New Jersey Senator Allegedly Accepts AMEX Points As Bribe, Gets Horrible Value

This story comes to us from New Jersey.

A New Jersey Democratic Senator was indicted on federal corruption charges, alleging that he accepted improper gifts during his tenure.

To quote the indictment:

From on or about April 8, 2010, through on or about April 11, 2010, MENENDEZ stayed in an executive suite at the five-star Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme valued at $4,934.10. MENENDEZ solicited and accepted from MELGEN 649,611 American Express Membership Rewards points (hereinafter “AmEx points”) in order to pay for the suite.

Point transfers and bookings are easily traceable back to the original owner of the points, so that was dumb, but in this case I’m perhaps more upset about the extremely poor .76 cents per point of value received. Three nights in an upgraded room at arguably one of the nicest hotels in the world for almost $5,000 is a high enough price as it is without the poor use of points.

He could have signed up for the Hyatt credit card and received two free nights, albeit not in an executive suite. Diamond status could have helped him there.

So, what else 649,000 AmEx points can get you?

  • Two Round-The-World (<34,000 miles total ea.) Tickets in First Class
  • Up to 20 One-Ways in Singapore Suites class
  • 36 Round-Trip Flights from Miami to the Bahamas
  • 108 Weekend nights at a Category 1 Starwood Property

All in all a poor use of points, aside from the corruption charge. :)

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