Two recent events 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 from 11th March, which means that you will now only receive 0.5p of Nectar points for every 1 Avios you transfer, compared to the previous 0.67p
- the devaluation of Club Eurostar points last October, which saw the number of points needed for a redemption double whilst the Amex transfer rate remained the same (15:1)
This is on top of other changes from 2021/2:
- Singapore Airlines moving from a 1:1 conversion rate to 3:2
- the massive unnannounced devaluation of Radisson Rewards points, which cut the value from our estimate of 0.33p to our new valuation of 0.15p to 0.2p
With the exception of Singapore Airlines, none of these devaluations was because of a negative change in the Membership Rewards conversion rates. They were because of devaluations in the underlying programme which were not matched by an improvement in the Amex transfer rate.
What does the Avios / Nectar change do to the value of Membership Rewards points?
I thought it was worth taking another look, in the light of the forthcoming Nectar / Avios 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.
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) – 40,000 points bonus and a huge range of travel and lifestyle benefits (£300 of annual dining credit, £100 annual Harvey Nichols credit) for a £650 fee, apply here
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review) – 20,000 points bonus 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) – 120,000 points bonus (limited time special offer, converts to 120,000 Avios!) 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 Business Gold (review) – 60,000 points bonus (limited time special offer, converts to 60,000 Avios!) and FREE for a year, apply here
What are your American Express Membership Rewards points worth?
0.75p – 1.5p per point (my target value)
Airline miles. Airline miles remain the best of use of Membership Rewards points.
The gap between airline miles and everything else gets wider and wider. Transfers to Melia Rewards, Radisson Rewards, Club Eurostar and Nectar (via Avios) would get you similar value, but these have all been removed or devalued.
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 9.1 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.
0.75p per point (my target value)
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 32 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.
Normally I would stop the analysis at this point, because you would get a GUARANTEED 0.67p per Membership Rewards points by converting from American Express to Avios to Nectar. This is no longer the case, so other redemptions now become interesting again.
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 0.33p 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 0.67p per Amex point. Hilton brands include Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Hampton.
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)
This is what you now get if you convert American Express Membership Rewards points to Avios and on to Nectar. You can convert 50,000 Avios per month to Nectar, at a rate of 1:1 from 11th March.
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 Nectar point worth 0.5p.
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. There is no longer any value in converting Amex points to Avios and on to Nectar – you might as well move them directly to Nectar.
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.
0.45p per point (my target)
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 at 0.45p per Membership Rewards point you cash in.
Whilst American Express hasn’t done anything wrong, it continues to finds itself on the wrong end of devaluations by its Membership Rewards redemption partners – Nectar transfers via Avios, Club Eurostar and Radisson Rewards points. Only Singapore Airlines, moving from 1:1 to 3:2, is a direct change to Membership Rewards transfer rates.
If you happy converting your American Express Membership Rewards points to frequent flyer miles, as most Head for Points 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. Unless you are a keen Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy member, a non-flyer will struggle to get more than 0.5p of value per Membership Rewards point.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2024)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous 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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.