Around 11 a.m. Eastern today the MGM M life Rewards from First Bankcard will launch. I spoke with Jordan Salmon, MGM’s Vice President of Loyalty Marketing, on Monday about the product.
Here are the basics of this no annual fee card which has no foreign transaction fees:
- Signup bonus. 10,000 points after $1000 spend within 3 billing cycles
- Points-earning. Double points at gas stations and supermarkets and triple points at M life Rewards destinations.
- Elite status. Cardmembers are immediately elevated to M life Rewards ‘Pearl’ status with an additional benefit of VIP check-in (that usually only comes with Gold status and above). In addition, points earned on the card are both redeemable and tier points to help you earn higher elite status levels.
An M life Rewards point is worth a penny apiece used either:
- As free play, you stick your membership card in the machine at a casino and and pick ‘point play’
- As express comps, anywhere on property with 1000 points worth $10 towards restaurants, your room folio, or anything else. (There’s a cap on Express Points of $5000 a year or $10,000 for top tier Noir members.)
It’s very competitive for a no annual fee with no foreign transaction fees and rewards including spend category bonuses. The product is issued as a MasterCard and as a World MasterCard depending on credit of the applicant.
It will be most interesting for MGM resort guests for offering instant status, VIP check-in, and the ability to earn elite tier status through spending year-round. (Priority check-in at a 3000 or 4000 room property can be a Very. Big. Deal.)
Las Vegas properties transitioning to paid parking, it’s the casino’s “checked bag fees” — a reason to get the card to avoid the nuisance fee since M life’s Pearl members get free self-parking.
They’ll be testing instance card issuance for applications today at MGM Grand, and are looking to roll that out to the rest of their properties in about a month. The interesting thing about applying on property is that elite tier status upgrades are processed in almost real-time. There’s no wait.
You could literally apply on property, and if you’re instantly approved for the card your account should reflect your new benefits. Your parking will be free for your stay. And you’ll get buffet line passes for your stay, and discount at retail shops too.
Pearl is normally earned after 25,000 tier credits. But the card doesn’t start you off for the year with 25,000 tier credits. You have Pearl status as long as you hold the card, but you still need to earn the full 75,000 points required for Gold status or 200,000 for Platinum. But that doesn’t require $75,000 or $200,000 in spend, because category bonuses count towards your tier points as well.
The best status play, I think, is Hyatt Gold Passport’s credit card. It has a $75 annual fee but a better signup bonus and an annual free night (at a category 1-4 hotel) and comes with Gold Passport Platinum status.
Gold Passport Platinum comps each year to MGM M life Rewards Gold which is a tier level higher than what comes with the M life Rewards card. Gold gets room upgrades, priority restaurant reservations, and VIP Line Access for nightclubs and pool day clubs.
It’ s interesting that the MGM card comes with a lower tier status than the Hyatt card does, but they’re really targeted at different markets. Plan ahead, commit to a card with an annual fee, and you do better starting your relationship with MGM through Hyatt. But MGM offers status upgrades instantly on-site with their own no annual fee card.