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:
- the change in the ‘Avios to Nectar’ conversion rate, which means that you will now only receive 0.67p of Nectar points for every 1 Avios you transfer, compared to the previous 0.8p
- the massive unnannounced devaluation of Radisson Rewards points, which has cut the value from our estimate of 0.33p to our new valuation of 0.2p
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 Preferred Rewards Gold (review) – currently with a 30,000 points bonus (limited time special offer until Tuesday) and FREE for a year, with four airport lounge passes and £10 per month of Deliveroo credit thrown in, apply here
- American Express Rewards (review) – the only ‘free for life’ Amex card which earns Membership Rewards, 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
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 miles. My 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.
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 transfers. Radisson Rewards used to be an exceptional American Express redemption until the value of the points were slashed overnight last month.
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.
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? – January 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:
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:
SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.
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 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 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.