If you’re looking for the best way to use Amex points to purchase goods or services, you may want to consider redeeming them for a gift card, as many major retailers offer 1 cent per point. However, if you’re truly looking to get the most out of your points, you’ll want to consider transferring your points to one of the American Express airline or hotel partners, which frequently offer a point-to-point exchange rate, with some even transferring for more.
When it comes to points, American Express credit cards are a frequent favorite. They have a robust rewards program that offers cardholders the option to redeem points for everything from gift cards and online purchases to hotel stays and airline tickets. Like many other credit cards, American Express also offers a cash back option, but is redeeming American express credit card points for cash worth it?
While some cards make that point to cash conversion worth it, American Express cardholders may want to think twice before they make the leap from points to dollars.
7 Best Ways to Use Amex Points
Redeeming for Cash Back
Currently, American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for a mere 0.6 cents per point, making it one of the worst returns in the American Express Rewards program as well as among other rewards programs. However, if you are in need of cash it could be a useful way to get some quickly without any strings attached.
Redeeming for Gift Cards
Rewards points can be used to purchase a variety of gift cards, including those for retail, dining, entertainment, travel, and air and lodging as well as American Express gift cards. Though the value of those points can fluctuate based on the retailer, many, like Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, Gap brands, and Enterprise, come in at 1 cent per point (e.g., 2,500 points for $25).
Others, however, can be substantially lower. That’s particularly true for hotel gift cards, where a $100 gift card frequently converts at 0.6 cents per point. Take, for example, a $100 Four Seasons Hotel gift card, which requires members to part with 14,286 points. The same is true for American Express Gift Cards, which will require users to spend 10,000 points for a $50 gift card (0.5 cents per point).
If you are planning on using your points for gift cards, keep an eye out for promotions and deals, which run frequently for select retailers and can increase point value.
Redeeming to Shop
Cardholders can use their points to shop for thousands of goods and services provided by over 50 American Express Shopping partners, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Apple. Unfortunately, like some gift cards, the redemption rate is typically 0.5 cents per point. Even the occasional promotion (e.g., 25% off select items) makes it hard to part with points when the conversion value is so low, and you can often find better deals in-store through coupons, promos, or price matches.
Redeeming for Uber
In the past, American Express cardholders were able to redeem their points for Uber rides, with one point equal to one cent (they also earned 2x points for using their card to book Uber rides). That strong partnership is a thing of the past, and cardholders can only redeem points for Uber rides by using the “Points for Your Charges” option after the Uber purchase posts to their statement. When redeemed in this manner, the point value is only 0.6 cents per point.
Redeeming for Travel
American Express has an easy-to-use travel portal, and there is a plethora of ways cardholders can use their points; however, the point value will differ by card type. Points accrued on basic cards, like the American Express EveryDay card, will typically convert at 0.5 cents per point, while some of the elite cards may offer 1 cent per point.
Transferring to Airline Partners
Transferring points to one of the American Express airline partners represents one of the best ways to secure the maximum conversion value. Many airline partners, including Delta, ANA, and Air Canada (a Star Alliance Member) offer a 1:1 conversion rate, and occasional promotions can increase that rate. That’s the case for a recent British Airways promotion, which allowed cardholders to use 1,000 points to secure 1,400 of the airline’s points (Avios).
Here are the companies American Express has partnered with:
- Birtish Airways
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- Iberia Plus
- All Nippon Airways
- Delta SkyMiles
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Emirates Skywards
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- Asia Miles
- Etihad Guest
- Flying Blue
- Virgin Atlantic
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Hilton Honors
- Choice Privileges
- Starwood Preferred Guest
Transferring to Hotel Partners
Another great way to secure the maximum point redemption value is by transferring points to American Express hotel partners. Both Choice Privileges (Cambria, Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge, etc.) and Marriott, which now includes the Ritz Carlton and SPG properties, offer a 1:1 transfer rate. Additionally, Hilton, which includes Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites, Hampton, etc., is currently offering an enticing 1:2 transfer rate.
When it comes to making the most out of those hard-earned Membership Rewards points, you may want to avoid the cash back route, which offers a significantly lower return when compared to other rewards redemption options.
If you’re not a frequent traveler, then look into the gift card purchase options, though that’s still only a minimal increase. Otherwise, your best bet is to transfer your points to the participating airline or hotel group of your choice.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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