7 of the Best Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points

Here are some of the best ways to use Amex points on flights, hotels, and more.

A woman's hand holding a gold Amex card

Courtesy of American Express

Every traveler who can get a credit card should get a credit card. Why? Points! For every dollar you spend, you'll receive at least one point that can go toward free travel, which is an incredible perk so long as you pay off your credit card bill each month.

While American Express has dozens of cards with card-specific perks, from airport lounge entry to travel credits to cash back, they all have one thing in common: American Express Membership Rewards. This rewards program allows Amex card members to earn points that can be used for travel, shopping, or even paying off their credit card bills. Depending on how you redeem those points, they can be worth anywhere from 0.5 to two cents per point.

If you're new to the American Express Membership Rewards program, here are the best ways to use your Amex points.

Related: The Best Hotel Credit Cards for Travelers

1. Transfer points to airline partners.

This is hands down the best way to maximize your Amex points because it gives you the biggest return — points can be worth up to 2 cents apiece when transferring to airline partners. How does this work? Amex has partnered with 17 airlines around the world, allowing you to transfer your Amex points into the airlines' frequent flyer programs as miles, typically at a 1:1 rate. Then you can use your new airline miles to book award flights. The key here is to transfer your Amex points only when you find a good award deal on an airline so your points aren't sitting in limbo. For example, if you find round-trip business-class flights between the U.S. and Europe for 110,000 Air France–KLM Flying Blue points (a solid redemption!), transfer your Amex points to Flying Blue and immediately book those flights.

2. Transfer points to hotel partners.

Luxurious Hotel Room With Luggage Trolley


You can also transfer your Amex points to three hotel loyalty programs: Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, and Choice Hotels Choice Privileges. The transfer operates in the same way it does for airlines — your Amex points become hotel points, typically at a 1:1 rate, and you can use those points to book hotel rooms. (Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses, though, which can net you more points for free!)  Most people who transfer go for splurges at luxury resorts — say, the St. Regis Bora Bora, where you can find deals as low as 70,000 points per night. Both Marriott (of which the St. Regis is a part) and Hilton also offer a fifth night free if you book with points. Redemption values vary based on the deals you find, but they're typically not as lucrative as airline award bookings.

3. Bid on upgrades.

Business class aircraft seat

owngarden/Getty Images

Amex has partnered with 23 airlines to allow you to use Membership Rewards points to bid on upgrades. All you have to do is head to the Upgrade with Points site, select your airline from the list, and enter your reservation number. If your reservation is eligible, you can place a bid for an upgrade — Amex will notify you if your bid has been accepted by the airline, typically within five days of your flight. The redemption value depends on the number of points you bid and the cash value of the upgrade for your specific flight.

4. Book travel directly via American Express.

American Express has its own travel portal that lets you book flights, hotels, and packaged deals. If you can't find a good award deal that's worth a points transfer, this is a decent second option, as you'll still be getting "free" travel. But Amex caps the value of points at one cent per point, so it's not necessarily the best value redemption. Still, free travel is free travel!

5. Pay off your credit card bill.

If you're worried about paying off your credit card bill, you can use points to get a statement credit to lessen that final sum. No, it's not a travel hack, but it's important to keep yourself out of debt, too. Generally speaking, your points will be worth about 0.6 cents per point if you choose this redemption option.

6. Go shopping.

Amex offers several shopping options for points redemption. First, there's the company's own shopping portal, which has hundreds of retailers on the platform. Second, Amex allows you to pay with points when shopping on certain retail partners' websites, including Amazon, Best Buy, and Grub Hub — you'll have to add your Amex card to the site to select points when you check out. And third, you can also redeem Amex points for gift cards. These aren't bad ways to use your points if you need to stock up on travel supplies or clothes for your upcoming trip, though they are typically lower-value redemptions as compared to travel partner transfers.

7. Donate them to charity.

You might not get monetary value out of this redemption, but you can get emotional value! You can donate to charities with points through the website JustGiving at a redemption value around 0.7 cents per point.

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