This Amex cardmember is sitting on 11 million points: Here’s 6 fun ways to redeem them
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Many travelers save up transferrable credit card rewards to redeem them for an epic trip. And, many of us are sitting on a stash that only continues to grow as we’ve halted or slowed travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
For example, TPG Senior Editor Nick Ewen is sitting on over 2.1 million points and miles. And although TPG Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz recently burned 322,121 Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the issuer’s Pay Yourself Back program, he still has over four million points and miles saved up and ready to go when the time is right.
But, one small business owner took points and miles hoarding to an entirely different level. A few days ago, a Twitter user posted a screenshot of a friend’s American Express Membership Rewards account with 11,207,702 points.
TPG values Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. So, based on TPG’s valuations, this individual is sitting on about $224,154 worth of points. However, depending on how this small business owner eventually redeems these points, they could have a much higher or lower value.
I didn’t personally confirm the validity of this screenshot. But, the validity isn’t all that important for the purposes of this article. After all, I thought it would be fun to consider how different people would redeem over 11 million Amex points. But first, let’s discuss why you generally don’t want to hoard points and miles.
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The risk of hoarding points and miles
There are times when hoarding your points and miles could make sense. But, after seeing various loyalty programs shut down accounts and devalue awards, hoarding points and miles is becoming riskier than ever. And to make matters worse, we’ll likely continue to see devaluations once we get past the current phase of the pandemic and into the next year or two.
Granted, hoarding transferrable rewards such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards isn’t quite as bad as hoarding airline miles or hotel points. After all, the value of your airline miles or hotel points could get slashed in half (or worse) overnight with one program’s changes. But, you’ll still likely have some good redemption options with transferrable rewards even if one program removes partners or some partners devalue their awards.
Even so, the value of your points and miles will almost certainly decrease over time. In short, points and miles are a terrible long-term investment so don’t sit on them for years.
More than 100 business or first class awards
The immediate response by several people in the points and miles community considered just how many business or first class award flights you could get with 11 million Amex Membership Rewards points. For example, TPG Points and Miles Editor Ariana Arghandewal tweeted, “This is not ok. You could book 100+ international J/F awards with these points.” And TPG Director of Travel Content Summer Hull noted you could book “125 RT business class awards to Europe via ANA” with this stockpile of miles.
Indeed, you could actually book well over 100 round-trip business-class award to Europe. After all, you can book a round-trip business-class award to Europe for just 88,000 ANA miles. And ANA Mileage Club is a 1-to-1 transfer partner of the Amex Membership Rewards program. Best of all, ANA allows a stopover and open-jaw. However, the taxes and fees on your award will vary depending on the route and operating carrier — so be sure to price out a few options before you book.
Likewise, you could transfer Membership Rewards points to other partners and book business- and first-class awards. For example, there’s immense value to be found in transferring Membership Rewards points to Etihad Guest, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic and Iberia Plus and then using your transferred miles to book premium cabin awards.
14 nights in the Conrad Bora Bora Nui’s presidential overwater villa
When discussing how to spend over 11 million American Express Membership Rewards points, TPG’s Summer Hull also mentioned the Conrad Bora Bora Nui‘s 3,229 square foot presidential overwater villa. This multi-level villa sleeps up to six guests and features two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sauna, an infinite pool and a personal butler.
At 1,534,000 Hilton Honors points per night, this presidential overwater villa is generally out of reach for most award travelers. And since the presidential overwater villa is a premium room reward, you can’t even get a fifth night free as an elite when you pay with points.
However, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio. So, if you transferred 10,738,000 Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors, you’d get 21,476,000 Hilton points. And, you could redeem 21,476,000 Hilton Honors points for 14 nights in the Conrad Bora Bora Nui’s presidential overwater villa. To put this in perspective, you’d need to pay $85,360 for this 14-night stay on random dates I selected.
Up to 700 nights at an all-inclusive resort
When I decided to write this article, I initially thought of when my husband JT and I spent a month at an all-inclusive resort using Choice Privileges points. Although we only paid 8,000 Choice Privileges points per night to stay at the Emotions All Inclusive Puerto Plata during hurricane season, the price has since skyrocketed to 30,000 Choice Privileges points per night. Even so, at 30,000 points per night and a 1:1 transfer ratio when transferring Amex points to Choice Privileges, you’d be able to spend 373 nights.
However, Hilton Honors also has several all-inclusive properties. And, as discussed above, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio. Plus, you can get every fifth night free (up to four per stay) when you’re a Hilton Honors elite and book a standard room reward using points. Assuming you stay in 20-night increments at the all-inclusive Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort when standard room rewards are 40,000 points per night, you could get up to 35 20-night stays (which equates to 700 nights).
Up to 2,800 nights at Hilton hotels
My preference is typically to stretch my points for as many nights as possible. Although, if I had over 11 million Amex Membership Rewards points, I’d likely splurge. But, I thought it would be fun to consider how many nights you could get at Hilton properties like the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang that cost 10,000-points per night for a standard reward. However, since you can only get up to four free nights per stay thanks to the fifth-night free benefit offered to Hilton Honors elites, I’ll assume you’ll stay in 20-night increments.
You can transfer 11,207,700 Amex Membership Rewards points to 22,415,400 Hilton Honors points thanks to the 1:2 transfer ratio. Each 20-night stay would cost 160,000 points, assuming all nights of the 20-night stay price at 10,000 points per night and you have Hilton Honors Silver status or higher. So, you could get up to 140 20-night stays from 22,400,000 Hilton Honors points, which equates to up to 2,800 nights. That’s over seven years’ worth of stays — though of course, you can’t actually book out that far.
Redeem for gift cards
TPG Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz said he would “redeem them for $25 Olive Garden gift cards that I would hand out to everybody in Times Square.” He was likely joking, but you can redeem Amex Membership Rewards for Olive Garden gift cards at a rate of one cent per point. As such, 11,207,702 Membership Rewards points could get you 4,483 physical $25 Olive Garden gift cards that together total over $112k worth of all you can eat soup, pasta and breadsticks.
Of course, there are many other types of gift cards available. One Twitter user responded to the original thread, “That’s a lot of Home Depot gift cards.” Indeed, it would be a lot of Home Depot gift cards, which are also available at a rate of one cent per point. Assuming you went for $1,000 gift cards, you could get 112 $1,000 gift cards, which would be worth $112,000 total.
However, these redemptions are purely theoretical. It’s unclear whether Amex has a cap on how many gift cards you can redeem points for within a specific time. Plus, not all gift cards are available at a rate of one cent per point (some give as low as 0.5 cents per point). Carefully consider your redemption rate and whether gift cards are how you want to use your Membership Rewards points before you redeem.
Cash-out your points
You can generally redeem American Express Membership Rewards points to cover your card charges at a rate of 0.6 cents per point. At this rate, 11,207,702 Membership Rewards points could cover $67,246 of card charges. But, some cardmembers can cash out at a better rate.
Specifically, if you have The American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab and opt to invest your rewards, you can redeem points to your linked Schwab brokerage account at a rate of 1.25 cents each. At this rate, 11,207,702 Membership Rewards points could become an investment of $140,096 with Schwab.
The information for the American Express Platinum Card for 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.
Small-business spending on cards like The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express can quickly generate many points. It’s unclear how long it took this individual with over 11 million Amex Membership Rewards points to rack them up. But, his or her substantial point balance is a good reminder for the rest of us to use our points and miles once the coronavirus pandemic is behind us. After all, points and miles usually only go down in value and there’s plenty of ways to put them to great use.
Featured image of the Conrad Bora Bora Nui by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.
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