BA sale

What is the best use of American Express Membership Rewards points?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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 2018 article on how to make the best use of your Amex Membership Rewards points.  It does NOT cover every Membership Rewards redemption but it does cover the bulk of the pseudo-cash, cash and travel options.

The Amex Membership Rewards website is here if you want to look for yourself at what is available.

This article was updated in October 2019.

Best use of American Express Membership Rewards points

0.75p – 1.5p per point (my target)

Airline milesMy last piece on valuing Avios points is here and Amex points transfer into Avios at 1:1.  This is why the sign-up bonuses, such as 10,000 points for taking out the free (in Year 1) Amex Gold, are so valuable.

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.  Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 to Avios, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Finnair, Flying Blue and SAS.

My personal spreadsheet of the last 6.8m Avios I have redeemed shows that I got an average value of 1.2p.  This is 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 been prepared to pay.  My best redemptions – such a recent 50,000 Singapore Airlines miles business class return redemption on SWISS from the UK to Dubai – far exceeded this.

1p per point (my target)

Radisson Rewards hotel transfers.  I explain my valuation in this article and the conversion rate is a generous 1 Amex point to 3 Radisson Rewards points.  You need (70,000 / 3) 23,333 Amex points for the most expensive hotels and if you assume a £250 per night cash cost then 1p per point is still realistic.  At the bottom end, 15,000 Radisson points (5,000 Amex points) gets you a budget UK Park Inn hotel which is likely to cost £50+, justifying 1p per Amex point.  Radisson Rewards in the UK covers Radisson Blu, Radisson Edwardian, Park Inn and Park Plaza.

0.75p per point (my target)

Marriott Bonvoy hotel transfers.  Amex points convert at 2:3 into the new Marriott Bonvoy programme.  It is currently very easy to get 0.5p per Marriott Bonvoy point although, now that peak pricing has been introduced, I am keeping an eye on my valuation.  A recent Paris redemption got me a £250 room for 40,000 points, whilst over the ITB travel show last March I booked the excellent Berlin Marriott for 35,000 points at a time when cash rates were €450.

0.5p per Marriott Bonvoy point means, at a 2:3 exchange rate from Membership Rewards, 0.75p per Membership Rewards point.  You now have a whopping 30 hotel brands inside the new combined Marriott / Starwood business to redeem at, including Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, W, Marriott, Autograph, Design Hotels, The Luxury Collection, The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis etc etc.

0.66p per point (my target)

Hilton Honors hotel transfers.  Hilton has moved closer to a revenue-based redemption model in recent years, although you can get still outsized value at times.  Remember that the conversion rate is 1:2 to Hilton which is how I get to 0.66p per Amex point.  Hilton brands include Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Hampton.

Club Eurostar points.  I value a Club Eurostar point at 10p, assuming you value a standard class return at £100 and a Standard Premier return at £200.  The 15:1 transfer rate into Club Eurostar means you are getting 0.66p per point.

0.5p per point (guaranteed, as you are getting pseudo-cash)

Retailer gift cards – Starbucks, M&S, Harrods, SpaFinder, iTunes, car hire vouchers etc.  20,000 Amex points will get you a £100 shopping voucher, for example.

0.5p per point (guaranteed, as you are getting pseudo-cash, with potential for upside)

The 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.  Occasional targeted eBay promotions have let you convert Nectar points to eBay credit at 1p per point.

0.45p per point (guaranteed, as you are getting pseudo-cash)

Linking your Amex account to and paying for your purchases directly with points (more in this article).  This is a slightly silly option, however, as you can also redeem for Amazon gift cards and get 0.5p per point!

0.4p per point (guaranteed, as you are getting cash)

Redeeming for American Express statement credit. This is fall back option – there is no excuse for redeeming for anything worse than this ratio.

I hope this gives you some ideas for using your points.  If you use them sensibly, the 10,000 points sign-up bonus on the free American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (see our Amex Gold review) could be worth £100.  You can triple that for the 30,000 points sign-up bonus available American Express Platinum (see our Amex Platinum review).

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Review of the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan business class lounge in Doha
50%-100% bonus on Heathrow Rewards transfers to Virgin - sign-up promo now worth 4,500-6,000 miles!

Head for Points is sponsored by:

Magazine montage

Up to 30% off in Hilton's Winter Sale

Click here to find out more and book

Click here to join the 14,500 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. OT – can someone help explain something about Marriott Elite and access to their Executive Lounge please? I was staying at the Marriott Cologne at the weekend, and on our 2nd day I randomly found out that I had access to the Executive Lounge which I wasn’t expecting.

    I’m only a Silver Elite, and I thought that free Lounge access only came with Gold. I have very limited history of stays at Marriott, having earnt Silver from my SPG card. Would my Family Room have come with access included (but it wasn’t mentioned to me at check-in)? Was I meant to get an upgrade due to Silver Elite status but there was no suitable upgrade from a family room for the 4 of us, so they gave us access instead? Or did I just get lucky from someone’s mistake?

    I’m clearly not complaining, but I’d really like to know how to replicate such access for another upcoming Marriott stay I’ve already got booked – not only did it save us c€300 in breakfast charges over 3 mornings, but also gave us somewhere to chill out for a few hours after our extended 4pm check-out.

    • You don’t get lounge access with Gold either since 18 August – only Platinum and above!

    • Best bet is to just ask, funny how just asking can often get you extras

    • Obvious question is how do you know you had access? just that your key worked (which itself raises another question of course) or were you told?

      • How did I know I had access? The first morning as we were entering the restaurant for breakfast, I asked if they could confirm whether breakfast was included in my tariff. The lady made a call, and returned saying that it wasn’t, but that I had access to the Exec Lounge where breakfast was free.

        Sounds like I benefited from a mistake somewhere along the line….

        • Did you book an exec room?

        • John – I didn’t think I had: the room was not labelled as an executive room, and it didn’t state in the summary that it had access to the executive lounge. Neither did my confirmation email say anything about access. However, on reading the small print of the room type on their website I can now see that it says that access is included. Mystery solved (and great to know for the future…..).

  2. Mr Sean Donaghy says:

    Other than BA Avios or Virgin. What other airline transfer partner has the best programme in terms of value, availability, taxes etc.

    I have alot of Avios points and a healthy pot of in virgin. I have 90k Amex points probably about 110k by the end of the year and wanted to cancel it and was thinking of transferring the points to a different partner to give great options and flexibility and it is always good to try out different airline products.

  3. OT:
    Does anyone know if multiple John Lewis gift cards can be used on their website? And if there is any limit? I have some from the Amex/Morrisons promotion.

    • Chris not sure of your answer but if you can’t use many online I’m sure you will be able to use them in store for your item or ask them to order for you and you pay with gift cards in store. They have great customer service.

    • Yes they can, it asks you after maxing one out for the next number, quite simple to do!

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes, multiples vouchers can be used at the same time. I’ve down around 4 at once before

    • I have used 32 in one purchase (it helped the first 12 digits were the same)

      I don’t think there is officially a limit…

      10% off most of my new kitchen (when JL have already price matched some of the cheapest deals around) has worked quite well!

    • the_real_a says:

      I “bought” a john lewis gift card using multiple vouchers in store for this exact reason. The website bombed out after 5 or so vouchers.

  4. Off topic…I transferred points from Marriot to American Airlines….Object Etihad 380 First Abu Dhabi to Heathrow. I have a hold on two seats. I did this 5 days ago and my hold on the seats expires tonight.

    Any experience if American Airlines will give me another 5 days to keep the seats on hold. Told it can be a week or longer with moving points from Mariottt yo AA>


    • I did this pre-meger slightly differently (redeeming for travel package). It took 10 days for the miles to arrive. They did advise that it can take up to 2 weeks when I phoned in. However, I did time it leaving 2 weeks buffer. I would call AA once the seats are released and/or check on Etihad whether they are back in inventory and if they are, put another hold for 5 days.

    • If you phone them today and award seats are still available, in addition to the two you have already reserved. they should be able to extend the hold for a further five days to save re-booking. If no extra seats, I don’t know if they can cancel and rebook for you immediately. The deadline is usually midnight somewhere in the US rather than the UK. Good luck!

      • Very unlikely there will be more than 2 seats in F on Etihad unless close to departure.

  5. OT: Regarding curve and paying HMRC my payments keep getting declined. How do you guys pay larger bills in stages of how much?

    • You need to change your underlying card if you’re having issues. Creation don’t seem to live anything above £200 for example. Also note your daily / weekly / monthly Curve limits.

      • Of course daily limits, I completely forgot! Thanks, Rob that solved that issue.

      • You mean £2k?

      • Jonathan says:

        I’ve done several £1000s before on my creation IHg card no proble . But my card is about 9 months old and I’ve hit my annual limit. So got both my wife and my 1yo daughter one so I could use those. Limited to £200 a day regardless of the underlying card. Contacted curve support which to be fair replied same day (#shock) saying it’s a security thing and tweaked the settings so she (I) can now do larger amounts. Was told if she (I mean I) did all my everyday spending on the card their algorithms would increase my limits automatically.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Got to be fair to curve and actually use them for purchases.

          Otherwise it won’t be around for long

        • When we can all use Amex they will get a lot more purchases!

        • You’ve got your 1 yr old daughter a card? How does that work? I’ve got my wife a card (which she uses to pay some of my corporate tax charges which then get expensed to my company), but we both could use the cards more if we weren’t constrained by the 365 day rolling limit. Having a 3rd card would remove those issues completely. Is it easy to get a child a card where they have no credit history and no income?

      • The Urbanite says:

        I put over £3k through with IHG black as the underlying card last week.

  6. jonny brown says:

    anyone have the issue that they the small shop offer does not appear in my offers?
    (I hadnt saved it to the card yet)

  7. O/T as no bits, FYI re. Amex offer for Wilko. My wilko will only allow you to use 2 credit cards towards a purchase I found out the hard way. I had £125 amazon giftcard and asked if I could split the payment over 3 cards, yes no problem I was told. 2 payments in and computer said no, do you have £45 cash to pay the balance? I didn’t so had to void the whole transaction! I have received email that I have activated the offer on the two payments that went through and then were voided. Don’t think I will get the credits though and I assume they will now show up as redeemed so can’t use again.

    • Could you buy something cheaper with 2 of your cards, return that for credit and then buy your intended item with the credit and the third card?
      A bit of a faff – might not be worth the effort and raise concerns!

      • Don’t think I can be bothered with the hassle now. If I get the offer again will have to remember to do transactions individually. Think I was just a bit annoyed as I had asked before we started the process if I could pay over 3 cards 🙁

    • You’ve got your 1 yr old daughter a card? How does that work? I’ve got my wife a card (which she uses to pay some of my corporate tax charges which then get expensed to my company), but we both could use the cards more if we weren’t constrained by the 365 day rolling limit. Having a 3rd card would remove those issues completely. Is it easy to get a child a card where they have no credit history and no income?

    • the_real_a says:

      For amazon g/c, just buy smaller denominations in three transactions!!

  8. Brighton Belle says:

    OT oh happy daze. Just seen 50 £25 Visa cards hanging on a peg in a big Boots. 2 years ago I might have bought the lot.

    I think they might not activate.

    • ankomonkey says:

      I don’t miss their activation process though… Or the feeling of getting to a Tesco and not seeing any on the racks…

    • I was going to say …. do these things still exist?!

      The issue is liquidating them now that HMRC does not allow multiple card numbers to be used against one payment.

    • I haven’t revealed this on HFP before but back in 2014 I had a network of 10 PayPal accounts which gifted 3Vs to each other regularly, then withdrew to bank accounts all for no fees. Got about £50K manufactured spend by the time it ended. Worst part of it was the scratching to reveal the codes, I did most of them in hotels…

  9. OT so apologies. I’ve done Amex Preferred Gold bonus, and BAPP plus 10k spend for companion and downgraded to free card. Considering I am still 5 months away from being able get a new Preferred Golad card, whioch card is best to now get for Avios? Or is there better value in doing a hotel card now?

    Thanks in advance.


  10. I got about 1.7p per MR doing MR>SPG>Marriott>Travel Package. Great shame that travel packages have now been devalued by about 50%.

  11. I am convinced some merchants are disappearing from the Shop Small map. One particular merchant was there at 2pm today. I went there and they refused Amex. 2 minutes later I checked the map and they had gone.

    Maybe it’s advanced AI at work?! Or are Amex updating the map based on user feedback?

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.