Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What is the best use of American Express points?

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What are American Express Membership Rewards points worth?

I have written numerous articles before about using American Express Membership Rewards points and a few pieces on how I value airline miles and hotel points.

I have pulled together both of these strands in this article on 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.

What are Membership Rewards points worth?

Membership Rewards sensibly chose to discontinue ‘physical’ redemptions a few years ago.  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?

The three main ways to earn Membership Rewards points in the UK from a personal American Express card are:

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

American Express Rewards

The only ‘free for life’ Amex card which earns Membership Rewards Read our full review

The two most common business payment cards are:

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

The complex rules on whether you qualify for an American Express sign-up bonus are explained in my article here

Fundamentally, it is fairly easy to qualify for the bonus on Business Gold and Business Platinum (you cannot have held any Membership Rewards card for 13 months) and personal Platinum (you cannot have held a personal Green, Gold or Platinum card for 24 months). 

It is harder to qualify for the bonus on personal Preferred Rewards Gold or the American Express Rewards Credit Card (you cannot have held ANY personal Amex card for 24 months).

How I value Amex Membership Rewards points:

0.75p – 1.5p per point (my target)

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, such as 20,000 points for taking out the free (in Year 1) Americn Express Preferred Rewards Gold, 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 8.5m 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.

0.75p per point (my target)

Marriott Bonvoy hotel transfers.  Amex points convert at 2:3 into the Marriott Bonvoy programme.

This article explains why we value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.5p which has held firm despite the move to nearer revenue-based reward pricing.

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 have had some exceptionally good redemptions in recent years which have got me far more than 0.5p per Bonvoy point as the valuation article above shows.

0.66p per point (my target)

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 0.33p 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 0.66p per Amex point.  Hilton brands include Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Hampton.

You can beat 0.33p per point if you are strategic in how and when you redeem, so there are reasons why you may want to transfer to Hilton instead of cashing out via Nectar.

0.55p per point (my target)

Club Eurostar points.  Following the 2023 devaluation, I value a Club Eurostar point at 7p to 10p. The 15:1 transfer rate into Club Eurostar means you are getting 0.55p per point if you take a midpoint of 8.5p.

You should get slightly more than 0.55p if redeeming in Standard class and slightly less if redeeming in Standard Premier or upgrading from Standard to Standard Premier.

0.5p per point (guaranteed)

Retailer gift cards – Amazon, Harrods, Hotels.com, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, Waterstones etc.  20,000 Amex points will get you a £100 shopping voucher, for example.

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.

0.45p per point (my target)

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

Until an October 2022 devaluation, Radisson Rewards points were a great use of American Express Membership points. Now they are not.

The average value has dropped from around 0.33p per Radisson Rewards point to around 0.15p as I show here. The conversion rate is 1 American Express Membership Rewards point to 3 Radisson Rewards points.

This means that you are getting around 0.45p per American Express point. You can’t do much better than this because Radisson Rewards pricing is now ‘dynamic’, with the points cost increasing if the cash price increases.

0.45p per point (guaranteed)

Linking your Amex account to amazon.co.uk and paying for your purchases directly with points (more in this article).  This is a slightly silly option, however, as you can also redeem for Amazon gift cards and get 0.5p per point.

0.45p per point (guaranteed)

Redeeming for American Express statement credit. The simplest and least worthwhile way of using your Membership Rewards points.

I hope this article gives you some ideas for using your American Express Membership Rewards points for maximum value.

Learn more about the credit cards mentioned above

Here is the legally required interest rate information on the credit cards mentioned above, together with links to our detailed reviews:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Bonus: 20,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Amex Gold is our recommended ‘first card’ for a miles and points beginner
  • Get four free airport lounge passes when you sign up, and a further four each year
  • After your four free passes, you can visit further lounges for a small fee
  • You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year (24 x £5 credits)
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, £195 from Year 2

Representative 88.8% APR variable.  Annual fee applies after the first year.

See if you qualify for the 20,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible, which is why we recommend this as the best choice for your first miles and points card.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the four free airport lounge passes and the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with four free airport lounge passes.  These allow either you and up to three friends, or yourself four times, to visit any of the 1,400 lounges in the Priority Pass network.  You make additional lounge visits for £24 per person.  You receive an additional four free passes each year.

You earn double Membership Rewards points on all airline spend (made directly on an airline website) and all spend made outside the UK.

You will receive up to 12,500 bonus Membership Rewards points each year, based on how much you spend.

You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year.  Amex will repay you £5 for the first two Deliveroo orders charged to your Gold card each month.

Other benefits include a 10% discount on Hertz car rentals, Avis Preferred Plus car rental status and special deals at 350 selected hotels worldwide, where Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders receive a $75 in-hotel credit per stay.

You need a minimum personal income of £20,000 to apply for the card.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Bonus: 40,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Two Priority Pass cards, each allowing two people into 1,400 airport lounges
  • Elite status in four major hotel loyalty programmes
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • £300 per year of restaurant credit
  • £100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols
  • Annual fee: £650

Representative 704.6% APR variable based on an assumed £1,200 credit limit and £650 annual fee. Interest rate on purchases 31.0% APR variable.

See if you qualify for the 40,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card if you spend £6,000 within three months of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

This is the ONLY personal American Express card where you still qualify for the bonus if you already hold a British Airways American Express card.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points.  This includes The Platinum Card and Preferred Rewards Gold.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held any other American Express card, including the British Airways, Marriott and Nectar cards.

For clarity, you can still apply for The Platinum Card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the long list of other benefits.

Learn more about the card benefits +

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with an unrivalled list of benefits for the keen traveller.

Your personal travel patterns will determine which of these is the most valuable.  The key benefits are:

Full comprehensive travel insurance for you, your family and the family of your supplementary cardholder, subject to enrolment

Two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows the holder and a guest unlimited free access to 1,400 airport lounges

Elite status in four major hotel loyalty schemes: Marriott Bonvoy (Gold), Hilton Honors (Gold), Radisson Rewards (Premium), MeliaRewards (Gold)

Access to Eurostar lounges, irrespective of travel class

£150 per year to spend in over 160 UK restaurants

£150 per year to spend in over 1,200 international restaurants

£100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols, instore or online (no minimum spend required)

£300 per year of dining credit – £150 to be spent at 150+ UK restaurants and £150 to be spent at 1,200+ restaurants outside the UK

You need a minimum personal income of £35,000 to apply for the card.

American Express Rewards

Bonus: 10,000 points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Your best choice if you want a ‘free for life’ card which earns Membership Rewards points
  • A good choice if you want to close a Gold or Platinum card but keep your points intact
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 31.0% APR variable

See if you qualify for the 10,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Rewards card if you spend £2,000 within 90 days of signing up.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible. You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Rewards card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You may want to do this if you are thinking of swapping your Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card for a free alternative, and would prefer to keep your existing Membership Rewards points balance alive.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Rewards is the only ‘free for life’ American Express card which lets you collect Membership Rewards points.

We do NOT recommend this card if you would also qualify for the sign-up bonus on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.  The Gold card is free for the first year, comes with four free airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit and has a higher sign-up bonus of 20,000 points.

The best reason to get American Express Rewards is if you are coming to the end of your free first year with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, or no longer want to pay the fee on The Platinum Card, but want to keep your Membership Rewards points intact.

You need a minimum personal income of £20,000 to apply for the card.

American Express Business Gold

Bonus: 20,000 Membership Rewards points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, £195 from Year 2
  • Points transfer at 1:1 into Avios, Virgin Points and other airline schemes
  • Get £100 per year to spend at Dell

This is a charge card, not a credit card. You must clear your balance in full each month.  Annual fee £195 from Year 2, free in Year 1.

See if you qualify for the 20,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Business Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Points or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 13 months, have held any other American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points.  This includes Business or personal Gold, Business or personal Platinum and the personal American Express Rewards credit card.

You are OK if you had a complimentary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if the only American Express card you have had in the previous 13 months was a British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, Nectar, Amex Cashback or Harrods American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Business Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.

Learn more about the card benefits +

You receive £100 of Dell statement credit per calendar year.  This is made available in two parts.  You receive a £50 credit on Dell purchases made between January and June and a £50 credit on Dell purchases made between July and December.  There is no minimum spend requirement.

You can apply for complimentary Amex business cards for your employees.

You will receive one consolidated statement showing the spend on your card and all of the complimentary cards.  All of the Membership Rewards points earned on the complimentary cards will flow into your personal account.

Depending on when in your monthly cycle you make a payment, you will effectively receive up to 54 days free credit on your spending.

American Express statements provide more underlying transaction detail for flights and certain other transactions than Visa or Mastercard statements, making it easier to reconcile transactions.

You need a minimum personal income of £20,000 to apply for the card.

American Express Business Platinum

Bonus: 40,000 Membership Rewards points

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Get £200 per year to spend at Amex Travel
  • Two Priority Pass cards, each allowing two people into 1,400 airport lounges
  • Elite status in four major hotel loyalty programmes
  • Get £150 per year to spend at Dell
  • Get £300 per year to spend at job ads site Indeed
  • Comprehensive travel insurance
  • Annual fee: £650

This is a charge card, not a credit card. You must clear your balance in full each month.  Annual fee £650.

See if you qualify for the 40,000 points bonus +

You will receive 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Business Platinum card if you spend £6,000 within 90 days.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Points or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 13 months, have held any other American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points.  This includes Business or personal Gold, Business or personal Platinum and the personal American Express Rewards credit card.

You are OK if you had a complimentary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if the only American Express card you have had in the previous 13 months was a British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, Nectar, Amex Cashback or Harrods American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Business Platinum card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from all of the other card features including the £200 of annual Amex Travel credit.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Business Platinum comes with an unrivalled list of benefits for the keen traveller.

Your personal travel patterns will determine which of these is the most valuable.  The key benefits are:

£200 of Amex Travel credit per membership year

Full comprehensive travel insurance for you, your family and the family of up to five complimentary cardholders, subject to enrolment

Two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows the holder and a guest unlimited free access to 1,400 airport lounges

Elite status in four major hotel loyalty schemes: Marriott Bonvoy (Gold), Hilton Honors (Gold), Radisson Rewards (Premium), MeliaRewards (Gold)

Other benefits include:

£150 of Dell statement credit per year – you receive £75 credit on Dell purchases betweeen January and June and £75 credit on purchases between July and December

£300 of credit to run job advertisements at indeed.com (£75 per quarter)

Digital subscription to The Times and The Sunday Times, worth over £300

You need a minimum personal income of £35,000 to apply for the card.


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 (29)

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

  • navara says:

    The Nectar value is actually slightly less as you are missing out on the points earned on your cash purchase

    • Andrew J says:

      But that’s the same as all the valuations – by not buying a £10,000 cash ticket in First with BA, and using Avios instead I’m missing out on 30,000 Avios by not putting it on my BAPP.

  • Charles Martell says:

    On the value you get from Avios, is it trending up or down?

    • Rob says:

      Hard to say because the big redemptions are very lumpy. What is true is that I probably need to revise my own cash comparable values upwards in light of what you’d realistically need to pay these days vs what in my head I still think of as a pre-covid ‘realistic’ valuation.

  • Glasgowchill says:

    Are there ever transfer bonuses from AMEX to AVIOS? Sitting on 100k membership points which I want to transfer to AVIOS at some point but wondered if the rate ever improves on the standard 1:1

    • Andrew J says:

      No

    • zapato1060 says:

      I have seen this in the States but not here. Sure others are more informed but I would guess its a hard no as Avios is UK market infused.

  • Andy says:

    Small typo — American is missing an a at the end of this paragraph (proof reading your own stuff is hard, make similar mistooks many times)

    “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, such as 20,000 points for taking out the free (in Year 1) Americn Express Preferred Rewards Gold, are so valuable.}”

  • RussellH says:

    There have been bonuses on Amex–>Hilton transfers in each of the last two years, getting, IIRC, ~@0.85p per Amex point.
    It would be nice to see more of these!

  • LittleNick says:

    So to summarise, in essence redeem for Airline miles (check maths on SQ transfers) and maybe Marriott Bonvoy and if need to cash out via Nectar

    • zapato1060 says:

      Yes this is it really in a nutshell. If any of those 3 were heavily devalued then the scene and this site will sadly seize to exist.

    • Harrier25 says:

      …or Hilton when they run the 30% bonus points offer.

    • Danny says:

      Virgin Points are quite useful now the airline is in SkyTeam. Was quite surprised at the good value on China Airlines and Korean Air.

      • RP says:

        Do you mean it’s relatively easy to find redemption seats or that fewer points are needed?

        • Danny says:

          Taxes are relatively low on China Airlines when using Virgin points. Seat availability is hit and miss but it is there with flexibility.

          Korean Air is very cheap in Asia with Virgin Points.

  • Paul says:

    Yes Amex rewards best used for airline transfers other than BA.

  • Henry Young says:

    You can get around 5p per point with economy redemption @ VS on their LHRDEL route. It’s become my favoured way of jumping to/from Asia combined with a couple of regional low costs to tie that up with my real destination. India eVisa (30 day two entry) costs $25 and my last application (only through govt site – scams abound) was turned around in 24 hours. HKG used to be a very good value redemption (up to 6p) but unfortunately VS canned the route – shame because they had a decent lounge there too. Don’t believe all you read here about biz redemptions offering best value 😉 There is stunning value to be had at the back of the bus. If you’re trim, like sitting unspread and have lounge access by other means, it’s definitely the way to go imho.

    • zapato1060 says:

      Agree but your basing it on offpeak 10k which is tremendous value. When i researched the visa I was getting 100£ min, maybe I was searching on dodgy sites?

      • Henry Young says:

        Definitely dodgy sites – doubly dangerous because they’re harvesting passport and CC details !

        Only use : https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html

        There was/is a sale on for VS redemptions, dropping that 10,000 to 7,500 – stunning value. If fact I’m literally off to LHR now, heading back to Manila via DEL plus whatever Kiwi.com (the self-transfer specialists) cooked up for me 🙂

      • Henry Young says:

        The only serious complication with India eVisa when you’re only visiting DEL Arrivals and DEL Departures is that they still need a reference name/address/phone. Look up the manager of the airport Holiday Inn Express (which has both air and land side entrances) whether you’re staying there or not and use that info. The chances of them actually checking are miniscule, especially when it’s clear your eVisa is for non-interlined transfer purposes.

        • Dominic says:

          You don’t even need the managers name. Just put the hotel name.

          Source: just renewed a 5-year multiple entry visa (get this if you’re planning multiple trips… just 84 USD!)

      • Henry Young says:

        Final ProTip – even if you have an interlined transfer at DEL, get an eVisa and go out/in unless you’re short of time. They seem to have a serious problem with airside transfers. Long queue and none of the staff care. I think the problem is nobody in the transfer queue started or is ending their journey in India, so they get away with the most abysmally shoddy customer service, hating on the whitey colonialists. Check-in security is tiresome in so far as you have to remove and place in the tray literally everything composed of anything electrical, but that is still preferred to airside transfer imho.

    • Danny says:

      Shanghai is also really good value on VS. Pity they canned HKG and TYO.

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