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If you’re looking for Big Travel with Small Money, it’s hard to go wrong with AMEX Membership Rewards points. And right now, they are easy to earn with cards like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express and The Platinum Card® from American Express!
Best Way to Use AMEX Points
You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to 16 different airlines and 3 hotel chains. So they will give you the flexibility you need to fulfill almost any travel goal!
You can use AMEX Membership Rewards points for lots of different things, like paying for your Amazon purchases, redeeming for statement credits, or buying merchandise through the AMEX shopping portal. But these are NOT valuable ways to use your AMEX points!
Typically, you’ll get the most value out of your AMEX Membership Rewards points if you transfer them to airlines. But that isn’t the only way to get the most out of your rewards. So here are some of the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards points!
1. Avoid Blackout Dates by Paying With Points
AMEX Membership Rewards points are worth 1 cent each toward airfare when you Pay With Points. But with the AMEX Business Platinum card your AMEX points can be worth even more!
That’s because you’ll get a 35% points rebate on all flights booked with your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal. And you’ll get the same rebate on all Business & First Class flights booked through the AMEX travel portal!
You’ll also get a up to a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year with your selected airline, which you can choose from 1 of these 9 airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
Note: You can select an airline when you first get the card and can change it one time in January every year after.
If you take advantage of the 35% points rebate, you can get some serious value from your points. And you’ll automatically get 35% of your AMEX Membership Rewards points back. But you might have to wait 8 to 10 weeks to see them in your account.
Note: If you want to use your AMEX points for an airline you can’t search for on the AMEX travel portal, like Southwest, you’ll have to call (800-297-2977) to redeem your points. And you’ll want to use this trick to be sure you’re getting the best price for your Southwest flights.
2. Fly 3 People to Japan and Back!
ANA is a 1:1 transfer partner of AMEX Membership Rewards and they have a great award chart if you want to get to Japan.
You can fly round-trip in coach from North America to Japan for as little as 40,000 ANA miles per person during the low season! So 125,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points is more than enough for 3 round-trip tickets!
But you’ll pay 50,000 to 55,000 ANA miles per person for a round-trip coach seat during other times of the year.
Note: With ANA you can only book award flights for yourself and certain family members.
3. Fly a Family of 5 to Hawaii Using Singapore Airlines Miles!
Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance partner with access to great award flights. You can convert your AMEX Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio.
From the West Coast, you can use Singapore Airlines miles to book a partner award on Alaska Airlines to Hawaii for only 24,000 miles round-trip in coach! With the 125,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points you could earn with the AMEX Business Platinum card, you could fly 5 people to Hawaii and back!
And if you don’t live on the West Coast, you can still use Singapore Airlines miles to book award flights on United Airlines to Hawaii for only 35,000 miles round-trip in coach. That might not always be the best deal, but it is 10,000 miles less than what United Airlines charges for the same flight!
4. Transfer AMEX Points to British Airways for Short-Haul Partner Flights
British Airways has a distance-based award chart. So the cost of your award will vary depending on the distance of the flight.
In North America, you can book partner awards of up to 1,150 flight miles for 7,500 British Airways Avios points one-way. This can be a great way to book domestic American Airlines awards. For example, if I want to fly from Chicago to visit my wife’s family in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I could book a round-trip coach award ticket on an American Airlines flight for only 15,000 British Airways Avios points, which is 10,000 fewer miles than I would pay with American Airlines for the same flight!
And if you’re overseas, you can book awards of up to 650 flight miles one-way for only 4,500 British Airways Avios points! This is a great way to get around Europe or book cheap flights within Japan. You’ll be saving lots of AMEX points this way because British Airways is a 1:1 transfer partner!
5. Getaway to Tahiti on Air France
Depending on where you want to go in the South Pacific, you’ll have plenty of transfer partner options to get there. You could fly to the South Pacific using Delta miles (transferred from AMEX Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio). But round-trip coach award seats from the US to those destinations would set you back at least 90,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
But you can save your AMEX points by transferring them to Flying Blue (at a 1:1 ratio) instead.
Currently, you can book a Flying Blue award flight with Air France from Los Angeles to Tahiti starting at only 51,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip!
With the new Flying Blue award prices you’ll be able to book all available seats with miles. But the prices will increase as the seats become more scarce. So I’m interested to see how many award seats will be available at the new lower prices.
6. Transfer to Choice Hotels for Award Stays Overseas
The one area where AMEX Membership Rewards points aren’t very strong is for hotel awards. But recently Choice Hotels made a small step in the right direction by allowing award bookings up to 100 days in advance. And yes, that is terrible compared to other hotels, but it is an improvement from what they used to allow for non-elite members!
While Choice Hotels probably aren’t going to be your first choice when you’re traveling domestically, they can be a good deal depending on what country you’re visiting. If you’re traveling to Norway, Sweden, or Japan, you’ll find lots of Choice Hotels located where there aren’t many other options. And you should be able to find good deals too!
When I was in New Zealand, I found out the hard way that in areas outside of the major cities, Choice Hotels were the only accommodations that could be booked with hotel points.
Choice Hotels is a 1:1 transfer partner with AMEX Membership Rewards. And award nights cost 6,000 to 35,000 Choice points (excluding Australasia where they can cost up to 75,000 points per night). But they often have cheaper nightly cash rates. So be sure to compare the cash price for when you want to stay and decide whether it’s better to book with points or just pay cash.
7. Book 3 American Airlines Award Flights to Europe!
American Airlines isn’t an AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partner. But several of American Airlines’ partners are. And one of the best airlines for booking partner awards on American Airlines to Europe is Etihad.
Etihad has a different award chart for each partner airline. And the prices for American Airlines awards are great. You can book a round-trip flight from North America to Europe in coach in the off-peak season for only 40,000 Etihad miles!
Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner with AMEX. So you could fly 3 people to Europe with only 120,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points! Or you could splurge on a round-trip First Class American Airlines flight to Europe for only 125,000 Etihad miles.
Both of these redemptions are significantly less (20,000 to 45,000 fewer miles) than what you would pay if you used American Airlines miles for the same flight!
8. Hilton Hotels 5th Night Free
AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. Hilton no longer publishes an award chart, but the cheapest hotels in the US go for 10,000 Hilton points a night. And there are hotels overseas that you can book for as little as 5,000 Hilton points a night.
One of the many perks you’ll get with the AMEX Business Platinum card is automatic Hilton Gold status. And Hilton elite members get every 5th night of an award stay free (up to 20 nights or a total of 4 free nights)!
So you can book 5 nights at a 5,000 Hilton point hotel like the Doubletree Sighisoara-Cavaler in Romania for only 20,000 Hilton points! Paying only 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points (10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points X 2 for Hilton transfer) for a 5-night stay that could cost $500+ during the summer is a steal!
The biggest drawback of this deal is that most of the hotels that are 5,000 Hilton points a night are in either Eastern Europe or scattered throughout Southern Asia. So you’re probably more likely to get more use out of the 10,000 point per night locations, which can still be a great deal.
Note: Hilton calculates the 5th free night based on the average cost of all 5 nights. So if you book a 5-night+ stay that combines peak and off-peak prices for your award stay, your discount could be more or less than one 5th of the total price.
9. Take Advantage of a Transfer Bonus
AMEX Membership Rewards regularly runs transfer bonus promotions with their partners. For example, in the past there was a 25% transfer bonus to Flying Blue. So for every 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points you’ll get 1,250 Flying Blue miles.
And there have been other good transfer bonuses for many of AMEX’s airline partners including Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, and British Airways.
The AMEX Business Platinum card is a great option for stockpiling AMEX Membership Rewards points that can get you almost anywhere!
You’ll need to have a small business to qualify, which might be easier than you think! But if the deal isn’t the right one for you, there are lots of other AMEX credit cards you can earn AMEX Membership Rewards points with.
What is your favorite way to use AMEX points? Let me know in the comments!
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