Posted by sirtheta on January 27, 2017
Credit Cards Merrill+ Visa Signature

Published on January 27th, 2017 | by sirtheta


Redeeming Merrill Points: A Guide

In the comments of our posts about the Merrill+ Visa Signature card, and elsewhere on the interwebs, there’s a lot of confusion about how the card works & how you redeem for airfare. To top that off, there is an abundance of incorrect information out there (including my original post on Reddit and here on DOC) because the way rewards work changed in 2016. (I believe—as I recall, the benefits guide I referred to when writing my post was from 2015, and DOC has covered Merrill Points for a while). Rather a rarity, the changes made to the Merrill Points program were extremely good.

This is a guide to help people understand how redeeming Merrill Points works, as well as the current state of the program. For the sake of completion, it is rather long & can be skimmed.

You can read our review of the Merrill+ here.

Redemption Routes

You redeem points via the Merrill+ portal, which can be accessed in two ways: (a) signing in to Bank of America online banking, selecting your Merrill+, going to the rewards tab, and selecting “Redeem Points”, or (b) going to the website and signing in to your Bank of America account by selecting “Merrill+” from the “Sign in to your account” dropdown menu.

There are three categories of redemptions: (a) Travel, through the Merrill Lynch Travel Center, whose backend is Orbitz – “redeem for air travel, hotel stays, car rentals, and more”, (b) Cash, through calling 1 (800) 419-0000 – “Redeem points for cash back into a Merrill Lynch CMA, Bank of America checking or savings account, or statement credit”, (c) Gift cards, through the Merrill Lynch Gift Card Center – “Redeem for gift cards from your favorite merchants”. In all but one case, these options convert your points to cash at a rate of 1 ¢ (or worse, in the case of $25 gift cards – 0.91 ¢). For example, it is possible to redeem points through the Travel Center at a rate of 1 ¢ for anything, including airfare. I will forego discussion of these options so that we can get into the redemption option that everyone actually cares about.

Anytime, Anywhere™ Air Rewards

The exception to this rule, and the major draw of the Merrill+, is Anytime, Anywhere Air Rewards, with which you can redeem 25,000 points for a ticket that is up to $500 in value (inclusive of taxes & fees). Prior to 2016, these rewards were limited to major carriers (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and British Airways) and other carriers started at 30,000 points, which is why you may see that stated by as august a source as Bank of America’s website. A quick reference of the 2016 Benefits Guide, however, shows that Anytime, Anywhere Air Rewards on all available carriers start at 25,000 points.

Depending on where you are flying to & from, available carriers may include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Sun Country Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin America. Domestic & international redemptions are possible, making a complete listing of available carriers infeasible—I see 15 unmentioned available carriers for a JFK-CDG route. All of them are 25,000 points for up to a $500 ticket. (I have no points left, so the Travel Center only shows me the cash price – thanks to u/mat_red for confirming this for me). Reader Noah was told that all but four (4) airlines are available: Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant, and Spirit.

How Does “25,000 points for up to a $500 ticket” Work?

Some examples to make this clear are in order. I selected weekdays in mid-March to come up with prices.

  • Round-Trip Tickets
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $244.90 economy class ticket from BWI–CLT–BWI on American.
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $270.40 business class from DCA–JFK–DCA on Delta.
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $378.40 economy class ticket from IAD–LAX–IAD on United.
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $466.40 economy class ticket from IAD–CUN–IAD on United.
  • One-Way Tickets
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $294.94 business class ticket from BWI–ATL–MEX on Delta.
    • You can redeem 25,000 points for a $420.44 business class ticket from BWI–CLT–DFW–MEX on American.

Hopefully these examples are sufficient demonstration: a ticket is a ticket, whether it be round-trip, one-way, multi-city, or even one leg of a longer trip that you are booking part of elsewhere. Two tickets is not a ticket, so two one-way tickets eat up 25,000 points each.

What About Tickets Over $500?

Prior to 2016, the way tickets over $500 worked was stupidly complex. You can read one of the links in the introduction if you want to figure out how they worked. The new way this works is very simple: if you want to book a ticket over $500 with points, any amount over $500 must be paid for with points at a rate of 1 ¢. $600 ticket? 25,000 points covers the first $500, leaving $100, which adds 10,000 points for a total of 35,000 points.

The best part about tickets slightly or greatly over $500 is that you may not have enough points to cover them, but that’s okay! You can pay the remainder in cash. Want to book a $600 flight, but only have 26,000 points? That covers $510 and you can put the remaining $90 on any damn credit card you like—including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, where it codes as travel.

nota bene: I have noticed a discrepancy in the way this is supposed to work. From all the fares I have been able to check via other screenshots, you actually get up to a $510 ticket for 25,500 points—if the ticket is over $500. You can run your own calculation on the second screenshot below. I do not know whether this is intentional, nor whether this carries through when proceeding to the review & booking screen. If I recall correctly, no point or cash amounts changed for me when booking two over-$500 flights, which would mean that it does carry through to the review & booking screen.

How is the Merrill Lynch Travel Center?

There are two reasons you might ask this question: (a) does it have the same prices as elsewhere? or (b) is it easy to use? I would give a resounding yes to both questions. It uses Orbitz for its backend and is no different from any other flight aggregator in that regard. And the user interface is very well done; I like it better than Google Flights because all of the parameters are exposed instead of hidden in drop-downs.

Merrill Lynch Travel Center

note: the top left says “economy” but is incorrect; this was a business class search

Especially useful is the grid of airlines & stops at top. You can click on “Delta Air Lines” to filter the results to just Delta. You can click on “Non-Stop” to filter the results to just non-stop flights. And you can click “$1,041.44” at the intersection of “Delta Air Lines” and “Non-Stop” to filter the results to just non-stop Delta flights. Primo.

Merrill Lynch Travel Center with Points

courtesy of u/mat_red, since I don’t have any points. apologies for the compression!

Concluding Thoughts

The Merrill+ is a fantastic card, and once you understand how redemption works, it’s a no-brainer. If you have any further questions about redemption, drop them below!


Q. JP: So I  can’t have two tickets whether one way or RT in one booking? This is good for only “one, uno, single” ticket each time you want to use 25k points?

A. You can book multiple tickets in a single booking, but they will cost 25,000 points each (for up to a $500 ticket). I booked two round-trip tickets that cost $522.21 each using my signup bonus, spending points, and a $2.43 charge to my CSR.

Q. Alejandro: If I wanted to get two tickets (one for me and one for someone else), am I able to do that? Or can I only get tickets in my name?

A. You can buy tickets for anyone you please; as with any travel portal or airline website, you can enter their information on the booking screen. I do not know if you can complete a booking using points for some tickets and cash for others (i.e. 4x $400 tickets, using 2x 25,000 points and 2x $400 for booking).

119 Responses to Redeeming Merrill Points: A Guide

  1. Sam says:

    i was on the site, and i couldnt figure out how to select business/first class instead of economy. can anyone point me in the right direction

  2. Justin says:

    Cool thanks!

  3. Mark O says:

    Perfect timing – was just approved yesterday!!!

  4. Mjs says:

    Can you please at least mention some of the GC redemption options??

    Basically, is it for “solid” locations like Target or places like Brooks Brothers or Subway which are more boutique or where you could buy discount gift cards fairly cheap.

    Yes, I know it’s a bad option compared to flights, but I’ve got over 10m miles banked, and their website doesn’t show how good th merchants are for gust cards unless you already have the card.

    • Cpt Obvious says:

      Cash is usually pretty solid. It’s no ‘target’ but it’s got decently wide acceptance.

    • sirtheta says:

      There are 85 brands available via the filter, ranging from Amazon to Kohl’s to Target to Wal-Mart, etc. Many big chains are represented and I don’t think you’d have a problem finding any of the offerings at a discount elsewhere.

      From the few I’ve perused, there are 3 options: 2,750 points for a $25 GC; 5,000 points for a $50 GC; 10,000 points for a $100 GC.

      Unless they periodically run sales, I don’t see the utility of buying a gift card when you could call in and get straight cash (or a statement credit).

      I understand having a lot of miles banked, but I think the beauty of the signup bonus on this card is that there’s a very obvious sweet spot (cash fares around $500, two of them to be exact). Because of this, I think there’s room to use your Merrill Points on flights even if you have an obscene amount of miles banked.

    • Just redeem for cash, it’s better than the GC rates

  5. P says:

    This is perfect. My questions from the previous article are answered. Not planning to apply because I’m pretty sure BofA will reject me but this is still great.

  6. JP says:

    So I can’t have two tickets whether one way or RT in one booking? This is good for only “one, uno, single” ticket each time you want to use 25k points?

  7. Noah says:

    Rep at Merrill rewards told me any airline is bookable using Merrill points except 4 airlines: Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit

  8. Alejandro says:

    If I wanted to get two tickets (one for me and one for someone else), am I able to do that? Or can I only get tickets in my name?

  9. Erik says:

    We live in a Southwest hub so I was disappointed to see that they are not longer an option. Obviously still a great card especially for no annual fee.

  10. tim says:

    Good post…thanks for covering this little talked about card!

  11. nonimmigranth1b says:

    A week back I tried booking via Merrill Card but was not offered $500 ticket for 25000 points.
    My ticket total for one way ticket for 6 ppl was $499.60 (LGA->ORD)
    and Anytime, Anywhere™ Air Rewards option was disabled for me.

    I am not sure if I was doing something wrong but as I was in hurry I booked the tickets with CSR.

    • Mahi says:

      i think its one ticket per person per booking… someone plz confirm…

    • sirtheta says:

      I am confused as to what you were trying to do. Did you buy 6 $83.26 one-way tickets from LGA to ORD, for a total of $499.60? If you could explain in more detail (especially if my supposition is not the case), it would help me answer your question.

      • nonimmigranth1b says:

        yes, i was trying exactly that.

        • sirtheta says:

          So the problem is that the points are per ticket. So to book 6 up-to-$500 value tickets, you would need 150,000 Merrill Points.

          Now, there are other options — tickets under $100 can be had for 10,000 points per ticket and tickets under $200 can be had for 20,000 points for ticket. But you would’ve needed 60,000 points to do what you wanted to do, so you probably weren’t shown that option because you didn’t have enough points (and you wouldn’t gotten 0.83 cpp, so it would’ve been better to cash them out at 1 cpp and then book with cash).

  12. kt says:

    this is good stuff. thanks

  13. Walter T. says:

    Excellent guide. I will certainly use it in the future.

    Beyond the sign-up bonus, IS this a great card? I have one and earned the bonus and it’s sitting waiting for me to use. But… I’ve stopped using the card. 2% reward is now fairly common. My Discover IT doubles to 3% as this is the 1st year. They don’t take Discover, no problemo, My B of A Travel Rewards Visa + Preferred Rewards Bonus yields 2.625% back towards travel.

    For this card to equal 2% you’d HAVE to redeem for an exactly $500 ticket every time. Anything less or more and the rewards is below 2%, right?

    So for the bonus, great. But beyond, is it a winner?

    • Kumar says:

      You are correct Walter, I wouldn’t use this card much beyond the sign up bonus. Also travel insurance and other perks might be better (I am not sure about this) with other cards say CSR or citi prestige, so if a ticket cost more than $ 500, I would use one of those cards to pay for the difference so that I can use travel insurance on these cards.

    • Mark O says:

      Not really unless you value Delta Lounge membership and put 50K on it and then you can get that free (essentially 3% return). I would just go with a flat 2% card since this one is up to 2% and only 1 pt per dollar. Flexperks would be a better card long term honestly.

    • sirtheta says:

      While I absolutely love the card and the benefits (unbelievably good for no annual fee), I must unfortunately say it is not a good daily driver. This stems less from the rate of redemption because I think there are people that travel enough that they could manage to consistently get nearly 2cpp. Rather, what kills it is that to get 2cpp requires multiples of $25,000 in spending. That’s a steep price to pay when you can redeem rewards on most other cards starting at $25 ($1,250 in spending).

      Ultimately, I’m not sure you can ask more of this card given that it has no annual fee and so many really good travel benefits.

    • Kevin says:

      There’s no point in using this card for long term spending. At absolute best you will be getting a 2 percent value which you can get with far less spend/hassle elsewhere.

  14. Jasper says:

    I just received the card. I may need to buy an international flight ticket with cost over $1,000. Let’s say $1,200 for United airline. How will the points work? I should have 50,000 points after completing the spending requirement. Does the $1,200 air ticket ticket cost

    (1). 50,000 points plus $200?
    Or (2). 25,000 points ( for the 1st $500) + 25,000 ( for $250, as 1 point for 1 cent)+ $450

    Thanks for your help!

  15. Kumar says:

    Thanks for excellent post. Is it possible to book international flight say Etihad to Asia? Is the redemption rate different than say Delta, AA, United etc. for these airlines?

  16. jason says:

    Any way to cash out at 2c redemption instead of 1c? thanks

  17. Ben says:

    Just to clarify, if a ticket costs $550 and I have 31,000 points in my account, do I HAVE to use all my points (25,000 for $500 plus 5,000 for $50), or is it possible to only use 25,000 points plus pay $50 cash?

    If I just need 1 ticket that costs $600 (and I have 53,000 in my account), then I would much rather only use 25,000 + $100 cash (b/c this leaves me with another 25,000->$500 ticket w/out add’l spend) instead of 25,000 ($500) + 10,000 ($100) because then I’ll have 18,000 left and need to spend another $7,000 dollars on the card to get to another good redemption level.

  18. R Johnson says:

    Picked up the card and was able to get the 53K points in a couple months. Used 25K for a trip to Ft. Myers and the other 25K for a trip to Albany, NY next month. Easy to use site.

  19. Irshad says:

    It seems like the card is no longer available for new customers? I tried several links and all seem to be dead. Can anybody please confirm? Thank you in advance.

  20. frank says:

    So, if I have a ticket that is $1100. What is the points plus cash breakdown that I will need to use?

    • sirtheta says:

      Due to the discrepancy, 25,500 points for the first $510. Then the rest of your points up to 50,900 points. If you have enough points available it would be 76,400; otherwise you will make up the rest of the cost with cash.

  21. irshad says:

    Is the card no longer available?

  22. irshad says:

    I just realized it is my vpn blocking the application page. Sorry for the multiple requests.

  23. Betty says:

    With Southwest, one can book a $500 fare, then cancel it, and receive a $500 (non-expiring) SW airline credit to be used at one’s future convenience. Are there other airlines that do the same? This would be my preferred method of using my Merrill+ points. Thanks.

  24. JASON says:

    I thought I could buy a ticket at Cathy Pacific say $800, then use some of the points to pay off the charges. So I misunderstood how it works completely at the first place …

  25. frank says:

    DP: I was able to get 2 tickets for $503 each to price out 50,000 points in total.

  26. zach says:

    An FYI for anyone hoping to book flights on Air Tahiti (the airline that serves French Polynesia intra-island flights) using points and the Merrill Lynch Travel Center. It seems like it cannot be done via the website or by calling in. Both result in “No flights were found that match your search” error message. I found this to be odd since Air Tahiti is available from the preferred airline drop down menu.

    Air Tahiti flights are bookable with Citi TY and Chase UR. I havent tried any other bank point travel sites.

  27. Ben says:

    Let’s say I want to book a ticket that costs $600, and that I have 35,000 points, which could cover the ticket price (25,000 pts for $500 + 10,000 pts for remaining $100). Can I use only 25,000 pts, and pay $100 using my car instead of using the 10,000 extra pts, or will I be forced to use all my points before I pay for the difference? Thank you.

  28. eva says:

    Can I get approved for the card, buy air ticket, after spending $3000, get points and reimburse for the cost of ticket? Or do I have to spend $3000 first and purchase ticket using points?

    Thanks DOC

  29. GLT says:

    Picked up two r/t tickets from Seattle to Tokyo on ANA for 50k total points! What a sweet sign up bonus!

  30. Hannah says:

    Is there a telephone number to call to help out with the booking?

  31. Nick says:

    Just saved $1,000+ – thank you so much for touting this card when others weren’t!

  32. Bob says:

    For the portion paid with a credit card, how is it coded? I noticed that the article said for CSR, it coded as travel. So will it work for other cards that are can redeem points/miles through travel purchases? (Such as arrival+ and BoA travel)
    I’m trying to use the points for BoA travel rewards and wondering if it will be coded as travel. Thanks!

  33. John says:

    To get the maximum value of 50k points, can I
    a. book any unwanted flights (possibly just $500) to make remaining points 25k,
    b. book the flight I need, then cancel the unwanted flight in 24 hours and have points back,
    c. use remaining 25k for future ticket.
    I see the question is what will happen if cancel a ticket paid by points? Will they refund the points or is it final?

  34. P says:

    Is it just me or is it really hard to redeem these for maximum value? Not a lot of flights available close to $500 on the website. I’m seeing so many flights from $390-$587 for YYZ-SFO business on google flights for 10/4 but the cheapest I can find on the Merrill booking site is $570. It seems better to just apply it as a statement credit.

    This is the same with premium economy. Not all the flights showing on google flights are available on the Merrill booking site.

    And with economy roundtrip KOA-SFO, I’m seeing a bunch of $600+ on google flights, but they’re all $700+ on the Merrill site.

    Did Merrill change their prices because of so many new accounts and redemption?

  35. Superchurn says:

    Just sucked down my first redemption, PDX->DTW round trip non stop, for 1.95cpp, close to the 2cpp max.

    And the points are only 1/2 gone!

    Another excellent bonus, thanks to the good people at DoC

  36. Jonathan says:

    I could use some help with this question–I want to buy a ticket LAX-MIA-MSY. If the 2 legs one way fares are under $500, can I book it using only 25,000 points? Thank you in advance for help.

  37. Mel says:

    Will I earn frequent flyer miles on tickets purchased with Merrill points? I am looking to maintain my Platinum level with KLM/Air France and need the miles credit.

  38. Sabata says:

    What if a person has enough airline program miles to book a flight (whether Avios or KrisFlyer, etc) but faces only a hefty surcharge? Can the ML card be used to pay those charges up to $500 and then 25k pts will be applied from ML?

    Or does any flight for ML rewards have to be be booked from ML’s travel center, thereby negating the use of the airline points?

    I have more than 50k pts, and don’t want to mess it up. Thanks for clarificaitons ..

  39. Sarah N says:

    Just to clarify, the 25,000 for $500 is only for flights, yes? And for hotels, it would be the 1 cent per point rate? This card would be even more amazing the anytime, anywhere rate applied to hotels.

  40. Ana F says:

    Thank you for all of this information. I was wondering, however, if I want to purchase two tickets at $750 each and I have 50,000 points, will the points be applied:

    (a) in their entirety to the first ticket, which will require me to pay $750 for the second ticket? or

    (b) 25,000 points to the first ticket and 25,000 to the second ticket, which will require me to pay $250 for each ticket for a total cost of $500 to me?

    • sirtheta says:

      If you are purchasing them separately, (a).

      If you are purchasing them together, it *should* be (b) based on my presumptions about my experience. But, I’m not 100% sure. You can go through all but the final submission of check out to be sure of how it works — and I’d love to have a confirmation, so let me know if you wind up booking those tickets!

      • VL says:

        Any new DPs on this? Would be greatly appreciated. In my case I need those 2 tix be booked together. So using dummy booking method is not good as I would end up with 2 itineraries. Thnx a lot.

        • matt says:

          My DP from yesterday (and I’m not sure how or why it works this way): I booked 2 tickets at $878/ticket so $1756 total. It cost all my miles 53074 + $714 cash. I was going to try to make a dummy booking to get only 25k points then pay cash on top for each ticket but i calculated that to come out to 53074 miles + $726, so I went with the 1st option. I’ve been trying to get my head around why it was only $714 – math says it should have been 25k for the first $500, then 1 cpp, with rest of my points (28074 = 280$) then the remainder cash, which would have been 53074 miles + $975. This worked out better for me, so I booked it and paid the cash portion on my arrival+. I think it may have to do with taxes and fees when I look at the fare breakdown…but no idea. Anyone?

          • VL says:

            I think you just proved the point that it works as expected (in customer’s favor). If you are booking 2 tickets more than $500 each it uses 25K per ticket for the first $500 on each of them (essentially 50K for $1000 worth of 2 tickets in total), and the rest goes with your extra points 1c per point, and the rest with $$.

            So, IF worked as advertised it should have been
            50K covering $1000, then 3,074 covering $30.74 (or more likely round number $30), leaving you with $726 exactly to pay cash… as you expected.

            But as pointed out by @sirtheta (see nota bene from the article above)… it works very close to that, but not exactly like that (and nobody knows why).

            50,500 points cover $510 ticket (when it should have covered $505 ticket… Hence your approximate $10 difference you did not account for.

            If you would booked separately with a dummy booking you would probably got that $5 savings on the first ticket (because you would have spent 28,074 on it or may be 28K even)… and would not get that weird unexplainable $5 saving on the second ticket, because you would have 25K even in your account when you were ready to make a second real booking..

            All-in-all it is good news… generally not because of $10 of extra savings, but because of ability to get 2 tickets on the same itinerary… Great news when you need to fly with a toddler 😉

            Thank you for your DP!!!

  41. Adam D says:

    Booked a dummy ticket for under $500, costing 25k points. Next flight I booked was $715 so it charged me the remaining 28k (3k actual spend) and $173 cash at 1c/1pt. I then cancelled the dummy booking and have 25k points back in my account. If you went the route merill wants you to go the $715 flight would have cost me 46k points. No fees, have to cancel by 11 EST by the next day.

  42. Adam D says:

    Data Point:
    Xiamen airlines isnt not an airline redemption option also. I was trying to book a flight for $445 from LAX-Manila that showed on google flights and flexperks as $445 one way but results for 2 weeks shows none in merill’s point site, which I think is powered by orbitz. Would of made a great sub $500 redemption and easy hub for many cities in thoughout sea, northern asia and mainland china. Xiamen flys to LAX starting jun 27 and already flys to jfk and seattle, too bad. There flights are usually $250 cheaper than major carriers and $100-$200 cheaper than china southern/eastern.

  43. hermitw says:

    will the receipt show original money price (for reimbursement)?

  44. Victor says:

    Anyone else having this issue? I keep trying to select flights being advertised as 25,000 points, then when I click continue, the price goes up by roughly 9,000 points, and it shows this message: Sorry, fares change quickly. The price has increased by: $90.00. No matter which flight I click on, it keeps showing the same message.

    • Victor says:

      Nevermind, I see it only showed that error for a few flights. I ended up using the trick suggested here of first making a dummy booking for 25k. So I was able to get the flight for 28k points plus $60 cash, rather than 34k points. Then I cancelled the dummy booking and got my 25k points back. Nice!

      • SamSimon says:

        I don’t get it, why did you do that? If you spent 25K and got 25K back…. thanks!

        • VL says:

          To keep 25K in his account for the next $500 flight. Otherwise he would have only 19K left as system forces you to use points if you have points.

          • SamSimon says:

            Thanks! I kind got it!
            If you use more than 25K points after 25K points worth less?
            So points will transfer from “Merrill+” to “airline” website? That’s the main thing people do it? Why 19K would be left? Isn’t 16K supposed to be left? I’m just confused. Please VL clarify if you can.

          • VL says:

            Yes. Here is the clarification

            a) The best redemption is 25K for $500 ticket which gives you 2c per point. Anything above that gives you only 1c per point if you are paying with points.
            b) But the main problem of redeeming for a ticket which costs more than $500 and paying with points is that you may be left short of 25K points in your account for your next redemption… If you end up with 20K (for example) after your ticket #1 you actually have to spend another $5K to get to 25K points for your next good redemption… so if you have to buy a ticket which is more then $500 people are using the trick with temporary unwanted ticket… to pay the excess in $$$ vs points, leaving them with 25K points after the trick for the next redemption
            c) in the example we discussed the user started with 53K points (not 50K) because he also had to spend $3K to meet the requirements, hence the difference in our calculations 19K vs 16K. 25K is used for temporary ticket, 28K is left and must be used (you are obligated to use points if you have points)…

            The bottom line, to get the most out of these points you need to
            1) either buy a ticket as close as possible to $500 price or
            2) buy a ticket which costs more than $500, but use the described technique to pay for what is above $500 with cash leaving your account with pure 25K points for your next redemption
            3) or buy 2 tickets of value $500 or more… which if I understood correctly will use 2 redemption of 25K towards $500 of each ticket automatically allowing you to pay with $ for the rest.

            Hope that clarifies the situation for you
            Any questions let me know.

          • SamSimon says:

            VL, thanks a lot! Finally, I got it! 😉

  45. Jim says:

    can you combine points across two merrill cards?

    • John says:

      I opened my second MERRILL+ card and called Customer Service to move points from the old card to a new one. Now I have 0 points on the old card and combined balance on my new card.

  46. Joe says:

    I’m a few months away from falling under 5/24 and being able to use my wife’s referral to apply for a CIP and then a CSP. But I think I’m sold on this. Almost.

    We’re a family of four and a round trip flight from JFK to MNL costs $560 to a little over $600 on the airlines we’ve been eyeing. If my wife and I each get one can we some how get all four tickets on the same reservation? We’re flying with a 2 year old an an infant, both will get seats. Not having everyone on the same itinerary can cause headaches for us.

    • VL says:

      I understand the idea to pick up the product which is disappearing, but I doubt it is a good trade off for CIP + CSP (if you are comfortable with MIN spending on both)… unless one more personal cards fall off your 24 month record pretty soon after the one you mentioned I would go for CIP+CSP.

      Let’s calculate. CIP+CSP = 80+20(referral)+50+5(AU)+9 (spending) = 164K points.

      I am assuming that you can pick up your $560 tickets on Chase portal as well (as it sells most of the airlines). If that is the case with 20% bonus (which either of those cards provide you) on points that Chase duo will give you almost $1,980 in travel (If by any chance you or your wife carry CSR that would be $2,180).

      So even $1,980 almost covers all 4 of your tickets and gives you the same funds as 2 Merrill+ cards… and you still can apply for your wife, we are talking only your card here.

      In my opinion if getting Merril+ sets you back on Chase for another year I would go for Chase duo for you, and still get Merrril+ for your spouse… if it would set you back another couple of months, then I would consider Merril+ for both of you and plan on Chase right after it becomes available.

      You never know what changes will occur within a year.. so you can not count of having those 2 chase cards available for you at any time. Look what happened with Sapphire family changes. CSP was the last on my books for me to get (4/24 now), but I was just postponing it because of too many Chase cards in the recent past… and now I can not get it (have CSR) at least for another year and a half.. or may be never since now you can have only one of those.

      Anyway.. just some thoughts to share.
      Good luck!

  47. abdul javeed says:

    Is the 25k point for flight up to $500 is a special promotion? or this is how the airline redemption for this card always work?

  48. Carl says:

    You can’t customize the number of points? Like contribute 25k to a $700 flight?

  49. SamSimon says:

    Is it possible to redeem then these “100,000” point for Gift Card or something else useful, I don’t want to travel) Thanks!

    My thought based on this comment:
    “to get $1000 effectively out of 50k points, Involving getting a flight as close as possible to 25000 points and then cancelling it and getting a gift card balance or something like that?”

    • VL says:

      If redeemed for cash (or gift cards) you can get only $500 out of those 50K points. Up to $1000 only for air plain tickets.

      Get the card, get the points. The card has no Annual Fee, so never cancel it, keep the points until the moment you need to travel… or may be some of your firends/relatives would travel and you buy the tickets for them. For the top dollar redemption you need to be patient (in general). If you want quickly cash it out then usually (as in this case as well) you have to settle for lower return.

      If you are not after Chase, or already 5/24 anyway I see no reason not getting this card.

  50. Daniel says:

    Just curious here im sure others are wondering too. I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred with earns 25% on travel rewards / 2x for travel spending.

    My question is besides the awesome signup bonus for this Merill+ card, is it wiser to spend my travel money on my Chase or the Merill+ card? As in, which will I get more value back when it comes to booking through the reward system? Anyone have any idea – I’ve been trying to figure it out. Thanks.

    • VL says:

      I am sure many people may give you their opinions, and they could be different. Here is my math since you asked.

      1) It is better to use both points on travel rewards if you compare travel redemption vs cash.

      2) Regarding value… in terms which points are more valuable. Let’s compare them to the cash redemption which would be 1c per point in both cases.

      Chase UR give you 1.25 c per point, Merrill+ can give you anywhere from 1 to 2c per point. If we consider the best redemption options, then Merrill points give you way more for your 50K.

      50K UR = $625
      50K Merrill = $1000 (if you redeem smart).

      Regarding redemption strategies (if you are considering redeeming via their portals) I would do this:

      Merrill points best redemption when you have a ticket as close as possible to $500 or may be slightly higher (if you do not mind paying a bit out of pocket, and make “dummy” bookings if needed). Hence, if I had a great Merrill+ redemption opportunity I would use Merrill points, if the ticket I need is in the range of $200-300 I would use UR and saved Merrill points for the better time.

      Few things to keep in mind:

      a) Always check the cash price of the itinerary on different sites. You do not have to fly the specific airlines… any airline would do… so I would consider booking with points when the tickets available via Chase/Merrill are closely priced in $$ to what I would have to pay in $$ if buy somewhere else.

      b) UR with your CSP require you to have your CSP card… which comes with an annual fee in the second year. So basically your UR points have a “maintenance fee”. You can always downgrade to Freedom, but would loose your x1.25; Merrill+ has no fees, so (as of now) you can keep them forever “maintenance free”. In that respect Merril+ also win in that category.

      c) The main benefit of UR points (especially with ONLY 1.25 coefficient of CSP) is transfer to partners. You can get much better redemption values if you do that, but that is a whole different story. Merrill+ does not offer that… if you are OK to do more work and find transfer redemption then it would speak for keeping your UR points for that. IMHO CSP 1.25 factor is not enough to redeem on Chase portal. If you had CSR with 1.5 that would make a direct booking option more valuable (or at least close) in many cases than transfer to partners.

      For me it always boils down to the best redemption option (besides savings it is a fun game as well). I am keeping them all and trying to use the currency which gives me the best redemption opportunity.

      Good luck.

  51. VL says:

    I have a question / idea…

    What if we purchase 2 tickets close / or over $500 each, not the “Basic Economy”, but fully refundable fare (if such fares even available via Merrill portal). May be 1st class? If this works the price really does not matter as long as it above $500 per ticket.

    Wait 48 hours (to not get points back), and cancel them via the airline. Will we get a full refund and if so in which form? Hopefully not the airline credit…

    If that works, we can cash the bonus out at 2c per point pretty much right away… Any ideas?

  52. M.A. says:

    I applied for the card on 9/06/2017 and got approved two days later. Now waiting to receive it. Thanks a lot for all the information.

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