Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How do the Avios / Nectar and Radisson devaluations impact the value of Amex points?

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Two events over the last month have had an indirect negative impact on American Express Membership Rewards points, because they have reduced the value you get from two of the transfer partners.

We are talking about:

I thought it was worth taking another look, in the light of these changes, as to where the real value in American Express Membership Rewards points sits.

This article is about 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. If we haven’t covered an option, you should assume that it offers poor value.

Membership Rewards sensibly chose to discontinue ‘physical’ redemptions in 2019.  You can no longer redeem your points for a toaster.  This is good news because the toaster was, unsurprisingly, poor value for your points.  If you still want a free toaster, redeem your points for an Amazon gift card.

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

How can you earn Membership Rewards points?

You can also Membership Rewards points from various American Express cards. The ones we focus on at Head for Points are:

  • The Platinum Card (review) – 30,000 points bonus and a huge range of travel and lifestyle benefits (£300 of annual dining credit, £100 annual Harvey Nichols credit) for a £575 fee, apply here
  • American Express Business Platinum Card (review) – 60,000 points bonus (limited time special offer) and a host of benefits including airport lounge access for four people, four mid-tier hotel elite statuses, digital subscription to The Times, £150 of annual Dell credit, £200 of annual Amex Travel credit and more, apply here
American Express Platinum bonus

What are your American Express Membership Rewards points worth?

Radisson Rewards transfers used to top this list. As you can below, they no longer do.

0.75p – 1.5p per point (my target value)

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 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, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Finnair, Flying Blue, Qantas and SAS. The transfer rate to Singapore Airlines is 3:2.

My personal spreadsheet of the last 8.5 million 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 far exceeded this.

0.8p per point (my target value)

Club Eurostar points.  I currently value a Club Eurostar point at 12p as our article explains.  The 15:1 transfer rate into Club Eurostar means you are getting 0.8p per point.  Club Eurostar offers guaranteed availability – if there is a seat for cash, you can book it for points – which means that you are more likely to be redeeming onto peak trains which are peak priced for cash.

0.75p per point (my target value)

Marriott Bonvoy hotel transfers.  Amex points convert at 2:3 into the Marriott Bonvoy programme.  It is fairly easy to get 0.5p per Marriott Bonvoy point as I explain here.

0.5p per Marriott Bonvoy point means, at a 2:3 exchange rate from Membership Rewards, you should be getting 0.75p per Membership Rewards point.  You now have a whopping 30 hotel brands to redeem at, including Le Meridien, Sheraton, Westin, W, Marriott, Autograph, Design Hotels, The Luxury Collection, The Ritz Carlton, St Regis etc etc.

I had some exceptionally good returns pre-covid which have got me far more than 0.5p per Bonvoy point.  At Christmas 2020 I got 1.2p per point in Ras Al Khaimah as I explained here.

I did three stays this Summer (one at St Regis New York and two at the University Arms in Cambridge) where I got outsized value, which is unsurprising given current cash rates. We have just returned from the Al Maha desert resort in Dubai where we got 1.5p per Bonvoy point based on the cash rate, although as an upcoming review will show I wasn’t hugely impressed.

0.67p per point (guaranteed)

The supermarket loyalty scheme Nectar is a partner with British Airways Avios points. You can convert 50,000 Avios per month to Nectar, at a rate of 300 : 400 from 16th November.

Because a Nectar point has a fixed value of 0.5p when spent at Sainsbury’s, eBay or Argos, it means that 1 Avios can be turned into 1.33 Nectar points worth 0.67p.

As long as you shop at Sainsbury’s, eBay or Argos, you can get 0.67p per Membership Rewards point, guaranteed.

To do this, you convert your American Express points to Avios and then transfer them to Nectar.

Before I go on ….

From 16th November, you are guaranteed 0.67p per Membership Rewards point if you convert American Express points to Avios to Nectar.

Convert before 16th November and you are guaranteed 0.8p. For almost two years now, the Amex to Avios to Nectar route has set a very high bar against which other transfer options struggled to compete.

All of the options below earn you less than 0.67p per point. You need to have a good reason to use any of the options below instead of Nectar. That said, if you know how to maximise the value of hotel points then Hilton can still be a decent option.

American Express Platinum bonus

0.67p per point (my target value)

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.  Over time I have come to believe that 0.333p per point is a fair valuation for a Hilton Honors point.  The conversion rate is 1:2 to Hilton which is how I get to 0.67p per Amex point.  Hilton brands include Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Hampton.

To be honest, for a Head for Points reader who should be savvy enough to get ‘better than average’ value from a Hilton Honors redemption, this is still likely to be a better option than converting to Nectar.

0.6p per point (my target value)

Radisson Rewards hotel transfersRadisson Rewards used to be an exceptional American Express redemption until the value of the points were slashed overnight last month.

Radisson Rewards in the UK covers Radisson Blu, Radisson RED, Radisson Edwardian, Park Inn and Park Plaza.

We have now reduced our valuation of a Radisson Rewards point to 0.2p, which is what you get when redeeming them for a discount on a hotel room. There is no longer a reward chart – all you can do is discount cash bookings. The conversion rate is 1 Amex point to 3 Radisson Rewards points so you’re getting 0.6p of hotel discount, give or take, for every Amex point you convert.

0.5p per point (guaranteed)

Retailer gift cards – Starbucks, M&S, Harrods etc.

0.5p per point (guaranteed)

The value of a Nectar point, given that you can redeem Amex points for Nectar points at a 1:1 ratio.  It is stupid to do this, however, given that you get 33% more value by transferring American Express to Avios to Nectar as I explained above.

0.45p per point (guaranteed)

Redeeming for American Express statement credit at 0.45p per Membership Rewards point you cash in.

Conclusion

Whilst American Express hasn’t done anything wrong, it suddenly finds itself on the wrong end of devaluations by two of its most valuable Membership Rewards redemption partners – Radisson Rewards points and Nectar transfers via Avios.

If you happy converting to frequent flyer miles, as many readers are, then nothing has changed. The conversion rates haven’t moved and the miles are worth what they always were for premium cabin redemptions. Even where surcharges have gone up, comparable cash prices have gone up further.

If you don’t want air miles, however, your options are now a little tighter.

That said, we should point out that getting 0.67p via an ‘Amex to Avios to Nectar’ transfer is still a decent deal even at this new reduced rate, and it still beats many other Membership Rewards redemption options.


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 (27)

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

  • Tony says:

    Forget BA, forget Avios, forget Amex…dump the lot!

    • Rob H not Rob says:

      Elvis has left the building.

    • david says:

      Good morning Tony, tell us how you really feel?

    • Nigel Keya says:

      BA RFS European Avios flights can offer superb value vs cash tickets, esp if you are flying peak – combined with excellent flexibility to cancel at short notice, the option to do that comes with your choice of cancellation fee, as low as £1 optionality cost.

  • Navara says:

    Current Hilton transfer rate is 1 to 2.6

  • CW says:

    Are there any thoughts about Capital on Tap points? Should I consider cashing out at 1p or is Avios conversion something to still keep in mind given the high fares at the moment?

  • Alex M-C says:

    Hi forgive me for the silly question, I’m not as savvy as you when it comes to this sort of thing. Should I ever book a hotel direct from Amex travel with reward points or convert points as you mention in your article? Thank you

    • Rob says:

      Never use Amex Travel unless you are using a cash credit up as you get zero hotel loyalty points or elite benefits.

      If you are trading off points vs cash then it is always case by case. No easy answer.

  • Icewhite says:

    Perhaps Barclaycard giving out Avios like sweets wasn’t a smart move after all!

  • Nigel Keya says:

    Obvs don’t cancel your Amex card without putting another one in place, or you’d forfeit the MR points. In MR format they are as safe as houses as you could hope for; Amex is not going bust etc. Your main risk is devaluation of conversion rate to the partner you require – and you can’t really second guess that with much accuracy. Leaving them as MR points gives you great optionality.

    • Will says:

      Also it’s not totally inconceivable that Amex at some point do a convert to cash off your bill offer as they did at the start of covid at I think 0.9p per MR.

      Obviously that’s a rare event but it’s still something that I consider a possibility when deciding how to hold points.

  • Shane says:

    I’ve got a Plat business card and a very recently acquired the Plat personal card. I’m minded to dump the business card now – will the reward points I’ve accumulated on that account simply move over to my personal plat card account, or do I stand to lose them unless I transfer out?

    I’ve already got a ton of avios, so am not minded to transfer any MR points into avios. Which airline scheme would be best to transfer into?

    • Rob says:

      I think they will let you merge the two accounts – this is the best option so you retain flexibility. Let me know how it goes as one day I may be in the same boat as I have 2 x MR accounts.

  • Cwyfan says:

    Why does nobody ever make a specific valuation their evaluations for those able to use the avios with a BA 241 voucher? There surely are many of us using at least some of our avios in this way.

    New article anybody?

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

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