Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

American Express does you a favour by dropping Membership Rewards redemptions for goods

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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:

Membership Rewards no longer offering good

How bad are Membership Rewards redemptions for goods?

Let’s look at a typical redemption.

The Kenwood De’Longhi Nespresso Coffee Machine pictured below costs 59,340 Membership Rewards points:

Membership Rewards points for coffee machine

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:

Amazon Nespreso EN550b coffee machine

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 rewardThis 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 2023 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) 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

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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

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.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (49)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Callum says:

    I almost had a heart attack then when I didn’t see the “s” on the end of goods!

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Sort of off topic but it is about the article!

    It’s even worse value than stated in the article – that’s an outdated model of that coffee machine- and the newer model is cheaper (£229)! However a few weeks ago it was on offer at £177 – and can still be had for close to that price from other sellers; so you’re actually getting just under 0.3p/mile (ouch!). I know all this because I bought it recently. It’s great by the way – lovely frothy cappucinos and lattes – definitely get one. HfP – the home of coffee machine analysis…

  • Rooster says:

    Well I think the Heathrow vouchers were probably the best non travel use of MR points in the past 2 years

  • Craig says:

    Slight off topic, but the Amex Benefits page on their website lists the new benefits but also lists 18k MR for referrals. Also, clicking through to Avis it shows the AWD code as XXXX which is nonsense.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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