What are American Express points worth?
Researcher, analyst and editor
American Express Membership Rewards points are more valuable than the average rewards point, for a variety of reasons: The points are fairly flexible, with no expiration dates or blackout dates to worry about, you have a plethora of redemption options to choose from, plus American Express has a large list of airline and hotel partners that you can transfer points to at a good value.
American Express points value
The value of Membership Rewards points varies greatly, depending on how you use them. There are a large number redemption options, most of which have a poor value, including cash back redemptions – AmEx gives you a mere 0.6 cent per point for statement credits.
|Redemption option||Point value|
Platinum card airline bonus (one designated airline only)
Rewards portal airfare (except Blue card)
Membership Rewards portal travel rewards (hotels, vacations, cruises) (except
Rewards portal travel with Blue card (including airfare)
||Up to 1 cent
partner (Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Grubhub, Newegg, Rite Aid, Seamless, Staples)
& AXS tickets
|Charity donation||1 cent (up to 500,000 points, 0.5 cent thereafter)
to Schwab account (with Schwab Platinum card)
tax offset fee (for transfer to travel partner)
Airfare redemptions are generally the most valuable option, especially if you take advantage of American Express’ transfer option – you can get more than 2 cents of value per point with certain partners:
|Transfer option||Point value (Includes transfer ratio and excise fee)|
Airways Executive Club
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||0.94 cent|
|Starwood Preferred Guest
|El Israel Airlines||(0.01) cent|
In fact, American Express is rather stingy with travel redemptions through their own site. Most airfare redemptions on the American Express redemption travel portal will only net you 1 cent of value (and points are worth even less if you try to redeem points for other travel options). But, the fact that you can transfer points to a wide list of travel partners gives a substantial boost to Membership Rewards points -- we value them at 1.19 cents on average.
As you can see from the chart below, Membership Rewards points have a fairly high value for a general credit card rewards program. They exceed the value of the average credit card rewards point (which hovers around 1 cent per point), but they’re outmatched by a lot of miles-based rewards programs.
The Membership Rewards program is also bested by the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, which is more flexible on its redemption options and gives you a 25 to 50 percent bonus on your points if you redeem them for travel through one of their premium cards.
Other Advantages of Membership Rewards points:
Membership Rewards points don’t expire
As long as you own at least one Membership Rewards card, you don’t need to worry about your points expiring.
There’s no limit to how many Membership Rewards points you can earn (for the most part)
There’s no cap on the overall number of Membership Rewards points that you can collect (though you may be limited on how many bonus points you can earn on a particular card).
You can redeem Membership Rewards points for a variety of rewards
You can’t complain about a lack of redemption options with the Membership Rewards program. Besides redeeming points for travel, cash back, gift cards and merchandise you have several unique options for redeeming points, including trading them for Uber credits for a decent value of 1 cent per point.
You can transfer Membership Rewards points to most of Amex’s travel partners at a 1:1 rate
American Express’s long list of travel partners is the secret sauce that puts extra oomph into Membership Rewards points – you can transfer your points to most travel partners at 1:1 rate for a good value (though – beware – a few transfer partners have terrible transfer ratios).
Your points pool into a common account
Unlike some competitors (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards), Membership Rewards points aren’t connected to a specific credit card account. All your points pool into a single Membership Rewards account, which makes life a little easier. You don’t have to transfer points from one card to another, nor do you have to worry about shuffling around points if you cancel a card.
Disadvantages of Membership Rewards points:
Watch out for hidden fees
There are a a few fees lurking beneath the surface of the Membership Rewards program. Booking airfare through the American Express travel portal will cost you ($6.99 for a domestic plane ticket and $10.99 for an international plane ticket), and booking through the phone will cost you even more -- $39 per reservation. Also, you have to pay a 0.06 cent per point excise fee (up to $99) for transferring points to one of Amex’s travel partners – it’s a small fee, but you should factor it into the overall value of your transfer.
Most redemption options (including cash back) have a poor value
The Membership Rewards program really falls short on its cash back redemption option – you get a very low value of 0.6 cent per point when you redeem points for statement credits. This really cuts into the flexibility of the Membership Rewards program – you’re stuck redeeming points for travel (or a few other options) if you don’t want to lose a huge chunk of value on your points.
There’s a minimum threshold to redeem points
You can’t just redeem your points any time you please. You have to wait until you have a sufficient number of points to redeem them – 1,000 points for a statement credit or transfer to a travel partner, and 5,000 points for flights. These aren’t difficult thresholds to reach, but this does further limit the program’s flexibility.
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