Reader Question: What’s the best card to “park” Membership Rewards points with?

Jul 13, 2020

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While premium rewards cards can help you earn massive amounts of points, they can also lock you into paying hefty annual fees every year in order to keep your points alive. TPG reader Jeff wants to know where to park his Membership Rewards points if he’s thinking of downgrading The Platinum Card® from American Express

I plan on downgrading my Amex Platinum this year, but I have nearly 200,000 Membership Rewards points I don’t want to lose. Where is the best place to park then until I can use them for travel again? I used to fly international often, Asia mostly. I just don’t know where to transfer my points prior to downgrading. I fly United most often. Is there a partner airline where I could park my miles, where they might be worth more than at United?

TPG READER JEFF

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Jeff mentioned the possibility of transferring points to an airline to avoid losing them, and while Avianca LifeMiles and Aeroplan offer very solid Star Alliance redemptions, we generally discourage this type of preemptive transfer. If Jeff transfers points to one of these airlines, and they go bankrupt or devalue their loyalty program, he’d stand to lose a lot of value.

Amex only allows you to downgrade to a card in the same family as one you already have. For example, you can’t product change between a personal card and a business card, a credit card and a charge card, or from a Delta card to a Hilton card. While Jeff is certainly not alone in wanting to avoid the $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) on The Platinum Card® from American Express, his downgrade options are quite limited. 

Related reading: Is now the time to downgrade your premium credit cards?

There are really only two options that fit this bill: The American Express® Gold Card and The Plum Card® from American Express. Both cards carry a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees for the Amex Gold), though the Plum card waives it the first year (see rates and fees for the Plum card). The Plum card has a high annual fee and offers just 1.5% cash back when you pay your bill early (within 10 days of your statement closing date). So Jeff would be better off picking the Amex Gold Card. He could also open a no annual fee card like The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express or the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex EveryDay card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

The Gold Card is a fan favorite (especially during the pandemic) thanks to its 4x points on worldwide dining and U.S. supermarkets (U.S. supermarkets capped at $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or at amextravel.com and 1x everywhere else. The card also carries an up to $100 annual airline incidental fee credit and up to $10 monthly dining credit valid at participating dining partners, including Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, some Shake Shack locations and Boxed. The best part for Jeff is that since the Amex Gold is a Membership Rewards earning card, his points will remain intact and he can wait until he’s ready to start traveling again. 

Bottom line

Thankfully for Jeff, one of his only (and best) Amex Platinum downgrade options will keep his points alive. I would recommend against preemptively transferring them to an airline partner before you’re ready to travel. If Jeff decides to cancel his Platinum card altogether, he could open one of two no-annual-fee cards that earn Membership Rewards to protect his points.

Thanks for the question, Jeff! If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Plum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus card, click here.

Featured photo by 10’000 Hours/Getty Images

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Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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