My 6 LEAST Favorite Ways to Use AMEX Points

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There are lots of ways to use American Express Membership Rewards points.  Like transferring them to travel partners, or for statement credits.  You can even use your AMEX Membership Rewards points for store gift cards!

But be careful when deciding how to use your points.  Unless you have no interest in using your points for travel, it’s best to avoid certain redemption options.

Because you’ll get better value when you transfer your AMEX Rewards points to certain travel partners or use them for airfare through the AMEX travel portal.

Using AMEX Membership Rewards

You Can Use Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Amazon Purchases…But SHOULD You?

Here’s a list of the 6 least valuable ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards points.

Do NOT Use AMEX Points These Ways!

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners 

Most folks use AMEX Membership Rewards points for Big Travel on AMEX’s travel partners.  Or to offset the cost of paid tickets through the AMEX travel portal.

But did you know you can also use them for things like statement credits and Amazon purchases?

In general, if you’re getting less than 1 cent per point for your AMEX Membership Rewards points, you’re NOT getting a good deal.

You’ll get at least 1 cent per AMEX Membership Rewards point when you:

But here are 6 redemption options where you’ll get LESS than 1 cent per point value from your AMEX Membership Rewards points.

1.  Shop With AMEX

Using AMEX Membership Rewards points to buy items through the AMEX shopping portal is the absolute worst way to use your points.  

You can buy almost anything from the American Express shopping portal, from cameras to coffee makers to luggage.  But it’s a terrible value, because you’ll only get 0.5 cents per AMEX Membership Rewards point.

Using AMEX Membership Rewards

Emily Will NOT Be Using the 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points She Earned From the AMEX Business Gold Card to Shop Through AMEX’s Shopping Portal!

That’s HALF of what AMEX Membership Rewards points are worth when purchasing airfare through the AMEX travel portal.  And up to a QUARTER of what your AMEX Membership Rewards points are worth if you have the AMEX Business Platinum card and use your points for tickets through AMEX’s travel portal.

So, for example, the 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards point sign-up bonus from the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is worth only $250, when it could be worth $500 or $1,000 instead!

2.   Statement Credits

If you redeem your AMEX Membership Rewards points for a statement credit, you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point.  So this is NOT a good way to use your points.

Because, for example, the increased 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards point sign-up bonus on The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN would only be worth $600 in statement credits (100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points X 0.6 cents).

But if you used the sign-up bonus towards a Business or First Class ticket using the Pay With Points feature on the Membership Rewards portal, the 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards point sign-up bonus would be worth $2,000!  A difference of $1,400 ($2,000 – $600) in value! 

3.   Certain Award Flights

Remember to do the math to make sure you’re getting a good deal, because you will NOT always get 1 cent per point when you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points for award flights on its airline partners.

For example, say you transfer 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta for a round-trip domestic ticket in coach, but the cash price of the ticket is only $200.  In this case, you’d only be getting 0.8 cents per AMEX Membership Rewards point ($200 / 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points).

That said, sometimes folks just want a free ticket!  So it’s up to YOU to decide whether using your points is a good deal or not.

And don’t forget, the transfer ratio to some of AMEX Membership Rewards’ airline partners is NOT 1:1.  Like British Airways, which has a 5:4 transfer ratio, making it even harder to get a 1 cent per point value when using your AMEX Membership Rewards points for British Airways flights.

Plus, certain airlines have high fuel surcharges on award flights.  So consider those fees when deciding whether to use your points.

4.   Amazon

You can redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points for Amazon purchases and pay for all or part of your order using points.  But you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point, which isn’t a good deal.

Because you’ll get more value by transferring your points to most AMEX Membership Rewards points travel partners, buying gift cards, or booking airfare through the AMEX travel portal.  With any of those redemption options you’ll get at least 1 cent per point for your AMEX Membership Rewards points.

5.   Transfers to Hotels

You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Starwood points, but the transfer ratio isn’t great.  Because you’ll get 333 Starwood points for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred.

And if you’re transferring your AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton, you’ll get 1,500 Hilton points for every 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

That might seem like a decent deal, but it’s always worth doing the math to see what makes sense.  Because, for example, I found a night at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile in February 2017, that costs ~$105 or 50,000 Hilton points.

Using AMEX Membership Rewards

Transferring Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Hilton Points for an Award Stay at the Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile Is NOT a Good Deal

You’d need to transfer 34,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton points to have enough Hilton points for a free night.  And you’d only be getting a value of ~0.3 cents per point ($105 / 34,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points).

You can also transfer to Choice Hotels, but I don’t see much value in that unless you can snag a cheap room on points in Europe or other expensive destinations.

6.   Pay With Points for Travel OTHER Than Airfare

You can use the Pay With Points feature through the AMEX travel portal for all sorts of travel, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and cruises.  But you’ll get the MOST value from your AMEX Membership Rewards points when you use them for airfare, where you’ll get a minimum of 1 cent per point.

Because when you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points for hotels, cars, vacation packages, or cruises on AMEX’s travel portal, you’ll only get ~0.8 cents per point. 

That isn’t a terrible value, but you’ll definitely get more from your AMEX Membership Rewards points by transferring them to airline partners.

My Favorite Ways to Use American Express Membership Rewards Points

Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline partners is the best way to get the most value.  Especially if you can redeem them for otherwise expensive Business or First Class tickets.

Check out my series on how to use AMEX Membership Rewards points for award flights worldwide:

And here are ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards flights to book United Airlines award flights and stays at Marriott hotels, even though neither is a transfer partner!

Bottom Line

Usually, if you’re getting less than 1 cent per point for your AMEX Membership Rewards points, you’re NOT getting a good deal.

So be careful when redeeming your AMEX Membership Rewards points for things other than airfare through the AMEX travel portal, gift cards (excluding AMEX gift cards), or transferring your points to AMEX’s travel partners.

Because if you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to shop through AMEX’s shopping portal, for statement credits, or for Amazon purchases, you’ll get LESS than 1 cent per point for your AMEX Membership Rewards points.

So I always recommending doing the math to make sure you’re getting the best deal!  Because I’d hate to see your hard-earned points not get you back as much as possible!

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3 responses to “My 6 LEAST Favorite Ways to Use AMEX Points

  1. I thought you only got 1500 Hilton points for 1000 Amex points? Did this change?

  2. OK,you make some good points, but if you don’t travel, your suggestions don’t make practical sense. There are retail gift cards like Home Depot, that give a full 1 % as well. We use Amazon for shopping with points and use Home depot for larger purchases like lawnmowers, leaf blowers and weber grills, all of which were bought with points.