’s not exactly been high on my list.