Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How does the Avios / Nectar devaluation impact the value of Amex Membership Rewards points?

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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:

value of Amex Membership Rewards points

This is on top of other changes from 2021/2:

  • Singapore Airlines moving from a 1:1 conversion rate to 3:2

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.

value of Amex Membership Rewards points

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 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
value of Amex Membership Rewards points

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.

value of Amex Membership Rewards points

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.

value of Amex Membership Rewards points

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)

Radisson Rewards hotel transfers. Radisson Rewards in the UK covers Radisson BluRadisson REDRadisson EdwardianPark 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 at 0.45p per Membership Rewards point you cash in.

Conclusion

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

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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:

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

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

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.

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

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.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

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.

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

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.

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (31)

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

  • RussellH says:

    Marriott points @ nominal 0.75p look more attractive now. Particularly since we do not fly much. And goodness knows what BA put in the prosecco they serve in the main T5 business lounge, but one small glass gave me a splitting headache.
    The breakfast Sekt provided at the Hyatt Regency in Mainz was far, far superior.
    Two Marriott redemption stays last week, both very pleasant, worked out at ~0.82p per point on average, and the effectively instant transfer of MR points to Bonvoy turned out to have been very useful too.

    • ken says:

      I’d be really disappointed if the Marriott rate dropped.

      I find it fairly easy to get > 0.8p per Marriott point, but never likely to get 4p per point as people likely to pretend with Avios.

      They are easy to use, don’t require getting up in the middle of the night a year ahead, then fretting about booking the return leg 2 weeks later.
      There are no cancellation costs & its easy to generate enough points for 1 night very quickly.

      Some of the marriott moments still offer great value (but not always UK or USA).

      • Rob says:

        I’ve also been getting nearer to 1p on Bonvoy redemptions, but that is by picking and choosing, paying cash when it’s 0.5p or closer (which is, of course, the best strategy).

  • mhughes says:

    With many people having hilton gold (either via amex plat card, or otherwise), then between getting included breakfast, and also 5 nights for the redemption value of 4, I would suggest a hilton point is worth closer to 0.4p, particular for leisure travel (more likely to stay 5 nights)

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Yeah, my last few have averaged out well over 0.5p. Last summer’s redemption was 1p. At that point you’re getting 2p per MR point… When you compare the vastly easier and more available usage experience, I’m swinging towards this direction (or maybe Marriott) despite the theoretical values.

      • John says:

        On regular dates, in non-tourist heavy places, at “normal” Hiltons, DTs and HGIs I struggle to find redemptions at more than 0.3p based on the cash rates, which are often excessive anyway

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          Yep, definitely better to save for a high-end splurge rather than use them for more mundane things.

  • jj says:

    @Rob, I feel that your personal Avios valuation of 1.2p needs to be adjusted for inflation. Post-covid capacity constraints, rising fuel prices, rising labour costs and strong demand for premium leisure travel have led to a very sharp uptick in air fares, but the Avios required to redeem a flight have remained almost unchanged. Compared with cash costs, I’ve personally been seeing more than 2p per Avios/Virgin Point on recent redemptions with both BA and Virgin.

    If my experience is typical, that adds importance to your observation that airline miles remain the best of use of Membership Rewards points.

  • AndyF says:

    Thanks for the article, Rob, as discussed yesterday! It is really interesting regarding the developments and devaluation in other schemes, as you have pointed out. My question now, however, is why hasn’t Amex responded to this?

    Surely, they could adjust by increasing certain transfer rates. If a scheme is now purely revenue-based, surely they have renegotiated their contracts to pay less for the points, now that they have been devalued. So why can’t they improve some redemption transfers to match the original rate?

    Comments that have been circulating for ages suggest offering more pick-and-choose benefits to help offset the rising costs of the cards. Pick one great benefit rather than four average ones. I have four passes on my gold card that I simply don’t know what to do with. Deliveroo is good, although I wish we could choose to combine it into one £10 discount on some months. I’d much rather trade the passes for a slightly higher redemption range, at say 1.2 Avios per MR point. Albeit if even capped.

    Have you heard anything from Amex regarding fresh thinking? Rather than just saying, “Here’s some dining credit?”

  • Nico says:

    Is the bonus for spending on gold card paid after each 5k has been spent or at the end of the year?

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