American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points are a favorite currency among points and miles enthusiasts. They are best redeemed towards domestic and international airfare and they have the potential to save travelers hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. I wrote a post about why you should not collect Membership Rewards points. This post is the counterargument that explains why you SHOULD collect Amex Membership Rewards points.
Your mileage may vary as with everything related to points, miles, and credit cards. One intention of this post is not to persuade you into collecting MR points if they are not the right currency for you. But if you fall into one of the following groups, you should definitely check out American Express’ points.
You Love to Fly
Many people love MR points because they align with their travel plans. That’s because Amex has more transfer partners than Chase (its main competitor), Citi, and Capital One. Such a plethora of partners increases the value of MR points for many people.
Furthermore, American Express offers 1:1 transfer ratios for most of their partners. This means that each MR point transferred is equal to one partner point. However, there are four exceptions:
- Aero Mexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
- El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
- Jet Blue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
- Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
Despite the ratios, your mileage may vary with redeeming MR points. The best way to extract maximum value is to compare your options. You can easily get 1.5 cents per point (CPP) or more for most airfare redemptions because Amex has so many options.
Another reason to collect MR points is for points diversification. Consumers and businesses with heavy expenses can take advantage and collect two transferrable currencies. The trick is to find a common transfer partner between the currencies. Just make sure that you like to fly on that airline and that you can get significant value from transferring both currencies.
For example, some people collect MR points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Both issuers currently have six common partners including British Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Jet Blue. One large sign-up bonus from each issuer could give you enough points for a plethora of airfare options. You can get multiple economy class seats or splurge on first or business class seats.
Families and businesses with large expenses should collect MR points because they are so versatile. But they should also collect points from another transferrable issuer to get traveling even faster.
Amex Membership Rewards points are the best currency to collect if you love transfer bonuses. The issuer is partners with a plethora of domestic and international airlines. Many of these airlines offer a temporarily better transfer ratio from Amex to them. These improved ratios are called transfer bonuses.
For example, British Airways is one of the most well-known international Amex partners. Normally, you can transfer MR points to them at a 1:1 ratio. But sometimes, you can get up to 50% more Avios for the same amount of MR points. Transferring points and booking flights at the right time could save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. This is especially true if you are booking a first or business class flight.
Citi and Capital One also offer transfer bonuses. But they are not as good as those from Amex. Furthermore, Chase had a 30% transfer bonus to British Airways earlier in 2019.
You Have a Premium Business Card
Hat tip to reader Doug who commented on the counter-argument post for bringing up this point.
One of the lesser-known redemption options is the points rebate that comes with the American Express Business Gold Card, Business Platinum, and Business Centurion Cards. Amex will rebate you either 25% (Gold), 35% (Platinum), or 50% (Centurion) of the points redeemed for premium class redemptions on amextravel.com.
A redemption option like this one is very valuable, especially for cards that have annual fees over $250. Combining the rebate and how many points you can earn from amextravel.com could be very valuable for some cardholders. Just remember that airfare must be booked directly from amextravel.com. Otherwise, you will not receive the rebate or extra points.
The Business Gold Card offers a 25% redemption and up to 4x MR points for airfare from amextravel.com. This card lets you decide which categories you can earn 4x points on. One of the categories is airfare booked directly with the airline or via amextravel.com. Furthermore, the Business Platinum Card offers a 35% redemption and 5x for airfare from amextravel.com. And, the invitation-only Centurion Card offers a 50% redemption and just one point per dollar on all purchases.
Amex Membership Rewards Points are a very popular currency among travelers. However, their popularity does not mean they are the best currency for you. Those who should collect them are domestic and international flyers who are confident they can extract loads of value from them.
Another purpose of this post is to balance and counter the argument posed in the previous post. Your mileage may vary as some people could justify collecting MR points while others cannot. A collection of Membership Rewards points can be a great tool for the right traveler. But for the wrong traveler, collecting them could be wasted effort, time, and resources.