If you plan on transferring points into miles, you should know that Membership Rewards does not include all of the major airlines in its redemption program. For example, you cannot transfer Membership Rewards points into American, Northwest, or United miles, and US Airways will cease to be a partner in 2006. You also cannot transfer miles into Membership Rewards points, so if you earn miles for air travel, you'll end up with two accounts—one airline frequent flyer account and one Membership Rewards account—that may or may not be combinable.
Membership Rewards is not the program for frequent travelers seeking upgrades. You cannot redeem points for an upgrade award, as you can with an airline's program. You could transfer your points into miles and then use miles for an upgrade, but again, you can only do this with select airlines.
Finally, fewer merchants accept American Express than Visa and MasterCard. If you plan on making an American Express card your primary credit card, make sure that your favorite retailers accept it.
Who should get Membership Rewards?
Ultimately, how you like to redeem points and miles and how you shop will determine whether you should sign up for a Membership Rewards American Express card. In short, here's how you can tell if you should look into this card or keep looking for better alternatives.
Membership Rewards is right for you if:
- You want to redeem points for non-flight activity
- You don't want to focus mile-earning in one airline
- You're willing to pay out more points for travel purchases with fewer restrictions
Membership Rewards is not right for you if:
- You want to get the most expensive award at the best price, no matter the hassles
- You want to use miles to upgrade
- You routinely shop at stores that don't accept American Express
For more information about Membership Rewards or to sign up for a card, visit American Express' website.