Amex To Let Cardholders Use Membership Rewards Points To Pay Off Their Balances
02:13 EDT, 10 June 2016 | Updated:
American Express has added a new feature to its Membership Rewards scheme, meaning cardholders can use their rewards points to clear the cost of their credit card balances.
The perk is offered to personal customers on the American Express Credit Card, Preferred Rewards Credit Card and Platinum Credit Card and cardholders signed up to the rewards programme will be able to swap their points to pay for anything from a meal out to their weekly shop – as long as it was paid for by swiping their Amex credit card.
Cardholders will be able to repay their outstanding balance using the points by logging into their online account or mobile banking app. To redeem their points spenders will just need to select the transaction they wish to pay for.
Membership rewards: American Express will now let you use your points to clear your credit card balance
The rewards scheme is also offered to customers signed up to any of the provider’s selection of business credit cards – the Gold Business Card, the Platinum Business Card and the Basic Business Card.
Anyone with a Centurion Charge Card will also be eligible, however this card is offered by invitation only by Amex.
Buy Merchandise Through Amex Or Tickets Through Ticketmaster
Amex offers a shopping portal that has a wide range of different products, all of which can be purchased with Membership Rewards points. However, you’ll only get 0.5 cents per point, so if you were set on using points for merchandise, you’d be better off going through a shopping partner like Amazon, or possibly buying a gift card.
To redeem points at Ticketmaster, you’ll need to call Amex after using your card to pay for your Ticketmaster purchase, then use points at a rate of 0.5 cents each to cover the charge.
How Much Are American Express Membership Rewards Points Worth
You have a lot of options when it comes to redeeming your Membership Rewards points and the value you get per point varies depending on how you use them. You can also look up the values for different options based on your card using a tool on the American Express Membership Rewards website. Here are ways to redeem:
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Your Ultimate Guide To Amex Pay Over Time
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Card issuers are in the business of loaning money, and American Express has creatively expanded the financing options it offers to customers. Today, were going to take a look at everything you need to know about Amexs Pay Over Time feature, including how you can earn bonus points by signing up.
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More Info About The American Express Platinum Card Points:
American Express Platinum card points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for airfare or stays at Fine Hotels & Resorts properties booked through the American Express Travel portal. Points used for most other forms of travel are worth just 0.7 cents each, however. In addition, points are worth 1 cent each toward most gift cards, 0.6 cents toward statement credits or 0.7 cents when using the Pay with Points feature for purchases at major retailers like Amazon or Best Buy.
Just remember that American Express Platinum card point values are subject to change. Visit the Membership Rewards Points calculator website for current point values and other redemption options. American Express Platinum card points do not expire as long as your account isnt closed due to inactivity and you keep your account in good standing. Points are forfeited when losing an account, so make sure to redeem them before that.
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This Is Money Verdict
It is easy to be persuaded by the lure of rewards points, but before you apply you will need to consider carefully whether a rewards card is the right option for you.
The hefty fees on Amex cards mean they are only worth it if you use them for all of your spending to make sure you clock up enough points to outweigh the annual charge.
You will also need to remember that Amex cards are not accepted everywhere as they tend to cost merchants more per transaction.
The new rewards feature allowing you to pay off your debt using rewards points offers extra flexibility but it won’t offer cardholders the best value.
The provider pays 0.45p per point you swap when you use the rewards to pay off a purchase, while swapping them for vouchers or transferring them to an airline reward scheme typically gets you 0.5p per point .
So how does the rewards scheme work?
You can choose to spend your points directly in the Membership Rewards online shop for anything from a barbecue to a sound system.
It also allows those signed up to turn their rewards into gift cards to spend at big-name retailers such as iTunes, Waterstones, Amazon, Topshop, House of Fraser, M& S, Starbucks, Boots and Ikea.
Customers are also offered the option of transferring points to other rewards schemes such as Nectar points or to one of the 15 frequent flyer programmes signed up which include Virgin Atlantic Flying club and British Airways Executive Club.
How much are your points actually worth?
When Can You Use Amex Rewards
Amex Rewards points usually appear on your billing statement as pending after a purchase is made. This typically takes about 72 hours after making the purchase that earned you the reward. However, you cant use the points until your minimum payment is received by the payment due date. After your payment is received, it usually takes between 24 and 72 hours to apply the payment to your account and release the points so you can use them freely.
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Redeem For Gift Cards
You can redeem your points for gift cards through the AmEx site at several dozens of retailers, from Home Depot to iTunes, and the point value varies by retailer. At Target, a $25 gift card costs 3,572 points, making each point worth about 0.7 cents. At Tiffany, a $250 gift card costs 25,000 points, making each point worth 1 cent.
Use Points To Upgrade Your Seat
The Upgrade with Points feature, available via the Membership Rewards portal, allows you to bid on seat upgrades with your points at over 20 participating airlines. Its a convenient option when you fear you may be cramped into a long flight. Still, be aware that your points can lose value as your bid escalates. Membership Rewards are worth at least 1 cent per point, depending on how you redeem them. If youre not getting the equivalent amount on your bid, it may not be the best use of your rewards.
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Best Amex Membership Rewards Cards
Now that youre more familiar with how to maximize and burn your hard-earned Amex points, its time to start earning them. Heres a look at some of the best Membership Rewards-earning cards for businesses and individuals:
The information for the Amex Green and Amex EveryDay Preferred cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
American Express Airline Partners
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.
Robin Ratcliff is a former CreditCards.com rates and reviews reporter.
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free or cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and six kids.
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Heres When You Can Pay Bills With A Credit Card For Points:
The best time to pay bills with a credit card is when you get extra rewards or benefits for doing so. And those can take many forms.
For example, lots of credit cards offer big initial bonuses for spending a certain amount during the first few months your account is open. Some will give you free cell phone insurance for paying your mobile bill with your card. And many small business credit cards offer bonus points for common corporate bills, like office supplies and telecom services.
Redeem Amex Points For Flights On Amex Travel
Using your Amex points to book flights through the Amex Travel portal will yield 1 cent per point. While this option provides average value, you can book virtually any airline or flight itinerary through Amex Travel. For simplicity’s sake, booking flights through Amex Travel can save you a ton of time and effort.
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Are There Any Products I Can’t Buy Using Shop With Points
Shop with Points is generally available to buy millions of products on Amazon.com. Please note, however, that rewards points cannot be used for all purchases on Amazon.com, and items that currently may not be purchased using Shop with Points include some digital goods, Kindle downloads, Subscribe and Save items, or AmazonFresh. Please also note that currently you may not use one-click to purchase products using Shop with Points.
Transfer Points To Travel Partners
AmEx has multiple transfer partners more than any other major U.S. card loyalty program and you can transfer your points directly to those partners’ loyalty programs. The transfer rate varies by partner, but in most cases, it’s 1-to-1, meaning that when you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you get 1,000 points in the partner program.
One thing to keep in mind: When transferring Membership Rewards points to U.S. airlines, you’ll owe a fee of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99. For a 1,000-point transfer, that comes out to 60 cents.
For details on transfer ratios, see AmEx’s website.
The exact value you ultimately get per point depends on which program you transfer to and how you redeem the points within that program, but NerdWallet estimates the overall transfer value at 2 cents per point.
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Is It Worth Enrolling
Although flexible financing is a nice option to have in the case of an emergency, this is not something you should actively plan on using in most cases.
TPGs first commandment of travel rewards is to never carry a balance. Doing so wont have a significant impact on your credit score, as long as you continue to make your minimum payments on time, but the rapidly accruing interest quickly overshadows the value of any free travel you might be earning. Unfortunately, the same is true for Pay Over Time.
For example, my Amex Gold card carries an 18.24% APR for Pay-Over-Time purchases, which is lower than many premium travel rewards cards but still much higher than you should ever be paying. The variable APR on the Amex Gold can range from 15.99% to 22.99% with the Pay-Over-Time feature. The human brain is not wired to understand exponential growth well, so it helps to use the rule of 72.
When dealing with interest rates, divide 72 by the rate youre paying and thats how long it will take your balance to double. Put another way, at 18% interest, your balance will double in four years if you dont make any payments. Most individuals and businesses should be able to secure emergency financing at lower rates, so you should really only consider this as a last resort.
Amex Split Makes It Easier To Get Paid Back
Thankfully, Amex Split is a bit more exciting.
As discussed, Amex Split lets you get paid back directly to your American Express card using Venmo or PayPal. Just link your Amex account to one of these services and you can select the Split It feature the next time you have a shared expense.
For your friends, the process is no different than responding to any other payment request. They will get a standard Venmo or PayPal request, which they can pay using their linked bank account, credit card or debit card. The only difference is that the payment will go right to your Amex account instead of your Venmo or PayPal balance.
Beyond ease-of-use, another benefit of using Send & Split is that the person who made the charge still gets to keep all the points earned.
So, if you earn 400 points after charging a $100 meal for two to your American Express® Gold Card, youll keep the full 400 points after youre paid back since the card earns 4x on dining at restaurants.
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Book Flights Hotels And More Through The Amex Travel Portal
Amex Travel is essentially a travel-booking website operated by American Express. It works similarly to travel booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz.
Read more: How to use the Amex Travel Portal to book flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more and make the most of your Membership Rewards points
Airfare is the best option when you’re paying with points. When you book a flight through Amex Travel, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point. You may also find “Insider Fares,” which generally offer a slightly better value a lot of these fares are on Delta.
Unfortunately, if you want to book anything else through the Amex Travel portal like hotels, cruises, rental cars, or vacation packages you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point.
This is in contrast to Chase, which offers the same price for anything through its Ultimate Rewards travel portal 1 cent per point if you have a basic card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex, 1.25 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Book Rooms With Hotel Partners
Just as airline partner transfers result in amazing deals, so do transfers with Amex hotel partners.
Amex partners with three hotel chains: Hilton, Marriott and Choice. Using the same strategy above, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to the hotel program at an often higher value.
Hilton offers the best transfer ratio value, at 2 Hilton points per 1 Membership Rewards point. Marriott and Choice hotels offer a 1-to-1 ratio.
Using this ratio, here’s how many hotel points you could get by transferring 100,000 Membership Rewards points :
- Hilton: 150,000 points
- 75,000 points
- Choice: 75,000 points
You’ll typically yield more value by transferring your points to airline partners and booking flights, but using points for hotel stays can be smart too. You’ll do well when redeeming points for luxury hotels or when demand for hotels is high which translates into high cash prices.
You can book the Conrad Maldives for 95,000 Hilton points a night, meaning the Amex Platinum welcome bonus would almost be enough to reward cardmembers with a two-night stay. Rooms at the Conrad Maldives can go for more than $1,000 a night.
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The Ultimate Guide To Amex Membership Rewards
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The American Express Membership Rewards program offers credit card users a lot of flexibility for how they can use their points. However, most of its redemption options dont provide much value, so you need to be a little savvy to maximize your rewards.
If youre considering a card that earns Membership Rewards or you already have one and want to learn more about your options, heres everything you need to know.
How To Redeem Membership Rewards Points
One of the programs strongest features is its flexibility with redemption options. That said, most of these redemption options will give you less than 1 cent per point in valuea figure thats a standard minimum for many credit card rewards programs.
Redemption options include:
- Transfers to other rewards programs
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Transfer Points To A Hotel Or Airline Partner
Just like with any transferable points program, the best potential value you can get is from transferring your Amex points to a partner program. Amex has 18 airline and three hotel loyalty program partners, and you can transfer points to any of them.
Read more: You can transfer Amex points to 21 loyalty programs to book travel, from first class to Japan on ANA to hotel stays with Hilton
This is particularly valuable for flying, as opposed to hotel stays. In many cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren’t linked, so it’s possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead. That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.