What Other Ways Can I Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points Besides Travel?

Apr 26, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

Having 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points at your disposal is the dream of many points and miles enthusiasts, so we were a bit surprised by this Facebook message from TPG reader Vishal

I have 100,000 Amex points. What’s the best way to maximize them without actually booking travel?

TPG Reader Vishal

Hmmmm. OK, we’re going to put aside our overwhelming urge to ask “why on earth would you want to do that?” and instead answer Vishal’s question. Because there could be legitimate reasons one might want to liquidate Amex points via non-travel means. Maybe a person is unable to travel for health or legal reasons, or just doesn’t have any interest in traveling in general.

So we’ll roll with this one, but let’s also stipulate up front that all the non-travel methods of redeeming Membership Rewards points get much less value than the travel redemption options, and none of them are nearly as good as a top cash-back credit card. If your reason for collecting credit card rewards isn’t travel, then you shouldn’t collect Membership Rewards points in the first place.

But let’s say you had built up a balance of 100,000 points with the intention to travel, and now for whatever reason you aren’t going to use them that way. What are your other redemption options, and which ones are best and worst? Well, aside from travel, there are three main ways to redeem Membership Rewards points — shopping, buying gift cards and statement credits.

IMG-amex-statement-credit-redemption

The most straightforward of these is the last one, as you can easily redeem points against existing charges online. However, the simplest option also comes with the worst redemption rate. As you can see, you’ll only get six-tenths of a cent ($0.006) per point by redeeming this way. Not ideal.

IMG-amex-cpk-gift-card

The next-easiest option is using your points to buy gift cards, which can also be done online. The redemption value varies on this one depending on which card you end up picking, but can run as low as half a cent per point and as high as 1 cent per point. So gift cards can be a little better than straight statement credits, though you need to choose wisely.

IMG-amex-amazon-with-points

Finally, there’s the option to use your points for shopping. This can be done in two ways — either online at americanexpress.com or at a retailer who accepts Membership Rewards points, such as Amazon or Uber. Redemptions also vary when using points this way from half a cent per point to 1 cent per point.

IMG-amex-online-shopping2

American Express also sometimes runs specials on its site that slightly increases the redemption rate. In fact, right now Amex has a Mother’s Day special through May 31 that offers a 25% point discount when you shop with points, meaning the value of your points increases from $0.005 per point to $0.0067 per point.

As we mentioned before, none of these redemptions are recommended. TPG currently values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, so even in the best scenario, you’re only getting half that value with these options. But an unused point is the most worthless point of all, so Vishal, if you’re not going to travel, you’re better off getting something for your points rather than nothing. Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook  or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
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