It’s relatively easy to rack up a big points balance with Membership Rewards (MR) due to the many cards Amex offers. Here’s a few of the more popular ones:
- Platinum / Business Platinum
- Gold / Business Gold
- Green / Business Green
- Everyday Preferred card
- Blue Business Plus
This is a great program because you’re able to redeem in several, flexible ways that allow you to maximize value.
Redeeming via the Amex Travel Portal
Here, you’ll be able to directly use your MR points towards any flights, hotels, cars, cruises or vacation packages. It’s very similar to Chase’s travel portal, but is not powered by Expedia, so you’ll have slightly fewer options, but there should still be plenty to choose from. In the portal, you can redeem MR points at a base rate of 1.0 cents per point. However,
Amex often runs “Insider Fares” promotions, which could boost your redemption value up to 1.15 cpp.
I don’t think 1.0 cpp or even 1.15 cpp via the Travel Portal is the best way to burn MR points, but it’s the easiest and most flexible travel option for your MR points. You can access the Amex Travel Portal here.
Amex Travel Portal
Transferring to Travel Partners
Amex has a fantastic transfer network, allowing you to transfer MR points to a myriad of airline and hotel partners. Unlike Chase’s program, not all of Amex’s partners will transfer at a rate of 1 MR = 1 Partner Point, so do your due diligence and make sure to price out your desired rewards.
In my opinion, Amex offers the best airline transfer network of any credit card rewards program. Through these 17 partners, you’ll be able to redeem your MR points for almost any flight in the world due to the power of airline alliances. Here’s a list of all of Amex’s airline partners and their transfer ratio (Amex:Partner).
- Aeromexico 1:1.6
- Air Canada (Aeroplan) 1:1
- Air France KLM (Flying Blue) 1:1
- Alitalia (Millemiglia) 1:1
- All Nippon Airways 1:1
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) 1:1
- British Airways 250:200
- Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) 1:1
- El Al Israel Airlines 1,000: 20
- Emirates 1:1
- Etihad Airways 1:1
- Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
- Iberia Plus 250: 200
- JetBlue Airways 250: 200
- Singapore Airlines 1:1
- Virgin America 200: 100
- Virgin Atlantic Airways 1:1
Remember to price out your desired award redemption to optimize your cpp value. Here’s an example of a premium summer vacation that maximizes value:
One way flights to Paris in First Class in the summer starts around ~$8200 via Virgin Atlantic.
That same itinerary, but utilizing Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Delta? Only 50,000 points! Not only is the flight half as long, but Delta One is arguably one of the best first class products of any airline today. That’s a redemption value of 16.4 cpp 😎.
In this example, we transferred points from MR -> Virgin Atlantic at rate of 1:1. Then, we booked a Delta operated flight since Virgin and Delta are airline partners. Amex also often runs transfer promotions where you can earn an additional 20% to 30% when you transfer to certain airline partners, so keep an eye out for those.
Amex doesn’t have a ton of hotel transfer partners, but what’s nice about these partnerships is that it contains Marriott, which also happens to be a transfer partner with Chase. If you have both Chase UR points and Amex MR points, you can combine them in a Marriott account to score free nights more easily.
- Choice Privileges 1:1
- Hilton Honors 1:2
- Marriott Bonvoy 1:1
You can transfer your UR points to airline and hotel partners in your Memberships Rewards Transfer Dashboard.
Redeeming for Statement Credit / Amazon Gift Cards
Redeeming your points towards travel will always be the best option in terms of maximizing your cents per point value. However, you can also choose to redeem your MR for statement credit of Amazon gift cards at a rate of 1.0 cpp.
There’s one exception to my “never use points for statement credit” rule. If you hold the Charles Schwab version of the American Express Platinum card, you have the option to cash out your MR points at a rate of 1.25 cpp (now down to 1.1 in 2022). This is a relatively great redemption value when compared to the Travel Portal, so it makes sense if you want to convert to cash and book travel on your own. I know a few folks with tremendous points balances (think millions) who use the Charles Schwab 1.1 cpp method to hedge the risk of future rewards devaluation. Cash is king baby!
Cashing out MR with Schwab Amex Plat