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17 Best & Worst Ways to Use Your Amex Points in 2022

American Express Membership Rewards points are some of the best rewards you can earn because they're flexible - you can use them for travel, gift cards, or statement credits, among other things.

Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards include:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The American Express® Gold Card
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • American Express® Green Card 
  •  Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

Each card offers a unique set of bonuses and benefits depending on how you spend and travel.

While Amex's rewards program has a lot of flexibility, that doesn't mean all redemption options get the same cents per point value.

This post will cover some of the best and worst ways to use your Amex points. The data points here are calculated from the American Express Rewards calculator: 

The Worst Ways to Redeem Your Amex Membership Rewards

Let's start with the worst ways to use your Amex points.

1. Shop With Points

Amex has a shopping portal with many products you can buy with Membership Rewards points. While this is a versatile way to use your points, it doesn't have a high redemption value.

For 10,000 points, you'll only get a value of 0.5 CPP— which is not the best value for Amex points.

If you're set on using points for merchandise, you might be better off buying a gift card or going through a shopping partner like Amazon.

2. Transferring Points to Partners

Amex has a ton of airline transfer partners that you can transfer your points straight to. 

Most partners offer a 1-to-1 transfer rate, so if you transfer 1,000 points to them, they will give you 1,000 points back. Sometimes, American Express runs promotions for transfer partners where you can get a better rate.

One thing to keep in mind here is the Excise Tax Offset Fee.

In most cases, American Express charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99 for any single transfer) when you transfer points to U.S. airlines with a card such as The Platinum Card®. 

American Express's U.S. airline partners that charge an excise fee include:

  • Delta
  • JetBlue
  • Hawaiian

On a 100,000-point transfer, that fee equates to $60. In addition to these charges, the airline may also charge taxes and fees.

However, not all partners charge this fee. Some of the airline programs where you can transfer Membership Rewards points without paying any fees include:

  • Are Lingus Aeroclub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest Miles
  • Iberia Plus Miles
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore KrisFlyer Miles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Since these are points from airlines outside the United States, American Express won't charge you the Excise Tax Offset fee to transfer points into these programs, although you need to evaluate their value (Note: some of them are hard to redeem points from). Transferring points to their hotel partners will also be free of charge.

Unfortunately, the only way to transfer points to your Delta SkyMiles account is through AMEX, so be prepared to pay the fee to utilize them.

To get the best redemption rates, you need to do a lot of research before you transfer your points.

3. Redeeming for Statement Credit

If you don't want to pay your card bill, you can redeem your points for statement credits, effectively wiping out any purchases you made with the card. While this option is handy, it also isn't recommended.

However, if you're in a pinch, this can help.

It's best used as a last resort if you need some last-minute funds to cover your balance. But each point will only be worth 0.6 CPP. So the low value makes it not a great option.

We'll talk about other setups later in this post if you're after cash.

4. Donate Your Points to Charity

With JustGiving, you can donate your points to over 1.5 million charities. Unless you can redeem your points for travel, you'll likely get no more than 0.7 cents per point from this redemption option.

The points aren't the greatest value for your money, but if you don't need your points, this is a decent option.

Beware of the value change, though. Depending on the organization, the value of your points may vary, so pay attention.

Doing the math can help you make a bigger impact.

5. Booking Travel via

With American Express Travel, you can book all kinds of travel, including hotels, vacation packages, and cruises.

If you book travel through the American Express Travel portal (excluding airfare), you will only earn 0.7 CPP. In addition, considering other companies will give you 1 CPP, booking your travel using the Amex Travel portal may not be the best way to spend your Amex points.

Keep in mind that using the Amex Travel Portal is NOT the same as using a transfer partner.

6. Merchandise

Similar to option 1, you can use your points to spend with certain merchants.

The cents per point come out to 0.7 mostly, except for NYC Taxis and Those have different point-to-cent ratios, so check the redemption rate before redeeming, as redemption rates may vary from retailer to retailer.

You also need to be careful because some platforms like Amazon can automatically fill in that you're using M.R. points when you check out.

If you want to use your points for shopping, there are probably better options in this list.

7. Redeem for Business Checking

This option is new for 2022.

If you have a business checking account with Amex, you can redeem your points for cash. You'll get 0.8 CPP, so 10,000 points would come out to $800. These points are considered rebates instead of income, so you're not taxed on them. 

So if you have a lot of points, cashing out your business checking account through your Business Platinum might be a better option. (More about this below)

8. Gift Cards

Gift cards come in different types, and your redemption value varies. Then again, there are many 1 CPP options with less variance, which is not too bad.

It may not be the best redemption method for your Amex points because it has additional hoops to jump through.

The Best Amex Membership Rewards Redemption Methods

9. Upgrade Your Seat

With Upgrade with Points, you can bid on seat upgrades at over 20 participating airlines using your Membership Rewards points. This is a convenient option if you are worried about cramped seats on long flights. 

It might make more sense to upgrade your seat with the actual card and earn more points because there are higher-value options to redeem your points. However, membership rewards here are worth at least 1 CPP depending on how you use them.

If you value your seat on the plane, you might like this option.

10. Book Flights Via Amex Portal and Hotels Via Amex FHR

This is a great option for the avid traveler.

Compared to other companies, you can get a decent rate on your points. You can expect to redeem 1 CPP with flights and hotels if you book it through the Amex Portal.

But if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could get 1.5 CPP when you book through their own portal.

With this option, you can get an elevated value for your points, whether it is flights, and pay yourself back.

11. Business Checking Account with Business Platinum

This is a better option than the 7th option mentioned above. 

Instead of $800 per 100,000 points, you can get a better rate of 1 CPP. That comes out to $1,000 per 100,000 points. You must have the Amex Business Platinum card, though.

If you run a large business, that might be enough to offset the annual fee, but you still need to do the math.

12. Morgan Stanley Cash Out

If you own a Morgan Stanley brokerage account, this might be useful.

It's similar to a business checking account using your business platinum but on a more personal card side.

If you own the Platinum Card from American Express Morgan Stanley edition, you can cash out your points to your brokerage account at 1 CPP.

The points can be cashed out anywhere once they reach your brokerage account. 

Though, you might want to consider these things first before you use this option:

  1. To get the Morgan Stanley Platinum Card, you need to be approved.
  2. You must have a Morgan Stanley brokerage account to apply for this card. Among the easiest ones to go for is Morgan Stanley Access Investing, which only requires $5,000 to open and charges 0.35% per year on investments.
  3. The Morgan Stanley Platinum Card has an annual fee of $695.

I made a blog post about this before and how to waive the annual fee. You can learn more about it here: 

13. Charles Schwab Cash Out

You can transfer M.R. points at 1.1 CPP to your brokerage account with the Platinum Card from American Express Charles Schwab. So if you're looking to redeem for cash, this might be the best option. 

However, as with any other Amex Platinum cards, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Again, you need to be approved to qualify for the Schwab Platinum Card.
  • A Schwab brokerage account (either your own or a trust you oversee) or an IRA at Schwab (not managed by an independent investment advisor) is required to apply for the card. The eligibility rules can change at any time.
  • Amex reserves the right to cancel your American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab if you do not maintain a Schwab account.
  • Currently, the Schwab Platinum Card annual fee is $695.

14. Using Amex Business Gold Card's Rebate Feature

If you have a Business Gold, you can get a 25% rebate when you book an eligible flight.

So, if you use 100,000 points to cover a $1,000 flight, you'll get 25,000 points back. That means you used only 75,000 points for a $1,000 purchase, which works out to a rate of 1.33 CPP.

The maximum rebate is 250,000 points, so you wouldn't want to redeem more than 1 million.

15. Using Amex Business Platinum Card's Rebate Feature

Platinum Business cardholders can redeem M.R. points for travel and get a 35% rebate when they use their card for either first class or business class travel or flights with the airline of their choice (via the travel incidental credit).

That means if you spend 100,000 points for a $1,000 flight, you'll get 35,000 points back. Considering the 35% points rebate, the effective value is 1.54 CPP.

This is your best bet if you're looking for a simple travel redemption. The maximum rebate here is 1 million points per year, so you wouldn't want to redeem more than 2.85 million.

16. Using Amex Business Centurion Card's Rebate Feature

This is the same for the two previous options, but even better!

You can redeem your points with Business Centurion for a 50% rebate. As you know, spending 100,000 points for a $1,000 flight would get you 50,000 points back. 

With the rebate, you can effectively get 2 CPP, the highest rate we've discussed.

On top of that, there is no maximum rebate. However, the personal Centurion card does not offer flight rebates.

17. Transferring Points to Amex's Airline or Hotel Partners

Finally, you can transfer your points to American Express airline and hotel partners.

The rate here can be up to 10 CPP, but it can generally fluctuate or come out to about 2 or 3 CPP when you get through all the transferring. There are a lot of nuances to this one. 

But for avid travelers, this might be a decent option for you.

Overall Thoughts

American Express points can be redeemed in many ways, so it's important to know which one gives you the most value.

While you can use them for merchandise or shopping with Amazon, they don't provide good value.

Most people will get the best value from their points by transferring them to airline or hotel partners or using your Amex business card.

Ultimately, it all depends on what kind of travel you're looking for and how much work you're willing to put in. Spend some time comparing the cash cost via Amex Travel to the points cost if you transfer to a partner to see which one will save you the most money.

YouTube Video

Watch this video to find out how to get the most out of your Amex points:


How to Use Chase Pay Yourself Back Feature: Step-by-Step Guide

Starting May 31, 2020, Chase added a new temporary benefit for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card  and Chase Sapphire Reserve® members to “Pay Yourself Back.”

Note: The “Pay Yourself Back” feature is not available to the no annual fee Chase Sapphire card.

How Pay Yourself Back Works

The Pay Yourself Back Program lets Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem Ultimate Rewards to offset select category purchases at a favorable rate.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.50 cents per point

Pay Yourself Back Categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores (including take out and eligible delivery services)
  • Home improvement stores
  • Select charitable organizations
  • The following charitable organizations are currently eligible for Pay Yourself Back: American Red Cross, Equal Justice Initiative, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, International Medical Corporation, Leadership Conference Education Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United  Negro College Fund, United Way, and World Central Kitchen.

The current promotion is valid through September 30, 2020, but it’s possible that it may be extended due to uncertain times.

[ March 30 Update ] Pay Yourself Back is extended until Sept 30, 2021.

How to Use Pay Yourself Back: Step-by-Step Guide

1. Log in to your online Chase account

Sign into your online Chase account and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards tab located on the bottom of the left column.

2. Select your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve card

Select the card you’d like to access. If you have multiple Ultimate Reward earning cards, you can choose to pool points to the Sapphire card to redeem.

In our example, we choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

3. Select the “Pay Yourself Back” menu option located in the left menu column

Navigate to the left hand column and select the “Pay Yourself Back” menu item. Clicking the main promotional banner also works, as seen in the screenshot below.

4. Pay Yourself Back

The current categories for pay yourself back are: restaurant and grocery stores (including take out and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores, and select charitable organizations.

5. Choose the purchases to Pay Yourself Back

After each purChase posts, you have 90 days to pay yourself back. Check the respective box to select the purChase.

6. Set your amount

Enter the dollar amount you’d like to receive as a statement credit by using some or all of your available Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred redemption rate is 1.25 cents per point, and the Sapphire Reserve is 1.50 cents per point.

After setting the cash value, click “Confirm & Submit” to redeem!


Best Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

One of the main benefits of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that you can transfer them out to partners if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Preferred.

You can view credit card offers by going to the "Credit Card Offers" tab. Find offers for the respective cards in "Travel Rewards Credit Cards" and "Business Credit Cards." You don't have to use our links, but we're grateful when you do. Thank you for supporting AskSebby!

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a rate of 1:1. On average, you can get up to two cents per point when you use transfer partners.

If you're looking for the most value possible, then airline partners are the way to go for first class redemption. This also works well for last minute flights.


The way I redeem points for "best value" is hotels because everyone in your travel group can benefit.

For example, if I transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to United:

  • United Polaris (US to Asia) is 70k one-way, per person
  • 70k Chase points => 70k United points

On the other hand, if I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt:

  • Hyatt Category 7 (top tier) is 30k, per night.
  • 30k Chase points => 30k Hyatt points.

For the cost of a round trip United Polaris flight to Asia, I can get four nights at a top tier Hyatt property.


  • Park Hyatt: NYC, Paris-Vendome, Tokyo, Sydney
  • Hyatt Residence: Maui, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, Aspen

IHG is not an ideal transfer partner because of the cost of the points, and you typically need more points for a redemption.

In my experience, Hyatt has the best redemption value for transfer partners. The Category 1 Hyatt properties start at 5,000 Hyatt points.

Category 1 = 5,000 Hyatt points / 5,000 Chase UR points

  • $100 a night / 5k points = 2 cents per point
  • $200 a night / 5k points = 4 CPP

Check out the video below for more redemption ideas.


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What is CardMatch? Everything You Need to Know
Credit Cards 101

Have you ever applied for a credit card only to be told you don’t qualify? It can be frustrating, especially if you’re not sure why. That’s where CardMatch comes in. 

CardMatch is a tool offered by that helps you to match yourself with credit card offers from multiple issuers based on your credit profile. It’s quick, easy, and, best of all, free!

How Does CardMatch Work? 

CardMatch is a tool that allows you to compare credit card offers from multiple issuers in one place. All you need to do is provide some basic information about yourself, including:

  • Your full name
  • Your home address
  • The last four digits of your Social Security Number
  • Your email address
  • Employment status
  • Income
  • Monthly rent payments

From there, CardMatch will generate a list of pre-approved and special offers tailored specifically for you in less than 60 seconds.

One of the best things about CardMarch is that it’s completely free to use. There’s no obligation to apply for any of the cards you’re presented with, so you can shop around without worrying about damaging your credit score. 

Note that since these are targeted offers, not everyone will have the same results. CardMatch may also not have all cards currently available on the market.

Try CardMatch:

How to Use the CardMatch Tool to Find Better Sign-Up Offers
American Express

What if you could save time and find multiple credit card offers that you're prequalified for without impacting your credit score? Sometimes, you may even get targeted for special offers (not publicly available) based on your credit profile when you use the CardMatch Tool.  

What is CardMatch?

CardMatch is a tool that shows you pre-approved and special targeted offers (sometimes) from select credit issuers. The tool conducts a soft pull so that it won't affect your credit score. See your matched offers in less than 60 seconds.

Why use CardMatch?

Every so often, the CardMatch tool has great offers for select cards. For example, not everyone will be targeted, but sometimes you can find The Platinum Card® from American Express with 125,000-150,000 point welcome offers after you spend $6,000 within the first 6 months. Terms apply. A couple of AskSebby subscribers have reported they were able to apply for and get the offer. YMMV.

Users may not be matched with all offers or banks, and matches are based on your credit profile.

How to use the CardMatch Tool

To take advantage of targeted offers available, simply go to the CardMatch Tool. Enter your information, agree to the terms of service, and the system will search for offers.

Be sure to view "All Matches" to see everything you're targeted for.

Want to see if you're pre-qualified for any great offers? Try it out yourself!

CardMatch Tool

How to Get the Amex Platinum 150K Offer
American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium travel credit card that offers a wide range of exclusive benefits and rewards. Some of the benefits offered by the card include travel perks, such as airport lounge access and elite hotel status.

Amex Platinum 150k Welcome Bonus Offer

The Platinum Card has a public offer available to everyone, but there's also an elusive elevated Amex Platinum 150,000 point bonus.

American Express has a once-in-a-lifetime welcome bonus rule, so if you earned an intro offer for the Amex Platinum in the past, you likely do not qualify for the elevated offer.

Here’s how to find the 150,000 Amex Platinum offer for first-time Amex cardholders. 

How to Get the Amex Platinum 150K Offer

There are several ways to check whether you’re eligible for the Amex Platinum 150K offer by either:

  1. Visiting the American Express website. 
  2. Checking CardMatch, a free tool that can potentially match you with the best offers when you enter your information.
  3. Reviewing targeted email offers.

Here’s how each method works to see if you qualify for the offer. 

Method 1: Visit the American Express website

One of the easiest ways to determine whether you qualify for the Amex Platinum 150k offer is by simply visiting their website. Sometimes American Express will show elevated offers to new customers.

Amex Plat 150k Offer

There may also be the American Express pre-qualification tool that shows an elevated offer. This will allow you to enter your information securely (no hard credit pull) and match you with available offers.

Through the pre-qualification tool, rather than applying for The Platinum Card from American Express through the ‘Apply Now’ page, you can use a special “Check for Offers” link, which will ask for your information and tell you whether you’re pre-qualified for the 150k Platinum offer. 

Method 2: Check CardMatch for the Amex Platinum 150k Offer

If you're not targeted for elevated offers on American Express's website, one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you qualify for an elevated offer is through a free tool called CardMatch.

Best Gas Cards 2022: Earn Up to 5% Cash Back on Gas Purchases
Cash Back

The average national gas price now exceeds $5 a gallon, and experts predict prices will rise to above $6 during the summer. 

A good gas credit card will provide you with cashback and/or reward points for fuel purchases to optimize your spending. 

In this article, we will focus specifically on cards that offer consistent cash back or points on gas. While several other cards offer quarterly rotating gas rewards, we’re looking at consistent gas rewards cards to maximize your total gas savings.

Gas Card #1: Abound Credit Union Visa Platinum Card

While you may not have heard of this card, it has one of the best value for gas rewards at 5% cash back on gas purchases. It also has 1% cashback on all other purchases and a rotating 5% cashback on other categories throughout the year, including streaming services, Amazon purchases, travel, and health fitness. 

Although you can apply for the Abound card without becoming a member, the risk is that credit unions tend to remove card benefits when there are too many applicants. 

It's usually the way credit union cards work, so this card may not be suitable for everyone. 

Gas Card # 2: Citi Custom Cash® Card

The Citi Custom Cash card is good choice for a no annual fee keeper card. In addition to 5% back on gas, it also offers 5% cashback on a handful of other categories, including restaurants, home improvement, grocery stores, and select travel. The benefit of the Citi Custom Cash Card is that even if your spending habits change and you spend less on gas, this card can still provide valuable rewards to you in other categories.

It is also flexible in how you choose to spend your rewards. The Citi Custom Cash card rewards are in the form of Thank You points™. This means that if you chose to redeem your points for travel, you could potentially receive more than 5% cash back that month.


The drawback is that there is a $500 per month earning limit on rewards. This means that if you spend more than $500 on eligible purchases during the month, only the first $500 will receive the 5% cashback benefit. 

Gas Card # 3: Cardless Card - New Orleans Pelicans

Cardless is a white-label card-issuing service that partners with brands. The Cardless family of credit cards is a series of cards that allow various brands, focusing on American basketball and European football (soccer) teams, to have their own branded, customized credit card. 

We’ll look specifically at the New Orleans Pelicans credit card. It offers some great rewards on gas – 4x rewards points with no annual fee and no monthly cap. The 4x rewards work out to 4% cash back since Cardless calculates its rewards points at 1 CPP.

The drawback to Cardless is that you are only allowed to have one Cardless card at a time. So if you already have a Cardless card for your favorite team, you can’t get the Pelicans card to cash in on the gas points. If you are interested in a Cardless card for special deals on your favorite team’s tickets and merchandise, you would be losing out on those things to have a Pelicans card just for gas, so choose wisely. 

Gas Card # 4: The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

With the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card, you earn unlimited 5 points per dollar spent at the gas pump, including EV charging stations. This is among the best rewards rates you will find on gas. Along with free fuel rewards, the card also pays unlimited 3 points per dollar on groceries and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

However, there are a few things to be aware of. For starters, you must join PenFed's credit union to apply. Getting a PenFed membership requires an application and a $5 deposit into a savings account.

The redemption options are also limited, as you can’t use your points to redeem for cash back. A PenFed spokesperson confirmed that points earned with a Platinum Rewards card are usually worth about 0.85 cents each. Considering this card has no annual fee, its redemption value isn’t that great when compared to other no-annual-fee rewards cards.

On the other hand, travel points are potentially worth 1.7 cents each on average, depending on dates and options. There may also be travel booking fees when redeeming for travel.

Another thing to note is that since the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card is a credit union card, you'll have to keep a close eye to ensure that the points or deals on the card don’t change or decrease.

Credit unions typically make a larger percentage of their income from credit cards and other loan interest than larger banks, so they are more likely to change the terms of their credit offers to ensure that it remains profitable to them.  

Gas Card #5 & 6: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi or Sam’s Club Cards

These cards are designed for buying gas at the respective wholesale clubs. Not only can you take advantage of the discount gas at your club store, but you can also earn cash back with your credit card. 

These are both similar cards in terms of rewards level. The Sam’s Club card gives you 5% cash back on gas purchases for up to $6,000 a year, which works out to about $500 per month in gas, and then 1% cashback above $6,000. Depending on your membership level, there may be additional reward caps on earning and redemptions.

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi gives you 4% cashback on your first $7,000 in gas purchases in a year and then 1% rewards after. One major drawback is that you can only redeem cash back once per year.

If you aren't already a member of Costco or Sam's Club, these card options might not be for you.

However, if you are already a member, this could be a valuable way to save on your gas budget. The ideal strategy is to get the card for whichever store is most convenient to you.

Gas Card #7: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card isn't as competitive as some of the cards on this list, but it still offers decent gas rewards.

With only 3% cashback on gas (or your other chosen rewards category) for most users, it doesn’t look as good as 4% or 5% like some of the other offers we’ve looked at. However, if you are already a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customer, this might be a good option for you. 

Bank of America and Merrill Lynch offer tiered rewards levels for their current customers, so if you have more than $35,500 saved or invested in a portfolio, you will be eligible for higher rewards percentages.

YouTube Video

With a bit of research and planning, you may be able to earn up to 5% back (or even more) on gas purchases and other expenditures. To learn more about these top gas cards for 2022 in more detail, check out the video below.

Best Downgrade Options for the Citi Prestige

On July 23, 2017, Citi removed their card benefits like trip protection and insurances.

A lot of cardholders are wondering what their options are — should they cancel or product change the Citi Prestige?

Annual fee

A significant factor in determining which route to take is the annual fee. The annual fee is $450, but it comes with a $250 travel credit, making the effective annual fee $200.

In some cases, you can apply in-branch to receive a lower annual fee of $350, making the effective annual fee $100 after the travel credit.

The main question is if the lower $350 annual fee will be honored the second year, or if the fee will increase to $450.

We’re hesitant to keep the card with an effective $200 annual fee because there are alternative luxury cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum that provide the same, if not better, value.

Before considering downgrade/product change options, we need to consider if this card is worth keeping.

4th night free

The best perk the Citi Prestige is known for is book 3 consecutive nights, get the 4th night free. In order to redeem this perk, you have to book through the Citi Prestige Concierge.

Effective July 23, 2017, Citi will rebate the average room rate across your stay of 4 or more nights, not including taxes.

Citi ThankYou Points

My main concern is that if I cancel or product change the card, I won’t be able to receive an intro bonus for a Citi card (that earns ThankYou points) in the next 2 years.

Citi has a rule that you can qualify for an intro bonus every 2 years across the same product family. For example, if you were approved for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card in 2015, you would not receive an intro bonus for the Citi Prestige if you applied the same year. You would have to wait until 2017 to qualify for another Citi intro bonus.

Since I signed up for the Citi Prestige in September 2016, that means I won’t be eligible for another ThankYou bonus until September 2018. If I cancel the card now, it resets the clock meaning I won’t be eligible for another bonus until September 2019.

Product change options

In terms of product changes, there are 3 cards I’m considering:

  1. Citi Custom Cash® Card
  2. Citi® Double Cash Card
  3. Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi

Citi Custom Cash® Card


  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter
  • 5% eligible categories: Restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, drugstores, home improvement stores, fitness clubs, live entertainment.
  • Earns Citi ThankYou points
  • No activation required


  • Only ideal if you have heavy spend in one of the qualifying 5% categories mentioned above

Citi® Double Cash Card


  • 2% on all purchases — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay the bill
  • Citi Price Rewind, but this benefit is included with every card


  • If you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can earn 1.5x with the Unlimited and redeem for 3x when you transfer points to the Reserve.
  • I usually have a new card I’m trying to meet minimum spend on…the 2% might not make sense for me vs. meeting minimum spend

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi


  • I already have Costco membership so “no annual fee”
  • Earn 4% on gas, 3% at restaurants+travel, 2% at Costco
  • Extends Costco warranty on purchases by 2 years


  • “Locked in” to Costco
  • Gas isn’t relevant to me (no car) and there are better alternatives for restaurant+travel (CSR)
  • Earn 2% at Costco vs. 1.5% with the Freedom Unlimited (effectively 3% if you transfer points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve)
  • Costco already has an amazing warranty policy

How to request a product change

To request a product change, call the number on the back of your Citi Prestige credit card. Let the agent know which product you'd like to switch the card to.

How to Book the Waldorf Astoria Maldives on Points

One of the best redemptions for the Hilton Weekend Night Reward certificate from the American Express Aspire and Surpass cards is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.

Important Notes & Costs

A few important notes to consider before jumping to book the property:

  • The $700/person (round trip) yacht transfer to get to the resort, which is subject to 23.2% tax and service charge per adult, is NOT included. You can choose to charter a third party boat, but the cost will still be hefty.  There’s not a way to avoid a transfer fee.
  • The cost of food is 2-4x what you would expect to pay in the U.S. since everything is imported onto the island. As a point of reference, a personal pizza costs $40+, not including the 23% tax and service charge.
  • If you plan to dine at any of the fine dining restaurants, be prepared to spend $200+ per person.

Even if your room rate is covered, a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is expensive. Now that the sticker shock warning is out of the way, let’s dive into how we booked the room.

Using Weekend Night Rewards and Points

The retail rate for an overwater villa is ~$3,000/night. We booked our four-night stay using three free weekend night certificates, and 120,000 Hilton Honors points for the fourth night.

For each Weekend Night Reward, you’ll need to create a separate reservation. The hotel can combine them afterward. We created four consecutive day bookings.

We didn’t end up booking a fifth night since the booking doesn’t qualify for the 5th night free promotion. To qualify for 5th night free, you must book your entire stay using points. Weekend Night Rewards do not qualify.

Beach Villa vs. Overwater Villa

If you want to increase your chances of getting an overwater villa, I recommend visiting during off-season or shoulder season.

We booked the standard base beach room villa and received a complimentary upgrade due to having Diamond status. Upgrades are NOT guaranteed.

If you want to guarantee an overwater villa, I suggest booking one directly or inquiring to pay out of pocket for the upgrade.

It’s worth mentioning that the beach villas are also huge (2,500 square feet) with the same standard room layouts.

Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond Status

Before your stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I highly recommend having Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond status to get complimentary access to the breakfast buffet. Without Gold or Diamond status, you’ll end up paying a hefty price tag for the a la carte menu. To put things in perspective, a basic plate of eggs costs $30 + tax and tip.  

The easiest way to earn automatic Hilton Honors elite status is via credit cards.

Hilton Gold

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

  • Earn 12x on Hilton purchases
  • 6x at U.S. restaurants
  • 6x at U.S. supermarkets
  • 6x at  U.S. gas stations
  • 3x on everything else
  • Earn a free weekend night after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold status
  • Priority Pass: 10 free visits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Rates and fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Point Multipliers:
  • Earn 5X points points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Earn 1X points on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Hilton Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
  • Credits:
  • $200 annual airline fee credit per calendar year to use for incidental fees like baggage fees
  • Up to $200 Uber credit, distributed $15/month and $35 in December
  • Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, issued in $50 increments every 6 months per calendar year
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® credit once every 4 years
  • Annual fee: $695
  • Rates and fees
  • Terms apply and enrollment required for select American Express benefits and offers.

Hilton Diamond

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • Annual fee: $450
  • Point Multipliers:
  • Earn 14x on Hilton purchases
  • 7x on flights booked directly with airlines or
  • 7x on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
  • 7x at U.S. restaurants
  • 3x on all other purchases
  • One weekend night reward and every year after renewal
  • Complimentary Hilton Diamond  status
  • up to $250 Hilton resort statement credit
  • Priority Pass Select membership

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through

YouTube Video

How to Book Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa

Al Maha is one of the best Marriott Bonvoy redemptions if you plan to visit Dubai. The all-inclusive resort is located one hour away from Dubai, and it’s an amazing escape from the city.

The resort is also a conservation reserve where they have on-site field guides and wildlife.

How to Book Al Maha

Al Maha is a Category 8 hotel, and the price ranges from 63,000-100,000 points depending on the season.

  • Peak season = Winter months
  • Off-peak = Summer months

Search for availability on Marriott’s site:

Be sure to check the box that says “Use Points/Certificates.”

Booking 1.JPG

Example of peak season pricing:

Booking 4a.JPG

Off-peak season pricing:

Booking 4c.JPG
Booking 4e.JPG

What’s Included in the Price?

The room-rate includes:

  • 3 meals each day: breakfast, lunch, dinner (does not include alcohol)
  • 2 Selected Desert Activities tickets

Desert Activities to choose from:

  • Camel trekkiing
  • Desert safari
  • Falconry
  • Archery
  • Nature walk
  • Dune drive (supplement charge)
  • Horse riding (supplement charge)

YouTube Video Review

How to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners (a Step-by-Step Guide)

How to use transfer partners is one of the most requested guides because there are so many steps to take. To get the maximum value from points, you'll have to put in the work and research which airline partners are best for you.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use transfer partners. Before we dive in, be sure to transfer all your Ultimate Rewards Points to the card that has access to transfer partners: the  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the  Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

How to Transfer Points

1. Login to your  Chase account and find the Ultimate Rewards Portal.

Ultimate Rewards

2. Click on a card that has access to transfer partners like the  Chase Sapphire Preferred, the  Chase Ink Business Preferred, or the  Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Choose a card

3. Transfer all your points to the respective card. i.e., transfer  Chase Freedom points to a Sapphire card.

Combine points

In the example below, we're transferring points from the  Chase Freedom to the  Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Transfer points

Transfer all the points.

4. To use transfer partners, hover over the use points and click one of the airlines.

5. Choose the airline partner you want to use.

6. Enter your frequent flyer information.

7. That's it! The good thing about  Chase is that transfers are instantaneous, unlike Amex where it may take a few days.

Important: Once you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to an airline, you cannot revert the points back to Ultimate Rewards. Only transfer the amount you need.

Since there are a lot of different options, you need to sit down and research which programs are the best use of points. There are a few sweet spots available for redemption, but supply is limited and hard to find.

For example, a viewer messaged me asking if I was lying about the IHG Bora Bora free certificate redemption because they tried once or twice and failed. I spent one week looking once or twice a day and booked my certificate nights.


How to Book a Flight

Since there are a lot of options, let's run through a real example. Let's say I'm trying to go from SF to Seoul.

Download the Trip Planning Template here:


To use the trip planning template, you want to run down the whole list of transfer partners and see how many points it would cost for each one (info can be found on each carrier's website). Yes, this is going to take work on your end.

For United, the travel awards redemption is straight forward. Let's assume we're flying economy to Seoul, which costs 80,000 award miles per way. An economy roundtrip ticket costs 160,000 award miles.


The next step is to see if there is any award or saver availability on United's website. Be sure to check the box for "Search for award travel."




In addition to the 35,000 miles, you'll still have to pay $5.60 for taxes and fees.

If you don't have flexibility, then you're going to have to take the Economy tickets for 80,000 points.


In our example, we're assuming you do have flexibility so the spreadsheet reflects the 70,000 points and $11.20 in fees.

How to use the  Chase Travel Portal

Beyond transfer partners, be sure to compare the rates to the  Chase Travel Portal. Since the prices in the Travel Portal are similar to Google Flights, it's easier to use Google to find the best flight route. It's hard to compare dates and different airline carriers with the  Chase Travel Portal user interface.

Keep in mind that just because the route is cheap, it may not be the fastest nor the most efficient route. Choose the route that makes the most sense for you.

To filter the search, select your desired airlines.


Flights might not be available on your desired dates, so it helps to be flexible.

We altered our search to Dec. 10-Dec. 18.

Found a decent flight on Air Canada, but the layover seems excessive. Let's alter the dates.

If we move the date to Dec. 11, then the layover is more reasonable.

After you locate the desired airline and flight number, login to the  Chase Travel Portal and find the flight. Note down how many points it takes in the spreadsheet to compare it to all the options.


We're not going to run through all the transfer partners or we'll be here all day. Researching can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours. Transfer partners are optimal for sweet spot redemptions or last minute travel.

Transfer partners are also good to use during peak holiday times to lock in prices. Another good use to transfer partners are for first or business class redemptions.

If you're someone who doesn't want to compare all the transfer options, then go the Google Flights route and book flights using the  Chase Travel Portal.

It helps to have a redemption in mind, but if you need some inspiration, we recommend signing up for Scott's Cheap Flights to get deal alerts.

What is the Hotel Collection by American Express?
American Express

The Hotel Collection from American Express is an underrated benefit that gives you perks to feel like a VIP.  This exclusive program grants you room upgrades and experience credits for dining, spa treatments, and resort activities when you book a stay of two consecutive nights or more at designated hotels; experience credit varies by property.

Terms apply to Amex offers and benefits.

What is the Hotel Collection?

American Express carefully selects each property in The Hotel Collection for its unique style and unwavering quality. Experience stays at remarkable hotels that possess their own distinctive personality.

Brands in the Hotel Collection include Alila, Andaz, Autograph Collection Hotels, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont, JW Marriott, MGM Resorts, Sofitel, Small Luxury Hotels, Thompson Hotels, W Hotels, and much more.

How to Access The Hotel Collection from American Express

To access the Hotel Collection benefit, you must be a cardmember of one of the following cards:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Centurion® Card from American Express

Delta SkyMiles® Gold and Platinum Card Members are not eligible to access the Hotel Collection.


The Hotel Collection Benefits

When you stay two consecutive nights or more, you’ll get:

  • A $100 experience credit for qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Complimentary room upgrade upon arrival, when available. Certain room categories are not eligible for an upgrade.

What You Need to Know: The Fine Print

Terms apply to utilize the Hotel Collection benefit:

  • The Hotel Collection is available for new bookings of two consecutive nights or more made through American Express Travel with participating properties.
  • Bookings must be made using an eligible Card and paid using that Card or another American Express® Card in the eligible Card Member's name.
  • The Card Member must be traveling on the booked itinerary.
  • Room upgrade is subject to availability and provided at check-in; certain room categories are not eligible for upgrade.
  • The type of experience credit varies by property, and it will be applied to eligible charges up to $100.
  • Advance reservations are recommended for certain experience credits.
  • Benefit restrictions vary by property.
  • Benefits are applied per room, per stay (with a three-room limit per stay).
  • Back-to-back stays by a single Card Member, Card Members staying in the same room, or Card Members traveling in the same party within a 24-hour period at the same property are considered one stay and are ineligible for additional THC benefits ("Prohibited Action").
  • American Express and the Property reserve the right to modify or revoke the THC benefits at any time without notice if a Prohibited Action or abuse, misuse, or gaming is detected.
  • Benefits cannot be redeemed for cash and are not combinable with other offers unless indicated.
  • Benefits must be used during the booked stay.
  • Any applicable credits are applied at check-out in USD or the local currency equivalent.
  • Benefits, participating properties, availability, and amenities are subject to change.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: $200 Hotel Credit

Members with the Consumer Platinum Card receive an annual benefit of $200 in statement credits when making prepaid bookings for Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel, and using their Platinum Card for payment.

How to receive the $200 Hotel Credit

  1. Login to your American Express account
  2. Navigate to “Rewards and Benefits”
  3. Under Benefits, find the Hotel Collection and click “Learn More”
  4. Click Book Here and search for a destination
  5. Choose the one that’s right for you and book a prepaid stay through American Express Travel with your eligible Platinum Card.
  6. You’ll automatically receive a $200 in statement credits each year after you book an eligible stay with your Platinum Card.

Overall Thoughts

The Hotel Collection by American Express is a great option for extra perks for hotel stays you plan to book. If you have a Platinum Card, get up to $200 in Hotel Credits each year when you book through the Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection via American Express Travel. The Hotel Collection requires a two-night stay to qualify.

World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards End Partnership

Effective September 30, 2023, the partnership between World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards will come to a close, resulting in changes to the benefits available to World of Hyatt and MGM Rewards members for stays occurring on or after that date.

This is HUGE news since people usually match their Hyatt status to MGM Rewards. 

Status Match Deadline

Act fast: you have until July 14, 2023, to status match Hyatt to MGM. It's closed off after that.

Status match at the bottom the page:

MGM Hyatt status match

If you're a World of Hyatt member who matched your tier into MGM Rewards between February 1, 2023, and July 14, 2023, you'll keep your MGM Rewards tier status until January 31, 2024. However, starting from February 1, 2024, you'll need to meet the MGM Rewards program requirements to maintain your tier and enjoy the associated benefits.

MGM Resorts will honor all existing reservations at MGM Resorts destinations in Las Vegas made through Hyatt channels.

Why Does MGM Status Matter?

The savings can add up if you visit Las Vegas often.

By having MGM Pearl, you get free self-parking. MGM Gold will waive resort fees, which can add up quickly.

We have MGM Gold status, which has resulted in some nice upgrades to renovated rooms, better views, and occasionally suites.

How This Impacts You


Existing Reservations

  • For stays with checkout prior to or on September 30, 2023: Eligible paid and award stays at MGM Rewards destinations will be honored and benefits will be earned.
  • For stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023: The stay will be honored as booked, but World of Hyatt members will no longer be able to earn World of Hyatt points and World of Hyatt Tier-Qualifying Nights at MGM Resorts.

New Reservations

  • For stays with a checkout prior to or on September 30, 2023: Reservations will enjoy the Hyatt and MGM relationship benefits.
  • For stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023: Reservations will not be accepted via Hyatt booking channels for stays at MGM Rewards destinations.

Reservation Modifications or Cancellations

  • For stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023: Contact the Hyatt Global Care Center at 800.233.1234 to help you modify or cancel an existing reservation made through Hyatt for stays at MGM Rewards destinations. New rates may apply (and certain benefits may no longer be available and/or earned) when making a modification to an existing reservation.

World of Hyatt Program and Benefits:

  • While tier matching into MGM Rewards is ending July 14, 2023; rest assured any existing matched status will remain in place through the date that status expires. 
  • For any stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023, World of Hyatt members will no longer be able to earn and redeem World of Hyatt points at any MGM Rewards destinations, earn World of Hyatt Tier-Qualifying Nights or other benefits for stays at MGM Rewards destinations.
  • For any stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023, MGM Rewards members can no longer elect to earn MGM Rewards Tier Credits in lieu of World of Hyatt Base Points for qualifying nights at Hyatt hotels.
  • For any stays with a checkout date after September 30, 2023, World of Hyatt Credit Cardmembers will no longer be eligible to earn four (4) World of Hyatt Bonus Points per $1 spent at participating MGM destinations through the use of the World of Hyatt credit card.

See more FAQ on the official site:

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