The two most flexible reward programs that are not locked-in to an Airline or a Hotel Chain are Ultimate Rewards from Chase and Membership Rewards from American Express. Both are excellent programs with great redemption opportunities and multiple ways to earn them. This post with compare and contrast some of the key points of these two rewards programs.
- The first thing that is common between these two programs is that they are both not locked to a particular Airline or Airlines (like Miles and More is to Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian or United MileagePlus to just United) or Hotel Chain (like Hilton HHonors to the Hilton Chain).
- Secondly, they can be transferred to multiple other programs – Hotel, Airline, Retail, Gift Cards
- Thridly, they both have redemption directly for Travel
- Fourth, they both have ‘shopping malls’ that allow earning rewards on purchases from a wide set of retailed/brands
- Fifth, both have multiple cards that earn to the same program – personal and business cards. (See below for list)
- Sixth, while not the best return, both allow redemption for cash or cash Gift Cards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards has 1:1 transfer to several airline and hotel programs (United, Marriott, Amtrak, to name a few), where as Membership Rewards the ratios are not always 1:1 (Hilton is 1:1.5 and SPG is 1:0.33)
- Membership Rewards has 16 Airlines and 5 Hotel programs you can transfer to, where as Chase has 9 total programs you can transfer to (Air, Hotel and Amtrak)
- Membership Rewards can be redeemed directly on Amazon.com
- Chase Ultimate Rewards has many opportunities to earn multiple points for each dollar spent (unto 6x), but Membership Rewards tops out at 3x (for travel)
- Membership Rewards allows transfer to Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), which itself has excellent redemption and transfer opportunities
- Last, but not the least both have multiple cards that allow you to earn points, but American Express has more cards to choose from. Having multiple cards to get over a period of time allows one to really pile on the points with multiple sign-up bonuses!
Here is a list of cards that earn points for these two programs:
Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® – 40,000 points after spending $3,000 in your first three months. No foreign transaction fee. 7% Annual bonus. No annual fee the first year, then $95. (** In my Opinion, this is the best offer available from Chase at this time).
- Chase Sapphire® Card – 10,000 points after spending $500 in your first three months. No annual fee (ever).
American Express Membership Rewards
- American Express® Gold Card – No Signup bonus. No annual fee the first year, then $125.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $2,000 in your first three months. Club Access. $200 Airline fee credit. Annual fee $450.
- American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card – 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $2,000 in your first three months. No annual fee the first year, then $175.
- The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN – 50,000 Points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of getting the card. No annual fee the first year, then $175. (** In my Opinion, this is the best offer available from American Express at this time).
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN – 25,000 Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in your first three months. Club Access. $200 Airline fee credit. Annual fee $450.
- Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN – 5,000 Membership Rewards after first purchase. No annual fee the first year, then $95.
Any feature of these two reward programs that you love? Which program do you have points with? Do share by leaving a comment below.
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