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5 amazing ways to use 60,000 Membership Rewards points for your next trip

Feb. 19, 2021
9 min read
British Airways 777 Biz ANU-SKB
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There are many ways to boost your rewards account balances during the pandemic, such as making purchases through online shopping portals or using the most rewarding card for groceries and dining.

However, one of the quickest ways to rack up points and miles is through welcome offers on top travel rewards credit cards. For instance, American Express® Gold Card now comes with an increased welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first six months of card membership. And it is available again in the sought-after Rose Gold color.

Today, I want to go through a few great ways to use these points for your next trip.

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Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points

The most rewarding use of Membership Rewards points usually involves transferring your points to an airline partner and then redeeming the miles through that carrier's frequent flyer program. While the program does allow for many direct redemptions (including Amazon and gift cards), you will almost always get maximum value through partner programs.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

This valuable flexibility is one of the main reasons why every traveler should earn transferable points in at least one of the major programs.

Keep in mind too that this list is just a sample of different options that may appeal to a wide swath of readers. Every traveler has his or her own way of determining what makes a "valuable" redemption, so be sure to explore additional rewards if the rewards below don't appeal to your specific plans.

So, that being said, what exactly are some of the fantastic ways to redeem 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points? In no particular order:

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Round-trip economy tickets from the U.S. to Hawaii on American or Alaska for two

If you're looking to get to the now-reopened Hawaiian Islands for (almost) no out-of-pocket cost, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios. Those points would transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

Related: I spent 3 days quarantining with a resort tracking bracelet in Hawaii: Here’s what to know for Kauai

The distance-based program charges as little as 13,000 British Airways Avios per person each way from a gateway along the U.S. West Coast. Of course, you wouldn't be flying on British Airways but instead are leveraging one of their partners -- American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

For instance, a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu costs just 13,000 Avios -- two people would be able to fly round-trip with some extra Membership Rewards to spare.

Screenshot courtesy of British Airways

However, you’ll pay more for flights from the Midwest or East Coast, thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart. British Airways also prices by segment, so connecting itineraries cost more too.

You can book directly on British Airways' website for American flights, but you'll have to call in to book Alaska-operated flights.

Related: The best ways to earn British Airways Avios

One-way business class flight to Europe or Asia on American Airlines

Another program to which you can transfer your Membership Rewards points is Etihad Guest, again at a 1:1 ratio. The Middle Eastern loyalty program has a number of redemption sweet spots, but one of my favorites is with American Airlines.

American Airlines 777-200 (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

This is due to the fact that, as of the time of writing, Etihad is still using a pre-devaluation award chart for flights on American. That means the following:

  • One-way business-class tickets to Europe are just 50,000 miles (57,500 if booked through American)
  • One-way business-class tickets to Asia 1 (Japan and Korea) are just 50,000 miles (60,000 if booked through American)
  • One-way business-class tickets to Asia 2 (Hong Kong and China) are just 55,000 miles (70,000 if booked through American)

Of course, the big trick is finding award availability on these flights. I'm a big fan of ExpertFlyer to help with this search, as it will allow you to set alerts for award seats on specific flights. (ExpertFlyer is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures.)

Related: Beginner’s guide to finding award space with ExpertFlyer

One-way business class flight to Europe on any Star Alliance carrier

If you'd rather have more flexibility when it comes to choosing your carrier and routing to Europe, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan, the loyalty program of Air Canada. Previously, it was possible to redeem just 55,000 or 57,500 miles for a one-way, business-class flight. As of Nov. 8, 2020, this sweet spot is no more. However, it's not all bad news.

Lufthansa 747 business class (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Aeroplan was overhauled late last year and now a one-way business class ticket to Europe starts at 60,000 miles. The caveat is that you must stay under 4,000 miles in distance so essentially the only way to accomplish that is by booking nonstop itineraries from Northeast and Mid-Atlantic gateways.

For instance, from New York-JFK, you can fly to Brussels (BRU), Lisbon (LIS), Geneva (GVA), Zurich (ZRH) and Frankfurt (FRA) for under 4,000 miles.

One upside is that fuel surcharges are no longer applicable on the new Aeroplan, but you’ll have to pay a partner booking fee of 39 CAD (~$29.50 based on current exchange rates) on all awards operated by partner carriers.

Related: Everything you need to know about the new Aeroplan program

10 one-way flights of 650 miles or less outside North America

A fourth great target for your Membership Rewards points is again found with British Airways. The carrier's Executive Club program offers some very attractive redemption options thanks to its distance-based award chart.

For example, a one-way flight covering 650 miles or less is just 6,000 Avios. This is a fantastic option for traveling into or out of Oneworld hub airport like London-Heathrow or Tokyo-Narita. Unfortunately, you cannot redeem these 6,000 Avios-flights in North America. Instead, all flights under 1,151 miles are priced at 9,000 Avios -- still a pretty good deal.

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

These low-priced awards are especially useful in pricey markets, such as travel within Europe or Asia. I've been able to take advantage of these awards from Hong Kong on Oneworld carrier Cathay Pacific, where cash fares in the local market can be quite expensive.

Related: How to maximize the British Airways award chart

One-way business-class flight from Singapore to Australia

This award is technically just above the 60,000 point threshold but with the spending required to hit the welcome offer on the Amex Gold, this redemption is easily within reach once flights restart.

A business class seat on Singapore Airlines. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you've been wanting to try out one of Singapore Airlines' renowned premium classes, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to the KrisFlyer program and booking a one-way flight in business class between Singapore and Australia.

The carrier flies into several airports, including Sydney and Melbourne. Each of these flights will set you back 62,000 miles for several hours of bliss on board one of the airline's long-haul aircraft.

If there's no availability on your preferred date, you can always waitlist for the award.

Related: Singapore Airlines A350 business class review

Bottom line

Keep in mind that all of the above options are just a sampling of what you can do with American Express Membership Rewards points given the current welcome bonus on the Amex Gold. There are truly so many options when it comes to redeeming 60,000 Membership Rewards points. While we are on the subject, it pays to check and see if you are targeted for an even-higher 75,000 point welcome offer via CardMatch (offer subject to change at anytime).

Your point balance can also quickly go much even higher if you utilize the Amex Gold card's 4x earnings at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x). The current bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first six months of account opening won't last forever. The card has a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Just remember to make the most of these points for your next trip, whenever you're ready to do so.

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

Additional reporting by Nick Ewen.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.