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Friday, November 10, 2017

Membership Rewards - the loyalty currency every Canadian should be utilizing

In the Rewards Canada household we have half a dozen American Express Cards feeding our spending into several Membership Rewards accounts and there is good reason why. Back in 2014 we released a feature called  Canada's Top Travel Rewards Currencies and the number one currency at the time was American Express Membership Rewards points. Fast forward to today and the program continues to be the number one travel rewards, no let's call it loyalty rewards currency, in Canada. Whether it is travel, cash back or merchandise, the Membership Rewards program provides it all and it provides it with incomparable value.

Value, convenience and flexibility are key to a reward program’s success and American Express Membership Rewards provides all of that, hence the fondness in our house to funnel a lot of spending into the program.

There's no hiding the fact that here at Rewards Canada we are huge fans of Hybrid or Flexible points programs. That is, programs that give you options to redeem via the credit card's proprietary program or the ability to convert into other programs’ loyalty points.

These hybrid programs are a points collector’s safest bet to earn points with since they can be utilized in so many ways and are the least susceptible to devaluations of reward programs. They should be front and center for any points collector’s portfolio for just that reason. Concerned about lack of flight availability with a traditional frequent flyer program? Concerned that a proprietary credit card program isn't giving you the best bang for your buck? Those concerns are alleviated with a hybrid program which of course, Membership Rewards is. And Membership Rewards does it well. It has some of the best earning and redemption rates for a proprietary credit card program and likewise provides some of the best earning and redemption rates for its points conversion partners!

Related: Not all Travel Points and Hybrid Credit Cards are created equal

Membership Rewards gives you the best of all worlds. First of all, you can easily convert your Membership Rewards points to a total of eight frequent flyer and frequent guest programs, like Aeroplan, Starwood Preferred Guest, or Hilton Honors, to name a few.

What if you don't want to deal with the quirks and intricacies of frequent flyer and frequent guest programs? You like to book the flights that are best for you, or your travel is all about cruises or all-inclusive resorts? Not to worry, Membership Rewards also covers this. Simply book that cheapest flight from an Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier or that once in a lifetime 180 day around the world cruise. Charge it to any Membership Rewards earning American Express Card and when the charge shows up redeem your points against it at a rate of 1,000 points for a $10 statement credit. You can choose to redeem as little as $10 towards the purchase or any amount above that right up to the total amount of the travel charge. This feature used to be called TripFlex but recently American Express changed it to Use Points for Purchases and there is good reason why. More on this in an upcoming post!

Use Points for Purchases allows American Express Cardmembers to redeem points for almost anything they charge to their cards. It took the old TripFlex feature and kept it at 1,000 points for a $10 credit when redeeming for any travel charges, but expanded to also become a cash back type program where you can use the points for virtually any eligible purchase on the card. The rate for non-travel purchases is 1,000 points for a $7 credit. Depending on which American Express Card you carry this means you are achieving a cash back rate of return from 0.7% all the way up to 3.5% with the eats & drinks accelerator category on the new American Express Cobalt Card. Not many cash back cards will afford you with an unlimited cash back amount of 3.5% on eats & drinks purchases.

Membership Rewards makes it very easy to redeem for these charges online by providing cardmembers with a handy slider to decide how many points they want to redeem against a charge. Here are examples of the travel and non-travel redemption slider option:

A Travel Purchase where you can redeem at the 1000 points to $10 rate

A Non-Travel Purchase where you can redeem at the 1000 points to $7 rate

You can also redeem points on-the-go by using the Amex app. All you have to do is open the app, tap on the transaction you want to redeem points against and click Use Points. It can’t get any easier than that!

You should already be seeing the value in this program and why we consider it the number one loyalty currency in Canada. Now the question you should be asking yourself is "Why am I not collecting Membership Rewards points yet?" And we haven't even touched upon other redemption options like redeeming for the Fixed Points Travel Program (I’ll also dive into more details on this program in a future post!), Merchandise, Gift Cards, Amazon.ca, Ticketmaster.ca rewards and more.

If you're not an American Express Cardmember yet, we recommend you check out the American Express card listing to find the card that is right for you.

As someone who has been collecting Membership Rewards points for the better part of 10 years, take it from me, you won't be disappointed with the program. I have used the conversion option to transfer to partners like Aeroplan and I have also used the Use Points for Purchases option as well. I stay reassured knowing that I will always be able to use Membership Rewards points for something that I actually want to use them for.

Learn more about American Express Membership Rewards here

How about you? Tell us about some of your fondest Membership Rewards experiences in the comments below! What is your favorite reward to redeem for? Tell us your thoughts and feel free to ask us your questions about the program if you aren't a Cardmember yet.


This is part one of a three-part Membership Rewards series sponsored by American Express.

This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada.  The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.


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