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Amex is ending the sale of Membership Rewards points – should you jump in?

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American Express has started to notify people about the changes to the T&C on their cards which are coming in from 2nd October. Whilst lengthy, there is nothing to concern most people apart from the end of pro-rata refunds when you can cancel a fee-carrying credit card.

There is one thing in the announcement that I didn’t know about. American Express is stopping the direct sale of Membership Rewards points on 1st October.

Did you even know this was possible? The facility is mentioned in the Terms & Conditions for the Membership Rewards scheme, for anyone willing to wade through them.

How to buy Membership Rewards points

One of the lesser known features of the American Express Membership Rewards programme is the ability to buy up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points per year for 1.5p each.

Note that a lot of Amex call centre agents will never have done this and may deny it can be done.  You may need to hang up and call again.

Let’s have a look at whether this is worth doing in the few weeks you have left.

Why buy miles indirectly via Amex when I can buy them directly?

Over the last few years, pretty much every airline and hotel programme has brought in a ‘buy points’ option.  This is not surprising – it is easy money for the programme, and they are still charging you more than the marginal cost to them of redeeming the points.

Since American Express is willing to sell Platinum and Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders additional Membership Rewards points, you can use this method to buy yourself airline points for a discount on the price charged by the programme itself.

This method has got more attractive over the last couple of years for those airlines who sell miles priced in US$ or Euro, since the fall in Sterling has made them noticeably more expensive if bought direct.

American Express sells you Membership Rewards points priced in £ so the cost has remained constant.

Of course, many airlines have occasional mileage sales which bring down the price below what you will pay using this route.  Don’t use this method to buy miles speculatively which you don’t plan to use immediately.

This method does not work for hotel programmes, based on my maths.

How much can you save by buying 10,000 Membership Rewards points?

Let’s take a look at a few examples, based on the points you get from converting 10,000 Membership Rewards points which you have bought from Amex for £150.

This is the full list of airlines and hotel companies offering transfers from Membership Rewards in the UK:

Compared to buying 10,000 Membership Rewards points for £150 ….:

UK airlines:

  • Avios – 10,000 Avios cost £195 directly (see here), you save £45
  • Virgin Points – 10,000 points cost £165 directly (see here), you save £15 (although until 31st July there is a 60% bonus when you buy points directly which makes it the best option)

Other airlines:

  • Asia Miles – 10,000 miles cost £230 directly ($300, see here – can only be done at the point of redemption if already have 70% of the miles needed), you save £80 as well as getting around the ‘can only buy whilst redeeming’ issue
  • Delta SkyMiles – 10,000 miles cost £270 directly ($350, see here), you save £120
  • Emirates Skywards – 10,000 miles cost £230 directly ($300, see here), you save £80
  • Etihad Guest – 10,000 miles cost £160 directly, you save £10
  • Finnair Plus – 10,000 miles cost £110 directly (€129, see here), no saving via Amex at the current exchange rate
  • Flying Blue – 10,000 miles cost £223 directly (see here), you save £73
  • Qantas Points – 10,000 points cost £200 directly (A$388, see here, points can only be purchased at the point of redemption to top up an existing balance), you save £50
  • SAS EuroBonus – 10,000 points cost £146 directly (SEK 2,000, see here), no saving via Amex at the current exchange rate
  • Singapore Airlines – 6,667 miles cost £205 directly ($267, you cannot buy online and can only buy 50% of whatever redemption you are planning), you save £55


  • Hilton Honors – 20,000 points cost £154 directly ($200, see here), you save £4 – however, there is currently a 80%-100% bonus running when you buy points directly which clearly beats the Amex route
  • Marriott Bonvoy – 15,000 points costs £145 directly ($187.50, see here), no saving via Amex at the current exchange rate
  • Radisson Rewards – 30,000 points cost £162 directly ($210, see here), you save £12 – although it no longer makes sense to buy Radisson points now they have a fixed redemption value of roughly 0.2p

This method also gets around arcane rules in some programmes. Singapore Airlines, for example, only lets you buy miles directly if you are are about to redeem and already have 50% of the miles you need. Asia Miles has a similar rule. The Amex points purchase route lets you get around this.  The method also, of course, gets around any annual caps on the amount of miles you can buy directly.


As you can see from the numbers above, there is a big difference between the airline and hotel schemes.

There is often a good saving to be made by NOT buying airline miles directly and, instead, buying up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points from American Express at 1.5p each and converting them. You need to do this by 1st October before the option is withdrawn.

This is not the case with hotel schemes, where buying Membership Rewards points to convert to hotel points rarely offers great value.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – April 2024 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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios 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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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:

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

Huge 30,000 points bonus until 12th May 2024 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 Business Credit Card

1% cashback uncapped* on all your business spending (T&C apply) Read our full review

Comments (54)

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

  • AlexF says:

    I was quite concerned to see them demand a UK address. Wonder if this was bad drafting or if they’re pulling completely out of the Channel Islands, which would be disastrous for my miles strategy!

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      @AlexF AFAIK, Amex have not been approving any card applications from residents of the Crown Dependencies for sometime now. They do seem to be grandfathering existing cards. All I will say is don’t cancel what you currently hold if you value it!

  • Track says:

    One wonders what’s up in Brighton. Amenities being cut for no reason.

    10,000MR is just an emergency draft/convenience facility. Long past ‘arbitrage’ as paying a whopping 1.5p per mile became expensive for any type of mile in GBP. Comparing to headline Avios prices does not count for us, who earns Avios through credit cards and other means primarily.

    I would blame some simplification/disenfranchisement going on again, as the mysterious “back office” black box does not want to deal with those pesky customer requests.

  • Roz says:

    Slightly confused and apologies if this has been clarified, but Rob mentioned earlier that the email you receive applies to your card you hold. I 100% hold a charge card, held since 2017, but I received the email stating “if you pay a Membership Rewards programme fee, this fee will not be refunded if you exit the programme, or your account is closed”. Does this mean that the pro rata refund is not applicable to charge card holders now too?? TIA

    • Rob says:

      Do you pay the £36 annual fee for MR?

      If not, this doesn’t apply to you.

  • Paul says:

    Ironically for your user base, you missed the most important change to their T&CS.

    It’s the bit in legalise that says in English ” We will no longer be giving pro-rata annual refunds when you cancel the card.”

    • Rob says:

      We covered that weeks ago in an exclusive story, and it’s linked in the first paras above …..

  • Marcus says:

    Slightly OT:
    When a credit check is carried out, e.g. for credit card application, what information is actually checked.
    Does it include information about my employment (or lack thereof) and actual income?

    • Rob says:

      You can go to Experian and request a copy of your file. This is what the lender sees. However, they will check other databases too to confirm what you have written, eg electoral roll.

  • Royback says:

    Hi. Is the purchase option per card or per account?

  • Dave says:

    Rob – do you (or anyone) know what the definitive answer is for existing AMEX Platinum and AMEX BA Premium Plus Cards that have an Isle of Man residential address on record (and have done for many many years) and what will actually happen after 3rd October?

    Will my account automatically be blocked / closed and I lose all the benefits of the card with immediate effect?

    AMEX cannot provide me with a straight answer, other than recommending I put a UK address on file before the above date and add the IOM address as an alternative address for correspondence purposes. However, this doesn’t really address the problem in my opinion?

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

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