6 best ways to redeem 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points

Jul 9, 2021

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Earning welcome offers from the top travel rewards cards is the best way to boost your points balance quickly. The Platinum Card® from American Express was recently revamped and is offering a limited-time welcome bonus that has the potential to give you thousands in value.

You can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to 19 airlines and three hotel partners, which means you can fly and stay just about anywhere on points. Some partners are significantly more valuable than others, so you’ll want to know which partners to use for specific redemptions.

Here, I’ll show you the best ways to use the 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. 

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In This Post

Three round-trip tickets to Hawaii

Take the family to Hawaii with flights on United, American or Alaska Airlines. (Photo by M Swiet Productions/Getty Images)

A TPG crowd favorite is using Membership Rewards points to reach Hawaii for cheap. Flying to Hawaii with points and miles is getting easier all the time, thanks in no small part to Membership Rewards. There are several different options for reaching Hawaii for 30,000 points or less.

One of our favorite strategies is transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer. Many West Coast cities offer nonstop Alaska Airlines flights to Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Kona. You can fly round-trip in economy for as little as 24,000 Singapore Airlines miles, which is an excellent deal.

Those not based on the West Coast can use Singapore miles to book round-trip tickets from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii on United. These tickets cost 35,000 miles round-trip in economy class or 69,000 in business class. They include long-haul nonstop flights from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Newark (EWR), and Washington-Dulles (IAD) to Hawaii, as well as connecting tickets.

Newark to Honolulu Price Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
(Screenshot courtesy of singaporeair.com)

Another option is transferring your points to British Airways to fly on partners American Airlines or Alaska Airlines for 26,000 miles round-trip in economy. British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, so if you fly from Los Angeles (LAX) and Phoenix (PHX) on American as well as nonstop flights from Seattle (SEA), Portland (PDX), San Diego (SAN), Oakland (OAK) or Bellingham (BLI), you should have no problem.

Unfortunately, British Airways prices award tickets by leg, so you’ll pay more for connecting tickets. For example, a San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL) itinerary with a stop in Los Angeles costs 22,000 Avios as the SFO to LAX and LAX to HNL legs are priced separately. We only recommend using Avios to book tickets to Hawaii if you can find a nonstop ticket from your home airport to Hawaii.

Regardless of how you book, the Platinum Card’s welcome offer is more than enough for a round-trip ticket from the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii in business or economy class. Just be sure you’re using the most cost-effective booking option so you can save points for future redemption.

Related: 11 times it’s better to book American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios

Three one-way business class tickets to Spain

You can fly to Europe for just 34,000 points. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy)

Want to fly to a reopened Europe this year? Consider starting your trip in Madrid.

Transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to Iberia Plus, and you can book a business class seat from Boston (BOS), Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) or New York-JFK to Madrid (MAD) for 34,000 points one-way. That’s one of the absolute lowest prices you’ll see for a transatlantic lie-flat seat.

JFK to MAD off-peak Iberia award ticket
(Screenshot courtesy of iberia.com)

It’s important to note that you’ll only receive this price if you book a nonstop flight on an actual Iberia plane (not one of their partners, like British Airways). Likewise, you need to book during off-peak dates. These are listed on Iberia’s website and, thankfully, make up a good chunk of the year. You should expect to pay about $100 in taxes.

Iberia flies from other U.S. cities, including Miami and Los Angeles, but you’ll be charged more because of Iberia’s distance-based award chart. For example, a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Madrid costs 42,500 Avios in business class, which is still a good deal considering how long the flight is.

Iberia award ticket from LAX to MAD
(Screenshot courtesy of iberia.com)

Book a ton of domestic flights

Use your Membership Rewards points to visit new cities around the U.S. (Photo Courtesy of Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy)

Are you planning domestic travel? You can use your 100,000 Membership Rewards points to book a ton of short-haul domestic flights using three transfer partners: Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways Avios and Delta SkyMiles. These three partners span the major airline alliances, so you have plenty of options for booking flights around the U.S.

Booking United flights with Avianca LifeMiles

Let’s start with Avianca LifeMiles. Avianca is a Star Alliance carrier, so it’s partnered with United. Avianca has distance-based pricing for United awards, and short-haul tickets start at just 6,500 LifeMiles one-way with roughly $30 in taxes and fees. This includes routes like Newark (EWR) to Boston (BOS), Pittsburgh (PIT) and Washington-Dulles (IAD).

EWR IAD LifeMiles Pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of lifemiles.com)

Things get more expensive when booking longer trips, but prices are still reasonable. For example, Newark to Chicago costs 7,500 LifeMiles and Newark to Los Angeles and Denver (DEN) costs 12,500 LifeMiles. These are all solid rates for booking economy class United flights and are generally your best bet for booking United flights with Membership Rewards.

EWR LAX LifeMiles Pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of lifemiles.com)

Related: 3 reasons your family needs LifeMiles for domestic travel

Booking American flights with Avios

Like flights to Hawaii, you can use British Airways Avios to book mainland U.S. tickets on Alaska and American.

All the same rules apply, so connecting flights cost more than nonstop flights. That said, there are some excellent deals to be had.

Domestic U.S. flights under 651 miles cost 7,500 Avios, while flights between 651 and 1,151 cost 9,000 Avios. You can use this to book flights like New York (LGA) to Washington-Regan (DCA) which can get extremely expensive when booking during holidays, peak business travel days or at the last minute.

British Airways award ticket from LGA to DCA on American
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

You can also use Avios to score cheap tickets to Canada and Mexico. This flight from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) to Vancouver (YVR) costs just 11,000 Avios one-way. Again, this flight can be prohibitively expensive on peak dates.

British Airways award ticket from DFW to YVR on American
(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

Related: Here’s why you should care about British Airways Avios

Booking Delta flights with SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles got rid of its award chart years ago and adopted dynamic award pricing. The airline prices tickets by route, day and even the flight frequency you book. Some flights are costly, while others are excellent deals. We’ve found that the best deals, however, are domestic flights.

These flights start as low as 4,500 points in basic economy. I’ve found flights this low on a handful of short-haul routes, including this flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Minneapolis (MSP). Remember, this price varies by date, but it isn’t too hard to find this price on short-haul routes.

Delta award ticket from ORD to MSP
(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Longer flights have reasonable prices too. A transcontinental flight from Washington-Regan (DCA) to Los Angeles (LAX) starts at just 7,500 SkyMiles on a handful of dates in late 2021. This means the Amex Platinum’s welcome bonus can take you from coast to coast thirteen times, and you’ll still have points to spare.

Delta award ticket from DCA to LAX
(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Related: 5 things you need to know about Delta SkyMiles

Book a multi-stop business class ticket

Lufthansa business class cabin on a 747
A Lufthansa business class cabin. (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

Air Canada recently revamped its Aeroplan loyalty program, adding one of the industry’s most flexible stopover options in the process. In short, a stopover is when you stop in a city for longer than 24 hours before flying to your final destination. Aeroplan is now allowing one stopover on a one-way ticket and two on a round-trip ticket, so you can effectively book a mini-round the world ticket on the cheap.

You’ll pay 5,000 points per stopover on top of the ticket price. This is a small price to pay for adding an extra flight just about anywhere in the world. With 100,000 points in your account, you can book a handful of exciting tickets with your point balance.

For example, you can book Boston (BOS) to Frankfurt (FRA), stay a few days, and then continue to Cairo (CAI) for just 75,000 points in business class. This is an excellent deal for a mini-round-the-world trip that spans two continents. Plus, you can experience Lufthansa business class along the way — one of my personal favorites.

BOS FRA CAI Flight Map
(Image courtesy of gcmap.com)

Or, this New York-JFK to Lisbon (LIS) to Madrid (MAD) itinerary costs just 65,000 points, and you can stay in Lisbon for as long as you’d like.

JFK LIS MAD Flight Map
(Image courtesy of gcmap.com)

You can also head to Asia and book New York-JFK to Stockholm (ARN) to Bangkok (BKK). This clocks in at 90,000 miles in business class. Again, an incredible deal for such a long-haul itinerary.

JFK ARN BKK Flight Map
(Image courtesy of gcmap.com)

Check out our guide to booking Aeroplan stopovers for more information.

Related: Pros and cons of the new Air Canada Aeroplan loyalty program

Fly to South America in style

American Airlines 777-300ER at the gate at JFK
Leverage American’s huge South American network with Etihad Guest. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

South America is home to some of the world’s most vibrant cities, including São Paulo, Lima and Santiago. American Airlines runs a substantial South American flight network from its Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA) hubs.

Your best bet for booking these flights with Membership Rewards points is transferring to Etihad Guest. Etihad and American Airlines have long been non-alliance partners, and Etihad offers incredible redemption rates on American flights.

Further, Etihad Guest prices American awards based on a standard award chart, so you’ll pay a predictable amount for all awards. The Etihad American award chart splits South America into two regions: South America Zone 1 and 2.

Etihad Guest American award chart
(Screenshot courtesy of etihadguest.com)

South America Zone 1 includes Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Venezuela. This means you can fly to Belize City, Bogota, Lima, Liberia and a handful of other amazing cities. You’ll pay 17,500 one-way in economy and 30,000 in business class on any of these routes.

Related: 7 best ways to get to Peru on points and miles

The rest of South America — including Chile and Brazil — fall into the South America Zone 2 camp. You’ll pay 20,000 or 30,000 points for a one-way ticket in economy, depending on if you’re booking on or off-peak. Alternatively, you can book a business class seat for 50,000 points one-way.

Unfortunately, you can’t book these tickets online. Instead, find American award space using your favorite Oneworld search tool and call Etihad Guest to book your ticket. We’ve found that Etihad phone representatives are generally knowledgeable, so the whole process won’t take a ton of your time.

Regardless of where you travel, these are excellent deals for luxury travel to South America. Your 100,000-point welcome offer is more than enough for a round-trip ticket to any city in South America Zone 1.

Related: The ultimate guide to Etihad partners

Book round-trip tickets to Japan in business class

ANA's "The Room" business class product
Fly to Japan in business class for just 75,000 points round-trip. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you’re itching to visit Japan, you can use your Membership Rewards points to get there in business class. ANA Mileage Club charges just 75,000 miles for round-trip flights from the U.S. to Japan on off-peak travel dates. You can also add a free stopover to your tickets, letting you see two Japanese cities for the price of one.

Even better, the airline has one of the best business class products in the sky. This is especially true if you’re lucky enough to fly on a plane equipped with its new “The Room” business class. It features a spacious lie-flat seat with a 4K in-flight entertainment screen, top-notch dining and incredible service.

Off-peak dates for 2022 and 2023 are:

  • 2022: Jan. 4 to Feb. 28 and Apr. 1 to 26
  • 2023: Jan. 4 to Feb. 28

All ANA flights from the U.S. to Japan go through either Tokyo-Haneda (HND) or Tokyo-Narita (NRT) airports. ANA also has a vast Japanese domestic route network, so you can book flights to major cities like Sapporo (CTS), Osaka (KIX), Nagoya (NGO) and others.

ANA round-trip itinerary to Japan
(Screenshot courtesy of ana.co.jp)

You can book all ANA award tickets online, even if you add in a stopover.

Related: The cheapest business class awards across all three alliances

How to earn Membership Rewards

Currently, the Amex Platinum Card offers a 100,000-point welcome bonus after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. Plus, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar on eligible purchases made at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small® in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined spending during the first six months of card membership.

The welcome offer gives you at least $2,000 in value per TPG’s most recent Membership Rewards valuation of 2 cents per point.

The Amex Platinum Card is one of the best on the market for frequent travelers. The $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) may be tough to swallow, but it comes with a vast list of benefits. This includes extensive lounge access, up to $200 airline incidental fee credit, up to $100 in statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and a slew of other benefits. (enrollment required)

It’s also worth noting that the American Express® Gold Card is also offering a higher welcome offer. This card has a smaller $250 annual fee (see rates and fees) and is offers 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases on your new card in the first six months of account opening.

The card earns 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar) and restaurants worldwide, 3 points per dollar on flights booked with the airline or through Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar elsewhere.

How to transfer Membership Rewards points

Amex Transfer Partner Screen
(Image courtesy of americanexpress.com)

Transferring your Membership Rewards points to partners is easy. Here’s a quick step-by-step:

  1. Login to your account at americanexpress.com
  2. Click on your Membership Rewards-earning card (if necessary), then click on Explore Rewards
  3. Select the Transfer Points option and click View All
  4. Click on the partner whose account you want to link
  5. Select a cardholder, verify your card details, enter the corresponding program’s account number, then click Link Account

Before you transfer points to an airline or hotel, ensure there is award availability. Once you transfer your Membership Rewards points to a partner, you cannot convert them back into Membership Rewards.

Most transfers process instantly, but some partners — like Singapore Airlines Krisflyer and ANA Mileage Club — take more time to process. Check out our complete guide to Membership Rewards transfer times for more info. Try to put your ticket on hold beforehand if you’re transferring to a partner that takes a day or two to process.

You’ll also pay an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99) for transferring your points to a U.S. airline like Delta or JetBlue. For example, if you transfer 30,000 Membership Rewards points to Delta, you’ll pay $18 in fees. This isn’t ideal, but you will easily offset the cost when you redeem your points.

Related: Why I almost always go for Membership Rewards instead of Ultimate Rewards

Bottom line

As you can see, Membership Rewards can provide immense value, especially when transferring points to its many valuable partners.

Your points are worth 1 cent each when you redeem them for flights through the Amex Travel Portal, but that value skyrockets if you transfer your points to the right partner. With the 100,000-point bonus from The Platinum Card from American Express, you open a world of travel possibilities.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here

Additional reporting by Joseph Hostetler

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.