Don’t go to Hawaii for $182.24… yet

Yesterday’s post titled “Hawaii round trip for $182.24” can be filed under Frequent Miler #FAIL.  If you were thinking of following the plan I outlined yesterday, please don’t.  At least, don’t do it yet.  I made several assumptions in that post that are looking questionable or are plain wrong:

Assumption 1: The meaning of 4X

I assumed that Sears 4X meant that you would get 4 extra points for shopping at Sears through the MR portal, in addition to the one point you get anyway for using your credit card.  After all, every other portal I’ve used works that way.  For example, when you click through a 4X link in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall you get 4 points per dollar in addition to the points you get from your credit card directly.  According to one reader, though, when Membership Rewards says 4X, they really mean “3 extra points + 1 normal point = 4X.”  I don’t yet have personal experience to prove that Membership Rewards is completely screwed up works in this unusual way, but I believe it may be true.  I took a look tonight at the site and saw that, unlike Ultimate Rewards, not a single merchant is listed at 1X.  That’s presumably because 1X is what you get without the portal.  I’ll investigate more to find out for sure how this works.  Look for an answer soon.

Assumption 2: 4X everywhere

I should have learned this one from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  There, you sometimes get different rates depending upon which card you have.  It turns out that the same is true with Membership Rewards.  Where I log in and see Sears 4X, others see Sears 3X.  Don’t even think about going with this plan unless you see 4X.

Assumption 3: Points are given for gift card purchases

Another assumption I made is that the 4X bonus applies even to gift card purchases at Sears.  Many merchants exclude gift card purchases from bonus points.  However, based on past experiences, I still think this assumption is true, but I don’t yet have proof.  I did buy a Sears gift card in this way, though, so I should find out soon.

Sorry!

I should have checked my facts and assumptions before posting yesterday.  I know that.  I knew that.  Sometimes though, I get excited about an idea and just want to share.  What do you think?  In the future, should I wait until all facts have been checked or should I jump in and post anyway?  Certainly I should add a warning next time if I do post prematurely…


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I love your blog and it deserves more attention than it gets! I suggest putting a disclaimer or saying ‘this is what I plan to do so don’t do it until I report back with results’ in your blog posts…something along those lines. Keep it up

  2. Aeroplan are offering 10 pts for Sears Canada At the moment. Do you know if you can use sears Canada gift cards here in the us?

  3. I think your blog is great! Add the disclaimer though, with updates on pass fail, to help us understand the likelihood it will work for us please.

  4. I for one like the fact that you post the ideas you have even before they are fully tested. It could takes days or even weeks before some points post, in which time its quite possible a merchant’s earn rate could change. It also give others the opportunity to hard their experiences so maybe the idea can be made more attractive. But I guess I also assume that most advice is “try at your own risk” without having to be told so. Just because something has worked in the past doesn’t mean it will necessarily work again (however it is a strong indicator). One small glitch (like not have points post) could render a whole transaction worthless or a loss.

  5. I like BothofUs2’s suggestion..include theories in your blog that your readers can help test and we can post updates of pass or fail. Just make sure you include a disclamer that it is a theory (hasn’t been proven yet)
    Love the blog!! Bring on some more Ink Bold posts! 🙂

  6. I can confirm as well from my experience, that Membership Rewards 5x is actually 4 extra points per dollar. That’s how Apple.com 5x posted.

  7. Thank you for posting this follow up, you have a great blog, and when you follow things up like this it adds so much more credibility to your posts. I really like the idea of going to Hawaii for 182$, I will continue to read your blog for such wonderful ideas and plans.

  8. I think I’ve only gotten 4 points for 4X. but anyway, the difference you see, I think AMEX MR has different levels. I remember when I had the AMEX Platinum card, my account somewhere said I was in the Membership Rewards First program or something like that. After I cancelled it, I noticed some of the merchants on the membership rewards site have lower bonus points and they show up in green now (I vaguely remember that there’s some sort of lower/green level of the AMEX MR program).

    It’s possible that these could just be normal variance in the MR program, but i’m pretty sure there’s something like that in place. So in other words, if this is true, its a reason to actually keep the AMEX plat around? Now I believe you don’t actually have to use your AMEX Plat to get the bonus points (you can use any MR card), but you just have to have it on your account to get the benefits.

  9. here i just found this article on nerdwallet (which is generally a reliable site):
    http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/reward-program-reviews/american-express-membership-rewards/

    Under the Membership Rewards Tiers section,

    “For credit cards, there is American Express Membership Rewards Express. This includes the American Express Blue. For charge cards, there are Membership Rewards (Green and Gold) and Membership Rewards First (Platinum and Centurion). A credit card is something that has an APR and is not required to be paid off every month, whereas a charge card requires payment in full each month.”

    So it appears I’m now in the Membership Rewards category only, and i suspect that’s why I get less points at some retailers 😛

    • Frequent Flyer Collector: Thanks for all of the info! Yes, between this and a FlyerTalk thread I was tipped off to, I’m now convinced that: 1) Platinum and Centurion card holders get 1 extra point through the MR mall; and 2) “4X” really means 3 bonus points. Amex really needs to step up their game! I’ll post a followup with details.

      Everyone: Thanks for the strong support! As suggested by several, I will continue to post as things come up, but will do my best to add disclaimers in the future.

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