Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
I posted a couple weeks ago about some amazing one-day specials that Chase Ultimate Rewards is offering throughout the holiday season. In short, they will have days where they offer 10x points at retailers like Best Buy, Apple, and Target. Those are “five star” retailers in my book, especially around the holidays. In that original post, I wrote that I hoped Amex Membership Rewards would get the hint and step up their game as well. Today I got an email from Membership Rewards showing that many of their popular retailers had increased their earnings to 6x points for a “limited time”. It seems that the 6x offer is for Platinum Card holders and the 5x is for Premier Gold Card holders for many popular stores.
Here is a sampling of some of the current Membership Rewards offers compared to some of the current Ultimate Rewards offers. Keep in mind that some Ultimate Reward retailers will have some one-day specials that greatly increase the earnings on that particular day.
Keep in mind that when Membership Rewards says 6x you will be getting 6 points per dollar. When Ultimate Rewards says 6x, it means you are earning “6 extra” points on top of your regular earnings, so essentially it really means 7x. That is another little way that Ultimate Rewards often has the edge over Membership Rewards.
I have frequently been asked what is worth more, an Ultimate Reward point or a Membership Reward point. As with almost every question in the miles and points world, it depends… It depends mostly on how you want to use the points in the future. When possible, I like to redeem my points in the Continental/United, Hyatt, and Starwood Preferred Guest programs. SPG isn’t a good transfer option with either UR or MR, and Hyatt and Continental/United are both only options in Ultimate Rewards. So, I personally value UR points more just because they feed into two of the three points programs that I use the most. There are some programs, like British Airways, that are transfer options for both UR and MR, but many programs seem to be partnered with one or the other. The one thing I like better about Membership Rewards is the transfer bonuses they have offered in the past – sometimes a 50% transfer bonus or more. So far Ultimate Rewards has not done transfer bonuses, so that win goes to MR.
All that being said, I do think a UR point is currently slightly more valuable than a MR point, but both do have great value due to their flexibility. You really can’t go too wrong earning points in either (or both) program(s). I highly recommend comparing the points payout for your selected retailers to then make a decision on which shopping portal to use after seeing what the different payouts are. The chart above can get you started, but it is always good to double check for yourself. As always, I am more than happy to help answer questions!
Need an Ultimate Rewards points-earning card?
With all of this talk of Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards, I know there are a few of you who still don’t have cards that can earn points in one or both of those programs. If you don’t yet have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, I highly recommend getting it now so that you can take advantage of all these great points earning opportunities this holiday season. For many families, this time of year is when a lot of purchase get made anyway, so it can be a great time to meet minimum spending requirements on your credit card (in a responsible way, of course). You get 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and pay no annual fee the first year. I plan to post more about my own experience with this card within the next week!
Need a Membership Rewards points-earning card?
I love the benefits that my The Platinum Card® from American Express affords me when I travel (airline lounge access, $200 airline fee reimbursement, etc…). The highest offer I know of right now for the traditional Amex Platinum is for 25,000 sign-up points and a $450 annual fee. However, the Platinum Mercedes Benz version comes with 50,000 sign-up bonus points and a $475 annual fee with many of the same benefits. In my opinion the Platinum card is “worth it”, (at least for the first year when you get the bonus points) as long as you travel frequently and will use the travel benefits. As you can see from the chart above, you also have a higher Membership Rewards earning rate through their shopping portal.
However, if you don’t think you will use the the travel benefits enough to off-set the fee, the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card may be a better fit for your family. It comes with 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first three months, and has the $175 annual fee waived the first year. You earn 3x Membership Rewards points on airfare and 2x on gas and groceries. Plus, you can take advantage of the “limited time” Membership Rewards point earnings listed above!
Disclosure: Some of the credit card links I have provided in this post would provide me a commission if you were approved for the card by using my link.