Probably the worst possible way of redeeming any sort of travel loyalty points, whether it be airline miles, hotel points or credit cards points, is for ‘real stuff’.
The ‘person who redeemed their Lufthansa miles for a toaster’ is short-hand in the loyalty industry for describing someone who makes sub-optimal use of their points. The only reason that Lufthansa has made a massive business out of their Worldshop operation (they even post me a big glossy catalogue each year) is that the hard 3-year expiry date on their miles creates a continual stream of panic redemptions.
It’s not that the loyalty schemes are trying to rip you off. It is simply that ‘stuff’:
is heavy and difficult to ship
has costs associated with returns and repairs and
is not bought in big enough quantities by the programmes to get serious discounts
American Express has decided to bite the bullet. It is dropping all Membership Rewards redemptions for physical goods on 31st May.
There is no dedicated page explaining this on the website but the banner below is showing at the bottom, in rotation with other banners, when you log in at the Membership Rewards website:
How bad are Membership Rewards redemptions for goods?
Let’s look at a typical redemption.
A Kenwood De’Longhi Nespresso Coffee Machine costs 59,340 Membership Rewards points.
The RRP for this product is £280. This means that it is ALREADY poor value for points, since you are only getting 0.47p per Membership Rewards point.
However, scoot over to Amazon (click here) and the same coffee machine is just £247.
This means that you’re only getting 0.41p per Membership Rewards point.
And here’s the big contradiction ….
You can redeem your Membership Rewards points for Amazon gift cards at the rate of 0.5p per point.
So, if you really really really wanted to use your points for this particular Nespresso machine, it makes more sense to redeem 49,400 Membership Rewards points for £247 of Amazon gift cards, rather than use 59,340 points to buy it direct from American Express.
(Of course, it makes FAR more sense to redeem your Membership Rewards points for a travel reward. This HfP article looks at the most valuable Membership Rewards redemptions.)
Everyone wins from this American Express change (for once!). Amex has an easier life because it no longer has to deal with the administration of physical product redemptions, it can streamline the Membership Rewards website and there is no risk of any cardholder making a redemption of very dubious value ….
PS. If you missed it, take a look at our recent article on the top 10 reasons why you should get the ‘free for life’ American Express Rewards Credit Card.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – February 2024 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.