Best Ways to Use American Express Membership Rewards Points

Best Ways to Use American Express Membership Rewards Points

Membership Rewards points are as valuable as cash, and we'll show you how to get every penny's worth. In this guide, we highlight the most economical redemption options for your points (hint: redeeming for travel) and explain why some tempting redemption options (like using points to pay for a new iPhone) don't provide the best value.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Getting the highest possible value from your American Express Membership Rewards® points requires a decent amount of effort and time. In the following sections, we'll teach you how to transfer your points to travel partners and book award travel. For people who don't want the headache of digging through award charts and transferring Membership Rewards points, we'll also explore easier but lower-value redemption options like paying with points and using your rewards for gift cards.

Redeem Membership Rewards points on American Express travel portal


  • It's the simplest way to use Membership Rewards points for travel.
  • You can book and pay for trips directly on the Amex travel portal.
  • Domestic economy flights typically get you 1.15 cents per point.


  • There's less flexibility than transferring to travel partners.
  • Higher value can be found by booking award travel with transfer partners.
  • Hotel redemptions are usually only 0.7 cent per point.

The easiest and quickest way to redeem your Membership Rewards points for travel is to book a trip on the Amex travel portal and pay for the purchase with points. With this redemption option, you'll get a value of 1 cent per point in most cases. You may be able to get a higher redemption value for your points by selecting one of the Membership Rewards Insider Fares.

To book a trip with Membership Rewards points, navigate to and log in to your account. Once you're on the homepage, you'll be able to search for flights, hotels, cars, cruises and vacation packages on a travel search form similar to what you'd use on a website like Kayak. You can view your points balance on the upper right-hand corner of the screen.

You can also access the Amex travel portal from the homepage of your credit card account. To do so, click the "Rewards" tab on the navigation bar at the top of the page, then scroll down and select "Book or Upgrade Travel." You can search for itineraries directly from the tool in that tab, or you can click "Explore Amex Travel" to view the full Amex Travel website.

As shown below, you can filter and sort search results from within the travel portal to find your desired itinerary. On select flight routes, you'll be able to choose from "Insider Fares," which will give you the best value for your points. Note that it's easiest to search for flights on the Amex portal on your desktop or tablet browser. While it is possible to search for travel on the Amex app, the mobile interface is much clunkier than the desktop version.

Redeem Membership Rewards points on American Express travel portal
Insider Fares are the best choice if you're redeeming points on the Amex travel portal

When using Membership Rewards to pay for travel on the Amex portal, we found that the best value on flight redemption options are domestic economy. Typically, you can find an Insider Fare deal for a domestic economy flight that gets you a value of 1.15 cents per point. Domestic flights in premium cabins and international flights tend to have lower cent-per-point redemption value.

Cash price
Points price
Value per point (cents)
New York City to MiamiEconomy$26923,3651.15
New York City to MiamiPremium Economy$37637,5281.00
New York City to MiamiFirst$67460,9791.12
Los Angeles to HonoluluEconomy$54948,2401.14
Los Angeles to HonoluluPremium Economy$1,00593,6671.07
Los Angeles to HonoluluFirst$1,248117,5611.06
Boston to LondonEconomy$80475,8321.07
Boston to LondonPremium Economy$1,224118,7621.03
Boston to LondonFirst$7,918791,7721.00

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.

Booking Hotels With Membership Rewards
Hotel redemptions on the Amex travel portal have poor value.

Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline partners

The best way to use your Membership Rewards is to transfer them to one of the 19 airline partners in the American Express network. You can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio in most cases, which means that 100,000 Membership Rewards equals 100,000 Delta SkyMiles®. You'll get the most value by taking advantage of redemption deals offered by an airline.

To transfer your Membership Rewards to one of Amex’s travel partners, log in to your account at, scroll down and select the "Transfer Points" tab. Next, select the airline to which you'd like to transfer your points.

Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline partners

Once you've selected an airline travel partner, you'll need to link your program account to American Express. If you have authorized users on your account, select the cardholder whose account you want to link. Keep in mind that the name of the cardholder must match the name of the airline loyalty program account. After the accounts are linked, you can select the number of Membership Rewards points you want to transfer. The points will transfer instantly for most airlines.

Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline partners
Be sure to check that you're transferring the desired number of points.

Below, we've highlighted some of the best redemption options available at the loyalty program from each of the 19 American Express travel partners.

1. Aer Lingus AerClub

  • Irish airline with solid redemption options between the U.S. and Europe.
  • Avios is the currency of the airline's AerClub loyalty program.
  • You can use Avios to book award flights on British Airways and Iberia.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

East coast cities to Europe (Economy Off-Peak)

You can book an off-peak award from a city on the East Coast of North America to Dublin for just 13,000 Avios. The airline's definition of off-peak is quite broad, and only the summer and certain dates around the winter holidays don't qualify. As such, the airline's peak schedule is significantly less restrictive than British Airways' schedule. Aer Lingus also has a wide variety of cities that it counts as part of the Northeast, including:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Hartford, Conn.
  • Minneapolis
  • Montreal
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

You should expect to get a value of at least 2 cents per point when redeeming Avios for award travel on Aer Lingus. When searching for award space and comparing with the cash price, we were even able to find some economy class redemptions with a value of 3 to 4 cents per point. However, you may need to pay extra cash for fees in certain cases, which can reduce the value of a redemption.

America to Ireland (Economy Off-Peak)

You can still fly to Ireland for a relatively low number of Avios if you live south or west of the Northeastern cities mentioned above. In the off-peak season, trips from the following cities to Dublin cost 16,250 Avios:

  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

Business Class from U.S. to Dublin, Ireland (Off-Peak)

If you're planning a trip to Europe in the off-peak season and you want to fly in luxury, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to AerClub to book a business class award. From the East Coast cities, this will cost you 50,000 Avios. From anywhere else in the U.S., the cost is 62,500 Avios. A one-way international business class ticket on Aer Lingus can cost upward of $4,000 in cash, so an award price of 50,000 to 62,500 Avios is quite a bargain.

Fly from the U.S. to other parts of Europe (Off-Peak)

You can also use AerClub Avios to fly from the U.S. and Canada to any destination that Aer Lingus services within Europe. Aer Lingus flies to a number of popular cities in the region, such as:

  • London
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Milan
  • Amsterdam
  • Madrid
  • Munich
  • Venice, Italy
  • Naples, Italy

Fly within Europe

Using Avios to fly from Dublin to other cities in Europe is one of the cheapest redemption options available. For economy class tickets during the off-peak season, award prices start at 4,000 points. However, flights within Europe are usually inexpensive in cash as well, so be sure you're getting a value above 1.15 cents per point if you choose to go this route.

2. AeroMexico Club Premier

  • The transfer rate is 1 Membership Rewards point for 1.6 Premier Points.
  • It's part of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance founded by Delta Air Lines.
  • The airline offers an around-the-world award ticket with up to 15 stopovers.

SkyTeam Go Round the World Pass

Along with the other SkyTeam airlines, AeroMexico is one the last few carriers that offers an around-the-world award ticket. This award allows you to make a minimum of two and a maximum of 15 stopovers. During your around-the-world trip, you can fly on any one of the following SkyTeam airlines:

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • AeroMéxico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Saudia
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

In economy class, the award costs 224,000 Premier Points, which is 140,000 Membership Rewards points at the 1:1.6 transfer ratio. In business class, the award costs 352,000 Premier Points or 220,000 Membership Rewards points. Here are the rules of the award:

  • Travelers must go in the same direction (east or west) for the whole trip.
  • You must start and end in the same country.
  • There are between two and 15 stopovers allowed with a maximum of five per continent.
  • A stopover is any city where you stay for more than 24 hours.
  • The beginning and end city don't count as stopovers.
  • All flights must be booked in the same class.
  • There is no time limit for each stopover.
  • The pass is valid for one year after the ticket issue date.

3. Air Canada Aeroplan®

  • It's a member of the Star Alliance with United Airlines.
  • The best awards are from the U.S. to Europe.
  • Still publishes an award chart.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

Fly from the U.S. to Western Europe

By transferring your Amex points to Aeroplan, you can get a round-trip ticket to Western Europe from the U.S. for just 60,000 Aeroplan miles. The airline also allows you to take up to two stopovers on your trip, meaning you can add additional cities onto your vacation. If you want to fly in luxury, this redemption will cost you 110,000 miles in business class or 140,000 miles in first class.

Take a trip to the Middle East

Air Canada's Aeroplan program also has a good redemption value from the U.S. to the Middle East and North Africa region. From the U.S., you can redeem a round-trip ticket for 80,000 miles in economy class, 165,000 miles in business class and 230,000 miles in first class. The countries that qualify for this redemption option are as follows:

  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Spain's Canary Islands
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

4. Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • Flying Blue is the joint loyalty program of Air France and KLM.
  • The airlines are part of Delta's SkyTeam alliance.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

Book Flying Blue Promo Awards

Flying Blue doesn't publish an award chart, but it offers periodic deals called Promo Rewards that can save you up to 50% of the miles you'd normally spend on a trip. For example, a round trip to Dubai in business class on Air France may cost 82,500 miles during a promotional period rather than 165,000 miles. You can view the current promotions here.

5. Alitalia MilleMiglia

  • This is one of Italy's major airlines.
  • It's a member of the SkyTeam alliance with Delta Air Lines, Air France and KLM.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

Fly from the U.S. to Italy

Alitalia offers relatively inexpensive award tickets to Europe through its MilleMiglia loyalty program. For 60,000 miles, you can take a round trip in economy class from the U.S. to Italy. This same trip is just 80,000 miles for premium economy. Once you're in the region, you can take a one-way trip to North Africa in economy class for just 15,000 miles.

Fly from the U.S. to Italy
Alitalia award chart valid from April 1st, 2020

Fly Premium Economy or Business Class to the Maldives

If you want a luxury trip to the Maldives but don't want to blow all your points on a round-trip flight, consider taking a one-way flight on Alitalia. From Italy, a premium economy ticket to the Maldives costs 55,000 miles and a business class ticket costs 100,000 miles. If you don't mind sitting in economy, you can get a one-way award ticket to the Maldives from Italy for just 40,000 miles. Plus, to get to Italy for your departure flight, you can book a round-trip award from the U.S. for 60,000 miles.

6. All Nippon Airways (ANA)

  • The airline offers attractive and ample award flights to Asia.
  • It's a member of the SkyTeam alliance with United Airlines.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

Round trip to Japan

During the off-peak season, you can use your Membership Rewards points to book a round trip between the U.S. and Japan in economy class for 40,000 miles. During the busiest peak season, you can book a round trip in economy class for 55,000 points if you can find the space.

Round trip to Japan
ANA's award chart has plentiful options from Japan. Note: Y = Economy | PY = Premium Economy | C = Business | F = First Class | L, R and H refer to low, regular and high season.

Use your AmEx points to explore Asia

Outside of Japan, ANA serves a variety of destinations throughout Asia, including Beijing; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Seoul, Korea; Manila, Philippines; Singapore; Bangkok; New Delhi and Mumbai, India; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta and Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Taipei, Taiwan. From Japan, an economy class off-peak round-trip ticket to one of these destinations will cost from 12,000 to 30,000 points, depending on the region of the city you select (see table above). Visit the award chart on ANA's website for a full breakdown.

7. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

  • There are three levels of awards depending on your needs.
  • The standard awards are cheapest but hardest to book.
  • Choice and tailored awards give you the best chance to book flights during busy seasons.

Economy flight under 750 miles for 7,500 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.

Long-haul Business Class for 65,000 Miles

For long-haul flights between 5,000 and 7,500 miles, business class redemptions in the "standard" award category go for just 65,000 miles. If you can find award space at the standard level, then this is a great deal on longer flights within the Asian and Oceania region. Flight redemptions of the same distance at the choice level, which are more flexible, go for 97,500 miles.

8. Avianca LifeMiles

  • LifeMiles is the loyalty program of Avianca, one of the biggest airlines in Colombia.
  • It's part of the Star Alliance.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

First Class on Lufthansa Airlines

Avianca LifeMiles can be used to book one of the most sought-after awards: the Lufthansa first-class product. For just 87,000 miles, you can redeem a flight to Europe from Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco or Washington D.C. If you're flexible about where you travel, consider the New York City to Frankfurt route, as it tends to have the best availability.

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
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS Scandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai Airways International
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

9. British Airways Executive Club

  • The airline is part of the oneworld alliance.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1 with Membership Rewards points.
  • Be wary, British Airways may charge high fuel surcharges on award flights.

Short-haul flights in North America

For just 7,500 Avios, you can use the British Airways Executive Club program to book a short-haul flight within North America. This redemption applies on flights under 1,150 miles, so you have a variety of routes to choose from, including popular flights like New York City to Chicago, Los Angeles to Las Vegas and New York City to Toronto. To book, you can search for award space on the British Airways website.

West Coast to Hawaii

Using your Membership Rewards as Avios is one of the best ways to get from the West Coast to Hawaii. If you book a flight on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines through British Airways, you can get a one-way direct flight from the West Coast to Hawaii from 12,500. The average cost of a flight to Hawaii can be hundreds of dollars, so this is a great deal.

10. Delta Air Lines SkyMiles

  • The airline is the founding member of the SkyTeam alliance.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1 with Membership Rewards points.
  • It offers a comprehensive loyalty program with numerous partner airlines.

Fly First Class to Europe

If you're transferring Membership Rewards points to Delta Air Lines, one of the best uses of your points is a first-class redemption between the U.S. and Europe on Virgin Atlantic. This award will cost you 85,000 SkyMiles. While this isn't cheap, Virgin Atlantic's "upper class" cabin is widely considered one of the best travel experiences in the sky.

Take a one-way flight within the U.S.

On certain domestic routes, you can find redemption offers for as low as 5,000 SkyMiles one way. Because Delta Air Lines no longer publishes an award chart, you'll have to search for deals. In some cases, you may find that one-way domestic flights are priced at 10,000 SkyMiles apiece, but this is still a decent redemption option.

13. Emirates Skywards

  • It partners with airlines like Alaska Airlines, JetBlue and Korean Air.
  • It's not part of one of the three major alliances.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1 with American Express.

Domestic one-way flight on JetBlue

Although Emirates is based in the Middle East, you can use the airline to book cheap domestic flights. And because the airline partners with JetBlue, there are some great redemption options for one-way flights within the U.S. For example, you can find one-way awards on nonstop flights for as little 7,500 miles.

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.

14. Etihad Guest

  • It partners with airlines like American Airlines, ANA and Alitalia.
  • It's not part of one of the three major alliances, but it has 23 partners.
  • You can transfer Amex points at a 1:1 ratio.

Fly to Europe, affordably

The Etihad Guest loyalty program has ample travel options due to the airline's wide range of transfer partners. As such, you can find some great award flights to Europe through Brussels Airlines. From New York City, round-trip flights can be found for as low as 54,000 miles, while business class round-trip flights price at 88,000 miles.

Fly in Czech Airlines Business Class

As mentioned above, Etihad has great redemption options on its partner airlines. One of these is the business class redemption from Prague to Seoul, Korea on Czech Airlines for about 25,000 miles. This is a highly attractive use of Membership Rewards points if you're interested in experiencing a premium cabin.

15. Hawaiian Airlines

  • It partners with airlines like Japan Airlines, JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic.
  • There are good award options for flights within the Hawaiian islands.
  • You can transfer Amex points at a 1:1 ratio.

Fly premium to Hawaii

If you're transferring your points to Hawaiian Airlines, one of our favorite redemption options is to fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii in first class for just 40,000 miles one way. Plus, round trips can be found for as low as 80,000 miles, with a maximum price of 160,000 miles from the West Coast.

Take short-haul flights among the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian Airlines offers great redemption options to people who want to explore the different Hawaiian islands on vacation. The airline prices short-haul flights at just 7,500 for a one-way ticket, which means you and your significant other could explore the Big Island (Hawaii), Maui, Kauai and Molokai for just 45,000 miles total.

16. Iberia Plus

  • Iberia is Spain's flagship airline.
  • It's a member of the oneworld alliance with American Airlines, British Airways and others.
  • You can transfer Amex points at a 1:1 ratio.

Explore Spain from Madrid

The Iberia Plus loyalty program frequently offers great award travel deals within Spain. For example, there's currently an offer to fly from Madrid to other cities in Spain like Almeria, Barcelona and Bilbao for 9,000 Avios. The 9,000-Avios deal is also offered to other cities in the region, like Lyon, Marseill and Nice, France; Algiers, Algeria; and Lisbon, Portugal.

Short-haul U.S. flights

Like many of the international airlines that are transfer partners with American Express, Iberia offers solid redemption deals on short-haul U.S. flights. On flights under 600 miles in distance, you can book an economy-class ticket for 11,000 Avios. While this isn't the best domestic economy redemption that you can get with Membership Rewards, it's a solid option for travelers who need to make a quick trip between cities like New York City and Boston.

17. JetBlue TrueBlue

  • It's not part of an alliance, but it partners with airlines such as Aer Lingus, Emirates and Hawaiian Airlines.
  • There are fewer redemption options than the big three airlines.
  • The transfer rate is 1:1 with Amex.

Experience JetBlue Mint Class

For long-haul domestic or Caribbean flights, JetBlue's Mint class is one of the best products available. The premium class features lie-flat seats, artisanal dining from purveyors like Milk Bar and Saxon + Parole, free entertainment and, on some planes, suites. You can fly in Mint class coast-to-coast for as low as 52,000 points or to the Caribbean from the Northeast for as low as 39,400 points.

Experience JetBlue Mint Class
Image courtesy of JetBlue

Fly to the Caribbean

JetBlue offers award flights from the U.S. to the Caribbean for as low as 11,000 points during off-peak season and 16,400 points during peak season. The airline flies to a number of great vacation destinations in the region, including Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Martin.

18. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

  • It's part of the Star Alliance with United Airlines, ANA, Lufthansa and others.
  • It's known for its premium cabin experience.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1.

Book the longest flight in the world with points

In October 2018, Singapore Airlines relaunched its flight route from Newark to Singapore that now claims the title as the longest in the world. Award tickets start at 140,000 points for premium economy and 184,000 points for business class. The premium economy redemption isn't the greatest value, as cash tickets start at $1,350 — meaning you get a value of about 1 cent per mile. Business class redemptions are slightly better, with cash tickets starting as about $5,000 for a potential value of 2.7 cents per mile.

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.

19. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

  • It's not part of an alliance, but it partners with Delta Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia and others.
  • Get great deals on flights to Europe.
  • The transfer ratio is 1:1 with Membership Rewards.

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.

Explore the Outback through Virgin Australia

Economy class round-trip tickets within Australia start at 15,000 Flying Club miles and go up to 40,000 miles, and there are no fuel surcharges. Depending on cash prices and award availability, this is a solid option for exploring Australia at a low cost. Before transferring Membership Rewards to Virgin Australia for this redemption, be sure to compare the cash prices on tickets at other airlines.

Redeem Membership Rewards points for hotel stays

Transferring your Membership Rewards points to a hotel chain is another great use of your points. Most hotel loyalty programs work the same as the airline programs outlined above, and you can transfer them by following a similar process on the travel portal.

1. Choice Privileges®

  • Get a 1:1 transfer ratio with Membership Rewards points.
  • Member brands include Comfort Inn and Suites, Quality Inn, Ascend and Cambria.

The Choice Privileges loyalty program is great for families, as it has a host of brands that offer suites at an affordable price. Redemption rates range from 6,000 to just 35,000 points per night, plus there are more than 1,000 Choice hotel properties that cost fewer than 8,000 points per night to book. As such, you can be sure a redemption with Choice Privileges won't break the bank.

2. Hilton Honors

  • Get a 2:1 transfer ratio with Membership Rewards points.
  • Popular Hilton brands include DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn and Waldorf Astoria.

The Hilton Honors loyalty program has a wide range of redemption options at various price points. For example, a Hampton Inn in Reynosa, Mexico, can be booked for 5,000 Hilton points per night (2,500 Membership Rewards points), while the Hilton Paris Opera costs upward of 80,000 Hilton points per night (40,000 Membership Rewards points). Visit the Hilton Points Explorer to check availability and find the best value in the program.

3. Marriott Bonvoy™

  • This is the new, unified rewards program of Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton.
  • There are redemption options at a variety of price points.

Use points to book vacation rental homes

Marriott announced a new brand in early 2019 — Homes & Villas by Marriott International — that positions the hotel chain to compete with Airbnb. Properties in the Homes & Villas brand are now eligible to be booked with rewards points. While this is an unconventional use of your Membership Rewards, you'll be able to find and book unique vacation accommodations that aren't available through other hotel loyalty programs.

Use points to book vacation rental homes
Marriott's portfolio of hotel brands

Stay in luxury

You can now book some of the best hotels in the world with Membership Rewards. The best properties in the Bonvoy program can cost upward of 85,000 points per night, but you can save by booking for off-peak dates. See the table below for the program's full award chart.

Example hotel
1Courtyard Chicago5,0007,50010,000
2Aloft Tulsa10,00012,50015,000
3Courtyard Boston/Andover15,00017,50020,000
4Augusta Marriott20,00025,00030,000
5Brussels Marriott Hotel Grand Place30,00035,00040,000
6Kaua'i Marriott Resort40,00050,00060,000
7Barcelona EDITION50,00060,00070,000
8The St. Regis Bali Resort70,00085,000100,000

Pay with points, gift cards and statement credits

Redeeming points for airline travel is the best way to get a high value from your rewards. However, there are a few other redemption options for people who don't like traveling or who don't want the headache of transferring points and scrutinizing award charts. If this applies to you, it's possible to use your rewards for simpler redemptions like gift cards or statement credits.

If you choose to go this route, keep in mind that you'll get significantly less value from your points than if you were to redeem them for travel. For gift cards, you'll get between 0.5 and 0.7 cent per point in most cases. Points are worth 0.6 cent each when redeeming for statement credit and 0.7 cent each when used to make purchases directly from retailers like Rite Aid, Seamless and Walmart.

Upgrade with points

American Express recently announced another redemption option for Membership Rewards points. On certain itineraries, you'll be able to use points to upgrade the class of service on your flight. To do so, you'll need to head to, navigate to the tab that says "Book or Upgrade Travel" and click on the "Explore Upgrades" link at the bottom of the tab. Finally, you can select your airline and enter your itinerary details to see if your flight is eligible.

Upgrade with points
Steps to upgrading your flight with points.

As of May 2020, the following 22 airlines are participants in the American Express Upgrade with Points program:

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air Mauritius
  • Avianca
  • Caribbean Airlines
  • Ethiopian
  • Etihad
  • Fiji Airways
  • Gulf Air
  • Icelandair
  • Kenya Airways
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Norwegian
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • SAS
  • SilkAir
  • Singapore Airlines
  • TAP Air Portugal

Cards that earn Membership Rewards points

The American Express Membership Rewards program has plentiful redemption options that return high value on your spending rewards. Once you've earned enough points, you can use them to take a first-class flight to nearly anywhere in the world or pay for a last-minute trip back home.

American Express Membership Rewards consumer cards

Welcome offer
Spending categories
Annual fee
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases$0
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 15,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening3x points at US supermarkets; 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases$95
American Express® Gold Card60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on Terms apply.$250 (See rates and fees)
American Express® Green Card30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.$150
The Platinum Card® from American Express100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.$695 (See rates and fees)

American Express Membership Rewards business cards

Welcome offer
Spending categories
Annual fee
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card MembershipEarn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.No annual fee
American Express® Business Gold CardEarn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*$295
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.$595 (10/14-1/12/22)

Amex points value: How much are Membership Rewards points worth?

On average, Membership Rewards points are worth between 1 and 3 cents each. When paying for flights with points on the American Express website, you can find common redemption options with a value of 1.15 cents per point, so use this as a benchmark for what constitutes a worthwhile redemption. As such, we recommend that you stay away from the other options, listed below.

Redemption option
Airfare on Amex travel portal1 to 1.15 cents
Amazon0.7 cent
Amex Express Checkout0.7 cent
Boxed0.7 cent
Cruises on Amex travel portal0.7 cent
Excise tax offset fee0.5 cent
Expedia0.7 cent
Gift cards0.5 to 1 cent
Hotels on Amex travel portal0.7 cent
JustGiving0.7 cent
Newegg0.7 cent
NYC Taxi1 cent
Show All Rows

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

The information related to American Express® Green Card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, American Express® Business Gold Card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).