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What are American Express Membership Rewards Points worth?

Select finds out which use of Amex points will get you the greatest redemption value.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

American Express cards earn either Membership Rewards® points or cash back. Whether you're considering which type of card to get or looking to get the maximum value from your Amex points, you may be wondering how much Amex Membership Rewards points are worth.

As you'll see in detail below, Amex redemption options generally range between 0.5 cents and 1 cent per point. However, you can get much more value than that through Amex's airline and hotel transfer partners.

How to earn Amex points

You'll earn Amex Membership Rewards points through spending on eligible Amex cards. The fastest ways to earn Amex points is through a welcome bonus you'll receive after signing up for a card and meeting certain spending requirements.

Some of the best cards to earn Amex points include:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of account opening. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months from account opening
  • American Express® Green Card: 45,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 6 months of card membership
  • Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.

What's the value of Amex points for cash back?

American Express cardholders can redeem Membership Rewards to offset card charges at a rate of 0.6 cents per point through Cover Your Card Charges. That's a pretty poor redemption rate for your Amex points, and yet this option still comes with several restrictions.

Not all charges are eligible for Cover Your Card Charges. To be eligible, the purchase must be at least $1 and have occurred in the U.S. or U.S. territory, and the charge must appear in your account under 'Recent Activity' or in your current statement.

To use Cover Your Card Charges, you'll need to redeem at least 1,000 Membership Rewards points. Partial redemptions aren't allowed. So, you'll need to have enough points to cover the entire purchase. 1,000 Membership Rewards points would cover a $6 charge.

As if those aren't enough restrictions, you can't use Cover Your Card Charges to offset purchases if they exceed your latest statement balance. So, you'll need to wait until your statement posts, and you may still be limited on which charges you can cover. Also, note that you'll get a statement credit in your account that reduces your card balance — not cash back.

What's the value of Amex points for gift cards?

American Express Membership Rewards can currently be redeemed for 90 types of gift cards. For many gift card options, you'll get 1 cent per point in value by redeeming points this way.

However, not all redemptions are as valuable. Some redemption options yield only 0.7 or 0.85 cents per point. It depends on which retailer's gift card you are redeeming points for. For example, a $100 Best Western gift card would run you 11,765 points, while a $100 gift card for Delta Air Lines would cost 14,286 points.

Worst of all, you'll only get 0.5 cents per point in value when redeeming points for American Express gift cards.

What's the value of Amex points for travel?

American Express cardholders generally get either 0.7 or 1 cent per point when using Membership Rewards points to pay for travel — depending on what kind of travel you're purchasing. However, after factoring in a points rebate, certain Amex business cards can effectively get up to 1.54 cents per point toward eligible flights.

Booking flights with Amex points

The best value is found when booking flights through Amex Travel or when using points to upgrade your flight. In both cases, Amex cardholders can redeem points at 1 cent per point. This can be a useful redemption option, particularly for inexpensive flights:

Even better, certain American Express business cards can receive a points rebate when cardmembers use Pay With Points to book flights. To be eligible for the rebate, you must either book an economy flight on your selected qualifying airline or business or first class on any airline.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers get a 35% points rebate, up to 500,000 points back per calendar year. After factoring in the rebate, Amex Business Platinum cardmembers effectively get 1.54 cents per point in value. Meanwhile American Express® Business Gold Card cardholders get a 25% points rebate up to 250,000 points back per calendar year. That effectively yields a 1.33 cents per point redemption rate.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $595

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

American Express® Business Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Get more rewards with 4X Membership Rewards® points on two select categories where you spend the most each month and 25% points back after you book a flight using Pay with Points (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year).

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $295

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    14.24% to 22.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Once you book your flight — whether through Amex or not — you can use Membership Rewards points to upgrade your flight. The Upgrade with Points redemption option lets you use points to bid for an upgrade on over 20 airlines.

Booking hotels with Amex Points

One of the perks of holding the The Platinum Card® from American Express or Business Platinum card is access to luxury hotels via the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. By booking one of these hotels through Amex Travel, cardmembers get a slew of perks — including free breakfast, room upgrades, a $100 on-site credit, late checkout and more.

Plus, if you use points to pay for the booking, you can get a redemption rate of 1 cent per point. For all other hotel bookings through Amex Travel, almost all Amex cards get a redemption rate of 0.7 cents per point. That means 10,000 Amex points would cover $100 towards a stay at a Fine Hotels & Resorts property or $70 at another hotel booked through Amex Travel.

Booking other types of travel

American Express cardholders can also use points to book rental cars, cruises, vacations, and more through Amex Travel. For these types of redemptions, most American Express cardholders get a redemption rate of 0.7 cents per point.

That means 10,000 Amex points would cover $70 towards other types of travel booked through Amex Travel.

What's the value of Amex points for shopping online?

In addition to using points to Cover Your Card Charges, you can redeem points at checkout at several online retailers. With two exceptions noted below, the Pay With Points redemption option provides 0.7 cents per point in value.

That redemption rate is an ever-so-slightly better rate than the 0.6 cents per point that you get when using points to offset card charges. So, if you're planning on redeeming points through Cover Your Card Charges, it's worth seeing if you can make the purchase through one of the participating retailers and use Pay With Points instead.

 You'll get a redemption rate of 0.7 cents per point when using points at checkout at the following retailers:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Boxed
  • Dell.com
  • Grubhub
  • JustGiving
  • Newegg
  • PayPal
  • Rite Aid
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Seamless.com
  • Staples
  • Walmart

The only exceptions to this general redemption rate are Ticketmaster (0.5 cents per point) and NYC Taxi (1 cent per point).

The best use of Amex points: Membership Rewards transfer partners

So far, all of the redemption options we've covered have provided no more than 1 cent per point in value. Yet, Amex Membership Rewards points are considered some of the most valuable points available. And that's because of Amex's valuable airline and hotel transfer partners.

Points earned through almost all Membership Rewards points-earning cards (excluding the Blue From American Express) can be transferred to Amex's 21 airline and hotel partners. And this is where the real value of Membership Rewards is found.

For example, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Air Canada Aeroplan to book United award flights from the US West Coast to Hawaii for just 12,500 points each way in economy or 25,000 points each way in business class:

As of writing, that flight is currently priced at $280 in economy, meaning you'd be getting a value of 2.24 cents per point.

Or, transfer 88,000 Membership Rewards points to ANA Mileage Club to book a round-trip business class award to Europe on United, Lufthansa or any other Star Alliance partner:

As of writing, that round-trip business class flight between Newark and Amsterdam on United is currently priced at $5,933, meaning you'd be getting an amazing value of 6.74 cents per point.

Just keep in mind that not all of Amex's transfer partners are as valuable. Choice Privileges and Marriott Bonvoy points typically provide less than 1 cent per point in value. So, you'll generally want to avoid using points for these programs — unless you find a particularly valuable redemption or need to top off your account with a few more points.

Delta SkyMiles

As Delta uses dynamic award pricing, the value of SkyMiles is limited to an average value around 1.2 cents per mile — although you can sometimes get higher value than that. So, it's a good idea to check the cash price of any Delta flights before transferring miles. Consider booking cash flights through Amex Travel at 1 cent per point rather than transferring points to Delta SkyMiles to book an award flight. After all, you'll also earn SkyMiles and elite status credits when you use Amex points to buy a cash airfare.

However, for the right redemption, it can make sense to transfer points to Delta. After all, it's hard to beat paying just 3,000 points for a one-way award flight:

As of writing that ticket costs $59, meaning you'd be getting nearly 2 cents per point with this redemption.

The worst uses of Amex points

The least-valuable Amex redemption options only provide 0.5 cents per point in value. As there are so many more valuable ways to use Membership Rewards points, these redemption options should be avoided:

  • Pay With Points at Ticketmaster: Although you'll generally get 0.7 cents per point when you Pay With Points, the redemption rate is only 0.5 cents per point for Ticketmaster purchases.
  • Excise Tax Offset Fee: Amex collects excise tax when you transfer points to US-based airline mileage programs. You have the option to use points to cover this cost, but the redemption rate is only 0.5 cents per point. So, it's better to pay this excise tax out-of-pocket. 
  • American Express Gift Cards: The redemption rate for travel, retail and dining gift cards varies between 0.7 and 1.0 cents per point. However, you'll only get 0.5 cents per point when redeeming points for American Express gift cards.
  • Shop with Membership Rewards Points: You can buy a variety of merchandise products directly from American Express through the Shop with Membership Rewards Points website. However, you'll only get a value of 0.5 cents per point. So, it's better to purchase merchandise directly and use Cover Your Card Charges to get 0.6 cents per point. Or, you can Pay With Points at Checkout at Amazon, Best Buy, and other retailers at 0.7 cents per point.

Bottom line

For most redemption options, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth no more than 1 cent per point. And some redemptions only provide 0.5 cents per point in value.

However, by maximizing Amex's airline and hotel transfer partners, you can get much more value than this — whether it's booking domestic Delta flights for 3,000 miles each way or a round-trip business class trip to Europe for 88,000 miles. These redemptions can often yield a value of 2 cents per point or more.

For rates and fees for the Business Platinum card for Amex, click here

For rates and fees for the American Express Business Gold Card, click here

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.