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How to use your Amex Platinum points for a summer vacation

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Sully Sullivan/Bankrate
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Sully Sullivan/Bankrate
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If you’re sitting on a stash of American Express points from The Platinum Card® from American Express, this summer is the perfect time to use them. Whether you’re organizing a family vacation, upgrading your honeymoon or simply jetting off to a new destination, knowing how to redeem your Amex points can give you exciting summer getaway opportunities.

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.

Transfer Amex reward points to partners for flights

With a myriad of airline transfer partners, it’s easy to get the maximum value out of your Amex points by transferring them to airline loyalty programs.

Here is the full list of Amex airline transfer partners: Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, ANA, Avianca, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Hawaiian, Iberia, JetBlue, Qantas, Singapore and Virgin Atlantic. Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses which offer an additional percentage of points when you move them to a specific partner.

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

Choose best-value transfers

Being strategic about transferring your Amex points can get you more bang for your buck. If you’re willing to explore several options for booking the same trip, you may 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.
award chart
  • 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 22,000 miles one-way in economy/44,000 miles one-way in business on Royal Air Maroc.
  • If you’ve got your eye on Asia, transfer points to ANA to fly from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo for 30,000 points in economy or 54,000 points in business one-way for a summer vacation in Asia.

Use Insider Fares on Amex Travel to book flights

You can always use your points to book fares via Amex Travel. Although it may not provide the best value, it’s easier than understanding the ins and outs of transfer partners, especially for beginners.

And, Platinum cardholders have access to special Insider Fares when paying with points. 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.

Finally, Platinum cardholders can select a U.S.-based airline (Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest or United) within their Amex account to get up to a $200 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.

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 way to use 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 amenity credit worth $100. And, Platinum cardholders who book Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or Hotel Collection properties with cash get a $200 statement credit.

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 Maui Kapalua by May 31, 2022 for five-night (or more) stays through Dec. 17, 2022, get a $500 property credit in addition to the regular Fine Hotels & Resorts perks.

 

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Use Amex travel to book cruises and car rentals

Cruises

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. The Platinum card also gives cardholders Hertz Gold Plus Reward status, which offers discounts and upgrades.

Upgrade your trip

Flight upgrades using Amex points

Make sure your booking is on one of the airlines that Amex allows upgrades. Upgrade your flight by logging into Amex, then clicking in the upper left-hand corner on the menu button. Look for Rewards and then Membership Rewards Home. Then, click ‘Book or Upgrade Travel.’ On the next screen, click ‘Explore Upgrades.’ Enter your booking code and last name to see if your booking is eligible (some flights might not be).

upgrading a flight

Lounge access

The Amex Platinum offers cardholders access to the Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges and the Priority Pass Lounge network, among others, when traveling.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck

Make your trip even easier by using your $100 statement credit when applying for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Written by
Lori Zaino
Contributor
Lori Zaino is a contributor to Bankrate who is a freelance editor, writer and travel expert quoted in publications like Travel & Leisure and Time. Bilingual in Spanish, she's been living in Spain for more than a decade, but still prefers writing about topics like travel, finance, wellness, beauty and lifestyle in her native English.
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