Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Get a 50% bonus on Membership Rewards redemptions via Amex Travel – but bad deal

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If you have an American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points, you will get a 50% bonus when you redeem your Membership Rewards points online at American Express Travel.  This would cover any prepaid flights or hotels.

The offer runs to the end of the year.

This is not a great deal, but there are limited scenarios to think about it.

What are Membership Rewards points worth?

The standard redemption value when you use points to pay for Amex Travel bookings is 0.45p per point.  This is rubbish, when you assume that you can get 1 airline mile per point instead.

How does a 50% bonus change things?

With a 50% bonus, you will receive 0.68p per point when you redeem your Membership Rewards points for prepaid travel products.

Here is an example:

Regular HfP readers will know what I am going to say next.  The looming shadow of the new Avios / Nectar partnership is peering over your shoulder and saying ‘why bother?’.

You can get a GUARANTEED 0.8p per American Express Membership Rewards point by:

  • moving your Membership Rewards points to Avios at 1:1, then
  • moving your Avios to Nectar at 8:5 (1 Avios = 1.6 Nectar points), then
  • spending your Nectar points for their standard 0.5p per point valuation at Sainsburys, Argos, eBay, M&S (non-food) etc

When you get a guaranteed 0.8p via Nectar, why take 0.68p via Amex Travel?  The only logical reason would be that you have so many Amex points to use up that realistically you can’t use them easily with Nectar partners.

Here is my DIY attempt to update the chart in the email Amex sent out:

Nectar rate

90,000 points → £720

Other deals also beat the Amex Travel 0.68p per point rate ….

Here is our list of the most valuable Membership Rewards redemptions based on our proprietary numbers.

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

As well as Nectar, the following redemptions also beat the 0.68p per point you would get using them at Amex Travel, if you trust our valuations:

  • frequent flyer miles (0.8p to 1p each on a conservative basis)
  • Radisson Rewards points (1p each)
  • Marriott Bonvoy points (0.75p each)

There is one reason why this deal may be better than taking air miles

In general, if you are looking to redeem your Membership Rewards points for flights then I recommend turning them into frequent flyer miles. You will get far more value.

There are two exceptions to this:

  • if you want an economy long haul flight, where miles rarely offer value
  • if you want to earn tier or status points from your flight – you don’t earn tier or status points on redemption flights booked with miles, but a flight booked via Amex Travel WILL usually earn tier points like any other cash booking

However, I would still recommend paying cash for your flight and redeeming your points for free shopping via Nectar. You are guaranteed to get a better deal – 0.68p vs 0.8p per point with Nectar.

This plan doesn’t work for hotel bookings

If you book a pre-paid hotel via American Express Travel, you will NOT receive status benefits, status points or redeemable points in any hotel loyalty scheme.

This is because Amex Travel bookings are treated as ‘third party bookings’.

If you have hotel status or are working towards it, don’t book pre-paid rates via Amex Travel. You won’t earn any points or night credits.

The bottom line is that, unless Amex has an exclusive offer, there is no logical reason to book a pre-paid hotel via Amex Travel using points, even with a 50% bonus.

Conclusion

It is never a bad thing when a partner improves the value you can get by redeeming your points.

In this case, however, the American Express Travel offer doesn’t move the needle enough to make it worthwhile.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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 Gold

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (4)

  • Sandgrounder says:

    Don’t forget you can also book at hotels.nectar.com and get 0.8p per MR by spending Nectar points. (Check prices vs cash, no points earning on chain hotels, DYOR etc etc). It generally seems to beat this deal for the dates and locations I have reviewed.

  • Paul says:

    This seems like an attempt to cover up bad news while not actually offering anything.
    This week saw the cost of a Platinum card in the USA rise to $695 and then came the added sting that they are barring platinum card guest entry to Centurion Lounges from 1/2/23……… unless, the cardholder spends $75,000 a year on the card.
    Can long suffering and poorly rewarded UK card holders be far behind?

    • Dominic Barrington says:

      There are some good added benefits to the US card – most notably CLEAR, which is handy at US airports. I’ll be able to make the card pay for itself.

    • ECR says:

      I would be happy for the UK Amex Platinum Card to be $695, as that is lower than the current £575 fee (which is approx $795). I seriously considered cancelling after the fee went up from £450. Any further increase in the near future would definitely have me cancelling. If the free lounge access (including a guest) for Plaza Premium or Priority Pass were to go this would also see me cancel the card.

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