How to redeem points and miles for Amazon purchases
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While you’ll get the most bang for your buck (on paper, at least) redeeming your points and miles for expensive international flights and five-star hotels, not everyone is interested in redeeming for luxury travel. Some people would rather keep cash in their pocket by redeeming points and miles to cover everyday expenses.
If the pandemic shifted your shopping habits and you find yourself spending more time shopping online, you may be looking to redeem your points and miles for Amazon purchases. While this generally won’t net you the best redemption value (you’ll usually get 1 cent per point or less), you do have a few options to consider if you decide to go this route.
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Redeeming points for Amazon purchases
Before we dive in, you should realize that redeeming points for Amazon purchases typically won’t yield a high redemption value. But, if you want to redeem points for Amazon purchases, you have two primary options: redeem directly for Amazon purchases or redeem for Amazon gift cards.
The sneaky thing is that most programs give you a worse rate when you redeem your points directly for Amazon purchases than when you redeem for Amazon gift cards. Here’s a look at your options with the most popular programs.
Chase Ultimate Rewards: 0.8 to 1.5 cents per point
Chase Ultimate Rewards allows you to link your Chase and Amazon accounts by logging in to your Ultimate Rewards account and clicking the Amazon button at the top. Once linked, you’ll see an option to pay with points when you check out with Amazon.
However, you’ll only get a paltry 0.8 cents per point when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Amazon purchases. And this redemption rate is well below TPG’s valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each.
Chase also gives you the option to redeem your points directly for Amazon gift cards. Here, you’ll get a marginally better rate of 1 cent per point.
Perhaps the best option is to simply charge Amazon purchases to your Chase card and redeem Ultimate Rewards points for a statement credit. Not only will you get 1 cent per point, but you’ll earn more points on the purchase and get the benefit of purchase protection and an extended warranty if your Chase card offers those perks.
Alternatively, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you might want to consider purchasing an Amazon gift card at a grocery store. After all, you can use the Pay Yourself Back feature to offset the purchase. And through March 31, 2022, Chase has temporarily increased the redemption rate to 1.5 cents for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders and 1.25 cents for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Amex Membership Rewards: 0.7 cents per point
American Express Membership Rewards also allows you to link your Amazon account and redeem points at checkout. However, the option will only appear if you click on a Membership Rewards-earning card as your payment method. And the redemption rate is even worse at 0.7 cents per point (again, compared to TPG valuing Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each).
Occasionally, American Express will run targeted promotions that allow you to redeem just 1 Membership Rewards point for $40 off an Amazon purchase.
Citi ThankYou Rewards: 0.8 cents per point
Citi also offers targeted cardholders promotions occasionally, such as $20 off purchases of $50 or more when you redeem at least one Citi ThankYou point.
Capital One: 0.8 cents per mile
Marriott Bonvoy: 0.25 to 0.33 cents per point
Rounding out the world of transferable points is Marriott Bonvoy, which offers the ability to redeem points for Amazon gift cards at a rate of 0.25-0.33 cents per point. That’s well below TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each.
Delta SkyMiles and Southwest Rapid Rewards members used to be able to redeem their miles for a wide variety of gift cards, including Amazon, for 0.41-0.74 cents per mile. While we never recommended redeeming in this manner, both programs have temporarily suspended these non-travel redemption options due to circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delta provided TPG with the following statement:
Suspension of Delta Gift Card redemptions available for SkyMiles members was a decision made as Delta continues to manage the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business. Marketplace continues to offer a wide selection of merchandise, Apple products, and travel experiences. Anyone can continue to purchase Delta Gift Card at delta.com/giftcard through a credit/debit card transaction.
Hilton Honors: 0.2 cents per point
Hilton Honors lets you link your account to Amazon to shop with points, but at a rate of just 0.2 cents each. This makes it one of the worst offers out there, even after accounting for the relatively lower valuation of Hilton points.
IHG Rewards: 0.2 cents per point
Buying Amazon gift cards
If you’ve decided to be a little more conservative with your redemptions and not use your points for a low-value reward like Amazon shopping, there are still a few other ways you can maximize your returns.
One popular strategy is to buy Amazon gift cards at stores that offer a category bonus, like an office supply store. For example, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card earns 5% cash back (or 5x points) on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services.
Beyond that, you could use the American Express® Gold Card to earn 4x Membership Rewards points on your first $25,000 spent each year (then 1x) at U.S. supermarkets.
It’s also worth noting that if you go this route and use an Amazon gift card, you’ll be forgoing benefits like extended warranty and purchase protection. This might not be important if you’re buying a gift for a friend or a consumable product. But if you’re taking advantage of a sale to purchase a new tech gadget that you plan to keep for a while, you’ll have to weigh the trade-off of a higher return versus long-term protections.
Look out for limited-time offers
Amazon frequently offers various targeted discounts for redeeming points on your order. For example, some Chase cardholders can currently save $10 on their next Amazon order by redeeming just 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point.
To get targeted for offers, link all of your cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards to your Amazon account. Here’s how to link each type of card with Amazon:
We’ve also seen Amex Offers for Amazon purchases. For example, one offer allowed targeted cardmembers to earn up to 4 bonus Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on Amazon purchases (up to 1,500 bonus points total).
Amex Offers for Amazon are rare and they’re usually highly targeted. But it’s always worth checking what offers you have available to you before you start shopping online.
We tend to focus most of our efforts on travel rewards here at TPG, and for good reason. Once you go through the effort of earning points and miles, you want to get as much value out of them as possible and Amazon redemptions are not usually the way to do that.
If you’re set on redeeming your points for Amazon purchases, consider your options carefully. For example, you may want to redeem for a statement credit, as then you’d still earn bonus points on the purchase. Or you might decide that you’ll get the most value when you buy Amazon gift cards with a high bonus multiplier. It’s also worth considering whether your payment method (credit card versus Amazon gift cards) offers purchase protection or extended warranty benefits.
Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg and Richard Kerr.
Featured photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images.
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