How Should I Use My Stash of Amex Membership Rewards Points?

Mar 22, 2015

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TPG reader Johnny asked me:

“I have about 1.5 million points with Amex, but just can’t seem to find good ways to use them. Can you help?” 

Johnny, you’re sitting on an extremely valuable chunk of points, and I’m sure we can find great ways for you to use them! Amex makes it easy to use Membership Rewards points, and you have a lot of options that offer a wide spectrum of value.

Starting at the bottom, simply redeeming through Amex Travel will get you over $15,000 in airfare! While you’d only get one cent per mile, you will earn points or miles on your purchases, which gives you a slightly better redemption value. If you don’t want to use your points for flights, Amex has promotions that allow you to redeem for gift cards, Uber, New York taxis, and even McDonald’s.

If you really want to travel in style, learn as much as possible about transferring your points to airlines. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
If you really want to travel in style, learn as much as possible about transferring your points to airlines. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you want to dig in and get great value for your points, I suggest transferring them to airline partners to redeem for flights. As an example, last summer I booked a Lufthansa flight in first class from Munich to JFK two days prior to departure using just 62,500 American Express Membership Rewards points transferred to Aeroplan and $363 in taxes/fees — a far cry from the $10,240 it would have cost otherwise, getting me 16 cents per point in value!

I also just redeemed 105,000 miles in Aeroplan to fly first class to Asia next month on Asiana, which is also a great deal. Using 125,000 points and transferring to Delta, you can get an award on Virgin Atlantic Upper class to Europe. Your points would afford you over 10 of these tickets, which are typically $5,000 each, giving you over $50,000 in value. If you had cashed in on the recent 40% bonus to British Airways, you’d be looking over two million points.

Again, you’re sitting on a treasure chest of points, and the more you learn about the transfer partners, the more value you can get out of them.

Check out these posts for more ideas about how to maximize those points:

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

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