AmEx Membership Rewards Cash-Outs and Hacks

I got a few questions about cashing out Membership Rewards on the heels of yesterday’s post, so now is as good a time as any to talk about the current ways to cash out Those points. Some are above board and some are, shall we say, a titch less so. First, the obviously allowed and supported options:

  • With the American Express Schwab Platinum card, you can cash-out at 1.1 cents per point
  • With the Morgan Stanley Platinum card, you can cash out account for 1.0 cents per point
  • With the Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Hero no annual fee Morgan Stanley card, you can also cash out for 1.0 cents per point
  • Without any special card, you can always redeem directly for a statement credit at 0.6 cents per point using Pay with Points. This is a terrible deal, though, don’t do it

And now, the travel hacker ways:

  • Book refundable travel through American Express Travel and pay with Membership Rewards, then cancel the itinerary and it will be refunded as a statement credit at 1.00 cents per point (Hint: with the Business Platinum’s 35% rebate and a long time, like crossing over the boundary of a year, sometimes you can do better but you may end up angering AmEx)
  • A variation on the above: Book a ticket with American Express Travel and pay with Membership Rewards, but don’t buy a refundable ticket; instead by a ticket that can be canceled to an airline’s wallet or as an e-credit/travel voucher and use that credit sometime in the future for airfare that you’d normally pay for with cash (generally non basic-economy tickets fall into this category in the COVID-era travel world, but be sure to double check with your airline of choice). For rules on airline travel vouchers and wallets, see this post at Milenomics

Finally, the ways that are almost certain to get you in trouble eventually (Let me reiterate — these are bad ideas and will almost certainly cause you problems or catch up to you, don’t do them without understanding how risky they could be):

  • Sell travel to your friends and family, then book the itineraries with them using your Membership Rewards
  • Sell your Membership Rewards to a points broker, you’ll earn 1.3 to 1.5 cents per point

Happy hacking!

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I’m starting to feel like I was scammed when I sold Jimmy 8,000 Membership Rewards and got this.

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