The M Life Credit Card is the only co-branded MGM credit card on the market. While its signup bonus is not as high as the Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton credit cards, it comes with some benefits that may be valuable to frequent visitors of U.S. MGM properties. That includes automatic elite status and the ability to earn a higher status through spending on the card.
This post will look at the benefits of the card, as well as an alternative, and a faster way to obtain a higher M Life tier without signing up for the card.
M Life Credit Card Signup Bonus
The M Life Rewards Mastercard currently has a public signup offer for 10,000 points after spending $1,000 within the first three months. However, a recent offer of 20,000 points after $1,500 in spend still appears to be available, even though the offer had a stated expiration of September 7, 2019.
The card previously also offered a complimentary one-night stay at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, or The Mirage upon approval. That benefit was in addition to the 10,000 points that the card has always offered. Unfortunately, that offer expired on May 30, 2019. If you’re not in a rush to get the card, it might be worth waiting to see if that offer comes back.
Points earned with the M Life credit card can be converted to FREEPLAY or Express Comps at a rate of one cent per point, making the public signup bonus worth $100 and the higher offer worth $200.
FREEPLAY is simply gambling credit that can be redeemed at slots, while Express comps are resort credit. Express comps can be redeemed to pay for nearly anything at M Life resorts, including room and restaurant charges.
M Life points expire after six months of inactivity in your M Life Rewards account. However, if you have M Life elite status, which the M Life credit card provides, points expire after twelve months of inactivity.
The M Life Mastercard earns points and tier credits at the following rates:
- 3X points and tier credits per $1 spent at M life Rewards destinations
- 2X points and tier credits per $1 spent on gas & supermarket purchases
- 1X point and tier credit per $1 spent everywhere else
Unlike points, tier credits have no inherent value and are exclusively used to qualify for elite status. The signup bonus offered on the card does not entitle you to any tier credits.
Since points are only worth $.01 each, in most cases you would be better off spending on a card that earns 2% or more cash back, such as the Citi Double Cash.
All members, except those with Noir status, may earn up to $5,000 in Express Comps.
M Life Credit Card Benefits
The M Life Rewards credit card comes with automatic Pearl status, the first tier of M Life’s elite status. This status will remain active as long as you hold the card. Usually, this status would require earning 25,000 tier credits to obtain. Pearl Status comes with the following benefits:
- Complimentary self-parking
- Dedicated line at participating buffets
- 10% bonus on points earned playing slots
- No expiration of points, as long as you have activity at least once every twelve months
That’s not a whole lot, although complimentary self-parking benefits could come in handy if you usually drive to MGM properties. For example, the MGM Grand parking fee for self-parking is $12 for 1-4 hours, $15 for 4-24 hours, and $15 per day for each additional day or fraction thereof over 24 hours. The dedicated buffet lines appear to only be in Vegas, granted those lines can be huge. The credit card’s terms state it can take 14 days after account opening for your account to be upgraded to Pearl.
Besides Pearl status, the card also provides access to a dedicated check-in line at M Life resorts, as well as no foreign transaction fees. Surprisingly, it’s still somewhat rare to find a no-annual-fee card without foreign transaction fees. Other no-fee cards that do not charge a fee on international charges include the Capital One VentureOne, Capital One Quicksilver, American Express Hilton Honors Card, and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card.
The M Life Elite Program
M Life is the rewards program of MGM Resorts. Beyond Pearl status discussed in the previous section, the next M Life tiers are Gold, Platinum, and Noir. The entire list of benefits for each tier is described here.
Gold status is earned with 75,000 tier credits or by matching Hyatt Explorist status or higher (more on that soon). It entitles you to all the benefits of Pearl, plus:
- An additional 10% bonus on points earned playing slots, for a total 20% total bonus
- Priority hotel check-in
- Room upgrades (subject to availability)
- Dedicated line at participating restaurants and priority reservations
- VIP line at select nightclubs
- Complimentary valet parking
Platinum status, which requires 200,000 tier credits, gets you all the benefits of Pearl and Gold, plus:
- Annual complimentary cruise on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises
- Another 10% bonus points, for a total 30% bonus
- Priority access to pool cabanas, valet, and taxi services
The top-level status, “Noir,” is by invitation only, and there are no specified criteria to get an invite. It’s safe to say it likely requires significant play beyond what would be necessary to get Platinum.
M Life status runs from October through September. However, like most elite programs, the status you qualify for will be valid for the remainder of that membership year and the entirety of the following year. Therefore, if you initially qualified for any of the M Life tiers in November 2019, you will retain that status through September 2021.
Manufacturing Gold or Platinum Status
One of the (few) valuable perks of the MLife Card is that it earns tier credits for each dollar of spend, and double tier credits on grocery store or gas station spending. Therefore, without ever stepping foot in a casino, you can earn Gold or Platinum status from spending with the card. Unfortunately, while the card provides Pearl status, it does not give you the associated 25,000 tier credits.
Starting with zero tier credits, you would need to spend $37,500 at grocery stores to qualify for Gold status. Similarly, you would have to spend $100,000 at grocery stores or gas stations to attain Platinum status.
With that said, it’s probably not realistic to earn Gold or Platinum solely from spending on the card. Gold and Platinum status in MGM’s loyalty program is not worth much when achieved exclusively through spend. Paired with gambling and stays at M Life resorts that will earn you additional comps and perks, it may offer a boost to reach the required next tier.
Additionally, you should also consider the value you are giving up by not placing that spend on a card with a higher category bonus. For example, $25,000 of that grocery store spend could have been placed on an Amex Gold card to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points. That would be worth $1,500 if you valued each point at 1.5¢ per point. That card earns 4x Membership Rewards points on the first $25k spent at grocery stores each year.
If you are interested in obtaining M Life elite status, the quickest way is through a match from Hyatt.
Hyatt offers a faster way to M Life Gold
Since partnering in 2013, Hyatt and MGM have provided an easy way to hack your way to indefinite elite status in both programs. The programs’ tier reciprocity enables Hyatt and M Life members with elite status to receive a match tier in the other loyalty program. Hyatt Discoverists can match to M Life Pearl, while those with at least Explorist status can match to M Life Gold. Similarly, M Life members with Pearl can match Hyatt Discoverist, and M Life Gold, Platinum, or Noir elites can match to Hyatt Explorist.
Through some strategic timing, you only need to obtain Hyatt Explorist or M Life Gold status once to get perpetual status in both programs. I explain this “status merry-go-round,” as it has come to be known, in my post Hyatt Status Match: How to Quickly Obtain Explorist or Globalist Status.
In that post, I also discuss Hyatt’s corporate status challenges. These provide the quickest way to qualify for mid- or top-tier Hyatt status at a fraction of the standard stay requirements. Typically the corporate challenge qualifies you for Explorist status after ten nights within 90 days or Globalist status after 20 nights in 90 days. Usually, after enrolling in one of these challenges, you’d be given temporary Explorist status the duration of the 90-day challenge. However, a few of these challenges provide Explorist status for an entire year without any requirements.
Once you qualify for a full year of Hyatt Explorist, you can match that status to M Life Gold.
Regardless of whether you use Hyatt to obtain M Life elite status, there’s value in linking your accounts.
Hyatt members earn five World of Hyatt points for every dollar of eligible spend at participating M Life Resorts. That eligible spend includes room charges and up to $5,000 of incidentals charged to your folio. Plus, if you have Hyatt elite status, you’ll receive an additional 10-30% points bonus on your stays. In addition to Hyatt points, you will still earn M Life tier credits for these stays. See the full FAQ on the Hyatt website for more information.
The Hyatt Card is a better value
While it has a $95 annual fee, the World of Hyatt credit card offers significantly more value than the M Life credit card.
Just like the MLife card, the Hyatt card entitles you to automatic Pearl status through a match from Hyatt Discoverist. The card currently has a 50,000-point signup bonus and provides a free night certificate after each year that can be used at any category 1-4 hotel.
For example, that certificate could be used for a free night at any of the following MGM properties in Vegas:
- Luxor (Hyatt Category 3)
- Excalibur (Hyatt Category 3)
- New York-New York Hotel & Casino (Category 4)
- MGM Grand (Category 4)
- Park MGM Las Vegas (Category 4)
You could redeem the 50,000-point signup bonus for an additional 3-4 nights at any those resorts, or for two nights at the Delano, Bellagio, Aria, Mirage, Vdara, or Mandalay Bay.
The World of Hyatt card earns two points per dollar on public transit and commuting expenses, dining, flights, and fitness club memberships. It also earns four points per dollar spent at Hyatt properties and one point everywhere else. Unfortunately, the card only earns one point per dollar at M Life Resorts.
You can attain Explorist and Gold status through the card, though it requires more spend than the M Life card. The card earns two elite-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card. Therefore, without stepping foot in a Hyatt, you would earn Explorist status after $60,000 in spend on the card.
The main reasons to get the M Life credit card are:
- If you are spending a lot at MGM resorts in Vegas and will benefit from the 3x points
- If you will take advantage of the complimentary self-parking benefit of Pearl status that comes with the card
You could also use the card to manufacture M Life Gold or Platinum elite status, but that requires a significant amount of spending. There are other cards which provide significantly more value for that amount of spending. If you’re only interested in the card for its elite status benefits, it may be worth considering the World of Hyatt card instead. You should also consider using a Hyatt corporate status challenge as a shortcut to status.
With all that said, as a rewards card without an annual fee, this certainly isn’t a bad choice for those who frequently visit MGM properties.
Featured photo by Nicola Tolin on Unsplash