Milenomics had another nice post on the Fidelity Amex card, this one on how to redeem the points earned from that card for travel at a favorable rate. It’s an obscure, unadvertised feature of that card that lets you get more than 2% back on your spending, and the article is worth a look if you’re into wringing every possible cent of value from your credit card rewards.
The post reminded me of something I’d meant to investigate a while ago but then forgot about: this Flyertalk thread, where somebody alludes to being able to exchange WorldPoints for British Airways Avios. Somebody asked if it was still possible and the question went unaswered, so let’s try to figure this out.
One commenter on that thread wrote:
If you have both a Merrill+ VISA and an Accolades Amex you can transfer WorldPoints to the Merrill points which can be redeemed for BA miles in blocks of 5,000.
31. British Airways Avios Miles Exchange
Redeem Merrill Points for Avios
Offer valid through December 31, 2013. You must have a valid British Airways Executive Club account to convert Merrill Points into Avios. Merrill Points may be converted in increments of 5,000. Flights booked using Avios cannot be used to accrue Merrill Points or additional Avios under the British Airways Executive Club. All flights are subject to availability at time of booking. All redemptions are considered final and Avios cannot be converted back to Merrill Points. Please allow up to six weeks for Merrill Points converted to Avios to appear in your British Airways Executive Club account…
So it seems you can at least exchange Merrill points for Avios. I don’t know what the requirements are for getting the Merril+ card, and I can’t really tell from the website. Presumably the card is aimed at a more upscale demographic, though I can’t say how upscale, what sort of assets or annual fees are involved, or anything else. The rewards on this card are pretty lame, though: one point per dollar, period.
So what does this have to do with the Fidelity Amex and why was that Flyertalk commenter mentioning the Accolades card? Also from the Merril+ program info page:
5. Unless otherwise specified, Merrill Points may not be transferred to, or combined with, any Merrill Lynch or non-Merrill Lynch rewards program, including but not limited to the WorldPoints® rewards program. Only qualifying Merrill Lynch cardholders who also have a Merrill Accolades® American Express® Card may redeem WorldPoints® points for Merrill Points, and vice versa, to the extent permitted by the cards respective terms and conditions.
So apparently it works like this: WorldPoints –> Merrill Points –> Avios, but only if you have an Accolades Amex. If you could do that, you could get 2 Avios per dollar, since as Milenomics pointed out, your Fidelity Amex earnings are actually a form of WorldPoints.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure how easy it is to get an Accolades card. This card was launched several years ago as B of A’s high-end credit card but apparently was never very popular. According to a year-old article from Business Insider,
The Merrill Accolades American Express Card, formerly the Bank of America Accolades American Express card, is available only to select clients of the Merrill Lynch Wealth Management division, a part of Bank of America.
The Merrill Accolades card boasts a black design, with the customary Merrill Lynch bull logo. However, the card comes with a relatively low annual fee of just $295, cheaper than many high-tier airline credit cards.
I can’t even find an Accolades application page. Google turns one up, but the link just takes you to the home page for Merrill’s credit cards. So maybe it’s something you have to call up ML to inquire about, or maybe they’ve discontinued it. The latter possibility wouldn’t surprise me, since B of A is tweaking its product offerings yet again for this segment–see my post from a couple of months ago about the credit card possibilities that may result from this change.
Bottom line: yes, it’s theoretically possible to get Avios with your Fidelity Amex. Is it practically possible for those of you reading this who don’t already have the required cards? That, I’m not so sure about.