How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for best value

Transfer points to travel partners to maximize your point value.

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The American Express Membership Rewards program offers a bevy of redemption options you’d expect from a robust loyalty program. However, transferring your points to one of their 21 travel partners is the best way to maximize your point value.

Redeeming Membership Rewards points in Amex portal

There are five ways to redeem your Amex points through the Membership Rewards portal along with one way to redeem them outside of the portal. You can access your redemption options at the Membership Rewards site by clicking “Use Points.”

Pay with points at checkout

You can use your accumulated Membership Rewards points when checking out at participating retailers. The value of your points depends on each retailer.

Partner Value per point
Amazon 0.7 cents
Amex Express Checkout 0.7 cents
Best Buy 0.7 cents
Boxed 0.7 cents
Expedia 0.7 cents
Grubhub 0.7 cents
JustGiving 0.7 cents
Newegg 0.7 cents
NYC Taxi 1 cents
Rite Aid 0.7 cents
Saks Fifth Avenue 0.7 cents
Seamless 0.7 cents
Staples 0.7 cents
Ticketmaster 0.5 cents
Walmart 0.7 cents

Data obtained May 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Redeem for gift cards

Much like redeeming points on partnered retailers, the value of your points spent on gift cards depends on the retailer you’re purchasing a gift card from. At of the time of writing, your point values will range from 0.5 cents per point to 1 cent per point.

Make purchases through the Amex shopping portal

Points redeemed through the Amex shopping portal are worth 0.5 cents per point based on our valuation. Strangely, these points are worth less on average than redeeming at checkout.

Redeem for statement credits

You can redeem points for a statement credit to pay off charges on your Amex card. This isn’t a great choice for pure value as these redeemed points are only worth 0.6 cents each.

Book travel through Amex travel

There are a variety of ways to redeem your points for travel through Amex directly, including booking flights, reserving hotels and taking cruises. Here are the point breakdowns for each travel option.

Travel option Point values per point
Flights through American Express Travel 1 cent
Hotels through American Express Travel 0.7 cents
Cruises through American Express Travel 0.7 cents
Vacations through American Express Travel 0.7 cents
Excise tax offset fee 0.5 cents
Hotels and flights on Expedia.com 0.7 cents

Data obtained May 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Transfer your points to travel partners

Transferring your Amex Membership Rewards points to travel partners is the best use of Amex points. That’s because the average point values of airline and hotel reward programs are often much greater than a single Amex point. Considering that many — but not all — travel partners accept points at a 1:1 or similar ratio, you can double or triple the value of your points.

We covered Amex to partner transfer ratios in our Amex Membership Rewards guide, but here’s the current average point values of each partnered airline according to our research.

Travel partner Average point value in cents
Aer Lingus AerClub Between 1 and 2 cents
Air France KLM Flying Blue 2
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1.4
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1.5
JetBlue TrueBlue 1.4
Iberia Plus Between 1 and 2 cents
British Airway Avios 1.5
Choice Privileges 0.6
Marriott Bonvoy 0.9
Aeromexico Club Premier 0.6
Air Canada Aeroplan 1.4
Millemiglia 0.5
All Nippon Air 1.5
AsiaMiles 1.4
Avianca LifeMiles 1.7
Delta SkyMiles 1.4
El Al Israel Airlines 0.6
Emirates 1.2
Etihad Guest 1.5
Hawaiian Airlines 1.5
Hilton Honors 0.4

Data obtained May 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points

There are roughly 10 Amex cards that can earn you Membership Rewards points, each with their own reward categories and perks centered around the program.

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
50,000 points after spending $10,000 and 50,000 points after spending an additional $15,000 in the first 3 months
5x points on flights and prepaid hotels through Amex Travel, 1.5x points if you spend $5,000 on a single eligible purchase on up to 1 million additional points per year and 1x points on all other purchases
$595
Earn 50,000 points after spending $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after spending an additional $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Rates & fees
Up to $500 back on FedEx shipments within the first 3 months, offer ends November 6, 2019
4x points on two categories on up to $150,000 combined annually, then 1x points after that and on all other purchases
$295
Up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months, offer ends November 6, 2019. Rates & fees
N/A
2x points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 annually, then 1x points
$0
Earn 2x Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases on up to $50,000 with no category restrictions. Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Some Amex cards can’t transfer points to partners, despite being able to earn Membership Rewards points. These cards include:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Blue Business Cash Card
  • Blue for Students®
  • Some Blue from American Express cards
  • Business Management Account
  • Gold Optima® Card
  • Optima® Credit Card
  • Optima® Platinum Card®
  • The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
  • ZYNC® Card

How to choose to redeem your points

While transferring points to partnered airlines is often the best way to maximize value, this might not always be the best redemption option for you personally. Here are a few questions to ask when considering your choices.

  • Do you want to do the research?
    Transferring points to a partnered airline for great value requires a little research. Without doing your homework, you could end up transferring points to an airline with a higher average value per point and receive the same — or worse — value on your points than if you hadn’t transferred.
  • Do you prefer Delta?
    Amex is partnered with Delta for the purposes of its travel portal. If you prefer Delta flights or live near a Delta hub, it may be easier to book through the Amex travel portal rather than transfer your points.
  • Do you value customer service? American Express travel is well-known for its excellent customer service. No matter what happens during your trip, you’ll be able to connect with an Amex agent to help you find a solution.
  • Are you interested in a cruise?
    One option that the Amex travel portal offers that point transfers don’t is the ability to book a cruise with your points. While points redeemed this way are only worth 0.7 cents each, it’s an interesting use of points for a type of travel that you can often only purchase with cash.
  • Which Amex credit card do you have?The Platinum Card® from American Express in particular may warrant occasional redemptions through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Cardholders receive room upgrades, dining credits and other exclusive hotel perks at eligible Fine Hotels & Resorts properties.

Bottom line

The Amex Membership Rewards program’s wealth of transfer partners offers countless opportunities to make great use of your Amex points. With a little research and smart use of your Amex Membership Rewards credit cards, you can travel the world without emptying your wallet.

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