I have written numerous articles before about using American Express Membership Rewards points and a few pieces on how I value airline miles and hotel points.
I have pulled together both of these strands in this updated article on how to make the best use of your Amex points. It does NOT cover every Membership Rewards redemption but it does cover the bulk of the pseudo-cash, cash and travel options. All that is missing is the various merchandise options and they are generally poor value.
The Amex Membership Rewards website is here if you want to look for yourself at what is available.
Please post below with any comments, observations or anecdotes about your own redemptions.
0.75p – 1.5p per point
Airline miles. My most recent piece on valuing Avios points, based on the post-devaluation numbers, is here. It is impossible to tie down a tighter range because of the number of different airline partners and the various ways (upgrade, long-haul, short-haul, economy, premium) you can redeem.
My personal spreadsheet of the 3.3m Avios I have redeemed since 2013 shows that I got an average value of 1.18p. This based on what I would personally have been prepared to pay for the flights I took, however, which may be far different from what you would have paid.
1p per point (potentially)
Melia Hotel redemptions. You redeem for a voucher for a free night – 14,000 points for Grand Melia down to 5,500 points for a Tryp Hotel. The issue is that ‘Offer runs for limited dates only’ and it is not clear if there is a price cap beyond which vouchers will not be accepted for that night. (Go to the MR website and type ‘Melia’ in the search box to see the options.) You are also limited to a maximum stay of three nights. You can research possible destinations on the Melia website.
1p per point
Club Carlson hotel transfers. I explain my valuation in this article but that does not reflect the July 2015 devaluation which pushed up many top hotels to 70,000 points. That said, you still only need (70,000 / 3) 23,333 Amex points for the most expensive Carlson hotels and if you assume a £250 per night cash cost then 1p per point is still realistic. Club Carlson in the UK covers Radisson Blu, Radisson Edwardian, Park Inn and Park Plaza.
0.75p per point
Starwood Preferred Guest hotel transfers. I explain my valuation in this article. 1.5p per SPG point means, at a 2:1 exchange rate, 0.75p per Amex point. Starwood Preferred Guest points can also be turned into Marriott Rewards points at the ratio of 1:3 and, as I value a Marriott point at 0.5p, this underpins my SPG valuation. Starwood brands include Sheraton, Westin, St Regis, W, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection and Aloft.
0.66p per point
Hilton HHonors hotel transfers. I explain my valuation in this article. Remember that the conversion rate is 1:2 to Hilton. You can do better than this – ‘cash and points’ redemptions with Hilton generally get you nearer to 0.5p per Hilton point which would be 1p per Amex point. Hilton brands also include Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Hampton.
0.5p per point
Retailer gift cards – Starbucks, M&S, Harrods, SpaFinder, iTunes, car hire vouchers etc.
0.5p per point (potential for up to 1p per point)
Value of a Nectar point, given that you can redeem Amex points for Nectar points at a 1:1 ratio. Occasional Nectar redemptions offer better value than this, eg during a ‘double up’ promotion at Sainsbury you would get 1p. Photobox gives 0.6p per Nectar point. Caffe Nero conversions were worth 2p per point in a recent deal but there is a limit to many Caffe Nero visits you could make in the six weeks they were valid! Recent eBay promotions have let you convert Nectar points to eBay credit at 1p per point.
0.5p per point
Approximate value of using your points for Eurostar tickets (15,000 points for Standard, 30,000 for Standard Premier) based on the maximum cash price of tickets which are offered for redemption. This article – which admittedly needs an overhaul – explains more.
0.45p per point
Redeeming for TripFlex statement credit – ie using your points to settle a travel-related charge to your statement. I explain more in this article.
0.45p per point
0.4p per point
Redeeming for American Express statement credit. This is fall back option – there is no excuse for redeeming for anything worse than this ratio.
0.19p – 0.33p per point
Typical merchandise redemptions, e.g. iPaid Mini 4 16GB for 69,170 points (Amazon £317, so 0.46p) or Canon Ixus 275 HS camera for 41,780 points (Amazon £120, so 0.28p). In many cases, you are better off buying the item at Amazon on your Amex card and taking 0.4p per point of statement credit to pay it off.
I hope this gives you some ideas for using your points. If you use them sensibly, the 20,000 points sign-up bonus on the free American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (see review) could be worth £200 – and in the very worst case (taking statement credit) you will still receive £80.
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.