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TPG reader Dror sent me a message on Facebook to ask:
“I have 170,000 Membership Rewards points through my Amex card spending. I’m planning to close my credit card, but I don’t want to lose those points. What are my options?”
Dror, your best option is to simply downgrade your card to the Amex Everyday card, which has no annual fee. This way, your Membership Rewards points will stay active (not to mention it’s a pretty good card, with double points on groceries). If you don’t mind paying the annual fee, the Amex Everyday Preferred card offers a larger sign-up bonus, stronger category earning rates, and a higher monthly transaction bonus.
However, if you really need to close down your account, make sure to use those points. If not, you will lose them.
I would suggest transferring them to one of the Membership Rewards airline partners, perhaps British Airways. I get a lot of good short haul, economy awards and upgrades using British Airways Avios. A lot of their business class and international awards come with high fees, but using Avios on partner Aer Lingus can provide amazing value.
For example, you can get a round-trip award flight between Boston and Dublin for just 25,000 Avios in Economy or 50,000 in Business Class (40,000 and 80,000 from New York, respectively) with low fees. Aer Lingus just announced a new route between Dublin and Dulles, and they also fly between Dublin and San Francisco. You can also use your Avios points with Air Berlin or transfer them to Iberia with very low fees, making British Airways a valuable transfer partner to consider.
Delta is another decent option, as 125,000 points can get you a Virgin Atlantic upper class round-trip award flight with low fees.
Ultimately, you’re going to lose some value if you transfer all those points to a single carrier. My suggestion is to keep the account going or downgrade your card. This will also help maintain your credit score. If you absolutely have to cancel your account, your best transfer partner option is probably British Airways, followed by Delta. Good luck!
If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.