The Merrill+ Visa offers an interesting value proposition: a proprietary points program that can be used for coach airlines tickets or for merchandise, a la Worldpoints or a CapitalOne card.
So far, not very interesting. But there are spending thresholds of $20,000 and $50,000 and at each threshold additional benefits kick in.
$50,000 in spending on the card in a calendar year will earn 4 free nights at a Ritz-Carlton hotel. That’s a decent reward for $50,000 in spending, but since the proprietary points program wasn’t that useful to me I still preferred my Starwood American Express and Diners Club combo.
Now they’ve introduced point transfers to British Airways on a 1:1 basis.
So $50,000 in spending nets you 4 Ritz-Carlton nights and 50,000 British Airways miles.
Not bad at all, actually an amazing return, and it has no annual fee.
The only downside is that the two pieces of value in the card are tied to contracts that Merrill Lynch probably has to renegotiate annually. I’d hate to spend $50,000 on the card and then find the Ritz-Carlton nights gone, even if Merrill manages to negotiate a contract with another hotel chain.
The current reward offerings are great, I just caution that there’s some risk that the rewards could change by the time you’re ready to redeem for them.