As highlighted in Travel Hacking 101: Miles vs. Points (and Cashback), there are four transferable point currencies:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
- American Express Membership Rewards (MR)
- Citi Thank You Points (TYP)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)
In this second post, I’ll highlight AMEX Membership Rewards.
American Express Membership Rewards (MR)
Membership Rewards are earned from a variety of different American Express cards. Some examples are the: AMEX EveryDay, AMEX Premier Rewards Gold, and AMEX Platinum.
Using for Statement Credits
Similar to the UR program, you can redeem MR against charges on your cards, but instead of getting 1 cent per point. You will only get 0.6 cents per point. For instance, credit for a $10 charge would cost you ~1,667 points. This is not good value for MR.
Using for Gift Cards
You can also redeem your MR for certain gift cards to retail shops, restaurants, and other stores. You will get 1.25 cents per point for this redemption. Say you want a $100 gift card to Regal Theaters, it’ll cost you 8,000 MR. Not bad, but not great.
Using AMEX Travel Portal
You can use your MR to pay for flights and hotels at 1 cent per point. However, one of the best uses of Membership Rewards is accessible if you the AMEX Business Platinum. The Business Platinum card gives you a 50% rebate on MR spent on flights. For instance, if a flight costs $200 and you pay 20,000 MR. You’ll receive a rebate of 10,000 MR. This basically makes MR worth 2 cents per point. That’s great value!
Using for Airlines/Hotels
Last, but not least, you can transfer your MR to their travel partners:
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Asia Miles
- British Airways (1:1.25)
- Iberia (1:1.25)
- JetBlue (1:1.25)
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin America (1:2)
- Virgin Atlantic
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton HHonors (1.5:1)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (1:3)
As you can see, MR has many more options when it comes to travel partners. However, it is worth noting that not all of them are 1 MR = 1 mile/point. Some of them have unfavorable ratios like JetBlue where it takes 1,250 MR to get 1,000 JetBlue miles. American Express often runs promotions that increase the transfer ratio, which can be nice.
Unlike the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, most of the MR-earning cards (even the ones with no annual fee) allow you to transfer to travel partners. By transferring points to these travel partners and booking awards through their respective loyalty programs, you can get a lot of value per point.