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What’s the Best Way to Use Amex Membership Rewards Points?

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TPG reader Josh tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy– “I just got 100k Amex Platinum sign-up bonus points. What’s your favorite way to use Amex points?”

Josh was lucky enough to be targeted for the 100,000 point sign-up bonus offer for the Amex Platinum card, which is an amazing promotion. I typically like to use my Membership Rewards points for airline transfers. American Express is adding a lot of new partners, like AirBnb, Uber, and even McDonald’s, but I get the most value by transferring to partners like British Airways, which is probably my number one choice. Additionally, now until January 31, 2014 you can get a 40% bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to Avios.

British Airways Avios are great for short-haul travel like round-trip flights from New York to Miami, which is a route I fly all the time (and I often use points to fly family and friends between the two cities for just 15,000 Avios round trip. Taxes and fees are low, and there are no last minute booking fees, which is very user-friendly. Avios are even more potent for segments under 650 miles (like New York to Montreal), which cost just 4,500 Avios each way!

Transferring my Amex points to British Airways Avios is one of my favorite ways to use them. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Chris Parypa Photography.
I often transfer my Amex points for awards on British Airways. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I also like using my Amex points to transfer to Aeroplan. Last year I booked a one way Aeroplan award on Lufthansa first class to Europe. They release seats at the last minute, and you can instantly transfer points from Amex and book one-way awards, which greatly increases the value of Aeroplan in my opinion.

ANA is another good option, though it can be a little bit trickier, since awards have to be round-trip. Delta could also be a feasible option, especially because Virgin Atlantic has pretty good availability, and it’s 125,000 points round-trip for business class between the US and Europe.

Those are the main airlines I use for points transfers. I don’t typically transfer to hotel partners; it could make sense when the Starwood 50% transfer bonus is in play, but considering the transfer ratio is a measly 3 Amex points to 1 Starpoint, it’s not a great deal even with the bonus. So generally I suggest transferring your Amex points to airlines; that’s where I think you’ll get the most out of them.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 0% Excellent Credit