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.

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The Business Platinum Card offers great value on flights in business and first class.

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:

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

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn a one-time $500 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
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  • No foreign transaction fees
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  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.