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Redeeming points or miles for merchandise won’t give you the highest value, at least not mathematically speaking. That being said, you should ultimately use your travel rewards for what makes you happy. Everyone can find something they want or need on Amazon, and you can get it in two days or less if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
If you have a plethora of points or miles and need to do holiday shopping on the cheap, redeeming rewards at Amazon could be an answer to your problem. Here are all the ways to get free things from Amazon and the estimated value you’ll receive in return.
TRANSFERABLE POINT PROGRAMS
American Express Membership Rewards: 0.7 cents per point
American Express allows you to link your eligible Membership Rewards-earning credit cards directly with your Amazon account. You can then select your points on the Amazon payment screen to pay your shopping cart balance. Once you log in to your American Express account, select “Membership Rewards” and then “More Ways to Use Points” from the top menu bar. You’ll then see a large Amazon logo, which takes you to the page allowing you to link accounts. Your points can be redeemed at Amazon for 0.7 cents each.
If you were looking to get the maximum value out of your MR points, a much better redemption would be a premium-cabin flight on transfer partner Singapore Airlines, or a stay at a luxury Preferred Hotel property after you transfer your points to Choice Hotels.
Chase Ultimate Rewards: Up to 1 cent per point
In almost identical fashion to Citi and Amex, you can link your Chase credit cards to your Amazon account on this page. From here, your Chase Ultimate Rewards will show as a payment option, with each point worth 0.8 cents toward your shopping cart total on Amazon.
In order to get a higher value at Amazon with your Chase points, you can exchange your points for Amazon gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point. On the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, click “Use Points,” then “Shop Gift Cards.” Here you can get a $25, $50, or $100 gift card for 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000 points, respectively.
Of course, there are much better ways to use your Ultimate Rewards points. You can transfer them to airlines such as United and Korean Air to book travel (including in premium cabins), and you can utilize hotel partner Hyatt to book award nights at expensive properties with points or a combination of points and cash (even better if you can throw in a Diamond Suite Upgrade!).
Citi ThankYou Points: 0.8 cents per point
Like Amex, Citi makes it fairly seamless to redeem your ThankYou points for Amazon purchases. From the ThankYou website, you can click “Use Points at Partners” on the top menu and then select Amazon.com. From here you can link your Citi account directly to your Amazon account, making your ThankYou point balance show as a payment option when checking out at Amazon.com. Each ThankYou point will be worth 0.8 cents each toward your Amazon purchase.
In terms of the value you’ll get from your Citi points, credit toward Amazon purchases is pretty low on the list. Superior options include transferring points to Flying Blue to book round-trip flights from the US to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles per person, and moving points over to the Etihad Guest program to secure awards on partners such as Air Serbia.
Starwood Preferred Guest: Up to 1.07 cents per point
This is the only place I found where you can redeem points for more than 1 cent apiece toward Amazon purchases. Redeem 5,000, 9,500, or 14,000 Starpoints for a $50, $100 or $150 Amazon gift card. Still, this is a poor use of Starpoints, widely considered the most valuable loyalty currency. You’d be much better off redeeming your points for a hotel stay, or for an SPG Moments package such as seeing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with VIP seats.
Delta SkyMiles: 0.33-0.45 cents per mile
Head to the SkyMiles Marketplace, where you can redeem your miles for a wide variety of gift cards. Redeem miles for a $10, $25, $50, $100 or $250 Amazon gift card, with prices starting at 3,000 miles. I’d only redeem in this manner if I had seven figures or more in SkyMiles, as you get as little as one-third of a penny per mile in value (or a maximum of 0.45 cents per mile). TPG values SkyMiles at 1.2 cents apiece, and you’ll get much more value from them if you use them toward flights on Delta or one of its SkyTeam partners.
Southwest Rapid Rewards: 1 cent per point
Southwest has a More Rewards section underneath the Rapid Rewards drop-down menu. This link brings you to a site that allows you to redeem points for hotels, merchandise and gift cards. Here you can redeem your Rapid Rewards points for $25 and $50 Amazon gift cards, costing 3,000 and 5,000 points, respectively. You’ll want to redeem for $50 gift cards to get the maximum redemption value of 1 cent per point. Still, you’ll get even more value if you redeem points toward flights on Southwest with the airline’s revenue-based award system.
United MileagePlus: 0.6 cents per mile
Premier members and those who hold the United MileagePlus Explorer Card (or any other United co-branded card) can redeem miles for gift cards. Head to the gift card redemption page, and you can use 15,500 miles to get a $100 Amazon gift card. This is a starkly poor value for your United miles, giving you far less than 1 cent per mile in value. Redeeming miles toward premium travel on airlines such as ANA and Lufthansa, or even toward short-haul domestic flights on United, is a much better option.
If you aren’t a Premier member or Chase co-branded cardholder, you can download the MileagePlus X app and redeem miles for $25 to $500 in Amazon gift cards. You’ll get the same poor redemption value of 0.6 cents per mile, with a $25 Amazon card costing you 3,875 miles and a $500 card going for 77,500 miles.
Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa: 1 cent per point
If you were hoping the Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa would offer a better value toward “free” purchases with the e-tailer, you might be disappointed. It’s essentially a cash-back card, though it rewards you the cash back in the form of points. You’ll get 3 points per dollar on all Amazon purchases; 2 at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores; and 1 everywhere else. You can redeem points toward future Amazon purchases at a rate of 1 cent each.
The convenience of being able to buy almost anything a household could need and then having it at your door two days later (sometimes faster) is quite fantastic — and it’s no surprise that Amazon is a hugely popular online shopping destination. Still, using any of the above strategies to redeem rewards for purchases on the site won’t give you the maximum value for your points or miles. I’d only recommend doing it if you’re strapped for cash and/or have an exorbitant account balance with one of the programs.
Have you redeemed points or miles for free Amazon products?
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