When it comes to earning travel rewards with a credit card, there are plenty of strategies to consider. You can opt for a hotel credit card that lets you earn rewards in a hotel loyalty program, or you can choose an airline credit card that lets you rack up miles for flights. However, there’s also another option that brings a lot more flexibility to the table — you can sign up for a flexible rewards credit card that lets you cash in your points in more than one way.
The American Express Membership Rewards program is an option in this category, and it’s easily one of the most popular. Not only can you cash in your points for statement credits, gift cards and merchandise, but you can redeem them directly for travel and transfer your points to Amex airline and hotel partners.
If you’re considering an American Express credit card and you want some options when it comes to redeeming your rewards, Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points should be on your list. This guide goes over all the different ways you can cash them in, including transfer partners, so keep reading to learn more.
Redeeming through Amex Membership Rewards
Before we dive into how to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points, it’s important to understand how you earn them in the first place. The following chart highlights the top cards that let you earn points in this program:
|Card name||Rewards rate||New cardmember offer||Annual fee|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x points on dining worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1x); also earn 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel.com||Earn 35,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening||$250|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x points on airfare and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com and airfare booked directly with airlines; 1x points on other purchases||Earn 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening||$550|
|American Express® Green Card||3x points on eligible travel; 3x points at restaurants worldwide||Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after making $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months||$150|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Earn 2x points on up to $50,000 in spending each year, then 1x points||None||$0|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card*||Earn 3x points on supermarkets for up to $6,000/year in purchases (then 1x points); 2x points on U.S. gas stations; 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases
Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on eligible purchases
|15,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months||$95|
|Amex EveryDay® Credit Card*||Earn 2x points on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. grocery stores each year (then 1x points) and 1x points on other purchases; also earn 20% bonus rewards each billing period you make at least 20 purchases with your credit card||10,000 points when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening||$0|
*The information about the Amex EveryDay Credit Card and the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
To redeem your American Express Membership Rewards points, all you have to do is log into your account at americanexpress.com. From there, you can click on “Explore Rewards” and see all the options available to you.
Non-travel redemption options include covering charges on your credit card or redeeming for gift cards or merchandise through American Express. You can also pay with points at checkout with retailers like Amazon.com and GrubHub. Generally speaking, you’ll get less than one cent per point in value for each of these options, although exact redemption amounts vary.
With some gift cards, for example, you’ll pay 1,176 points for a $10 gift card or 2,941 points for a $25 gift card. However, even redemption amounts vary for gift cards depending on the retailer you choose.
If you want to cash in your points for travel, you can do so through AmexTravel.com. This travel website works similarly to Expedia.com since it lets you compare all kinds of travel — airfare, hotels, travel packages, rental cars and cruises — in one place.
You can pay with American Express Membership Rewards points and get one cent per point in value for airfare (and slightly less for hotels and other travel), but you can also book travel through this portal with cash. If you’re short on points for the redemption you want, you can also pay with a combination of points and cash. Just keep in mind that you need a minimum of 5,000 American Express Membership Rewards points in our account in order to pay with points.
American Express transfer partners — how to get the most value
All American Express credit cards that let you earn American Express Membership Rewards points let you transfer those points to airline and hotel partners if you choose. Transfer ratios vary, although most partners let you transfer at a 1,000:1,000 ratio.
With that in mind, some partners may work better than others for you, but it all depends on your travel goals and preferences. Here’s a rundown of each of the Amex transfer partners, what points are worth in each program based on valuations from The Points Guy, and a few ways to use them.
Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Aer Lingus at a 1,000:1,000 ratio, and they’re typically worth around 1.5 cents each. Redemptions vary, but many people use this partner to fly from the East Coast of the U.S. to Europe, with off-peak flights from Boston to Dublin for 13,000 avios and no fuel surcharges.
Also note that Aer Lingus is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can earn points in that program, too.
You can turn 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 1,600 miles with AeroMexico, and you can use these rewards in more ways than you think. For example, you could fly round-trip to or from Mexico to Asia in economy for 124,000 miles during low season, or from Mexico to the United States in Premier Class (business class) for 104,000 miles round-trip during low season.
Air Canada (Aeroplan)
Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance, and they publish an award chart that makes it easy to know how many miles you’ll need for a flight. Some of the highlights in their award chart include round-trip economy flights from Canada or the continental United States to Europe for 60,000 to 75,000 miles depending on the zone, and you can fly short haul flights within Canada and the U.S. for as little as 15,000 miles round-trip in economy.
Aeroplan miles are worth approximately 1.5 cents each.
Air France / Flying Blue
Air France doesn’t have an award chart, but this partner frequently offers round-trip flights from the U.S. to various European destinations for less than 25,000 miles one-way. Since Air France is a SkyTeam Alliance partner with Delta Air Lines, you can often cash in your Flying Blue miles to fly on Delta metal for a lot fewer miles than you would fork over within the Delta SkyMiles program.
Miles in this program are typically worth around 1.2 cents each, but it depends on how you redeem them.
While Alitalia recently announced its entry into bankruptcy protection, they’re still an Amex transfer partner for now. They’re also a good option for flights within Italy, with one-way economy fares costing just 10,000 miles. You can also fly from the continental United States, Canada, Cuba, India or Mexico in economy for 30,000 miles one-way or 60,000 miles round-trip.
Miles within the ANA Mileage Club are worth approximately 1.4 cents each, and they’re best for a wide range of itineraries that start or end in Japan. Some highlights in the ANA award chart include low season flights from Japan to Hawaii starting at just 35,000 miles round-trip, as well as round-trip low season flights to North America starting at just 40,000 miles.
Asia Miles are worth approximately 1.3 cents each, and their distance-based award chart means you’ll fork over more miles when you travel further from home. While you can get creative with this program and fly all around the world if you want, many people save up these miles in order to fly Cathay Pacific from the U.S. to Asia in First Class for just 110,000 miles one-way, provided the distance is 5,001 to 7,500 miles.
Options within this range could include Hong Kong to Seattle or San Francisco, for example.
Avianca LifeMiles are worth approximately 1.7 cents each, and this partner doesn’t charge any fuel surcharges on their flights, which is a major plus. Some of the popular ways to redeem miles in this program include flying Lufthansa First Class to Europe for 87,000 miles, or flying First Class on United Airlines across the United States for 25,000 miles.
British Airways avios are worth around 1.5 cents each, but the value you’ll receive for your redemption depends on the exact flight you book. This partner does have off-peak and peak rates that can help you save avios by flying outside of peak travel times.
Many frequent flyers use these miles to fly short distances on American Airlines, a oneworld alliance partner. Flights to the Caribbean from the U.S. are also a popular option considering you could fly from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas or Montego Bay, Jamaica for just 7,500 avios one-way.
Delta SkyMiles is a popular frequent flyer program, yet it’s another one where you don’t know how many miles you’ll need for a flight. However, Delta SkyMiles are normally worth around 1.2 cents each.
You can frequently find round-trip domestic flights for less than 25,000 miles, however, and round-trip economy flights to Europe from many U.S. cities can often be found for less than 60,000 miles. Since Delta has their own co-branded airline credit cards, many consumers also pair Amex credit cards with Delta credit cards in order to rack up more miles over time.
El Al Israel Airlines
You can transfer 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards to El Al Israel, then wind up with 20 miles in this program. That may not sound like a lot, but you can fly from Israel to cities like Athens, Greece or Budapest, Hungary for as little as 200 miles plus $40 to $80 USD.
Emirates Skywards miles are worth approximately 1.2 cents each, and this is another popular Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner as of last year. While flights can cost a ton of miles, Emirates is well known for being one of the most luxurious airlines in the world.
As an example of how many miles you’ll need for a flight, you can redeem 72,500 miles to fly in economy from New York to Dubai, or as little as 217,500 miles to fly the same route in First Class.
Etihad Guest miles are worth around 1.4 cents each, and you can use them for flights on various partners to most major destinations around the world. In terms of how many miles you’ll need, you could fly from Abu Dhabi to New York for 115,363 miles in economy round-trip, or in First Class for 272,180 miles.
HawaiianMiles are currently worth around .9 cents each, but they can represent significant value for flights from the U.S. to Hawaii or within the islands themselves. Neighbor island flights start at just 7,500 miles one-way in economy or 15,000 miles in First Class. You can also fly from North America to Hawaiian destinations like Maui or Kauai in First Class for as little as 40,000 miles one-way.
Iberia avios are worth 1.5 cents each, any many people maximize them for flights within or to Europe, and particularly to Spain. You can frequently fly from cities like New York to Madrid for 34,000 avios one-way, or from New York to Barcelona for as little as 37,000 miles one-way.
When you transfer points to JetBlue you’ll get 200 miles for every 250 Membership Rewards points you transfer over. These miles are worth around 1.3 cents each, and although JetBlue doesn’t offer an award chart, they do offer excellent redemption options for the destinations they visit within the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico and Central America.
One-way flights within the U.S. frequently come in at less than 10,000 miles, and you can also find one-way flights to the Caribbean (or home) for less than 15,000 miles one-way.
Qantas is the main airline of Australia, and their award flights are priced by zone. This means that you’ll pay a specific number of miles based on the zone you’re flying into and out of, and these zones are largely determined based on distance and the number of miles flown.
As an example of how many miles you’ll need for an award, a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia might set you back 41,900 miles in economy or 108,400 miles in business class. A flight within Australia, such as Perth to Sydney, might cost as little as 18,000 miles in economy or 41,500 miles in business class one-way.
The Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program lets you visit a surprising number of destinations outside of Singapore, and miles are worth approximately 1.3 cents each. Highlights in their award chart include flights from Singapore to Europe or the west coast of the USA for 70,000 miles in economy. A one-way flight from Singapore to the west coast of the USA in Business Advantage class also starts at just 125,000 miles.
Virgin Atlantic miles are worth around 1.6 cents each, and you can use them to move from the United Kingdom to various destinations around the globe. An economy flight from the northeastern U.S. to the U.K. starts at just 20,000 miles in economy round-trip, but the same flight in Upper Class starts at just 95,000 miles.
Just beware of carrier-imposed fuel surcharges from this airline, which can be well over $1,000 for premium cabins and hundreds of dollars even for economy awards.
Choice Privileges Rewards
Choice Privileges points are only worth .6 cents each, but hotel loyalty points tend to be worth less than airline miles. Either way, you can turn 1,000 Membership Rewards points into 1,000 points in this program, and free nights start at just 8,000 points.
When you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to the Hilton Honors program, you’ll get 2,000 Hilton points for every 1,000 Amex points you transfer. These points are also worth approximately .6 cents each on average, and you can use them to stay at more than 5,900 properties around the world.
Hilton no longer uses an award chart, but you can frequently find mid-tier hotels for 30,000 to 60,000 points per night, and their top tier properties tend to cost around 95,000 points per night. This means that you could stay at a property like the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for this rate, and don’t forget that Hilton offers their own co-branded credit cards with American Express that can help you enjoy elite status and other perks. Hilton also offers a 5th night free when you book four consecutive nights with points and you’re a Silver member or higher.
Marriott Bonvoy points are worth slightly more at .8 cents each, and this brand does offer an award chart that makes it easy to know how many points you’ll need for a free stay. Off-peak awards start at just 5,000 points per night in Category 1 properties, yet you’ll need as many as 100,000 points for a peak night award in a Category 8 property. Also remember that you’ll get a 5th night free when you redeem points for four consecutive nights.
How does this translate into the real world? This means you could redeem as little as 35,000 points per night to stay at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, which could mean staying five nights for just 140,000 points.