How To Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points
The quickest way to earn American Express Membership Rewards points is to open an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points and earn a welcome bonus. Youll also earn Amex MR points on your everyday spending with these cards. You can also take advantage of bonus offers to earn even more points by enrolling your card in specific Amex offers that match your spending habits.
Amex Centurion Lounge at DFW
The current highest offers are on the Platinum cards.
The Gold Card is one of my favorites for everyday spending. It earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants, 4 points per dollar on up to $25,000 annually at US supermarkets, and 3 points per dollar on qualifying travel expenses.
Current Offer: 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. The minimum spending requirement is $4,000 in the first 6 months.
The American Express Gold Card earns 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, 4 points per dollar at restaurants, and 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases annually. For restaurants and grocery store spend, this is one of the highest earn rates available for travel cards. So if you eat out frequently and/or grocery shop frequently, this may be a good card for you. Terms apply. Click here for more information
The annual fee of $250 is a little steep, but this card has some statement credits to help offset the fee.
When Should You Use Amex Travel
We mentioned the concept of availability with transfer partners above. The only time you should use Amex Travel is if you cant find any availability with transfer partners at all.
In some cases, it may be more practical to use Amex Travel to book flights outright. With Amex Travel, you dont really have to worry about availability as long as theres an empty seat on the plane, you can book the ticket with Amex Travel.
However, the drawback of using Amex Travel is that youll shell out massive amounts of points compared to using transfer partners. Still, if you absolutely need to jump on a flight and theres no availability with transfer partners, then your best option is to use a travel portal like Amex Travel or the Chase Travel Portal.
But in general, there are very few situations where there is truly no availability through transfer partners. If you are flexible enough or know when to search, you can book flights like Emirates A380 first class!
Booking With Points + Cash
Much of the booking process topay with Amex points is similar to how youd book using cash, except that theres a box where you can apply some or all of your points.
If you have theBusiness Platinum Card and use points to pay for economy airfare withyour selected airline, youll receive 35% of those points back, up to 1 million points per calendar year. Additionally, any business or first-class airfare booked through amextravel.com will also receive the rebate.
Similarly, if you hold theAmerican Express® Business Gold Card, youll get a 25% points rebate .
This may not be the best use of your points because youll often get better value transferring your Membership Rewards to airline partners.TPG currently values Amex Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each. However, these tickets are almost always treated as revenue fares by the airlines, meaning youll earn redeemable and elite-qualifying miles. These perks may find themselves to be even more useful when booking last-minute fares when award availability through transfer partners isnt available.
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How To Book Hotels With The Amex Travel Portal
Similar to booking flights, you can book hotels using the Amex Travel portal. Youll earn 5x points for prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel if youre an Amex Platinum or Biz Platinum cardholder.
After selecting your hotel, youll choose your preferred room and then either pay with points or cash. If you pay with points, youll only get a value of 0.7 cents per point .
Keep in mind that these are considered third-party bookings, soyou wont usually earn hotel points or elite credits for your stay. Note that some amenities may be restricted due to COVID-19, but youll see those restrictions at the top of the page when you choose your room.
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Rates Compared To Other Booking Sites
Overall, American Express Travel seems to advertise competitive rates to other travel booking sites on both hotel and flight purchases.
For example, a round-trip flight from JFK to LAX on American Airlines resulted in the following prices when booked through American Express Travel, directly on the American Airlines website and through Priceline.
Booking Hotels With Membership Rewards
We recommend you avoid using your Membership Rewards to pay for hotels on the American Express travel portal. For a variety of locations and price ranges that we tested, the redemption value of hotel nights was significantly lower than 1 cent per point. For example, booking the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Charlotte, N.C. will net a value of 0.7 cent per point. It’s best to redeem rewards for no less than 1 cent per point when possible.
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Fly The Worlds Longest Nonstop Flight In Comfort
Singapore Airlines restarted the worlds longest flight New York to Singapore earlier this month. While Americans still cant enter Singapore for tourism, its refreshing to see this flight make a comeback. It will be an excellent way to fly from the East Coast to Singapore and beyond without a layover once travel resumes.
Of course, youre not going to want to spend 18 hours in an economy seat so use your Membership Rewards to fly business class instead. The New York-JFK to Singapore route costs 99,000 points, a small price to pay for comfort on such a long flight.
Onboard, you can expect top-notch service and dining. Plus, the seat is nothing to scoff at either its fully lie-flat and has a fully stocked entertainment selection. Think of it like a five-star hotel room and restaurant that whisks you around the world.
Fly Business Class To Italy
For 90,000 miles, you can book a business class flight on Emirates to Milan from New York City. While this isn’t the best redemption value possible, Emirates is known to have high-quality premium cabins. If traveling in luxury isn’t your thing, consider booking the same route in economy class for just 45,000 miles.
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Fly In Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class To Europe
As mentioned above, you can use Delta SkyMiles to book Virgin Atlantic’s upper class cabin to Europe. However, you can also book a round-trip award ticket from the U.S. to Europe directly with Virgin Atlantic. Upper-class awards go for as low as 95,000 miles, while economy class tickets can be booked for about 25,000 miles and premium economy tickets for about 40,000 miles. Keep in mind that the price will vary depending on the season and route, plus Virgin Atlantic adds a fuel surcharge on these transatlantic flights.
Book Awards On Other Star Alliance Airlines
Because Avianca is part of the Star Alliance, you can use LifeMiles to book award flights on partner airlines. Additionally, Avianca will occasionally offer promotional awards where you can get discounted award flights on partner airlines. The list of Avianca’s partners in the Star Alliance includes:
- Aegean Airlines
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Invest With Charles Schwab
If you have an American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab, you can transfer your points to a qualifying brokerage account at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. This is an incredible deal, considering the normal cash-out rate to turn Membership Rewards points into a statement credit is .6 cents per point.
But unlike regular cash back, of course, card members will continue to earn on that cash while investing their Membership Rewards® points in the stock market.
New cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of card membership.
In addition to the Amex welcome bonus, Charles Schwab account holders can receive additional cash boosts when their holdings reach the a certain thresholds at the time of account approval :
- $100 card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $250,000
- $200 card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $1,000,000
The Platinum card also comes with perks like airport lounge access, hotel elite status, up to $200 in Uber cash credit and $200 in airline incidental credits.
The Amex Platinum Card Puts Co
Co-branded airline cards are popular for a reason. Its an easy way to rack up more miles to fuel your travels. And, generally speaking, they offer free checked luggage, priority boarding, and large welcome offer milage bonuses from time to time. Keeping one of these cards in your wallet for your preferred airline is almost always worth it.
But heres the thing: While it may seem smart to keep adding to your balance of SkyMiles or United miles, you can do much better. More often than not, youll be better served by a flexible points credit card like the Platinum card. When you focus on one co-branded airline credit card, you are locked into redeeming the miles it earns on one specific airline. Its the main reason we urge readers to quit putting all of their spending on an airline-specific card.
So lets illustrate why the Amex Platinum may be an even better choice when it comes time to pay for your flight.
Were big fans of Delta SkyMiles and the co-branded Delta American Express credit cards. But no matter which of those cards you have, youll earn just 3x SkyMiles at most on Delta purchases. So if you buy a $300 Delta ticket and put it on your Delta co-branded credit card, youd get a total of 900 SkyMiles if you have the Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve card, and only 600 miles with the Delta Gold card plus whatever you earn from taking the flight itself.
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Fly Domestic On United Airlines
You can also use KrisFlyer miles to book a domestic flight on United Airlines, one of Singapore’s partner airlines. Business class tickets on transcontinental flights start at 23,000 miles, while first class tickets start at 40,000 miles. If you can find award space, this is a better deal than what you’d find booking a premium cabin on a coast-to-coast flight with one of the U.S. airlines.
Getaway To Tahiti On Air France
Depending on where you want to go in the South Pacific, youll have plenty of transfer partner options to get there. You could fly to the South Pacific and beyond using Delta miles . But round-trip coach award seats from the U.S. to those destinations would set you back at least 90,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. You can save your Amex points by transferring them to Flying Blue instead.
Currently, you can book a Flying Blue award flight with Air France from Los Angeles to Tahiti starting at only 51,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip.
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Economy Flight Under 750 Miles For 7500 Miles
Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program uses a distance-based award chart, where award prices are based on the length of a flight. On ultra-short flights, which Asia Miles defines as fewer than 750 miles, you can get an economy-class ticket for just 7,500 miles. This could get you from Beijing to Shanghai. While you should always compare award prices to cash prices, this is a great deal for travelers who make short-haul flights throughout Asia.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best For Travel Purchases
Why its great in one sentence: The hugely popular Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a high price tag but also a $300 annual travel credit, airport lounge access, a massive earning rate when you use Lyft and at least 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining.
This card is right for: People who make lots of travel purchases, even in their daily lives when theyre not on the road.
- $300 annual travel credit.
- Earn 3 points for every dollar you spend on dining purchases .
- Earn 3 points per dollar on travel purchases or 10 total points on hotels and car rentals and 5 total points on air travel if purchased through Ultimate Rewards.
- Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
- Points can be redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point.
- Points can also be transferred to any of Chases 14 airline and hotel partners.
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- $550 annual fee.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
What we like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve: When it first launched in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve was an instant hit, thanks in part to its broad travel and dining categories. Its incredibly easy to earn bonus points with the card, since dining includes almost every restaurant, fast food and even food delivery services such as Seamless.
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How To Book Hotels Through The American Express Travel Portal
As with flights, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your MR points redemption. Consider transferring them to one of Amex’s three hotel partners Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio, Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio, or Choice Privileges at a 1:1 ratio, though there’s a special promotion now through October 31, 2021, that bumps up Hilton and Marriott transfers by 30 percent.
Note that with most Amex Travel Portal bookings your MR points will only be worth .7 cent each towards hotel stays. So if you were booking a $100 hotel you’d need to redeem about 14,300 points to cover the cost. However, if you book a stay through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program your points will be worth a little more, at 1 cent apiece.
Unlike MR points redemptions for flights, hotels booked through the portal are viewed as third-party reservations, so you won’t be able to earn hotel points or enjoy status-related perks you’d have by booking directly through the hotel.
Begin your search by plugging in your travel dates and destination. Then, filter results by hotel or brand, star rating, price per night, neighborhood, amenities or accessibility, and sort by name, price, star rating or Amex recommendation.
For the following example, we searched for a seven-night stay booked November 512, 2021, with the Amex Platinum Card. The Renaissance Paris Arc De Triomphe Hotel, a Marriott Bonvoy property, was one of the best options, with rates from $306 or 43,723 MR points per night.
American Still Offers True First International Class
American Airlines is the last U.S. carrier to offer a true international first-class product, available only on its flagship 777-300ER aircraft. That said, TPG flew it from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and found it wasnt a major improvement over the carriers business class product.
That being said, you might want to consider booking it to access Flagship First Dining at major hub airports such as Los Angeles or New York-JFK. If youre able to find award space when international travel fully reopens, you could book a first-class award on the following routes for only 62,500 miles:
- Los Angeles or New York-JFK to London-Heathrow
- Miami to Sao Paulo
- Los Angeles to Tokyo-Haneda
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Fly To Japan And Back For Dirt Cheap With Ana
ANA is a 1:1 Amex transfer partner, and they have a great award chart if you want to get to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach from North America to Japan for as little as 40,000 ANA miles per person during the low season. But youll pay 50,000 to 55,000 ANA miles per person for a round-trip coach seat during other times of the year . Here are the dates for each season:
And the prices for business and first-class are great too, take a look at the award chart for flights between Japan and North America, C is business class and F is first class:
One thing to note is that with ANA, you can only book award flights for yourself and certain family members and youll need to book a round-trip ticket.
Another great option for booking ANA business and first-class awards is with ANAs partner Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic is also an Amex transfer partner. Take a look at what youll pay for flights between Japan and the U.S.:
With Virgin Atlantic youll pay slightly more for most economy or business-class awards, but first class is an absolute steal. The other factor to consider is how easy Virgin Atlantic miles are to earn because you transfer Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards or to Virgin Atlantic, in addition to Amex points.