How to cash out points with the Amex Platinum for Schwab, and why you might want to
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TPG values Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each thanks to a plethora of high-value transfer partners including Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and Singapore KrisFlyer. You usually get the best bang for your buck by transferring your points to a partner airline, at least on paper, as opposed to redeeming them for gift cards or statement credits.
While I don’t normally recommend cashing points out, especially if you’re still building a stash of points for travel, this option might make sense if you’re sitting on a large stash of points with no upcoming travel plans thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Points and miles are a bad long term investment, and if you don’t plan on using them soon, it might be better to get cash in your bank account.
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No matter how you built your Membership Rewards points balance, if you’re looking to convert them to cash instead of using them for travel, there’s one credit card that’s a clear winner: The American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab. It offers all the same great benefits of the regular Platinum Card® from American Express with the same ($550 annual fee; see rates and fees), including annual airline fee credit, Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits, 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or through its travel portal, Centurion lounge access, hotel elite status and a whole lot more.
It also has one perk that really makes it stand out: When you opt to invest your rewards, you can redeem points to your linked Schwab brokerage account at a rate of 1.25 cents each. Once again, this is well below TPG’s valuation of Membership Rewards points, but if you’re looking for a way to cash out points, this is one of the best values.
It’s as Easy as 1-2-3-4
We’ll walk you through how the Invest with Rewards feature works. But first, when you go to apply for the Amex Platinum Card for Schwab customers, you’ll need to log in to your Schwab account initially. In doing so, your Amex and Schwab accounts will already be linked when you receive and activate your card. Once you log in to your investment account you should see the Invest with Rewards option on the main page.
After being reminded that only the basic cardholder is eligible to redeem points this way, you’ll be asked to input your card information to verify the account.
You can only choose from a number of preset redemption values, but you can select multiple amounts. In my case, I decided to cash out 40,000 points for $500, in the form of four 10,000-point packages.
After that, simply confirm your selection and hit Redeem Now.
I was especially pleased to see the $500 post to my Schwab account instantly, even though I made this redemption on a Sunday when banks were closed.
Note that receiving a cash reward like this may be a taxable event, and you should speak to a certified tax professional about how this might affect you and your business.
This was far and away the lowest redemption value I’ve ever gotten from my Membership Rewards points, but the ability to cash them out at over 1 cent per point is a rare option that should not be overlooked. The Schwab Platinum card affords me this option and all the other Platinum benefits for the same annual fee.
You will need a Schwab brokerage account for this redemption, but if you haven’t opened such an account already you might want to consider it thanks to Schwab’s incredibly generous policy of fee-free ATM withdrawals worldwide.
While we normally recommend against cashing out your transferable points, many people are grounded indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Once you cash out your points there’s no way to undo that and get them back, but if you don’t see yourself traveling for a while this may be a smart move to make now.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees