Maximizing the Merrill + card 50,000 point signon bonus

Introduction

This post is pertinent for you frequent Alaska or Jetblue flyers.   A while back I wrote that I had gotten my wife a BOA Merrill + card that has a 50K signon bonus.  I finally got around to banking the 50K points and decided to redeem the points.  The quick and easy way is to cash out the 50K points as $500, but you know I like to max out things.  If you cash it out as travel, you can redeem 25K points for a flight up to $500.  The reason why this is pertinent for Alaska or Jetblue flyers is because those programs let you cancel flights to a “bank” which you can then use for other cheaper flights.  Since I’m based out of Seattle and fly Alaska quite often, I’ll show you that example.

 

Step 1 – Find a $500 flight

Go to http://flights.google.com and filter on just Alaska flights.  Play around with the destination and dates until you get as close to $500 as possible.  If you are doing this with Alaska, MAKE SURE YOU PICK A DATE 60 DAYS OUT; else you’ll get hit with a change fee!  In the screenshot below, I found a SEA-TPA in June for $499.  Perfect!

I was able to confirm the flight on the Alaska site:

 

Step #2 – Feed it into the Merrill travel site

Feed the itinerary into the Merrill site.  Notice how there’s an even better United flight, but that won’t work since they charge a cancellation fee and will just refund the points back to your Merrill account.  Book the Alaska flight as you normally would.

 

Step #3 – Wait 24 hours and then cancel

The next step is to give it 24 hours.  Then you should be able to pull up the itinerary on Alaskaair.com.  Don’t do it before 24 hours or else it’ll just be cancelled and you’ll get the 25K points back into your Merrill account.  Once it’s on alaskaair.com, cancel the flight and choose to credit the airfare back to your “Travel Wallet.”  You will then have 365 days from the date of the booking or it’ll expire so don’t go nuts.  Now I can just spend down my balance as I see fit.

Note my cancellation was for a different flight and not the example above.

 

Jetblue

While the Merrill site says “Air Rewards start at 25,000 Merrill Points for flights on the following carriers: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and British Airways…” it does work for Alaska as well as Jetblue.  I’m not too familiar with the Jetblue program; I believer there is a slight cancellation fee with them, but it may still be worth it to do this trick.

 

Conclusion

This does NOT WORK FOR SOUTHWEST since the ML travel site can’t book SW flights!  If you live in an Alaska or Jetblue area, the Merrill + Visa card is a must get for the sign-on bonus (about $1,000 in flights.)  Add it to your next BoA AoR.

  • crimsonablue

    Delete.

  • Shannon Tweed

    Anyone done this lately? I booked 2 Alaska flights 4 days ago on the ML rewards portal and pulled it up on alaskaair.com and it gave me these 3 options. Any hints would be great, because I don’t want to spend $250 to get this credit.

    Select cancellation option
    Deposit the value of the tickets as credit into My Wallet.
    Pay $125 USD per person cancellation fee now, and receive credit in My Wallet. Credit may be used for eligible flight purchases.
    Credit expires June 6, 2018. Email the ticket value as credit.

    Pay $125 USD
    per person cancellation fee now, and receive credit certificates by
    email. Credit may be used for eligible flight purchases.
    Credit expires June 6, 2018. Email the canceled ticket numbers and use later to retrieve the value.

    Pay
    nothing today. At the time your ticket is exchanged for a new one, a per
    person change fee of $125 USD may apply, plus any difference in fare
    and taxes. Save the ticket numbers you receive by email. You may use the value toward travel completed by July 21, 2018.

    • Miles per Day

      What date did you book the flight? Have you waited 24 hrs?

      • Shannon Tweed

        I booked it on Wednesday.

        • Miles per Day

          No what day is the flight?

          • Shannon Tweed

            I’m stupid. Didn’t read that part. Didn’t quite get 60 days. Thanks a lot.

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  • Le_Firefly

    I know your sample used $499 for 25k, but this would work for $998 for the full 50k, right? Any specific reason to keep 25k parked in ML+ and the other $499 in Alaska credit?

    • Miles per Day

      It should. I think it’s bec it was harder to find a $999 ticket that is out in the future, so best to do $499 twice. plus it may be hard to spend $999 within a year.