There are three levels of Amex Rewards—Membership Rewards Express, Membership Rewards (which is what this article is focused on), and Membership Rewards First. We have blogged separately about the Express program in our post What is the value of American Express Membership Rewards Express Program Points? Who knows, maybe someday you too can be cool and own an Amex Red card like Bono (hint: you’ll need to become a UK resident first!).
If you don’t have much patience for analysis, and just want to check out an Amex card on steroids, read GetDebit’s review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express. It routinely finishes at the top of the heap per the GetDebit Ranking Engine and won’t disappoint you.
|Amex Credit Card||Rewards Program||Link to GetDebit Review|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||MR First||Coming soon|
|American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card||MR||Review of American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card|
|American Express® Green Card®||MR||Coming soon|
|American Express® Gold Card||MR||Review of American Express® Gold Card|
|Blue from American Express®||MR Express||Review of Blue from American Express®|
Myriad Ways to Redeem your Amex MR Points
Amex presents cardholders with a dizzying array of redemption options, including gift cards, statement credits (like cash), travel, and more. The table right here summarizes our estimates of the value of your MR points under each method, but if you want to understand how we arrived at these numbers, do read on.
|Redemption Method||Estimated Value per MR Point|
|Transferring to Frequent Flyer Programs||$0.0107|
|Pay With Points||$0.0100|
|Shop With Points at Amazon||$0.0070|
|Transferring to Hotel Loyalty Programs||$0.0062|
|Statement Credits (EveryDay Charges)||$0.0060|
Major Differences Between Amex Membership Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards Express Programs
There are at least two major differences between the full Membership Rewards program and its little brother, the Express program—at least from a value of points perspective. The first difference is that the full rewards program enables you to transfer your points into mileage programs at (as of press) 16 different airlines, including such well-known brands as JetBlue, Delta, British Air, ANA, Singapore Airlines and others. Follow this link to see their full list of Amex partners. The program also enables you to transfer points into certain hotel frequent stay programs, such as the Hilton Honors program and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program.
The second major difference has to do with Amex’s Pay With Points program, which enables cardmembers to directly purchase airline tickets, hotel reservations, cruise packages, and bundled vacations directly from the American Express website. The full Membership Rewards program offers a far superior conversion rate of $0.01 per MR point versus only $0.005 per point for the Amex Membership Rewards Express Program.
How Much Are MR Points Worth When You Use The Pay With Points Program?
As the table below highlights, when you use Pay With Points to redeem for airfare, your Membership Rewards Points will be worth $0.01. Other redemption combinations come in at somewhat lower valuations.
|Program||Reward Type||Conversion Rate||Effective Cashback Rate|
|MR||Airfare||100 pts per $1||$0.01|
|MR||Hotels, Cruises||133 pts per $1||$0.0075|
|MR||Hotel+Airfare||117 pts per $1||$0.0085|
|MR Express||All types||200 pts per $1||$0.005|
Value of Amex Membership Rewards Points When Transferring Into Flying or Hotel Loyalty Programs
Unlike the Amex MR Express Program, the full Membership Rewards Program allows you to transfer your hard-earned MR points into any number of (as of press) 16 different airlines and 6 different hotel chains. We’ve tried to analyze at least some of the more popular programs to arrive at redemption estimates. Check out the table below:
|Partner||Program Name||$ value per mile, point or credit||AMEX Points to Other Program Points||$ val/AMEX point|
|AirTran||A+ Rewards||$16.70 per credit||1,500:1 Credit||$0.0111|
|Virgin Atlantic||Flying Club||$0.0105||1:1||$0.0105|
|Hilton||HHonors||$0.0043||1,000 MR:1,500 HH||$0.0065|
As you can see, you’ll fare much better (pun call-out!) going with airline redemptions versus hotel redemptions. While we realize this list is by no means exhaustive (and we will expand it over time), we do believe it’s directionally reflective of the value you’ll get for your MR points when transferring into loyalty programs.
So, What Are Your Membership Rewards Points Worth When Redeeming for Gift Cards
Unlike some other redemption types, the value of your points here is much easier and straightforward to calculate. While they offer dozens of gift cards across shopping, restaurant and other categories, value almost always peaks out at $0.01 per point, and sometimes dips below that. The table below provides a small sampling for your delight. Note that we’ve also included the value of the Shop With Amazon program in the table below.
|Gift Card||Amex MR Points Required||$ value per Point|
|Barnes & Noble $100 Card||10,000||$0.01|
|Nike $100 Card||10,000||$0.01|
|Gap $100 Card||10,000||$0.01|
|Chiles $50 Card||5,000||$0.01|
|Home Depot $500 Card||50,000||$0.01|
|Hilton Honors $500 Card||60,000||$0.0083|
|Hyatt $100 Card||12,000||$0.0083|
|OpenTable $100 Card||12,500||$0.0080|
|Shop with Points At Amazon ($25 of spend)||3,571||$0.0070|
So, if Cash is King, What’s the King Worth?
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you how much your MR points would be worth if you converted them directly into cash. The short answer is-not much. There are 2 ways to get rewards which are basically the equivalent of cash: redeem for either Visa Cash Cards, or get statement credits through the EveryDay Charges program.
How Does the EveryDay Charges Program Work?
It’s fairly straightforward. You just log into your Amex credit card account, select the charges you want to pay with your points, and follow the instructions from there. The real question is, what value do you get for your points.
|Redemption Method||Amex MR Points Required||$ value per Point|
|$25 Amex Gift Card||3,000||$0.0083|
|$1,000 Amex Gift Card||120,000||$0.0083|
|EveryDay Charge ($25 statement credit)||4,167||$0.0060|
As you can see, while neither redemption option gets you close to the baseline $0.01 per point, the Amex gift cards (which can be used anywhere that American Express is accepted) outperform the statement credits, although there’s always the risk that you could lose the card! Choose your poison, or, better yet, avoid both of these options altogether.
GetDebit’s Final Assessment of the American Express Membership Rewards Program
It appears that the AMEX Membership Rewards Program has a modest edge over the AMEX MR Express Program due to the ability to transfer AMEX points into various frequent flyer programs, and also due to the superior Pay-With-Points redemption rate (twice that of the MR Express Program). It appears that transferring into flying programs will yield a value slightly north of $0.0105 per MR point.
Now if you are just looking for the best all-around Amex rewards card, we’d be remiss to not point you to GetDebit’s review of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card From American Express. It’s a straight-up cash back card, and our favorite amongst all Amex cards due to its bone-crushing rewards program.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.