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1. Effective 01/01/15 the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card will no longer give a 15K point bonus for spending $30,000 in a year. It will still give 3 points per dollar spent on airfare and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries.
Annual spend threshold bonuses seem to be a dying breed. One of the few remaining cards that have an annual spend threshold bonus is the Chase United Explorer card which gives a 10K point bonus for spending $25K in a year.
2. Effective 01/01/15 you will only be able to receive 250K Delta Skymiles per Delta account from Membership Rewards per calendar year.
Additionally you will only be able to spend out 250K points per Membership Rewards account to any number of Delta accounts.
This is a Delta imposed limitation.
In AMEX’s words,
“Beginning January 1, 2015, the maximum number of Membership Rewards® points you will be able to transfer out of a single Membership Rewards account to one or more SkyMiles accounts will be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of Membership Rewards points you will be able to transfer into a single SkyMiles account will also be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year.
You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014″
Workaround? You are able to request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. It seems like that should function as a workaround to transferring out more points to Delta as AMEX clearly states that the 250K limit is just from a single Membership Rewards account.
You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually.
While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can add a spouse or child as an additional user for example and transfer points to their Delta accounts. From there you can book award travel for anyone.
Delta is the only major US airline in the Membership Rewards program, so this is definitely a downgrade. It’s worth noting that Delta will allow one-way awards starting 01/01/15, so that will help things a bit.
Either way Delta is one of the weaker partners in the Membership Rewards program and their miles are far less valuable than American or United miles. Plus Membership Rewards charges a fee to transfer points to domestic programs like Delta.
Other international Membership Rewards partners offer a better value. For example:
-Air France can book one-way travel on Delta today and their rates are often less. A round-trip to Israel is just 50K Air France miles and if you find Delta saver availability there are no fuel surcharges.
-A round-trip to Israel using Alitalia miles is just 80K in business class and fuel surcharges are relatively mild at about $300.
-British Airways Avios offers free travel starting at just 4,500 Avios. Flights to Europe or Hawaii start at just 12.5K Avios each way with no fuel surcharges on select airlines.
-Air Canada has several award sweet spots. You need just 45K miles to fly to Europe each way in business class and many airlines have no fuel surcharges.
-El Al will soon be the only good way to book travel on El Al starting 11/01.
-ANA offers 38K round-trip tickets from NYC to London and 60K round-trip tickets to Israel with no fuel surcharges on United. Or fly from NYC to the Caribbean or Central America for just 22K miles with no fuel surcharges.
-Singapore offers a private suite from JFK to Europe for just 57K miles. They also offer good rates to other destinations that United flies to with no fuel surcharges.
So there are plenty of other good options. Frankly the move is a bit surprising. AMEX pays cold hard cash for mileage transfers to Delta. A couple of years ago when AMEX points used to transfer to Continental, Delta ran significant point transfer bonuses to get people to send their points to Delta over Continental.
However this isn’t the first chink in the AMEX-Delta relationship. Earlier this year Delta stopped allowing people who have the Platinum Card® from American Express to bring guests into their lounges. AMEX is responding to harsher airline lounge rules by opening their own network of premium airport Centurion lounges with free access for Platinum cardholders and their family/guests. Those currently can be found domestically in Dallas, Las Vegas, and NYC/LaGuardia. International locations include Buenes Aires, Delhi, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Sao Paulo. Centurion lounges in Miami, San Francisco, and other domestic airports will open soon. Plus you can bring in your family/guests for free into Airspace lounges which can be found in Baltimore, Cleveland, NYC/JFK, and San Diego. The card also gives a Priorty Club lounge membership, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and SPG Gold status.
Of course you can still earn unlimited amounts of Delta miles on a card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. which is what Delta wants you to do (though I’m not sure why you would want to). However you would earn 25% more miles by spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and transferring points to Delta. Unless a limit on Starwood transfers is in the cards as well?
Cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express offer the ability to earn 20% or 50% more miles everywhere. And they can also each be assigned their own Membership Rewards account number, which should work to transfer more points out to Delta. Note that the Everyday cards are credit cards and AMEX limits you to 4 credit cards per person. Card like the Gold and Platinum are charge cards which don’t count towards that limit.
HT: miles, via DDF and Gary.
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