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Amex 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 membershiprewards.co.uk:

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 ….

Thanks to Craig for this.

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Comments

  1. Susan says:

    I know that panic buying – have a very nice linen tablecloth thanks to expiring Emirates points a few years ago. Summat is better than nowt.

    • “Summat is better than nowt” – ah may family motto (clearly we are from Yorkshire)

      • Stu N says:

        I resorted to turning Lufthansa M&M into Amazon gift cards at something like 0.3p/mile. I’ll never earn enough for a decent redemption with the 3 year expiry, no companion voucher and absence of sensible short haul redemption options.

        • This is how I burned some orphan AirBerlin Topbonus miles years ago…absolutely shocking value, some Body Shop gift set for about 8,000 miles or something like that!

  2. Still got a bargain handheld Dyson thanks to HFP

    Those were the good old days.
    https://www.headforpoints.com/2013/01/03/did-you-catch-the-amex-mr-tesco-madness-yesterday/

    Nostlagia aint what it used to be…

    • Ah yes! I ended up with a lot of Yeaco gift cards …

      • Nick Burch says:

        I still think kindly of American Express every time I use my Le Creuset pan to cook a steak. It’s a real shame they haven’t hired another intern like that since…

    • Ha. I got two of the Dysons thanks to that article, one of us and one for mum 🙂

    • Forgot all about that one, unfortunately I was overseas at the time which was often the case with the best Tesco promotions.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes @BJ, got stuck with the same problem just now on the latest Mr T. the one you did so well out of Grrr

        The real and original Lady London (as compared to that interloper that’s been using my screen name)

        • Peter K says:

          How do we actually know your the real Lady London and not the interloper bluffing? Apart from the fact the real Lady London hasn’t gone ballistic that is, thinking about it?

          • Lady London says:

            Yes it was I, the real Lady London, that went ballistic at the interloper. You will find else where the interloper has now apologised and been forgiven.

            A pity in a way as i was gearing Up for thé fürst time ever, to use m’y really bas language to them.

      • the_real_a says:

        I still cannot pallet any more Orka. It has ruined me for life…

        • the_real_a says:

          Freudian slip – should be palate!

        • From e-books that were never read, music that was never listened to films/series that were never watched – Blinkbox! That was a good year or two.

          • ankomonkey says:

            I was reminded of that when Blinkbox was sold recently. I was confused when I started getting e-mails about transferring my account contents to the new owner as I barely remember ever logging on, let alone buying and watching something. Then I realised what they were all from.

            And something about buying 20 e-books per account rings a bell too… Happy days!

          • Sididdly says:

            I spent an eternity trawling through the ebook selection for £1 books I would actually read. Never read one of them! Good times though…..2020 Clubcard points for £20.

        • Polly says:

          And the cabbages!

  3. OT – I have a BA companion voucher expiring next week. However, I highly doubt I will use it myself. Is it possible to give it away to 2 other members of BAEC? or do I have to be a traveller? (I am also part of a household account so understand that my limit who I can share it with??)

    • Spurs Debs says:

      You have to be one of the passengers travelling.

    • How far into next week does it expire? No chance of a last minute bank holiday break?

    • why not just book a short haul biz class flight to somewhere, for say christmas or next easter. You can always then cancel and get the points back, and then lose the voucher (and £35).

  4. I take it that amex dont often do MR redemption bonuses? e.g. double points for a limited time

    • David says:

      They did one for Hilton last December – 1:3 instead of 1:2

      • Peter K says:

        But that was targeted and such bonuses are not common.

        • Mr Entitled says:

          And also far from smooth. I ended up with 1:4 but it took nearly 5 months and lots of complaining after numerous failed resolutions.

          • AndyF says:

            I took part in this offer and it was a mess! I ended up with the Hilton points eventually a £50 statement credit and a refund of some MR points. It took two written complaint letters and two phone calls and a follow up chat online.

    • They do in other countries but they stopped here a few years ago. It made no sense – it costs them more to do airline mile redemptions than gift card redemptions, so why encourage them, even if the airline funds the bonus?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Because if others are anything like me then the interchange fee uncapped platinum sits in a draw unless there are offers and my inTerchange fee capped SPG or BA gets used the majority of the time

        If there were better earnings or regular bonuses I might be persuaded to use the Plat more

        • Mr Entitled says:

          Do they really care if you use the Plat? It’s a charge card not a credit card so they would be lending you money interest free every month at a cost to them. You are not earning them a few basis points on the transaction but they have none of the cost of the transaction nor the MR points.

          Is the person who pays £575 pa year after year and keeps it in their draw not one of the customers they would like to keep? Assuming of course that they want to keep any.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I’m sure the offers are part AMEX funded.

            Especially the £400 of AMEX travel credit I got a couple months ago, which was a real save as the flight I needed to book were the cheapest on Amex travel and then £200 off each aswell.

            I make my total save from offers on my Plat over £1k. They also have to pay for some of the benefits I receive such as the priority pass.

            the fee they earn on Plat transactions is far more profitable than the fee they earn on my SPG/BA spend so the bit about them not caring about my spend makes no sense.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            Fair enough. I missed the nuance of the interchange fee.

          • Charlieface says:

            I reckon most of them are funded by the retailer for advertising, but some like Lidl are funded by Amex so they can show it’s worth it for them to accept Amex cards even given the higher fees.

  5. Will this affect the option to use points through third party websites or just directly through AmEx? For example the occasional AMEX25OFF from Amazon when you spend just a couple of MR points, which has come in handy before.

    • No, that stays as do all the gift cards. It is just physical ‘stuff’, toasters etc ordered directly from Amex.

  6. Andrew says:

    Quote:- “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.”

    True, but the “PartnerPlusBenefit” miles aren’t really “my” points. They are in the company’s name. The bean to cup coffee machine, fridge, two microwaves, dyson fan and so forth all came from PPB points and might not have been fantastic value for money, but they do make my working day so much more pleasant.

    The Merino blanket is mine though – so much better than anything else on an overnight flight. The Montblanc that they cocked up and sold for negative points is by my hand right now.

    • Lady London says:

      Wow, Think where you could have travelled for all the PPB points you must have used on that.

      Or… have I missed something?

      • It’s hard with PPB as you need a lot of points for long-haul premium redemptions, but there are much better uses from hotel gift cards to lounge passes. I only reedemed once via shop (some spirits) as the points were expiring and couldn’t use it on a lounge due to restrictions. My last redemption was for £250 hotel card (Orbitz/Expedia).

  7. +1

  8. Lewis says:

    I had just assumed when you could exchange miles for Amazon spending this was gone long ago

    • Shoestring says:

      so you’re ignoring all the £25 off £40 offers then?

      • Fiona says:

        hasn’t it stopped working? I seem to recall many could not avail of this offer in recent times.

  9. Callum says:

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

  10. 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…

  11. Rooster says:

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

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