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If you want to maximize your credit card rewards, I always recommend earning points for every dollar you spend. I wanted to take a detailed look at how to redeem Amex Membership rewards points given how many people earn this currency for their credit card spending

Amex Membership Rewards points are easy to earn

Amex Membership rewards points can be earned with a number of credit cards. You can maximize your rewards with both personal and business cards from American Express.

Amex points can be earned with the following personal cards.

Amex Membership rewards points are earned on the following business cards.

This is where you can read about my credit card strategy.

Redeem for Etihad business class

How much Amex Membership Rewards points are worth

Amex Membership rewards points are valued at 1.7 cents each based on my methodology. That is how much I value each of the major points currency. I think it is a fair valuation for how much value you can get if you maximize your rewards.

How you can redeem Amex Membership Rewards points

We will talk about how you should redeem points to maximize value after taking a brief look at how you can redeem Amex membership rewards points.

Amex Membership Reward points can be transferred to airlines and hotels. 17 airlines and three hotel groups are included in the below 20 partners that make up the program.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

Amex points can be redeemed in many other ways. Amex Membership rewards points can be used in a number of ways.

  • Toward cash, in the form of a statement credit
  • Toward shopping directly with popular retailers
  • Toward gift cards with a variety of retailers
  • Toward flight and hotel purchases

You won't get more than one percent of value per point with these redemption methods. When it comes to paying for flights, there is an exception.

Redeem for Virgin Atlantic business class

The best uses of Amex Membership Rewards points

Transferring your membership rewards points to travel partners will give you the most value. All other options get you at most one cent of value per point and you can hopefully do better than that. Below is a list of the best uses of American Express Membership rewards points.

You will generally get the most value for international flights when you transfer to airline partners. If you are new to redemption, check out my top 10 tips for getting the best value.

Transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan is one of my favorites. Aeroplan has more airline partners than any other airline loyalty program, and you can add stopovers to awards for 5000 points one-way.

Aeroplan is a great option if you want to redeem on Star Alliance or other airlines. Aeroplan redeems more points for me than any other frequent flyer program.

Redeem for Lufthansa first class

Transfer to All Nippon Airways Mileage Club

The only major points currency that partners with ANA is Amex. A round the world business class award (with up to 29,000 miles of travel) for 170,000 miles is one of the amazing redemption opportunities that this Star Alliance carrier has.

There is a huge learning curve to understand this program, so make sure you do your research before you transfer points. There are restrictions on who you can redeem for, big carriers impose surcharges on some partners, and more.

Redeem for ANA business class

Transfer to Avianca LifeMiles

There are a lot of Star Alliance partners. If you want a simple one-way award on a Star Alliance airline, Avianca LifeMiles may be the best option. Fuel surcharges are not included in LifeMiles redemption rates. A business class award from Europe to Southeast Asia will start at 78,000 miles one-way.

You should check in advance if LifeMiles doesn't have the same award space as other programs.

Redeem for SWISS business class

Transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer

Most of Singapore Airlines' award space is restricted to members of its own KrisFlyer program. It is not likely that Singapore Airlines will be able to get long haul premium cabin awards through other programs.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has a fair redemption rate, good award availability, and limited surcharges. Whether you want to travel on the world's longest flight from New York to Singapore or take one of Singapore Airlines' fifth freedom flights, this could be helpful.

Redeem for Singapore Airlines business class

Transfer to Emirates Skywards

Most tickets with miles can be booked through the Skywards program. If you want to take one of the fifth freedom flights from Newark to Athens or New York to Milan, this could be helpful.

It is possible to redeem miles for the first class of the airline. There is a shower in the sky. If you can find award availability, you can get a first class award between the US and Europe for 85,000 Skywards.

Redeem for Emirates business class

Transfer to Air France-KLM Flying Blue

It's difficult to beat Flying Blue if you want to fly across the Atlantic in business class. If you want to travel to Amsterdam and Paris, the two airlines have extensive routes throughout Europe and beyond.

You can expect the awards to start at around 55,000 miles one-way with fuel surcharges. If you book a Flying Blue Promo rewards offer, you can get even better prices.

Redeem for KLM business class

Transfer to British Airways Executive Club

The British Airways Executive Club is a good frequent flyer program. If you want to redeem points for travel on Alaska or American from or within the United States, Executive Club has a unique distance based award chart. If you want to travel to Hawaii and the Caribbean, you can use avos.

Short haul redemptions in Asia and Australia can be done with avyos. One of the best in the world is the business class of Qatar Airways.

Redeem for Qatar Airways business class

Can you pay for flights with Amex points?

Unlike with Chase UltimateRewards, there is not an efficient way to redeem points for flights. You can redeem points for flights at a rate of around one cent per point, which is not great.

Two exceptions are available.

There are some things to keep an eye out for.

  • This rebate only applies when booking first or business class travel, or economy travel on your designated U.S. airline (you can designate an airline in your Amex account)
  • You can pool your Amex points across all cards and redeem at these rates, assuming you have one of the above cards
  • With this redemption option, the Amex Business Gold offers up to 250K points in rebates per year, and the Amex Business Platinum offers up to 500K points in rebates per year
  • You need to have the full Amex points for the redemption upfront (based on the rate of one cent per point), and then the 25-35% points rebate will post to your account within 6-10 weeks

There are some major limitations to this deal, but I think it could be a good deal.

The “Pay With Points” feature can come in handy

How not to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points

If you feel good about an award redemption, then that should be enough. I aim to get more than one cent of Amex Membership rewards points. The following redemptions should be avoided.

  • Transferring points to Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy; these programs no doubt offer value in general, but based on the transfer ratio this just doesn’t make sense, as these points are worth less than other currencies on a per-point basis
  • Redeeming points for merchandise, statement credits, etc.; this will get you at most one cent of value per point (and in many cases even less), so you don’t want to redeem that way
  • Redeeming points through Amex Travel toward the cost of hotels, flights, and rental cars; the exception is if you have a card that offers a rebate on “Pay With Points” flight bookings, as that’s the primary way you’ll get more than one cent of value per point with this redemption option
Avoid transferring Amex points to Hilton Honors

Bottom line

The Platinum Card from American Express and the American Express Gold Card are some of the products that people have.

The best way to use your Amex points is to transfer them to more than one partner. Air Canada Aeroplan and All Nippon Airways Mileage Club are my favorite Amex partners, but I also get a lot of value from other partners.

What is your favorite use of the currency?