How Do I Maximize Amex Membership Rewards Points?
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
TPG reader Joseph emailed me to ask about redeeming Membership Rewards points:
“What’s the best way to use my Amex points? I have about 200,000 in my account; should I transfer to an airline or are there other deals I should look into?”
Membership Rewards points have long been near the top of my monthly valuations thanks to the solid roster of Amex transfer partners. However, a new credit card benefit offers another excellent redemption opportunity, and transferring is no longer the easiest way to get good value from those points.
In October, Amex introduced some changes to the The Business Platinum Card, including a 50% points rebate when you redeem for qualifying flights through American Express Travel. That means you can effectively get 2 cents per point when you book flights either in business or first class on any airline, or in any cabin with the airline you’ve selected for the $200 airline fee credit. The rebate doesn’t come immediately, so you’ll need enough points to cover the full amount, but ultimately it’s a straightforward way to get great value if you have the Business Platinum card.
This is a great option if you’re sitting on a stockpile of Membership Rewards points and you’re not sure how to use them. You don’t have to worry about award charts or routing rules; you can just find the flights you want and buy them with points at a good rate. Plus, flights booked through Amex count as paid fares, so you’ll be eligible to earn miles and elite credits. If you already have the Business Platinum card, then you can start booking right away. If not, I think it’s worth getting for the points rebate and the current sign-up bonus, as well as the many other useful benefits.
One caveat is that the Amex Travel portal doesn’t consistently offer the best prices for airfare — especially if you’re flying American Airlines — so it’s important to shop around and make sure you’re not spending more in order to redeem your points. If you get a good price, jump on it. Otherwise, you can start looking at transfer options.
Speaking of which, you’ll generally get the best value from Membership Rewards by transferring to airline partners. Finding availability will require a little more legwork, but if you want to fully maximize your points, you can get a truly outsized return on business and first-class redemptions.
For more on the Pay with Points feature and redeeming Membership Rewards in general, check out these posts:
- Amex Business Platinum for Flights: When to Transfer vs. When to Pay With Points
- The Value of Pay With Points on the Amex Business Platinum Card
- Redeeming Amex Membership Rewards for Maximum Value
With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards