American Express Membership Rewards have been considered among the most lucrative points one can earn with a rewards card. Travel enthusiasts across the globe have been earning Amex rewards to redeem for all kinds of travel, gift cards and even cash back.

But how much exactly are American Express points worth? One cent apiece? Two? How can you increase that valuation and make the points work for you? Let’s find out.

What Are American Express Membership Rewards?

American Express Membership Rewards are the flexible currency of American Express branded cards. You can earn these points by making purchases on your cards. The value of these points varies depending on how you use them. Whether you redeem for airfare, hotel rooms or merchant gift cards, you’ll get a different value.

How Much Are Membership Rewards Worth?

As mentioned above, the value you can extract from your Membership Rewards points isn’t the same across the board. Typically, you can get anywhere from 0.6 cent to 1 cent from your points by using your points to book various travel components via the Amex Travel portal, exchanging points for statement credits or gift cards.

Let’s take a look at the value chart of Amex points.

Flights1 cent
Prepaid Hotels0.7 cent
Cruises0.7 cent
Vacations0.7 cent
Upgrade with Points1 cent
Fine Hotels & Resorts1 cent
Cash Back0.6 cent
Gift Cards0.5 cent to 1 cent
Amazon Purchases0.7 cent

However, you can increase your Amex points’ value by transferring them to airline and hotel loyalty programs and booking travel through these programs. We’ll talk about this method of using your rewards a little later.

How to Sign Up for Membership Rewards

Signing up for the Membership Rewards program is easier than going through a TSA Precheck security line. You’re enrolled automatically when you open an eligible American Express card and get a member number assigned to you.

After you set up an American Express account online, all your subsequent Amex credit cards will be listed on the same account, and all the Membership Rewards you earn will be added to your balance, as long as you’re the primary card holder.

How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points

Membership Rewards don’t come from any American Express card. For example, co-branded airline and hotel cards earn that specific program’s points or miles and have nothing to do with Membership Rewards points.

If you hold the following American Express cards, you’re earning Membership Rewards points:

Card NameEarning RateCard’s BenefitsAnnual Fee
American Express® Business Gold Card• 4X on two select categories where your business spends the most per billing cycle (posted automatically) on up to $150,000 per calendar year, then 1X on all purchases thereafter• Get 25% of your points back when you book eligible flights via amextravel.com
• Pay Over Time (applies to purchases over $100)
• No foreign transaction fees
$295 (see rates and fees)
American Express® Gold Card• 4X at restaurants
• 4X at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter
• 3X on airfare booked directly with airlines
• 1X on all other purchases
• Up to $120 Uber cash (issued to your Uber account in increments of $10 each month)
• Up to $120 dining credits (issued in monthly $10 statement credits)
• Pay Over Time
• No foreign transaction fees
$250 (see rates and fees)
American Express® Green Card• 3X at restaurants worldwide
• 3X on travel
• 1X on all other purchases
• Up to $100 CLEAR credits (issued in statement credits each calendar year)
• Up to $100 LoungeBuddy credits (issued in statement credits each calendar year)
• Car rental loss and damage insurance
• No foreign transaction fees
$150 (see rates and fees)
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card• 2X at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter
• 2X on travel purchases made on amextravel.com
• 1X on all other purchases
• Earn 20% bonus on rewards if you use your card 20 or more times per month
• 0% intro APR on purchases made within the first 15 months
$0 (see rates and fees)
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card• 3X at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter
• 2X at U.S. gas stations
• 1X on all other purchases
• Earn 50% bonus on rewards if you use your card 30 or more times per month
• 0% intro APR on purchases made within the first 12 months
$95 (see rates and fees)
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express• 2X on all purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, 1X on all purchases thereafter
• 2X on travel purchases made on amextravel.com
• Expanded buying power
• 0% intro APR on purchases made within the first 12 months
$0 (see rates and fees)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express• 5X on flights and prepaid hotels booked via amextravel.com
• 1.5X on purchases totaling $5,000 in one transaction
• 1X on all other purchases
• Up to $200 in airline fee credits (issued in the form of statement credits toward purchases of incidental air travel fees)
• Up to $200 in Dell credits (issued in the form of statement credits: $100 January through June and another $100 July through December; enrollment required)
• Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck enrollment fee credit (enrollment required)
• Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required)
• The Centurion Lounge access
• Delta Sky Club access (with a Delta boarding pass for same-day travel)
• Fine Hotels & Resorts
• Hilton Honors Gold status (enrollment required)
• Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status (enrollment required)
• Get 35% of your points back when you book eligible flights via amextravel.com
• No foreign transaction fees
$595 (see rates and fees)
The Platinum Card® from American Express• 5X on airfare booked directly with airlines and on amextravel.com (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter)
• 5X on prepaid hotels booked via amextravel.com
• 1X on all other purchases
• Up to $200 in airline fee credits (issued in the form of statement credits toward purchases of incidental air travel fees)
• Up to $120 of Uber cash (issued to your Uber account in increments of $15 each month and $35 in December)
• Up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credits (issued in the form of statement credits: $50 January through June and another $50 July through December; enrollment required)
• Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck enrollment fee credit (enrollment required)
• Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required)
• The Centurion Lounge access
• Delta Sky Club access (with a Delta boarding pass for same-day travel)
• Fine Hotels & Resorts
• Hilton Honors Gold status (enrollment required)
• Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status (enrollment required)
• No foreign transaction fees
$695 (see rates and fees)

Amex Points Redemption Options

The beauty of American Express Membership Rewards points is in their versatility. You can redeem them for travel via the Amex Travel portal, for Amazon purchases, for gift cards and as cash statements back to your account. The value you get varies, so pay attention where you find the most value.

Flights

You can book airfare via Amex Travel for the maximum value of 1 cent per point. You’ll need 100 Membership Rewards points for every $1 of a ticket cost you want to purchase.

American Express Membership Rewards Points - Amex Points Redemption Options_flights

American Express Travel acts as an online travel agency similar to Orbitz or Expedia. You can apply Amex points toward any flight listed on amextravel.com. The downside of booking flights this way is the rewards are worth 1 cent apiece, no more and no less, and it’s impossible to increase their value this way.

Hotel Rooms

In addition to flights, it’s also possible to book hotel rooms via the Amex travel portal, except your redemption rate drops to 0.7 cents per point.

However, it’s possible to increase this redemption rate by booking properties that participate in The Hotel Collection and in the Fine Hotels & Resorts programs. Hotels that are listed as such can be booked at a rate of 1 cent per point. Although this isn’t great, it’s better than 0.7 cent per point toward most lodging listed on Amex Travel.

American Express Membership Rewards Points - Amex Points Redemption Options_Hotel Rooms

Additionally, when booking Fine Hotels & Resorts, you qualify for a room upgrade when available, daily breakfast for two guests, noon check-in when available, guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout, free Wi-Fi and a property credit.

Vacation Packages

If you’re looking to combine your flights with a hotel stay, you can book a vacation package through the Amex Travel portal, except your cents-per-point rate is again quite low at 0.7 cent.

Amex Points Redemption Options_Vacation Packages

You might be able to save a couple hundred dollars by booking a vacation package, but double check the rate in points by booking the two separately because you get a better redemption rate on flights than on hotels.

Cruises

Have your eye on a sea voyage? American Express points are worth 0.7 cents each toward a cruise reservation.

The Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card holders receive additional benefits, such as shipboard credits and exclusive amenities.

Rental Cars

You can book almost anything travel-related through the Amex Travel portal, including rental cars. However, as we’ve seen with non-luxury hotels, cruises and vacation packages, the redemption rate leaves a lot to be desired. You’ll get just 0.7 cents for every point redeemed for a car rental, and it’s not worth it to use your rewards this way in our opinion.

Amazon Purchases

Yes, it’s possible to link your Membership Rewards-earning Amex card to Amazon and use rewards for making purchases with the retail giant, but this poor redemption rate won’t leave you amazed. Again, all you get from your rewards is a measly 0.7 cents. You can do so much better than that.

Occasionally, Amazon will offer discounts when using Membership Rewards points towards your purchase. You can redeem just one Membership Rewards point to receive the discount. This is the only time we recommend we use them for Amazon purchases. Just be careful to not use them to cover the entire purchase!

Gift Cards

You might as well throw your points into Mount Doom with this method because it’s the least lucrative way of redeeming your Amex Membership Rewards points. Depending on the type of gift card you pick—American Express gift card or merchant gift card, digital card or physical card—the value of your points will vary between 0.5 cents and 1 cent per point.

Amex Points Redemption Options_Gift Cards

And the better 1-cent-per-point redemption value is available only if you see a special offer, which means it’s not a standard rate.

Statement Credits

Speaking of poor redemptions, another abysmal way of using your American Express points is by applying them toward eligible charges made on your Amex card.

Amex Points Redemption Options_Statement Credits

When you redeem your points for a statement credit, they’re worth 0.6 cents each, and we advise against using your Membership Rewards this way.

If you’re looking for a cashback credit card, we recommend the Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2% cash back per dollar spent—1% when you make the charge and another 1% when you pay the balance.

However, we’re not really here to talk about cash back and its limited use. We’re here to talk about how much your American Express points are worth and how to increase their value.

How to Increase the Value of Amex Rewards

Choose the Best Transfer Partners of American Express

I’m glad you asked about how to increase the value of Amex Membership Rewards points. Transferring American Express points to partner programs is the best way to maximize their value.

American Express partners with 19 airline programs and three hotel programs. You can transfer your Amex points to all these programs at the following ratios:

AirlinesTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000:1,000
Aeroméxico Club Premier1,000:1,600
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000:1,000
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1,000:1,000
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000:1,000
ANA Mileage Club1,000:1,000
Avianca LifeMiles1,000:1,000
British Airways Executive Club1,000:1,000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000:1,000
Delta SkyMiles1,000:1,000
El Al Frequent Flyer Club1,000:20
Emirates Skywards1,000:1,000
Etihad Guest1,000:1,000
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000:1,000
Iberia Plus1,000:1,000
JetBlue TrueBlue250:200
Qantas Frequent Flyer500:500
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000:1,000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000:1,000
HotelsTransfer Ratio
Choice Privileges1,000:1,000
Hilton Honors1,000:2,000
Marriott Bonvoy1,000:1,000

Let’s take a look at an example and pretend you want to travel from Los Angeles to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways (ANA) in first class. Unless you’re Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, buying this ticket with cash for $17,300 seems to be cost-prohibitive if not impossible.

Choosing the Best Transfer Partners of American Express

However, booking this flight with miles is a lot more manageable. You’ll need 150,000 miles + $99.81 to book it via ANA’s loyalty program, Mileage Club. Luckily, the Membership Rewards program partners with ANA Mileage Club, and you can transfer your points to the airline directly.

American Express Membership Rewards Points - Choosing the Best Transfer Partners of American Express

Remember those valuations of 0.6 to 1 cents per point? This particular redemption is going to blow those silly numbers out of the water because after subtracting the taxes out of the $17,300 it costs to buy this fare outright, your points end up being worth 11.46 cents apiece. How do you like them apples?

And if you transfer your points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which also happens to be a partner of American Express, you can book the same first-class flight for 110,000 miles instead and increase the value of your points even further.

Want to do even better than that? Sometimes American Express runs promotions and offers a bonus on the points you transfer to a specific loyalty program for a limited period of time. In the past, we’ve seen transfer bonuses as high as 25% to 40%. So, by transferring 100,000 Membership Rewards to an airline during one of these promos, you can score another 25,000 to 40,000 miles for free.

Yes, it’s a bit of a learning curve to get to know the airline programs and their connections to other airlines to nail your every point redemption, but it’s worth it as the value speaks for itself.

Don’t Go for Cash Back Redemptions

As mentioned above, cashback redemptions, or exchanging your accumulated rewards for statement credits, is one of the worst redemptions you can make with your American Express rewards points. In this case, the points’ value drops to a low 0.6 cents apiece.

When you consider all the other options available, including the example above, it’s a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad way of using your rewards.

Instead, transfer Amex points to airlines or hotels to increase their value. If you hold either the Gold or the Platinum business card issued by American Express, you may consider using Pay with Points.

Redeem American Express Points via the Portal

As you remember from the breakdown of the various redemption options, using your Membership Rewards points via Amex Travel actually isn’t the best redemption method. However, there’s one exception to this rule.

Remember that redemption rebate you get as a holder of either the American Express Business Gold Card or the Business Platinum Card from American Express? This is the only exception.

When you use either card to book certain flights, you get a higher value than 1 cent. That’s because you receive a 25% rebate on your points with the Amex Business Gold Card and a 35% rebate with the Amex Business Platinum Card. After the rebate if taken into account, your points are worth the following.

Business CardAmex Points’ Value After Airline Bonus Rebate
American Express Business Gold Card1.33 cents
The Business Platinum Card from American Express1.54 cents

This perk applies whenever you use the Pay with Points feature to book a premium-cabin flight through the Amex Travel portal. In other words, booking business-class and first-class flights will trigger the rebate.

The second option to get the rebate is by using the Amex Travel portal to book economy flights operated by your airline of choice, the one that you pick at the beginning of every calendar year to apply the incidental fee credit.

For example, you find a $2,000 flight to Europe in business class. If you book this flight through the travel portal, you’ll need to redeem 200,000 Membership Rewards points. However, after a 35% rebate goes back to your account, assuming you hold the Business Platinum Card from American Express, you’re out 130,000 points for the same flight.

It’s worth noting that you need to have the full 200,000 points in your account to buy the ticket and not 130,000.

Keep in mind that the rebate limit is 500,000 Membership Rewards points per calendar year if you hold the Amex Business Platinum Card and 250,000 points per calendar year if you hold the Amex Business Gold Card.

How Amex Stacks Up Against Its Competitors

Besides American Express, a few other card issuers have skin in the credit-cards rewards game:

  • Capital One Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards
American Express
Membership Rewards
Capital One
Rewards
Chase Ultimate
Rewards
Citi ThankYou
Rewards
Travel portal booking rates0.7 to 1.54 cents,
with limitations
1 cent1 to 1.5 cents1 cent
Number of transfer partners19191316
Points’ transfer ratiosVariesVaries1:11:1
Points’ value when redeemed for cash back0.6 cent1 cent for travel1 cent
1.25 to 1.5 cents with
Pay Yourself Back
0.5 to 1 cent

When it comes time for travel portal bookings, Chase is a clear winner. Why would you redeem Amex points at a value of 0.7 to 1 cent when you can get as much as 1.5 cents back from every Chase point you redeem? Chase Ultimate Rewards is the best program for booking flights and hotel rooms through a travel portal to get a consistent rate.

As for the number of transfer partners, American Express and Capital One tie. Some of the travel partners, such as Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Air Canada Aeroplan and British Airways, overlap even. However, Capital One loses this round because of the uneven point conversions. Amex points transfer to the partner programs above at a rate of 1:1, but Capital One Venture Miles convert at a lower rate of 2:1.5 for most programs.

Chase and Citi points transfer 1:1 to all their respective partners. Additionally, Amex and Citi frequently run transfer bonuses on points conversion, so they all beat out Capital One Rewards.

If you’re thinking about redeeming points for cash back, we typically recommend against it. The points don’t provide as much value when compared to the value you can extract when booking travel. They just don’t.

However, if you were to consider this barbaric rewards redemption method, at least use Chase Ultimate Rewards to Pay Yourself Back to erase transactions in the following shopping categories: dining, groceries, home improvement and annual card fees. You can get 1.25 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and to 1.5 cents per point back with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Amex Rewards

Although membership Rewards points are quite valuable, every rewards program has its pros and cons. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether Amex points are for you.

Advantages of Earning Membership Rewards Points

Flexibility: The best part of American Express points is how flexible they are. You can use them to book travel in the Amex portal as well as transfer them to 19 partner airlines and three partner hotels. The number of ways you can redeem them for maximum value is limitless.

Lots of transfer partners: Sure, quantity doesn’t always mean quality, but Amex has got a solid list of transfer partners. We’ve already seen the power of ANA Mileage Club and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and it’s just the beginning. Programs like Avianca LifeMiles, Etihad Guest and Delta SkyMiles are all useful. (Don’t laugh at the last one. I’ve been able to find great use for SkyMiles that other loyalty programs didn’t provide.)

Ease of earning: American Express offers multiple cards that earn Membership Rewards points to consumers and business owners, which means that you have plenty of options to pad your points balance. With 5X points per dollar on the Amex Platinum Card, 4X points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets on the Amex Gold Card and 2X points per dollar on all purchases on the Blue Business Plus Card, you’ll find ways to earn a multiplier on many purchases.

Disadvantages of Earning Membership Rewards Points

Lifetime limit on cards: Although plenty of Amex cards earn Membership Rewards, you’re limited to one welcome offer per lifetime on each card. This means that you’re most likely not eligible to receive another bonus on the same card if you currently hold it or have held it in the past.

Low redemption value in the portal: Unless you hold one of the Amex business cards that get you a rebate on point redemptions, you extract just 1 cent in value from your points when you redeem them for airfare in the portal. It would be nice to see this value increased on consumer cards and applied to more travel than select airfare.

Poor redemption rate for statement credits: Not that you want to use this redemption method often, but it can make sense to redeem your rewards for cash back (or statement credits). With Chase, you can use the Pay Yourself back feature and redeem your points for certain purchases, such as groceries or restaurant spend, at a rate of 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point. With American Express, you get 0.6 cent per point.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Are 50,000 American Express Points Worth?

As we illustrated above, American Express points are assigned different values when you use them for different transactions. Here’s how much value you can get from the same number of points:

Flights$500
Prepaid Hotels$350
Cruises$350
Vacations$350
Upgrade with Points$500
Fine Hotels & Resorts$500
Cash Back$300
Gift Cards$250 to $500
Amazon Purchases

$350
Flights Booked Via a Transfer Partner$1,000 (using an extremely
modest value of 2 cents per point)

When Do American Express Points Expire?

American Express Membership Rewards points don’t expire for as long as you hold a Membership Rewards-earning card and your account is open and in good standing. Make sure to pay the amounts due and on time to avoid having to forfeit your rewards. As always, we recommend paying off the full balance before the due date.

Can I Transfer Membership Rewards Points to Someone Else?

The short answer, yes and no. The long answer is it’s not possible to transfer your Amex points to someone else’s Membership Rewards account. However, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to another person’s loyalty account as long as that person has been an authorized user on one of your Membership Rewards-earning cards for at least 90 days.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it. American Express Membership Rewards have always been valuable and still are if you know how to use them. The true value lies in transfer partners.

Although it takes time getting familiar with the many loyalty programs, a bit of practice running award searches and a little strategy for redeeming your rewards, it’ll be worth it once you start making lucrative redemptions with your American Express points.