Recently I’ve grown weary of using so many credit cards. In order to maximize rewards, we have been using the Capital One® VentureSM Rewards Credit Card, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express, and The Platinum Card® from American Express. The problem is that it’s a pain to manage and budget three different cards on top of our checking account. So, I plan to start using just one card going forward.
But using just one card has its own drawbacks. In addition to not maximizing your rewards potential (something I’m willing to sacrifice for the sake of simplicity), if the card is a points or miles card, you may not be able to convert rewards to cash. And if you can get cash for your rewards, the value you receive may not be such a good deal.
This led me find to gather several websites that will convert points or miles to cash. Before getting to these websites, it’s worth pointing out that you can use American Express rewards points to make purchases on Amazon. You should be careful, however, to make sure that the number of points required to purchase an item does not result in a point being less than $0.01. I recently looked at buying an iPad with Amex points and the value of the points came in right at a penny. But that was only because they were running a special. The normal price would have made my points worth less than a penny.
Websites that Convert Points and Miles to Cash
So, back to the websites. There are three that I want to share today.
With points.com, you can track, trade, and redeem your miles and points. As with each of these services, the big gotcha is how much it will cost to redeem your rewards. Points.com let’s you redeem rewards for gift cards at numerous retailers or add funds directly to your PayPal account.
While that sounds great, I found that adding cash to your PayPal account is a more expensive option. For example, if you have an American Airlines AAdvantage account, it will cost 24,118 miles to transfer $100 to a PayPal account. With those miles, you can qualify for a round-trip ticket that would likely cost far more than $100. In contrast, you’ll need 24,058 AA miles for a $100 gift card at retailers like Target, Home Depot, or Bed, Bath & Beyond.
One well-reviewed site, Cash for My Miles, appears to be a clear option for exchanging points. They claim to have the most recurring business of any mileage broker in the industry, and their process seems simple enough. You cannot redeem for gift cards, only check/Paypal, but this may be preferable for you.
You request an immediate quote online after setting up an account. If you like the look of their offer, you then verify your points, sign the agreement, and receive either a check or an instant Paypal payment.
This one launched in 2012 but doesn’t seem to be gaining speed as expected. Currently, Points Pay only has two partners: PINS and Etihad Guest. Now, maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I’ve never heard of either. That being said, if you hold points or miles with these two companies, Points Pay allows you to exchange them for cash that is loaded onto a prepaid card. You will receive the card number and other information in order to use it, and can then utilize these funds for online shopping
An even bigger problem is that the website doesn’t tell you how much cash you’ll get for the points and miles you have. It most likely varies based on the loyalty programs, but the fact that Points Pay does not readily share this information is a big warning sign. Overall, this company is very limited in scope, but may be an option for you if you hold either program’s points and want to sell.
Still, the question remains just how much your points and miles will be worth. Consumers will undoubtedly lose value for the convenience of converting points and miles to cash — the rule of thumb is to shoot for $0.01 value per point, and most of these exchange companies will offer much less than this. In the final analysis, these services may be fine if you need some cash in a pinch, but you’re better off using the points and miles with the credit card and loyalty programs where you earned them.