5 ways to redeem 44 million American Express Membership Rewards points ... that aren't at Rite Aid
Last week, David Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, posted a now-viral Twitter video of himself paying with an American Express Business Centurion Card at a Rite Aid.
The drugstore chain has a partnership with American Express, where members can redeem American Express Membership Rewards points at subpar 0.7 cents per point. When Portnoy pays, his Membership Rewards balance — a staggering 44,403,931 points — appears on the screen, presumably earned from heavy business spending.
The information for the Centurion Card and Centurion Business Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
To put that into perspective, that’s worth a whopping $888,079 when leveraging transfer partners, based on TPG’s valuation of 2 cents per Membership Rewards point. That said, it's possible that Portnoy could get even more value by redeeming his points for high-value things like international business-class tickets.
However, with so many points in his account, it seems clear that Portnoy is hoarding his points, leaving them open to devaluation if Amex were to change its program. With that in mind, I took the liberty to write this article to give him some completely unsolicited points and miles advice.
David, here are a few ways you can use your nearly 45 million Amex points. These examples range from absolutely ridiculous to practical, but anything is better than letting your Amex points sit there and collect dust. For everyone else, use this article as inspiration for redeeming your (probably much smaller) Amex points balance.
Spend 3 or more years at the Waldorf Astoria in Paris
Why pay rent when you can live in a five-star hotel for three years?
Amex points transfer to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 transfer ratio, making 44,403,931 worth 88,807,862 Hilton points. This is more than enough points for an extended stay just about anywhere in the world.
Hilton Honors redemptions are variably priced, but you can often find a good deal at the Waldorf Astoria Versailles Trianon Palace in Paris. Rooms usually go for around 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night, so in theory, Portnoy could use all of his Amex points to book a whopping 1,110 nights at the hotel. This December, most nights at the property cost around $260.
Of course, there are other options too. The Waldorf Astoria Bangkok also goes for 80,000 points per night on most dates. Or, if he really wanted to stretch his points, he could spend 21,000 points per night at the Hilton Garden Inn Krakow in Poland, giving him just over 11 1/2 years at the property if the current rate holds.
For simplicity's sake, these numbers do not include Hilton's fifth-night free benefit. So if Portnoy is willing to check in and check out of his hotel, he could theoretically stretch his points even further.
Related: 7 ways to redeem points with the Hilton Honors program
Fly from New York to Europe in business class ... 700 times
Amex points give you no shortage of ways to get to Europe in style.
One of my favorite ways to use my Amex points to fly to the region is by transferring to Avianca LifeMiles, which charges 63,000 LifeMiles for a one-way business-class flight from the U.S. to most European cities.
Better yet, the airline doesn't add fuel surcharges, so there's little out-of-pocket cost for these redemptions no matter the airline operating the flight.
Since Avianca is a Star Alliance member, Portnoy could fly some of my favorite European business-class products like Austrian, Swiss and Turkish Airlines.
United is also a member, opening up some interesting summertime routes to Europe and connecting options. Also, with over 44 million points, Portnoy can check out all of these excellent flight options and still have millions of points to spare.
Related: Here’s why you need a healthy stash of Avianca LifeMiles
Book 5,900 short-haul domestic flights on American Airlines
Domestic flights are an option, too. One of my favorite ways to book them with Amex points is by transferring points to British Airways, which charges 7,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight up to 651 miles within North America. This includes popular business routes like New York to Washington, D.C., and Seattle to Portland, Oregon.
Longer flights cost marginally more points, with flights up to 1,151 miles costing 9,000 Avios. These flights are operated by Oneworld partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Check out the full guide to the British Airways award chart for more information.
With 44,403,931 Amex points, he could book just over 5,900 short-haul domestic flights (up to 651 miles) by transferring to British Airways. That should have Barstool Sports' domestic employee travel covered for at least a few years, in theory saving the company possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the cash value of those tickets.
Related: Maximizing the British Airways distance-based award chart
Book almost $900,000 worth of paid airfare with Amex Travel
One of the best benefits of the Amex Centurion card is its 50% points rebate on airfare booked through Amex Travel. Portnoy could redeem points for flights at 1 cent per point initially, and receive a 50% rebate on points a few weeks after booking.
This effectively lets him redeem points at 2 cents per point with very little effort, so a $1,000 ticket would cost just 50,000 Amex points. He'll also earn frequent flyer miles and elite status on these flights since they process as paid tickets. This is by far the easiest way to redeem Amex points for flights, and it could help Portnoy offset a lot of business travel expenses for him and his employees.
Note that the 50% rebate is only valid on the Amex Business Centurion card. However, if you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you're eligible for a 35% rebate on all premium-cabin tickets and tickets booked with your preferred airline through Amex Travel, up to 1 million points back per calendar year.
Related: Do this before booking award tickets for your family
Or, just cash out for $488,443
While it pains me to write this, if Portnoy doesn't have any immediate travel plans, he could open an American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab and cash out his points at 1.1 cents apiece to a Schwab account.
If he cashed out all of his points, he'd walk away with a cool $488,443. While the points would be worth a lot more when used for flights, when you have over 44 million points at your disposal that you're not using, it could make sense to cash out at least a portion of them.
The information for the American Express Platinum Schwab has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
After all, how many times does one really need to fly from the U.S. to Europe in one year? Even if Portnoy spent six months at a hotel, he'd have millions of points left over.
Also, he's likely earning points at a rate faster than he can spend them. Cashing out some of his points ensures he gets some value now and protection from a future Membership Rewards devaluation. With tens of millions of points at his disposal, letting them all sit dormant is a risk.
Related: 3 different flavors of Amex Platinum — which 1 is right for you?
How to earn Membership Rewards points
Itching to build up your own Amex point balance? You might not be able to match Portnoy's 44 million points, but the cards below offer welcome bonuses that can help you get enough points to book a business-class ticket to Europe, some domestic flights or other travel.
Here are a few of our favorite cards and their respective welcome offers:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of cardmembership. However, some readers have been targeted for up to a 125,000-point bonus using the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership. However, some readers have been targeted for up to a 75,000-point bonus using the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
Related: Have an Amex Business Platinum card? Don’t forget to register for these perks
David Portnoy's flexing his Amex points balance was a genius move for social media engagement. Boy, do I wish I had that many Amex points.
Now that Portnoy has shown off his balance, it's time to start spending those points. Otherwise, they'll be left open to devaluation if Amex decides to change its loyalty program.
Whether he picks three years at a hotel, thousands of flights, nearly $500,000 cash or a combination of all the above, the Barstool Sports founder will get a lot more value by using his miles than letting them sit dormant.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our complete guide to maximizing Amex Membership Rewards points.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.