7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program

Here's how to make the most of your Membership Rewards.

[Disclosure: Our partners are mentioned below.]

There are a few different transferable points programs available, but over the years one of the most popular has always been American Express’ Membership Rewards program. The reason is because of the ample ways points can be used and the wide selection of credit cards that can help you earn points quickly. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can earn Membership Rewards points and the different ways you can receive ultimate value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the best ways to receive maximum value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the many loyalty partners. There is a large selection of both hotels and airlines and each of the following partners will transfer 1-to-1 unless noted.

  • Aeromexico — 1-to-1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways — 250-to-200
  • Delta Air Lines
  • El Al Israel Airlines — 1,000-to-20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus — 250-to-200
  • JetBlue Airways — 250-to-200
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America — 200-to-100
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels — 1-to-1.5
  • Starwood Hotels — 1,000-to-333

To get the most value out of each point, you could use them for one of the following redemptions.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Japan

Until recently, the All Nippon Airways award chart was based on distances. That used to provide many sweet spots for award travel. Even though they have changed to a region based award chart, there are still some great deals. One of them is round-trip flights from the United States to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach for just 40,000 miles during low season and business class for 75,000 miles, also in the low season.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Asia Zone 2

You could use All Nippon Airways miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Asia Zone 2 for just 55,000 in coach or 100,000 in business class. Asia Zone 2 is classified as Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flying Blue From the Continental United States to Hawaii

A great use of Flying Blue miles is to fly round-trip from anywhere in the continental United States to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.

Aeroplan From the United States to Oceania

Transferring Membership Award points to Aeroplan will allow you to use 90,000 miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere in the South Pacific. You could make this trip for 80,000 United miles, but what makes using Aeroplan miles worth it is that they will allow you to make two stopovers before reaching your destination. That means you could fly to Tahiti and make stops in both Australia and New Zealand on the way.

British Airways From Miami to Lima, Peru

If hiking to Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, you might want to consider flying British Airways from Miami to Lima, Peru. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, the flight in coach is just 12,500 miles each way.

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another way to use your Membership Rewards is to receive gift cards from different restaurants, retailers and for travel. The value you receive will be anywhere from a half-cent to one cent per point.

3. Go Shopping

You could also use your points to shop online with certain retailers. Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Newegg.com offer 0.7 cents per point. Other partner retailers give you a half-cent per point in value.

4. Use American Express Travel or Airbnb

There are a few different ways you can use your points on travel beyond transferring them to partners. You can book airfare on American Express Travel for one cent per point. You could also book with Airbnb for 0.7 cents per point.

5. Enjoy Entertainment

If you want to redeem your points for concert tickets or for a Broadway show you can do so through Ticketmaster.com, AXS and Telecharge.com. The value is a half-cent per point.

6. Ride With Uber

You could also use your Membership Reward points to pay for Uber rides. You will receive one cent value per point used.

7. Get a Statement Credit

Finally, you could choose to use your points to receive a statement credit. However, by doing this, you will only receive 0.6 cents value per point.

Cards That Earn Membership Rewards Points

There are quite a few different credit cards that give you the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards points. Below you will find a few of our favorite cards.

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express has been one of the elite cards available for a few years. When you sign up you will receive 60,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You can then receive five points per dollar spent on flights and hotels when booked through the airline and by using American Express Travel. All other purchases will receive one point per dollar.

Earlier this year, the annual fee on the Platinum card increased from $450 to $550. This will put the card out of reach for many people. But before you discard the idea of adding it to your wallet, you should consider the travel benefits. Not only will you receive a $200 airline fee credit, which will pay for things like change fees or baggage fees, you also receive a $200 Uber credit. You will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will receive Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold status. Plus, the next time you travel, it will be in comfort. You will have access to the Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges and a Priority Pass Select membership.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Another of the elite cards from American Express is the Premier Rewards Gold Card. When you sign up for this card, you receive 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You receive three points per dollar spent on any airfare purchased directly with airlines. You also receive two points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. All other purchases will earn one point per dollar. There is a $195 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Other than the earnings potential, the other benefits can make the annual fee worthwhile to travelers. Each year you receive a $100 airline fee credit. You also receive two points per dollar when you book a hotel through the Hotel Collection. Plus, you receive a $75 hotel credit for qualifying charges.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

When you sign up for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card you receive 10,000 Membership Reward points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use the card at U.S. supermarkets, you receive two points per dollar, on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and one point per dollar on everything else. Also, if you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a single billing period you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases minus returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.

At the time of this writing, the EveryDay Preferred also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. This card has an annual fee of $95.

If you don’t already have one of these cards keep in mind you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. You can see where your credit stands by getting your two free credit scores right here on Credit.com.

Image: AleksandarNakic

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and Amex EveryDay Preferred card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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