ETA: The new Ultimate Rewards website has taken away the ability to purchase merchandise directly through the mall with UR points, so this will not be an option 🙁
As a miles and points guy, I know that it is really the best way to travel the world on the cheap. My family has benefited from these instruments of airline/hotel currency for a while now and it is certainly something that we talk a lot about on here.
Using Miles and Points For Merchandise – Bad Idea?
The airlines and card issuers, however, will often send out e-mails to “help” you use your points for things like gift cards or merchandise. This is (almost) always a terrible idea from a value standpoint. When we go to redeem our miles and points for travel, we can expect to always get at least 1 cent per point value out of points like Ultimate Reward points (which the bottom value for travel actually sits at 1.25 cents per point) and miles like Delta Skymiles (which allows you to use your miles to pay for a ticket). Unfortunately, the merchandise that those companies want us to use our miles and points on present a horrible value.
Here is an example:
Delta’s Skymiles Marketplace lists the excellent Bose Quietcomfort 20i earphones at a price of 52,500 miles (the actual amount may vary depending on your status and Delta credit card). That price includes tax and shipping. It is possible to get these with deals that pop up from time to time, but let’s just assume you are going to purchase them right now at current price. That price is $299 (plus tax). Since that is a standard pricing for these, it puts the value at our Skymiles (that we are theoretically using on this) at about .6 cent per mile. That is almost half of what we could expect to get using Pay-With-Miles and way less than everyday value that could be achieved using the miles! That is a very bad value!
With Chase’s Ultimate Reward mall, the value is actually better at about 1 cent per point. But, since we can use those same points for travel through the mall at a value of 1.25 cents per point, it is still not a good idea.
But, Is Black Friday A Good Day To Use Them?
Now, before I begin, I realize some readers might want to take away my airline miles just for suggesting something like this. 🙂 Also, this deal may not be here this year, but if it does come around, it might make sense to have some Ultimate Reward points for this possibility. I know there are some of you who like collecting miles and points, but you do not travel as much as you may like. This deal from the past gives you an opportunity to see a much higher value for your Ultimate Reward points when redeeming for merchandise than you would normally see!
Great Value Of Points For Merchandise
A couple of years ago, Best Buy had an incredible earn rate through the Ultimate Rewards Mall that was 10x points per dollar! That was the highest it has been and it certainly made great sense for purchases that weekend. However, not only did they have some great earnings, they had great redemptions. The electronics in the mall are actually shipped from Best Buy centers. That meant that the prices were actually linked to the Best Buy pricing models. Since Best Buy discounts a lot of items for Black Friday, those prices were mirrored when using points.
Best Buy/Chase went a step further and discounted the prices by another 25% in points. But, in practice, this allowed for some deals to be coming in at up to 50% off regular price when using points! That meant, it was possible to get a minimum of 1.25 cents per point and up to 2 cents per point for merchandise! This applied to Apple products, TV’s, game consoles, and all kinds of electronics. It also lasted all weekend long.
Could It Happen Again?
Now, they did not do that same type of deal again, even though many were hoping. That does not mean that it will not happen again! Even though I always prefer to use my points for travel, since that time, I have made sure that I kept a healthy balance of Ultimate Reward points in my account in case they came out with something similar. If you do not have a great desire to travel but you do want to get some great value out of points, the Black Friday+Best Buy+Ultimate Rewards combo could give you that tremendous value.
Earning the Points
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you are approved using these links (with the exception of the Chase Ink Bold). Should you decide to do so, I would greatly appreciate it!
The highest bonus cards for Ultimate Reward points are:
Chase points normally post within a week after the closing of the statement month that you earned the points. So, if you were able to meet the spending requirement before your first statement closed, you should have the points within a week of the statement closing. If you can meet the spending quickly, you should have those bonus points before Black Friday rolls around!
Would you consider spending your Ultimate Reward points on merchandise if you could get that kind of value from them?
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