Last Chance for Merrill+ Card, Worth $500 – $1000

The Generous/Easy Bonus on this Card is Rumored to End “Mid-September”

One of the best credit card offers on the market—the Merrill+ card—will be discontinued by September 18-19 at the latest. The card has no annual fee and comes with 50,000 bonus points. Those points are worth $500 in cash or up to $1,000 in airfare.

Sarah's Merrill+ card

My wife’s Merrill+ card

In this post I’ll cover the basics of the card and how to apply for it. But if you’re interested, you should act fast. A source told Doctor of Credit that the card will be discontinued on September 18 or 19. But another source told Frequent Miler that the card will be discontinued “mid-September,” which means it might not last until September 18.

Why Get the Merrill+ Card

The Merrill+ card is worth getting chiefly for its signup bonus.

The signup bonus on the card is 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening.

You can redeem the points in several ways. The two most attractive ways are:

  1. Statement credit. You can redeem points for 1 cent apiece as a statement credit. That makes the 50,000 bonus points worth $500 in cash.
  2. Airfare. Alternatively, you can redeem points for 2 cents apiece toward airfare. That makes the signup bonus worth up to $1,000 in airfare.

The way airfare redemptions work is that you redeem a lump sum of 25,000 points for a ticket valued at $500 or less. That ticket can be one-way or roundtrip. If the ticket price exceeds $500, you can pay the difference in cash or by using points at a rate of one point per cent. Most airlines are included, though Allegiant, Frontier, Southwest, and Spirit are excluded. For more details on redeeming points for airfare, read this post by Doctor of Credit.

The card has no annual fee. As a result, it’s easy to leave the card open until the opportunity arises to redeem the points for airfare, thereby allowing you to extract maximum value from the points.

With many roundtrip airfares between the US and Europe costing under $500 at the moment, this one card could be worth two roundtrip flights to Europe, as an example. That’s pretty sweet.

But liquidating the points for $500 in cash ain’t bad either.

The card is issued by Bank of America. It earns 1 point on all purchases. Full terms for the card can be found here.

How to Get the Merrill+ Card

The Merrill+ card can only be applied for over the phone:

  • Call (866) 751-1257.
  • Verify that you are applying for the 50,000 point offer.
  • If asked, provide this application code: BAABZX

Some folks without a prior relationship with Bank of America have reported being denied for the card. But many people without a prior relationship have been approved. As they say in the travel hacking community, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Conclusion

I’ve written before about how my family took a $5,000 vacation to Cabo San Lucas for $42 and how we recently took a $4,000 vacation to San Diego for $56. The main reason we could do so is because, in advance of the trips, we had signed up for cards with great bonuses. The Merrill+ is such a card, providing up to $1,000 in airfare with no annual fee.

But if travel isn’t your thing, cashing the bonus points out for $500 in statement credits is about as straightforward and good as a credit card cash bonus gets.

Either way, the Merrill+ card provides excellent value. It’s worth jumping on before “mid-September” rolls around, whenever, exactly, that is.

If you’re new to signing up for credit cards in order to earn a bonus, check out my How to Travel for Free series, which includes post on signing up for credit cards with big bonuses and understanding the (surprising) effect that credit card applications have on one’s credit score.

Question: Do you have any questions about the Merrill+ card or how to get it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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3 thoughts on “Last Chance for Merrill+ Card, Worth $500 – $1000

  1. Brian, thanks – this is really helpful. So, I have struggled with determining if the time value in signing up for these credit cards, tracking the rewards points, etc. is there. When I add up the hours I spend keeping track of my finances month after month, I wonder if I allocated that time towards working more hours to get a bigger bonus, pay raise, career development, and promotions–if that would pay off more in the long run. To date, I opted for this approach, and while that has been a worthwhile strategy, your recommendations intrigue me. I’d be interested to know how much time you spend each month managing your finances (credit cards, bank accounts, rewards points).
    How do you efficiently keep track of (1) all the different rewards programs you are a part of – particularly to ensure points don’t expire (2) all your different credit cards and bank account(s) to stay on top of your spending/stay within budget/etc.? In the past, I have found the coordination of these activities too time consuming…of course, I’m thinking there’s got to be a better, more efficient way…and maybe you can help shed some light on that. For example, I forgot about a rewards program that I’d participated in for years, and just checked it only to realize that I had 18,600 points expire back in 2/20/2016. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I last checked on that program! …But actually I can because it’s happened before (with airlines and hotels–really frustrating). Time flies, life gets busy, and since I don’t have the money or travel/vacation schedule to be flying or staying in hotels every year to keep the rewards points active (certainly not across multiple rewards programs), before I know it, the rewards points expire. For one program, I did get a credit card which allows me to prevent my points from expiring as long as I make 1 purchase annually. I don’t have to stay at one of their hotels to keep the rewards, I just need to buy a stick of gum on the credit card. That I can handle…but I can’t scale that very easily across multiple accounts. Or is that a mental block? What would be awesome is a Dashboard that brings all my accounts together, I view it monthly, and it helps me stay on top of the points and the expirations. Do you use Mint.com by chance? If yes or no, what do you think of it and is there a better alternative? Any thoughts here would be great. Thanks, man! Keep up the great work. You’re an inspiration.

    • Steve,

      Thanks again for the great questions. Sorry for the delayed reply.

      I especially love the question: are the benefits of the credit card signup bonuses worth the time it takes? I think that is just the right question.

      That said, I do think the answer is “yes” for most people. Most every decent credit card bonus is worth at least $500—often much more. But let’s stick with $500 for the moment. How much total time is spent researching a card, opening it, meeting the minimum spend on it, downgrading or closing it, etc.? I don’t think it is more than 5 hours, and it might be fewer. But let’s stick with 5 hours for the example. In that case, one is making $100/hour. Making $100/hour is comparable to what one makes who earns $200,000 per year. That’s why I say that for most people, it’s totally worth it. And the deal gets better if the bonus on the card is worth more than $500 and/or if you can spend fewer hours managing it.

      That said, you’ve hit the nail on the head in identifying, as an opportunity cost to those 5 hours, the ways in which you could develop yourself during that time. More concretely: could you develop yourself in such a way that you are able to get a raise and/or earn a higher income that would more than offset the bonuses? That is a question everyone should put to themselves. Some people don’t want to develop or can’t foresee earning more if they do develop. Others may envision great opportunities to developing themselves. Still others may be developing themselves robustly and still have time to earn $100/hour with credit cards on the side. There are many factors here, which make it difficult if not impossible to answer in the abstract, but I think you are smart to ask yourself the question.

      You mentioned that you spend a lot of time keeping track of your finances each month. One question I think you should ask yourself in that regard is: what is the ROI on *that* activity? There is prudence in budgeting, especially early on in life. But one can also find oneself tracking details that are unactionable or, simply, aren’t worth the time. As an example, years ago I used to reconcile all of my credit card statements against receipts to look for inconsistencies. I caught a couple. And you know what? It totally wasn’t worth it. I should have spent the time developing myself . . . and/or earning big signup bonuses! 😊 Nowadays I quickly scan mint for the largest transactions each month. If any seem questionable, which they rarely do, I take a minute to investigate. But I don’t even look at charges below a threshold amount that I’ve set. I’d encourage everyone to set such an amount for themselves. For easy math, let’s say a person chooses a $50 transaction threshold. A person would then have to find 10 erroneous $50 transactions to save the same amount he or she could earn through one $500 credit card bonus. How many hours of vigilance would it take to catch 10 erroneous $50 transactions? Way, way more hours than it takes to open and manage one credit card. Some people cannot stomach being mischarged $50. What I couldn’t stomach, instead, would be losing out on a $500 bonus because I had spent my time, looking for mischarges in the amount of $50.

      To keep track of my credit card and bank accounts, I use a combination of (1) Mint, (3) an excel spreadsheet, (3) online logins for all accounts, and (4) AwardWallet. I’ve mentioned my minimal use of Mint. At some point I will try to produce and share with my readers a version of the excel spreadsheet. Online logins are commonplace. What you may not know about or have is AwardWallet. It is worth getting. It provides precisely the type of dashboard you mention. I haven’t done a full post on it but have touched on it here: http://www.brianmcadam.com/last-day-lock-10-awardwallet-plus-price/

      As for keeping points active across many programs, I need to write a post on that, as there are good tricks for doing so without flying or staying in hotels. Buying a stick of gum on the program’s credit card is one such trick. (Though I recommend, instead, establishing one monthly or yearly recurring charge on the card as a set-it-and-forget-it approach.)

      Thanks again for the great questions . . . and topics for future blog posts! 😊