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Best Ways to Use 100,000 Membership Rewards Points

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Platinum Card from American Express

If you currently hold the Platinum Card from American Express or were lucky enough to get in on the recent 100,000-point sign-up offer, you’re probably wondering how to put those points to use. Below, TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen goes over some of the best partner redemption options.

Earlier this week, for about 18 hours, The Platinum Card from American Express was offering an increased sign-up bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The standard bonus is typically 40,000 points (unless you’re targeted for a higher offer through the CardMatch Tool), so this was a fantastic way to boost your account balance. If you were lucky enough to get in on this limited-time offer, today I want to go through the best ways to use the 100,000 points that’ll soon be coming your way.

The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the best-known cards in this category.
If you got in on the 100,000-point bonus earlier this week, you’re probably already thinking about how to use those points.

It’s important to note that the following redemptions all involve transferring your Membership Rewards points to one of the program’s 17 airline partners. While you can redeem points directly for travel through the Amex Travel site, this generally won’t get you the same value that you’ll get through partner programs. While this does involve extra steps and you are subject to some variable transfer times, it’s often worth the effort.

In addition, the Membership Rewards program requires you to link your various frequent flyer accounts with your Membership Rewards account before you initiate a transfer. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Log in to your account at AmericanExpress.com.
  2. Choose your Membership Rewards earning card, expand the Redeem Points drop-down and select Travel.
  3. Click on Get Started under the Transfer Points option.

From there, you can choose a specific partner to start the linking process or click on “Link Now” to complete it for multiple partners at once:

Membership Rewards transfer process

However, keep in mind that the linking site includes the following language:

“Your request to link an account must be confirmed by the loyalty program. This will take up to 5 days for domestic travel partners and up to 2 weeks for international partners.

Despite that disclaimer, I’ve found that most programs are linked immediately. Nevertheless, just to be safe, I strongly suggest linking as many partners as you can ahead of time so you can be prepared to jump on a redemption when availability opens up.

Finally, be aware that transfers to a domestic airline require payment of a federal tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (so 60 cents for every 1,000 points transferred, up to a maximum of $99). You can pay this fee directly or redeem points to cover the fee at a rate of 0.5 cents per point. Given that TPG pegs Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents apiece in his most recent valuations, paying it directly is definitely the best option!

Best Ways to Use 100,000 Points

Now that those details are out of the way, what are the best uses of 100,000 Membership Rewards points? In no particular order…

1. Transfer to KrisFlyer miles for Singapore first class

IMGdsc01013
Singapore first class can be a great use of Membership Rewards points.

One of the most coveted airline award tickets is Singapore Airlines first class. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to snag a seat in the carrier’s A380 suites class, any flight in first class will be one to remember thanks to the attentive service, fantastic cuisine and extensive drink selection (your hardest decision may be choosing between Dom Perignon and Krug champagne in-flight!). These redemptions are only open to members of Singapore’s own KrisFlyer program, and availability isn’t incredible, but you can transfer Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio. Remember too that you’ll get a 15% discount for booking online and can waitlist for your desired flight if Saver inventory isn’t available at the time of redemption.

Here’s a sampling of how you could use 100,000 points (or a bit more, in the case of the round-trip):

  • One-way flight from Europe to Singapore (gateways include London, Frankfurt, Paris and Zurich): 91,375 miles
  • One-way flight from Los Angeles to Singapore (via Tokyo) or San Francisco to Singapore (via Seoul): 91,375 miles
  • One-way flight from New York-JFK to Singapore (via Frankfurt): 93,500 miles
  • Round-trip flight from Singapore to Japan or South Korea: 102,000 miles
  • Three one-way flights from Hong Kong to Singapore: 95,625 miles (31,875 miles each)

For more information on booking these flights, be sure to check out Eric Rosen’s post on How to Fly Singapore Airlines First Class for (Almost!) Free.

2. Transfer to British Airways Avios for economy flights to Hawaii

Alaska operates exclusively Boeing aircraft, while Virgin America has a fleet or Airbus A320s.
Alaska is a great option for getting to Hawaii, and British Airways charges just 25,000 Avios for round-trip coach flights from the West Coast.

Back in October 2015, American Express reduced the transfer rate for converting Membership Rewards points to British Airways (and Iberia) Avios. You’ll now only get 200 Avios for every 250 points you transfer. Nevertheless, the British Airways Executive Club program has some lucrative redemption options thanks to its distance-based award chart. One particularly appealing option is to get to Hawaii, a highly desirable destination for many a traveler.

The program charges just 12,500 Avios for one-way flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles in length. Fortunately for those readers based on the West Coast, this opens up a variety of redemption options, since British Airways partners with both Alaska and American. Here are the Hawaiian cities and the nonstop flights currently offered within the 3,000-mile redemption band:

Hawaiian Airport

American gateways

Alaska gateways

Lihue (Kauai)

Los Angeles and Phoenix

Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle

Kahului (Maui)

Los Angeles and Phoenix

Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle

Honolulu (Oahu)

Los Angeles and Phoenix

Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle

Kona

Los Angeles and Phoenix

Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle

Unfortunately, the October devaluation means that you can only get three round-trip tickets out of the sign-up bonus (75,000 Avios = 93,750 Membership Rewards points). Nevertheless, this option can carry a decent amount of value. Just be aware that you must call the Executive Club service center to redeem your Avios for Alaska flights; American award tickets can be booked on BritishAirways.com.

3. Transfer to Flying Blue for economy flights to Hawaii

delta - featured
You can also get to Hawaii using Flying Blue miles on Delta-operated flights.

If you’re on the East Coast and need to book flights to Hawaii, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France and KLM. You’ll only need to redeem 15,000 miles for a one-way flight from anywhere in the US to Hawaii, though you’ll want to make sure that there’s award space on Delta. If so, you can get up to three round-trip tickets with the sign-up bonus.

Here are the Delta gateways with nonstop service to the Hawaiian Islands:

  • Lihue: Los Angeles
  • Kahului: Los Angeles and Seattle
  • Honolulu: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Salt Lake City and Seattle
  • Kona: Los Angeles and Seattle

If you’re thinking about a trip to Hawaii, be sure to check out posts on Credit Card Combinations for a Hawaiian Vacation and Planning a Hawaiian Vacation with Hilton HHonors Points.

4. Transfer to Delta for partner award redemptions

Delta award ticket on KE

Another terrific way to make the most of your new 100,000 Membership Rewards points is by transferring them to Delta. While the program has seen its fair share of devaluations over the last few years, there are still many redemptions that prove SkyMiles are far from worthless. You may even find that they can save the day when all other options aren’t working!

Unfortunately, Delta no longer publishes award charts on its website, so you are stuck with award ticket pricing based on the website (which has added partners over the last few years) or a phone agent (though now without a fee). I’ve found that award flights on Delta metal can be outrageously priced, so your best redemptions are likely on partner airlines. Here are some examples of where you can get with the sign-up bonus on the Amex Platinum:

  • One-way business-class flight from the US to Asia (on China Southern or Korean Air): 70,000 miles, though it’ll jump to 80,000 on or after October 1
  • Round-trip coach flights from the US to Australia (on Delta or Virgin Australia): 90,000 miles

For more information, be sure to check out Jason Steele’s post on How to Book Award Flights with Delta SkyMiles.

5. Transfer to ANA for international flights

ana 787
Whether you fly on ANA or a partner, redeeming Mileage Club miles can be a great value. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

A final terrific way to use Membership Rewards points is by transferring them to ANA. Even though the Mileage Club program lost some value when it switched from a distance-based to zone-based award chart last year, there are still some gems to be had, all of which are easily within reach with the 100,000 points you have coming your way. Keep in mind that there are different redemption charts for flights on ANA and for flights on partner airlines, and ANA-operated flights are subject to seasonal pricing. Be sure to verify the redemption amount and availability prior to booking.

Here are some examples of what you can get with 100,000 Membership Rewards points through ANA (all flights originate in North America):

Redemption

ANA flights

Partner flights

Round-trip business class to Japan

75,000 – 90,000 miles

85,000 miles

Round-trip business class to China/Hong Kong/South Korea

80,000 – 95,000 miles

95,000 miles

Round-trip business class to Europe

n/a

88,000 miles

Round-trip business class to South America

n/a

88,000 miles

Two round-trip economy tickets to Japan

40,000 – 55,000 miles per person

50,000 miles per person

The carrier also recently lowered the fuel surcharges it tacks onto award tickets, so these redemptions just got even more valuable!

Bottom Line

This short-lived offer on the Platinum Card from American Express was a terrific one, and based on the comments on our post announcing the bonus, it sounds like many TPG readers got in on it! Remember too that the card carries a wealth of additional perks as well, including Centurion Lounge access, Fine Hotels & Resorts, a $200 annual airline fee credit, Gold status with both SPG and Hilton, no foreign transaction fees and many others. Hopefully you’ll have plenty of time to maximize these benefits if you’re a new cardholder!

How would you redeem 100,000 Membership Rewards points?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now
  • 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