American Express Membership Rewards can be redeemed for travel, shopping, or through transfers to travel partners. The flexibility of these rewards makes them an important tool for a points & miles enthusiast. But the fact that you can only earn the sign-up bonus once per lifetime on each American Express Card makes it even more important to get the best value out of your Membership Rewards.
Which Cards Earn Membership Rewards
The following personal and business cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points:
American Express Green Card
Amex EveryDay Credit Card
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
Blue from American Express
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express
Premier Rewards Gold Card
Blue Business Plus Credit Card
Green Business Rewards Card
Gold Business Rewards Card
Platinum Business Card
Membership Rewards Redemption Options
Membership Rewards offers three main ways to redeem your points: travel, shopping, or transfer to travel partners. The method you chose for redeeming Membership Rewards points determines how much value you get out of your points.
First, when you redeem your Membership Rewards points for travel through AmexTravel.com, points are worth between .75 for hotels and 1 cent for airfare.
Second, Membership Rewards offers a number of redemption options for shopping and statement credits. The point value for these options varies between .5 cent and 1 cent.
Finally, when you redeem your Membership Rewards by transferring them to travel partners there’s no telling what your points will be worth. Some websites value them as high as 1.9 cents; some value them as low as 1.2 cents. In my experience, I’ve redeemed them for an average of 1.9 cents by transferring to travel partners. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary.
Redeeming Membership Rewards through AmexTravel.com
With AmexTravel.com, you can book practically anything including cruise, flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. The downside of booking through AmexTravel.com is that most hotels won’t recognize your status, but some will let you add your loyalty number upon check-in. While this is an easy way to redeem your points, they are only worth 1 cent for airfare and .75 cents for hotels. To redeem for travel, you must use a minimum of 5,000 Membership Rewards points. This is not a very good way to redeem Membership Rewards points. However, if you have the Business Platinum Card, you can redeem points with an airline and receive 35% of your points back. In that scenario, this might be a worthwhile way to redeem Membership Rewards points. Also, keep in mind that the rates offered on the Amex Travel portal are not always the lowest when compared to other discount booking portals.
Redeeming Membership Rewards for Shopping or Statement Credits
Membership Rewards can be redeemed for shopping through Amazon, the Membership Rewards online shopping mall, purchasing gift cards, or rides with Uber. Since the redemption value can be as low as .5 cents, this is typically not a great way to redeem Membership Rewards points. They can also be used for statement credits, but qualifying charges frequently change. When used this way, Membership Rewards are worth about .6 cents. This is also not a great way to redeem Membership Rewards points.
Redeeming Membership Rewards by Transfer to Travel Partners
Depending on which travel partner you chose and how you redeem them, this is the best way to redeem Membership Rewards points. Currently, Membership Rewards has the following 19 travel partners:
All Nippon Airways
El Al Israel Airlines
Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Starwood Preferred Guest
Some of these partners are better than others when it comes to getting the best value out of your points. Not all transfer ratios are 1:1. Some are worse like JetBlue with a ratio of 250 Membership Rewards to 200 TrueBlue Points. Some are better like 1000 Membership Rewards to 2000 Hilton Honors Points. American Express does occasionally run bonuses with increased transfer ratios. This may get you a higher point value from a bad transfer partner. Again, the value of your points will vary depending on the travel partner and your redemption. But, you can easily obtain a value of higher than the max of 1 cent that you’ll get through the previous options I’ve discussed.
Final Thoughts on Redeeming Membership Rewards Points
You can get amazing value out of Membership Rewards points because they have some great transfer partners. Again, you can only earn a sign-up bonus once per lifetime with American Express cards. This means you should wait for an elevated sign-up bonus to apply for any Membership Rewards card. And, you should always search for the best possible way to use Membership Rewards before you redeem them.