Key takeaways

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express offers cardholders money- and time-saving benefits before your trip even starts.
  • Strategically redeeming your rewards — especially when transferring them to airline partners — can yield the best redemption rates.
  • Take full advantage of various statement credits to maximize the value of your Platinum card.

If you’re sitting on a stash of American Express points or want to spend the new cardmember bonus you earned with The Platinum Card® from American Express, the perfect time to use them is when you’re booking your summer travel plans. Organize a family getaway, upgrade your honeymoon or simply experience the world from a new destination. Whatever your summer vacation entails, Amex Platinum could help you maximize your fun in the sun.

Here are some of the best ways to use your American Express Membership Rewards and take advantage of key Platinum perks for an unforgettable summer vacation.

Start your vacation off right

Having a good vacation begins before your plane takes off, and your Platinum card benefits can come in handy even then. As you’re making plans, use the Amex concierge service to book dining reservations, buy exclusive event tickets or schedule a day at the spa without added hassle.

Once you make it to the airport, check in to one of the Centurion Lounges while you wait for your flight. Start your trip in a quiet comfortable lounge with complimentary food, drinks and other amenities to help you start your trip on the right foot. As a Platinum Card member, you have unlimited complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, which includes over 1,400 airport lounges in 140 countries.

Transfer Amex reward points to partners for flights

The best way to maximize the value of your Amex points is by transferring them to airline loyalty programs, and there are myriad to choose from. That means you’ll save on flights and get access to more route options.

Plus you could travel farther on your Membership Rewards points by taking advantage of available transfer bonuses through certain airlines. Most transfer partners offer at least a 1:1 redemption ratio, but some airlines offer bonuses of 10 to 50 percent more points when you transfer your Amex points to their frequent flyer programs to book your flight.

Here is the full list of Amex airline transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • AeroMexico
  • AeroPlan
  • Air France KLM
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plue
  • JetBlue Trueblue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Remember, once you’ve transferred your points, you can’t turn them back into Amex Membership Rewards points, so have a plan before moving them.

Choose best-value transfers

Being strategic when transferring your Amex points can get you more bang for your buck. Membership Rewards points are worth about 2.0 cents each, according to Bankrate valuations, but the value you get will ultimately depend on how (and even when) you transfer them. If you’re willing to explore several options for booking the same trip, you could save big.

  • For international flights to Europe in style, transfer points to Virgin Atlantic to fly Delta, which can offer a higher value than transferring them directly to Delta SkyMiles. If you travel during Virgin’s off-peak, standard dates (June 6-17), you’ll pay just 47,500 Virgin points for Delta One business class from the central U.S. or east coast to the U.K. one way. Routes to other European destinations cost 50,000 points in Delta One business one-way. For short-haul economy Delta flights within the U.S., 500-mile routes start at 7,500 Virgin points and 8,500 for 10,000-mile routes.

screenshot of delta rewards
Screenshot from Virgin Atlantic provided by Seychelle Thomas
Image source: Virgin Atlantic 

  • If you’ve got your eye on Hawaii, skip transfers to Hawaiian Airlines. Instead, transfer Amex points to British Airways and use BA Avios to fly to the islands from the west coast on American or Alaska Airlines for as low as 13,000 Avios one-way in economy.
  • If you’d prefer a summer escape to Africa, transfer points to Etihad to fly from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN) for 45,000 miles one-way in economy/80,000 miles one-way in business on Royal Air Maroc.
  • Considering an Asian adventure? Transfer points to ANA to fly from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo for 32,500 points in economy or 55,000 points in business one-way for a summer vacation in Japan.

Use Insider Fares on Amex Travel to book flights

If you don’t fully understand the ins and outs of using your Amex Platinum for travel booking with transfer partners, you can always use your points to book fares through Amex Travel. Although it may not provide the best redemption value, for many people it’s easier to grasp than transferring points. Plus, Platinum cardholders earn five points per dollar spent on flights booked with the portal or directly through airlines (up to $500,000 spent annually).

Platinum cardholders have access to special Insider Fares when paying with points. Log into your account and use the booking tool to search for flights. Then use the filter to the left of the search results to highlight “Insider Fares.” Don’t forget that you can earn frequent flyer miles on tickets purchased with points via the Amex Travel Portal.

Keep in mind, you’ll only see Insider Fares if you have enough Membership Rewards points to cover the full cost of the fare, otherwise, you’ll only see standard rewards rates. That could be a bummer if you were reserving those points for other plans or wanted to pay for part of the trip in cash.

Finally, Platinum cardholders should remember to pre-select an airline for up to $200 annual statement credit to offset charges like baggage fees, seat fees, lounge day passes or inflight amenity/food/beverage fees when paying with your Amex Platinum card. Platinum cardholders can select Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines or United Airlines for their credit.

Use Amex Reward points to book hotels

Transfer to hotel programs

Amex has just three hotel transfer partners: Hilton, Marriott and Choice Privileges. When booking, compare redemption rates to hotels on Amex Travel to ensure you get the best rate possible. Transferring your Amex points to hotel programs isn’t the best value for your points, but if you really need to use them for hotels, find the redemption you want before transferring.

  • Rewards points transfer at a 1:2 ratio for Hilton. Even though you get double the points, Hilton points rates are usually inflated, so it doesn’t always work out in your favor. However, you can get the fifth night free on awards stays, and the Platinum card also gives you gold status within the Hilton program, which offers benefits like upgrades and breakfast credits.
  • Marriott transfers have a ratio of 1:1. So it might be best to save your Amex points for other uses unless you need to top off your Marriott account. However, the Platinum card does give you Bonvoy gold status, which gives you perks like late checkout and upgrades. And you get the fifth night free when paying with points.
  • Amex points transfer at 1:1 for Choice Privileges. These properties (think Comfort Inns and Cambria) aren’t luxury hotels but are a solid option when cash rates for accommodation in expensive cities like London or Manhattan are high.

Use the Amex Travel Portal to book Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

Using the Amex Travel Portal for hotels isn’t always the best deal. But booking hotels in the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio does come with additional perks, like room upgrades (when available), daily breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, noon check-in (when available) and complimentary Wi-Fi and a property experience credit worth $100. Plus, Platinum cardholders who book Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or Hotel Collection properties with cash get up to $200 statement credit annually (two-night minimum required for Hotel Collection stays).

Don’t forget to check your Amex Offers, which may feature statement credits or discounts for booking specific hotel brands like Hilton Mexico or Kimpton properties. Keep an eye on the Amex Travel homepage for additional hotel offers, too. Currently, thanks to a special promotion, Platinum cardholders that book the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman between Jan. 1, 2024 and May 27, 2024 for at least a four-night stay between Jan. 16, 2024 and May 31, 2024, get a $400 property credit in addition to the regular Fine Hotels & Resorts perks.

screenshot of ritz carlton booking
Screenshot provided by Seychelle Thomas

Use Amex travel to book cruises and car rentals


Booking cruises using the Pay With Points feature of Amex Travel isn’t the most lucrative option. You’ll get a fixed value of .7 cents per point, and it’s best to extract a value of at least 1 or 2 cents per point. But, you may earn perks like statement credits or discounts depending on current promotions, which vary by cruise and cruise line.

Car rentals

You can use the Pay with Points feature when booking prepaid car rentals through Amex Travel, though it’s not the best-value use of your points unless you’ve enrolled in a membership account with a specific rental car company. The Platinum card gives cardholders Hertz Gold Plus Reward status, which offers discounts and upgrades. You’ll also find special offers and discounts when you have a linked membership account through Avis or National, which could earn you free rental days or upgrades.

When booking a rental car through Amex Travel, log into your account, select the travel option at the top of the page, then select “book a trip”. When selecting the dates and location for your trip make sure to choose the cars option. The search will pull up available rental cars matching your criteria and you’ll see the total monetary price and the price with Membership Rewards Points underneath.


screenshot of car rentals from American Express
Screenshot from American Express provided by Seychelle Thomas

Image source: American Express

You can use the Pay with Points feature when booking prepaid car rentals through Amex Travel, though it’s not the best-value use of your points. The Platinum card also gives cardholders Hertz Gold Plus Reward status, which offers discounts and upgrades.

Star Alt

Keep in mind: If you’re traveling within the United States and renting a car isn’t the ideal choice for your travel plans, you could use the $200 Uber cash benefit to cover some of your rideshare transportation costs through Uber. However this only covers $15 per month (and $35 in December) and doesn’t roll over from month to month – making it a small discount on your transportation. .

Upgrade your trip

Flight upgrades using Amex points

When booking travel on your Amex Platinum, make sure it’s on one of the airlines that Amex allows upgrades. After you’ve booked a flight through Amex Travel, you’ll have the option to upgrade if you booked with an eligible airline.

After logging into Amex Travel, upgrade your flight by selecting your flight or providing the reservation details and selecting the option to explore upgrades. From there you’ll see the option to pay the monetary value of the upgrade or paying with Membership Rewards. You may also have the option to bid for an upgrade which allows you to submit an offer to the airline and they have the choice to accept or decline your offer. Not all flights booked through Amex Travel are eligible for upgrade, so you won’t see the option to upgrade your flight if it’s not eligible.

Lounge access

Amex Platinum offers cardholders access to the Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges and the Priority Pass Select network, among others, when traveling. Depending on the lounge, you can enjoy complimentary food and beverages, Wi-Fi and other premium amenities.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and CLEAR

Make your check in process at the airport smoother by signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. American Express provides a $100 statement credit for Global Entry every four years or up to $85 every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck, which covers the full application fee for either.

Platinum cardholders are also eligible for up to $189 in statement credit annually for your Clear Plus membership. This membership, combined with TSA Precheck (which is included with Global Entry), could make your airport security process a breeze.

The bottom line

No matter where you choose to travel this summer, booking with your Amex Platinum or using points earned with that card for summer travel can save you money and make planning easier. When you take full advantage of the statement credit opportunities, airport lounge access, transfer bonuses and Insider Fares, you’ll make the annual fee worth it and create summer traveling memories you aren’t soon to forget.