Posted by William Charles on June 9, 2016
Credit Card Review

Published on June 9th, 2016 | by William Charles

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M life Rewards Mastercard From FNBO Review – Is It Worth Signing Up For?

M life Rewards has just released their M Life Rewards Mastercard, this new card is issued by First National Bank of Omaha. In this review we will look at the pros & cons of this card and see if it’s worth applying for. Keep in mind unlike other credit cards you need to be 21 years of age to apply for this (as this is a requirement of the M life program).

m life rewards mastercard review

Card Benefits Summary

The following are the main marketing points for this card:

  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 3x points per $1 spent at M life Rewards Destinations
    • 2x points per $1 spent on gas and at supermarkets
    • 1x point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • 1 Tier Credit for every point earned
  • Sign up bonus: 10,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 billing cycles
  • Priority hotel check-in at M life Rewards Destinations
  • Automatic upgrade to Pearl status which includes…
    • Complimentary self-parking at Las Vegas M life Rewards Destinations
    • Buffet line pass at Las Vegas M life Rewards Destinations
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • No Annual Fee
  • Points earned on the M life Rewards MasterCard can be redeemed for FREEPLAY® or Express Comps™ for use towards rooms, dining, and entertainment

How Much Are Points Worth?

It’s no good knowing how many points this card earns unless we know what these points can actually be used for. As mentioned in the marketing material these points can be redeemed for ‘FREEPLAY® or Express Comps™’. If you’re anything like me, you probably have no idea what those mean.

  • Express comps are basically considered resort credit, if something can be charged to your room then it can be paid with an express comp. They officially define it as ‘Real-time Express Comps are the fastest and most convenient way for gaming members to comp themselves at M life hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. If a member is playing at a slot machine and gets the urge to grab a bite to eat or wants to purchase a show ticket, they can use their M life card to instantly redeem rewards at participating venues. Express Comps appear as dollars, making redemption transparent and simple’
  • Freeplay are basically gambling credits. They can be used on most slot and video poker games.

1 Mlife point is equal to 1¢, regardless of whether you use it for an express comp or freeplay (although this obviously isn’t nearly as good as cash). This means the sign up bonus is worth a maximum of $100 and the card earns at a maximum of 3% on M life destinations and 2% on gas & supermarkets and 1% on all other purchases.

It’s possible to earn more with other credit cards for gas purchases, supermarket purchases & non bonused spend as well. Also keep in mind you need to redeem a minimum of 1,000 points ($10) when using them for Express comps. There is also a cap of $5,000 for express comps (or $10,000 if you have Noir status).

Status

The only other real benefit this card offers (apart from the sign up bonus and bonus categories mentioned above) is status. You get the following:

  • Automatic Pearl Status for as long as your card is active and in good standing
  • Receive 1 tier credit per M life reward point earned (e.g if you spend $1 at a grocery store you’d earn 2 tier credits)

Pearl Status

Normally Pearl status requires you earning 25,000 tier credits. It’s the second lowest status (Sapphire is the base status anybody receives when signing up). It comes with the following benefits:

  • Complimentary self-parking at Las Vegas M life Rewards Destinations
  • Buffet line pass at Las Vegas M life Rewards Destinations
  • 10% bonus on points and Express Comps
  • 10% discount at participating retail shops

Gold, Platinum & Noir Status

There are three other status levels that are higher than Pearl, their names followed by tier credits required and benefits are:

  • Gold: 75,000 Tier credits
    • 20% bonus on points and Express Comps
    • Priority hotel check-in line
    • VIP line access to nightclubs and pool day clubs
  • Platinum: 200,000 Tier credits
  • Noir: Invitation only

The benefits aren’t amazing on any of the tiers, unless you’re gambling a lot and earning a lot of points/express comps in which case the bonus multipliers can be very useful. That being said, if you fall into that category you’d earn status quicker by what you’re already doing than through this credit card.

It’s also worth noting that this card gives you Pearl status, but it doesn’t give you the 25,000 Tier credits needed for that status so you’d still need to earn 75,000 tier credits for gold and 200,000 for Platinum.

Annual Cruise Benefit

The one benefit that is intriguing is the annual free complimentary cruise with Royal Caribbean. For Platinum members this is actually the following:

3, 4 or 5-Night Bahamas or Caribbean cruise in an Oceanview Stateroom per year OR (1) $375 or $750 Cruise Fare Credit towards a new booking on any Royal Caribbean International cruise per year. Length of complimentary cruise and amount of Cruise Credit is based on guests recent M life play

If you earned Platinum status entirely from spend on this credit card you’d obviously get the shortest 3 night trip or a $375 cruise fare credit. I’m not even entirely sure if you would be eligible for this benefit considering this other ine print:

Guest must have earned M life tier through spend with MGM Resorts International

Status Match

Hyatt & M Life have a partnership, if you have status with Hyatt then you can match your status to M Life.

m life status match

This is interesting because the Chase Hyatt card comes with Platinum status, meaning you could use this to match to Gold status with M life. This card does come with a $75 annual fee, but it also comes with a free anniversary night at any category one to four property.

Our Verdict

Now that hotels/resorts on the strip are starting to all charge for parking on the strip, people might be interested in this no annual fee card purely for the pearl status it comes with and the free parking associated with pearl status. I’d question how often you’d actually use that benefit, if you’re staying in Vegas most things on the strip are walking distance (and you wouldn’t want to self drive anyway).

The sign up bonus isn’t anything special, at most you’re getting $100 in value and there are plenty of credit cards with a higher cash bonus than that. None of the bonus spending categories are interesting either, with other cards offering better rebates. Personally I don’t see a lot of value in this card.

One last thing to keep in mind is that First National Bank of Omaha is not one of the larger credit card issuers, but they are somewhat inquiry sensitive.



20 Responses to M life Rewards Mastercard From FNBO Review – Is It Worth Signing Up For?

  1. Gary Leff says:

    In the very limited space of:
    * No annual fee
    * No foreign transaction fee cards

    That still earn rewards, this isn’t a bad one for someone that goes to Vegas every year given free parking and priority check-in.

    But as I say that’s a limited use. And also reasonably good for folks who are shooting for Platinum status (other than through Hyatt Diamond match) in MGM’s program.

    A niche play, but plenty of worse no annual fee products out there. In fact I can think of only a couple no fee cards with no forex fees that earn rewards (though BofA Travel Rewards is going to be better for most people in that space).

    • As you said, BofA travel rewards offers the same with a bonus worth an additional $100 bonus. Platinum status would required 200k points earned, you’re going to be way better off putting that on a 2% card (or any other card that earns higher in the bonus categories on this card) and then paying the AF on the Hyatt.

  2. Gary says:

    Hi William,
    I’m considering getting this card to use it in conjunction with the “RoyalOffer2016” (although MS’ing on my Arrival card would yield the same results).
    I’m wondering where you found the reference to 5,000 & 10,000 point redemption caps on express comps. Am I reading this correctly? I, as an MLife Gold, could only redeem 5,000 points to reduce my hotel bill by $50, and not by the grand total of my “folio” (ie. $200 on my last stay)?

    Thanks in advance,
    Gary

  3. Karla says:

    Hi
    What happen if I get the card and I didn’t used it.. Do I have any fee?

  4. Terri Clark says:

    Given that M life and Hyatt have a partnership, I am wondering if you could use the sign up bonus on this new card for a Hyatt stay? It would be enough for two nights at a category 1 Hyatt.

    • Gary says:

      @Terri
      Since the points are MLife points, not Hyatt points, you would only be able to redeem them at an MLife casino.
      In fact, judging by how Caesar’s program works, you have to book your room using a credit card, then you would use your MLife (ExpressComp) points to cover the costs (I assume at check-out). I don’t think it works like usual hotel points work, where you make the actual booking using points.
      Gary

    • No, it’s just a status relationship. Points are not interchangeable.

  5. Bill says:

    Pearl status also gives you 2 for 1 breakfast or lunch buffet once a month at Mississippi locations (Beau Rivage and Gold Strike) and 30% off rooms in Detroit.

    • What are the lunch/breakfast buffets like?

      • Bill says:

        I have eaten both at the Beau — very good in my opinion
        Eat lunch late enough and linger for dinner items
        The 2 for 1 can be paid for with Express Comps

        Express Comps can be hard to use up for big-time players because they get airfare, rooms and meals comped anyway — I see lots of people with $5,000 in Express Comps and an occasional $10,000. I personally know some Pearls that get free airfare and rooms at the Beau. The only time I ever reached Pearl was with a 4 day business stay that got me 22,000+ tier credits from room charges. I got the other 3k through casino play. Reaching Platinum would take huge dollars gambled. The rumor to be offered Noir status is 2,000,000+ tier credits earned in a year.

  6. John says:

    This really only makes sense to me if you are close to a status but don’t have the ability to get back to Vegas before your tier resets. i.e. being a few thousand tier credits short of Gold or Platinum and putting some spend to bump your status for the next year. Outside of that there really is no incentive to put spend on the card.

  7. Steve says:

    What are the credit score requirements for this card? Is it for folks with excellent, good, or fair credit?

  8. Kay says:

    Hi,

    Got an invite for this card not a pre approval… Does anyone know what scores the M life card calls for? I have checked credit pulls and was not able to locate anything concerning this card.

  9. Gary says:

    Since Gold Passport is changing their whole program, the Hyatt card will no longer automatically give you “Platinum” status, which you were able to match to MLife gold. Under the downgraded Hyatt schema, you would only get MLife Pearl when matching 🙁

  10. Jim B says:

    Does the card mean that points earned do not reset like some credit cards? One (small) value I could see for the casual player would be to accumulate MGM points over more than one year. I believe they reset every year otherwise. Can someone clarify if points are permanent or reset?

  11. J. J. says:

    The main reason of this card it tier status. The MLife card will be a different color than the standard and people think, that person gambles a lot.

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