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How to get cash out of Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards can be a great rewards currency if you are deep into the travel rewards game.

Those willing to spend hours learning how to use sweet spots in international airline point programs and hunt down rare business and first class award space can get some truly amazing award flights from their Membership Rewards. Round the world flights through ANA Mileage Club are a sweet spot. And you can get some decent value from Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada Aeroplan, and Avianca LifeMiles as well. Transfers to Choice can occasionally offer some great value. And then there’s always Delta SkyMiles.

But if you want to get cash out of your credit card rewards, Membership Rewards points aren’t your best option. In most cases, you can only redeem your points for 0.5 to 0.8 cents each toward cash back redemptions.

If you’ve found yourself with a stash of Membership Rewards and want to get cash out of them, here are the ways to get at least one cent per point of cash out of your points.

How I use my Membership Rewards

All of that is not to say that you should completely ignore Membership Rewards. It’s just that they will require a bit of work to use for good value, which is why I recommend that most people start with Chase Ultimate Rewards as their first rewards program.

Personally, I collect and use my Membership Rewards points mostly for travel rewards. Here are the most common Membership Rewards redemptions I’ve made in the last few years:

  • Transfers to Delta SkyMiles for domestic flights.
  • Transfers to KLM Flying Blue to take advantage of Flying Blue Promo Awards.
  • Transfers to Avianca LifeMiles for business class redemptions to Europe on Star Alliance with no fuel surcharges.

Options for getting cash out of Membership Rewards

You can always redeem your Membership Rewards points directly for a cash statement credit for half a cent each. Don’t do this. If you want to get cash out of your Membership Rewards points, here are the best ways.

The Platinum Card® from American Express for Charles Schwab

American Express offers several variants of its Platinum card, in partnership with other brands. One of these variants is The Platinum Card® from American Express for Charles Schwab. If you hold this card and an eligible Schwab brokerage account or IRA, you can redeem your Membership Rewards points for deposits into your Schwab account at 1.1 cents each.

You might find references online to a higher rate for cashing out points. You used to be able to cash out your points using this method at 1.25 cents each, but in 2021, American Express lowered the rate at which you can redeem points for Charles Schwab deposits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express for Morgan Stanley

Amex offers a version of the Platinum Card for Morgan Stanley clients. This version of the card lets you redeem your Membership Rewards points for deposits into eligible Morgan Stanley accounts. The cash-out rate isn’t as attractive as the rate for the Platinum Card, however. You only get 1 cent per point.

American Express® Business Checking + Business Platinum

If you have both an American Express® Business Checking checking account and The Business Platinum Card®, you can redeem your rewards for cash deposits into your business checking account. If you hold this combination of accounts, you can get 1 cent out of each of your Membership Rewards points. Redemptions at this rate are limited to 1,000,000 points per year.

Other Membership Rewards cards let you redeem your points for deposits into a business checking account at 0.8 cents per point.

Bottom line

Membership Rewards points can be great for travel rewards, but they aren’t great if you want cash back rewards. If you’re looking to convert your Membership Rewards into cash, cashing out with the Platinum Card® from American Express for Charles Schwab will yield the most value.