Friday, May 10, 2013

American express membership rewards overview

American express membership rewards are amex's own brand of rewards points.  The point program comes standard on most American express cards.  I recently took advantage of an offer for 75,000 bonus points on the American express gold business card.  Unfortunately this offer expired in less than a day.  The good news is that you can still get 50,000 points as a sign up bonus.  This is still a nice chunk of points as you will see below.  I also have the American express premier rewards card (I got 50,000 points for signing up).  Both of the above mentioned cards have their annual fee waved for the first year and are "charge cards" meaning you need to pay the balance in full every month.

Program basics:
The two primary uses of membership rewards points are to "pay with points" or to transfer to a hotel or airline program directly.

1. Pay with points: you can use your points to pay for travel expenses on any airline or any hotel.  1 point = 1 cent, so 50,000 points = $500

2. Transfer points to airline/hotel program.  In my opinion this is the best use of your points.  There are often transfer bonus offers associated with this, including a current promotion of 35% bonus on transfers to british ariways.  Points can be transferred directly to several programs including:
Delta Skymiles
British Airways avios
KLM Flying Blue
Frontier EarlyReturns
Hawaiian airlines
Jet Blue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer
Virgin America Elevate
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Air canada aeroplan
Asia Miles
El Al Israel Airlines
Best western
Choice Privileges
Hilton HHonors
Jumeriah Hotels
Conversion rates and increments
For most frequent customer programs, 1,000 Membership Rewards points will equal 1,000 miles, points or credits and must be transferred in 1,000-point increments unless otherwise noted. The only exceptions are:
  • JetBlue Airways: 250 points = 200 JetBlue TrueBlue points; must be transferred in 250-point increments
  • El AL Israel Airlines: 1,000 points = 20 Matmid points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest®: 1,000 points = 333 Starpoints
  • Hilton: 1,000 points = 1,500 HHonors™ points
  • Virgin America: 200 points = 100 Elevate points; must be transferred in 200-point increments
  • Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts: 2,300 points = 100 Sirius Points; must be transferred in 2,300-point increments

Now you might be saying "i don't use any of those airlines".  Well thanks to airline alliances you can get a little creative on redemption offers.  For example, British Airways Avios currently offers a 35% bonus on transfers.  This means that 75,000 amex points = 100,000 British airways avios.  You can use these points on any one of BAs Oneworld partners including american airlines.  British airways has a distance based award chart which often ends up offering some very good deals.  For example a flight from NYC to Toronto can be had for just 8,000 points round trip.  Another great bargain is a flight from Boston to Dublin on aer lingus for only 25,000 miles round trip.  A flight to Dublin costs around $700, therefore my 75,000 amex points could get me  $2,800 in flights.

No comments:

Post a Comment