How much are Amex points really worth? Our guide to calculating their value
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How much are your points really worth? It’s an important question in gauging which cards can get you the most bang for your buck. Luckily, American Express Membership Rewards points are easy to earn and have lots of value.
On average, you can get a value of 1.8 cents per point — but it’s easy to receive more value with a little research.
The best news is that Amex Membership Rewards points are easy to earn from many of the best American Express cards. The card that’s best for you depends on your spending habits. For example, the American Express® Gold Card is a fantastic choice for those who spend a lot at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. In comparison, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a better choice if you spend a lot on travel and are looking for premium travel perks.
In addition to offering a wide variety of cards, Amex has added a number of limited-time card benefits due to the coronavirus pandemic to help you get even more value out of their cards.
Let’s look at the best ways to get the most value out of your Amex Membership Rewards points and see how much they are really worth.
A detailed look at the value of Amex points
How to earn Amex points
Our top recommendations for Amex Membership Rewards points-earning cards are:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best Amex card for flights
- American Express® Gold Card: Best Amex card for restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases
- American Express® Green Card: Best Amex card for general travel purchases
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Best small-business Amex card
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best no-annual-fee business Amex card (see rates & fees)
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
What value can you get when you redeem your points for cash back?
Quick answer: 0.6 cents for statement credit, 1 cent each for gift cards (and possibly more)
If you want to quickly redeem your points for cash or gift cards, you can do it online. However, you should avoid doing so as you don’t get optimal value for your points. If you use your points to pay your statement balance, you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point … which is terrible. Gift cards are a little better: You’ll get 1 cent per point in value on some gift cards, while others cost closer to 0.8 cents per point.
It is possible to get 1.25 cents per point in “cash back” with a special Amex card. If you have the American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab, you can cash out your Membership Rewards points into a Schwab brokerage at 1.25 cents apiece. You’ll need to first open a Schwab Brokerage account before you can open the Amex Platinum Schwab card.
What value can you get when you book through the Amex Travel Portal?
Quick answer: 1 cent each (~1.54 cents each with the Amex Business Platinum) for flights, 0.7 cents each for other travel
The American Express Travel Portal allows you to turn your points into cheap travel. You can log into your Amex account and book flights, hotels, car rentals, and more using points, cash or a combo of both.
The Amex Travel Portal lets you redeem your points for airfare at a rate of 1 cent per point. For example, you can book a $200 round-trip flight from Washington, D.C., to Orlando for 20,000 Amex Membership Rewards points.
However, one great perk of the Amex Business Platinum Card is that you can actually get points back when you book flights using points. That’s because Amex gives you 35% of your points back for all first-class or business-class flights booked through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points. You can also get 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the Amex travel portal using Pay With Points (up to 500,000 points per calendar year).
That means if you book a $1,000 flight (100,000 points) through the portal when you have the Business Platinum Card, you’ll get 35,000 points in return, which means your flight really only cost 65,000 Amex points.
Keep in mind, you’ll only get a value of 0.7 cents per point when you redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for other types of travel through the portal, like hotels and car rentals.
What value can you get from Amex transfer partners?
Quick answer: 1.8 cents each on average
Below we’ve listed some popular Amex travel partners and the typical value per point you’ll get when moving points to them. One thing to keep in mind is that unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, some Amex partners do not transfer at a 1:1 ratio. For example, when transferring to JetBlue, they transfer at a 250:200 ratio. That means if you need 10,000 JetBlue points, you’ll need to transfer 12,500 Amex Membership Rewards points.
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- British Airways – 0.7 to 5.5 cents each (typically 1.4 cents)
- Singapore KrisFlyer – 0.8 to 4.5 cents each (typically 1.5 cents)
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) – 0.6 to 7 cents each (typically 2 cents)
- Choice Hotels – 0.7 to 4.2 cents each (typically 1.1 cents)
- Hilton – 0.4 to 2 cents each (typically 0.5 cents)
- Marriott – 0.3 to 1.5 cents each (typically 0.8 cents)
Note: Transferring your Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott, Hilton, or Choice Hotels is not usually a good deal.
Here are a couple of examples of calculating the value of Amex Membership Rewards points.
Great value: Business-class flight with ANA miles
ANA (All Nippon Airways) offers fantastic value, especially when flying in business class. ANA offers a great sweet spot when traveling from North America to Japan for 75,000 to 90,000 points round-trip in business class. A business-class flight from New York to Tokyo could otherwise cost more than $6,000.
For example, a nonstop, round-trip flight in ANA’s business class from New York (JFK) to Tokyo goes for ~$6,332. However, if you book the same exact flight using points, you’d only be spending 85,000 points plus taxes and fees. That’s getting a value of ~7.5 cents per point (~$6,332 cash price of the ticket / 85,000 points), 6.5 cents more value than you’d get if redeeming your points for cash back.
By transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to certain airlines, you can “buy” tickets you might not otherwise be able to afford.
Not ideal: Coach From Boston to Orlando on JetBlue
Let’s take a look at an example of a round-trip flight on JetBlue from Boston or Orlando that costs ~$447.
When you look to book via points, it costs only 28,700 points. That would give you roughly ~1.6 cents per point value. However, remember that Amex points transfer to JetBlue at a 250:200 ratio. So, if you were to pay for this using Amex points, you’d need to transfer 35,875 Amex points over to your JetBlue account.
Now, the value drops to ~1.2 cents per point. You would get some additional value by transferring to a partner, but you wouldn’t get the same bang for your buck as you did with the ANA flight to Tokyo. So in this case, it probably makes more sense to book this flight with cash and save your points for another redemption.
Incredible value with a single Amex Membership Rewards point on Amazon
Amazon partners with American Express to offer some extremely valuable promotions for those with Amex Membership Rewards points. While you can always use your Amex points to shop on Amazon, it usually offers a poor value.
However, these semi-frequent promotions allow you to use just 1 point to get a 10 to 50% discount on your order. An MMS team member received $55 worth of discounts on Amazon by using only 2 Amex points. That’s a value of $27.50 per point!
These are limited offers, but they can be a great way to save money on Amazon since you only have to use 1 point typically to get the discount, then just pay for the rest of the order in cash.
A few months ago, Amex was offering up to 50% off Amazon orders when using 1 Amex point (up to $60 in savings). Lots of readers and MMS team members were able to maximize this by spending $120 on Amazon and getting $60 off — a fantastic deal.
How should you use your points?
Deciding on the best way to use your Amex points is really up to you. Maybe you’ve been dying to go to California and even though you may only get 1.5 cents per point, you still get a free flight. That’s certainly a valid use of your rewards.
Maybe you’ve been hoping to go on a Carnival cruise and you have 20,000 points you’d like to put toward your dream trip. Go ahead and buy $200 worth of Carnival gift cards through your Amex Rewards portal and get on that cruise for $200 less than you normally would have spent. Or maybe you just want the simplicity of using the Amex Travel Portal to book flights or hotels and using your points to pay for your travels.
However, you’ll almost always get the most value for your points when transferring to airline or hotel partners, and you’ll maximize that value when taking an international first or business-class flight.
Amex Membership Rewards points are really flexible and give you lots of options. There’s no right way to make the most of your points. Any travel you book using Amex points is free travel that you get from rewards on purchases you’d be making anyway.
Amex Membership Rewards points are extremely flexible. That flexibility is exactly what makes it so tough to pinpoint their exact value with a single number. But on average, expect to get 1.8 cents per point towards travel when transferring to partners.
When you add that to the fact that you can get up to 4x or 5x Amex points on purchases, you are effectively getting 8% to 10% back in certain categories. You’ll usually get the most value per point by transferring points to Amex airline partners, like ANA or Air Canada Aeroplan. Amex Membership Rewards points are easy to earn with cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express or the American Express® Green Card.
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For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)