American Express Membership Rewards Points Review
[This article does not contain any affiliate links. This article contains information about the US version of the Membership Rewards system]
Membership rewards (MR) is American Express’ flagship loyalty program for their card holders
- 1 Earning MRs
- 2 Redeeming MRs
- 2.1 Travel
- 2.2 Travel Using Pay With Points
- 2.3 Giftcards
- 2.4 Points For Charges
- 2.5 Shop With Points At Amazon.com
- 2.6 Shop With Points At ShopAmex
- 2.7 F.A.Q’s
- 2.8 How Long Does It Take For Points To Transfer?
- 2.9 What’s The Best Way To Get The Most Value Out Of Your Membership Rewards Points?
- 3 Other Membership Rewards Resources
The easiest way to earn membership rewards points is by using a qualifying American Express credit card. The amount of points you earn per $1 spent will vary based on the card you hold and what category the spend is in. The following cards earn MR points:
When redeeming your membership rewards, you should be looking for at minimum 1¢ per point in value. At the very least you should never redeem for less than 0.85¢ per point. This is because you can purchase a giftcard and then resell it for cash for more than this.
Redeeming for travel will give you the best bang for your points, but it’s also the most time consuming and you’ll need to plan in advance to make sure there is award availability for the flights you want to take.
Airline Transfer Partners
You can transfer points to any of the Membership Rewards partners at a 1:1 rate , you need a minimum of 1,000 points to do a transfer (unless otherwise noted). You can transfer to the following partners programs (click to view on the AmEx website):
- Aeroplan Air Canada
- ANA Mileage Club
- Asia Miles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Club Premier® AeroMexico
- Delta SkyMiles®
- EL AL Israel Airlines Matmid Points: 50:1 (e.g 1,000 points MR points = 50 matmid points)
- Emirates Skywards
- Frontier EarlyReturns®
- Flying Blue KLM/Air France
- HawaiianMiles® account
- Iberian Plus
- jetBlue TrueBlue: 1.25:1 transfer rate (250 MR points = 200 jetBlue TrueBlue points, minimum transfer of 250 points)
- MilleMiglia Club Alitalia
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer®
- Virgin America: 2:1 transfer rate (200 MR points = 100 Virgin America Elevate points, minimum transfer of 200 points)
- Virgin Atlantic
If you transfer to a US-based airline (Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, jetBlue & Virgin America) then American Express makes you pay a fee of $0.0006 (6/100th’s of a cent) per point, up to a maximum of $99. This is used to off set the federal excise tax American Express must pay.
Hotel Transfer Partners
You can also transfer your points into any of the four hotel programs currently available under the membership rewards program. Keep in mind that all of these programs have a host of properties and brands under their main umbrella.
- Best Western Rewards: 1:1 transfer rate
- Choice Privileges: 1:1 transfer rate
- Hilton HHonors: 1:1.5 transfer rate
- Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG): 3:1 transfer rate
Travel Using Pay With Points
Pay with points allows you to use American Express’ travel platform to book flights, hotels and car rentals. You’ll get 1¢ per point when redeeming for flights and less than 1¢ per point when redeeming for car rental or hotel stays.
The upside of using the AmEx travel portal is that there is a lot more availability than when you compare to award availability. The downside is that in general you’ll need to use more points for the same flight.
Usually the flights will be the same price as other booking engines (e.g Kayak or Skyscanner), but this is not always the case so make sure you’re getting the best deal before using pay with points. They’ll also search all airlines, not just those that are partner airlines that you can transfer points to.
Before using your points for gift card redemption’s, you should use Gift Card granny to see how much gift cards can actually be purchased for. If you redeem for cash equivalents (e.g AmEx gift cards) you’ll only receive 0.5¢ per point, whereas if you redeem for store gift cards you’ll receive 1¢ per point. You can redeem starting at 1,000 points for store cards or 5,000 points for cash equivalents. Click here to view all gift cards currently available.
This can be a good option if one of the gift cards is for a store that you’d regularly spend money at anyway, or need to visit for a one off purchase. The downside is you can get most gift cards at a 10% discount or more by using Gift Card Granny and at maximum you’ll only be getting 1¢ per point.
If you really can’t find anything that interests you, simply redeem for a gift card and then resell it (just make sure you pick a card that holds it’s value. In general you should be able to find a card that’ll give you at least 85% of it’s original value).
Points For Charges
Points for charges allows you to redeem points for statement credit against charges you already have. The rate is 0.5¢ per point. You need a minimum of 1,000 points ($5) to be able to use points for charges.
This is an awful redemption rate and should be avoided at all costs. You’ll be better off getting a gift card and reselling it.
Shop With Points At Amazon.com
MRs can be used to shop on amazon.com, you’ll receive 0.7¢ per point when using this feature. This means if you redeem 10,000 MR points you’ll be able to spend $70 on amazon. If you redeem 50,000 points you’ll be able to spend $350. You don’t need to have enough points to be able to redeem a full product, you can do points + pay.
For example, let’s say you wanted to purchase a $50 item on Amazon and you had 3,500 points. You’d be able to use the 3,500 points to get $24.5 off the product and then pay a further $25.5 with your linked card.
Shop With Points At ShopAmex
ShopAmex is American Express’ online mall, where you can use points to purchase electronics and other goods. You can also pick up selected items that you purchase from the online mall at BestBuy. Like most credit card malls, you’ll find that you don’t get good value by using your points for items. For example, they have an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite listed for 24,000 points but it’s available on Amazon for $120. This means you’re only getting 0.5¢ per point.
How Long Does It Take For Points To Transfer?
It depends on which airline or hotel program you’re transferring to. Look at the following chart:
|Virgin Atlantic||1-2 Days|
|All Nippon Airways||2-4 Business Days|
|Singapore (KrisFlyer)||3 Business Days|
|Asia Miles||3-7 days (but allow up to 90 days)|
What’s The Best Way To Get The Most Value Out Of Your Membership Rewards Points?
This will vary from individual to individual depending on what their goals are. If you plan on travelling, then you’ll usually get the best value out of transferring your points to an airline and then redeeming them for a flight. Sometimes you can also get good value by redeeming them for hotel stays, but in general airlines will present better value.
Giftcards also offer decent value if you redeem them for stores that you’d regularly spend at. You can also use gift cards to cash out your points at a better rate than is possible if you use it for statement credit, a cash equivalent or for amazon purchases.
You should never use any of the following ways to redeem your points, this is because they earn less than you’d get if you redeemed your points for giftcards and then sold the gift cards:
- Points for charges
- AmEx mall (unless there is a really good offer, make sure you do a bit of price comparsion first on sites like Amazon as generally you’ll get a lot less than 1¢ per point)
Other Membership Rewards Resources
You might find the following membership rewards resources useful. If you know of anything that should be added to this list, let us know in the comments section.