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Did you know you can redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points for gift cards to use on Airbnb?
I’ll show you how it works. And help you decide if it’s a good idea!
Link: Sign-Up for Airbnb ($25 Off Your 1st Booking of $75+)
Airbnb is a service that allows you to book a stay with individual hosts.
I’ve also written about how to negotiate a better price on Airbnb.
The benefits of booking on Airbnb are:
- Breakfast and snacks are often included in the price
- You can arrange an early check-in or late check-out, space permitting, for NO extra charge
- Many Airbnb places have a washer, full kitchen, and free internet
- Travel with friends or family and stay together in 1 home
- Stay in any part of town, NOT just where the chain hotels are located
- Visit a unique destination where there are NO hotels
- Meets lots of interesting people along the way!
How to Get Airbnb Gift Cards With AMEX Membership Rewards
AMEX had a 25% bonus on Airbnb gift cards earlier this year. But you can still redeem 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $100 e-gift card or 25,000 points for a $250 e-gift card.
Your points are worth 1 cent each when you redeem them this way. You get the same rate when you book travel directly through American Express.
(I’ll remind you which cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points later on!)
To get started, log into your AMEX account and click, “Membership Rewards” and then “Gift Cards.”
On the next screen, you can search for gift cards. Click “All Brands” to access the dropdown menu. Then select “Airbnb” and click “Browse.”
On the next screen, you’ll have the option to redeem 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $100 e-gift card, or 25,000 points for a $250 e-gift card.
Select your choice, and click “Add To Cart.”
Check your cart and proceed to checkout. After you’re done, AMEX will email your Airbnb gift card in the amount you selected within 1 business day, but usually in a few hours.
Is It a Good Idea?
This can be a good option if you:
- Want an easy redemption option
- Want to avoid the hassle of finding award flights or hotel stays
- Have a lot of AMEX Membership Rewards points
- Want to try out Airbnb
- Like Airbnb and want to offset your costs
- Want to stay in an area with NO chain hotels
- Send the gift card as a present to a friend or loved one
Note: The option to redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points for Airbnb gift cards is only available to users registered in the US.
I prefer to transfer my AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners. That’s because you can get much more value from your points!
You can get a short-haul round-trip coach award flight on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines or US Airways for 9,000 British Airways Avios points.
The same flights would cost ~$284 if you paid cash!
For 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, you could get a $100 Airbnb e-gift card. Or you could get a round-trip coach flight award that retails for ~$284 for 9,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
Note: AMEX is changing the ratio of British Airways points redemptions beginning October 1, 2015. Starting then, you’ll need to transfer 12,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to get 9,600 British Airways Avios points, which can still be a good deal in certain situations. As always, check to make sure it’s worth it before you make the transfer.
AMEX also has the following hotel transfer partners:
- Best Western (1:1 ratio)
- Choice Hotels (1:1 ratio)
- Hilton Hotels (2:3 ratio)
- Starwood Hotels (3:1 ratio)
Because AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at a 2:3 ratio, you’ll get 15,000 Hilton points when you transfer 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
Nights there typically cost ~$60. So your 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points will save you ~$180, plus you get free internet and breakfast because it’s a Hampton Inn.
Those same 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points are worth a $100 Airbnb gift card.
And for 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, you’d get 37,500 Hilton points, which is more than enough for 3 nights a Hilton Category 2 hotel, like the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Beijing.
Nights there are ~$200. So 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards points are worth ~$600. Or $250 if you redeem the points for an Airbnb gift card.
The downside is you can only get airline award flights or hotel stays when there is space available.
Airbnb gift cards are easy and flexible to use. And there are NO blackout dates!
So it depends if you prefer to save more money with points. Or if you want flexibility. As always, do what’s best for you!
Before you make the transfer, check to see if you can use points at 1 of the AMEX hotel partners in the city you want to visit. You may find that your points will get you more free nights at a hotel partner than if you redeem for gift cards to use on Airbnb.
But because Airbnb is generally cheaper than hotels, it might end up being close.
Airbnb is also a very different experience than hotels, and you can find them in places where there are NOT any other hotel options. Like this place in northern Iceland.
So it’s worth checking what’s available in the city where you want to stay. Because how much you can get from your points will vary from place to place.
About the Airbnb Gift Cards
You can use 1 gift card per booking on Airbnb. And the gift cards do NOT expire.
But what happens if you don’t use the whole amount of your gift card in 1 booking?
You are encouraged to use the value of your Airbnb eGift Card code in a single transaction. However, you will be issued a new Airbnb eGift Card code for any unused residual value via email within 5 business days from the date of your booking using the original Airbnb eGift Card code.
So if you don’t use the entire amount, you’ll get a new gift card emailed within 5 business days. And you can use it toward another booking.
Use the Right Card to Pay for Airbnb Stays!
If you decide to pay for your stays on Airbnb, or if your gift card won’t cover the entire amount, remember to use a card that will earn bonus points on travel expenses:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – 2.1% back
when you redeem for $100+ travel purchases
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel
- Citi Prestige – 3X Citi ThankYou points on travel
- Citi ThankYou Premier Card – 3X Citi ThankYou points on travel
I’d rather transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners to get Big Travel, but using them for Airbnb gift cards can make sense in certain situations.
Airbnbs are sometimes plentiful in places where there aren’t hotels. Or you may find that you get more award nights by transferring your AMEX Membership Rewards points to a hotel partner instead of redeeming them for Airbnb gift cards.
Check to be sure you’re getting the best value before you redeem your points. If you want to redeem for Big Travel on First Class flights, for example, you should save them and NOT get Airbnb gift cards.
But some folks might like the flexibility of gift cards instead of trying to find available award flights or hotels. As always, do what’s best for your situation.
And before using your gift card, keep in mind my top 5 tips for negotiating the best price on Airbnb!