Converting 48,000 American Express Membership Rewards to $400 in Macy’s gift cards

A few years ago (four to be precise) my wife got one of them American Express Cards that gave her 50,000 Membership Rewards points just for signing up and spending $1,000 in a few months. When the year was up and the annual fee of over a hundred dollars was due, she decided it was not worth it to keep the card. As we all know vey well, Membership Rewards points would be been reduced to nil when she canceled the card. So we decided to transfer them out. Not wanting to spend any cash at all and hence reduce the value of our valuable MR points, we chose to transfer the points to a non-US based airline. As I have shared in an earlier post, the US government charges an excise tax when transferring points to a US based airline. We transferred the points to ANA airlines. I thought it was good choice as it was a Star Alliance airline with a great code-share partnership with United, the airline with a hub at my home airport (IAD).

Unfortunately, three years passed and we were still unable to redeem the miles. Every time we looked on ANA’s website to search for award travel, the dates and times we needed were not available (reverse star-net blocking with United?). So, we were left with a looming expiration date coming. ANA has time bombed mileage expiration. They expire in three years if unused, even if there is subsequent activity on the account.

Fortunately for us, we found a new (I had not seen it before) option available on ANA’s website to redeem miles for Macy’s or Bed, Bath and Beyond gift cards. 12,000 miles earns you a $100 gift card. We redeemed 48,000 miles for $400 in Macy’s cards. It was an excellent deal, given the miles were expiring, but even if they were not, it is a good return on the miles. Very few programs allow redeeming miles for gift cards for no fee.

Of course, my wife has still not spent the gift cards. She feels that she needs to ‘add’ money to the $400 of cards to buy ‘something nice’. May end up being an expensive deal for me after all…



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  1. […] Most programs have expiration policies. It may be 18 months (like United) or 36 months (like British Airways) of no activity. It may be a fixed term limit of miles expiring after three years (like ANA), no matter what your activity level. Or, it may be that they never expire (like Delta). If you have miles that are expiring soon, act now and take steps to keep them alive or if they are going to expire no matter what, use them. There are creative ways you can use miles. Check out my post on how I converted ANA miles to Macy’s Gift cards. […]

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