Best Way to Use Amex Points | Sweet Spot Redemptions

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American Express Membership Reward points can be extremely valuable if they are redeemed in an effective way. The best way to use Amex points is usually transferring the points to a travel transfer partner, such as a hotel or airline.

However, if you have sitting on a large stash of Amex points, it might be better to cash out the points before the points are devalued. Travel hackers sometimes use the phrase “earn and burn,” which refers to earning as many points as possible and “burning” them on travel, cash out, or other redemptions rapidly before the points are devalued.

American Express is a military-friendly company, offering credit card annual fee waivers for active duty servicemembers, military spouses, and Guard and Reservists on 30 day or longer active orders. The Amex fee waivers include premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Accumulated Membership Reward points can unlock a world of travel luxury and savings if used correctly.

Military SCRA MLA AMEX Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Annual fee of $695* See more details about military protections for you and your spouse 
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5x points on airfare booked directly with airline or on amextravel.com up to $500,000 per calendar year
  • Earn 5x points on prepaid hotels at amextravel.com
  • $200 Annual Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Note that The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on Uber Eats and rides every year. Only available to the basic card member, Terms Apply
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at 1 qualifying airline
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR® Plus at 45+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $300 back each year on an Equinox+ subscription, or any Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Membership subject to auto-renewal.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit, enrollment required
  • Access 40+ Centurion Lounges and 1,400+ Priority Pass airport lounge for free
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – learn how to apply
  • Read my full review of the Amex Platinum card for military, terms apply

Amex Travel Portal

You can use Membership Rewards points to book travel directly through the Amex Travel portal. Points are worth 1 cent each for flights booked through the portal.

Transfer to Travel Partners

Membership Reward points can be transferred to more than 20 travel partners, including Delta, British Airways, ANA, and hotel partners like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. It's worth noting that I once used 240,000 MR points for a $27,000 first-class flight from Hawaii to Tokyo, Japan. That's 11 cents per point – a tremendous value!

American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab for Membership Rewards Cashback

A unique strategy for MR points involves the American Express Platinum Card® for Charles Schwab. With this card, you can cash out MR points at 1.1 cents each into a Schwab investment account.

This option can be great for those focusing on growing their investments or just want cash back.

American Express Gold Card military AMEX Gold Card Military No annual fee SCRA $250 annual fee waived

American Express® Gold Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Reward® Points after spending $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card in the first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Earn 4x points at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the US
  • Earn 4x points on US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1x points) – includes OCONUS Commissaries
  • Earn 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or on amextravel.com
  • No foreign transaction fees – great for the 4x on restaurants when travelling for fun, OCONUS TDY, or PCS!
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Amex Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 annually.
  • $120 per year Dining Credit: Earn up to $10 per month in statement credits when you use your Amex Gold at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose between the Gold or Rose Gold version when you apply.
  • Read my full review of the Amex Gold card for military, terms apply
  • $250 Annual Fee* See more details about American Express protections for you and your spouse 

Combine Amex Points with Chase Points

While you cannot directly combine Amex Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points, there are some overlapping credit card travel transfer partners. For instance, both Chase and Amex allows transfers to British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad.

If you have a big redemption to make at a Marriott Bonvoy property like the Ritz Carlton Kyoto or a long haul Singapore Airlines business or first class flight, combining your points from different credit cards at one transfer partner can yield massive redemption value.

American Express Green Card for Military: No Annual Fee!

American Express® Green Card
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 20% back on eligible travel and transit purchases made during your first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back in the form of a statement credit.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on travel including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, campgrounds, and vacation rentals.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on transit purchases including trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the US.
  • $189 CLEAR Plus Credit: Receive up to $189 per calendar year in statement credits when you pay for your CLEAR Plus membership (subject to auto-renewal) with the American Express® Green Card.
  • $100 LoungeBuddy: No airport lounge membership? No problem! Purchase lounge access through the LoungeBuddy app using the American Express(R) Green Card and receive up to $100 in statement credits annually.
  • Payment Flexibility: When it comes to paying your bill, you have options. You can always pay in full. You also have the flexibility to carry a balance with interest or use Plan It(R) to split up large purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee, up to your Pay Over Time Limit. You may be able to keep spending beyond your limit – you'll just need to pay for any new purchases in full when your bill is due.
  • Trip Delay Insurance: If a round-trip is paid for entirely with your Eligible Card and a covered reason delays your trip more than 12 hours, Trip Delay Insurance can help reimburse certain additional expenses purchased on the same Eligible Card, up to $300 per trip, maximum 2 claims per eligible account per 12 consecutive month period. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: No matter where you're traveling, when you use your American Express® Green Card there are no foreign transaction fees.
  • $150 annual fee waived to $0 with Amex MLA benefits
  • Terms Apply.
  • All information about American Express Green Card has been collected independently by MilitaryMoneymanual.com

Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Transfer Points Unnecessarily

Never transfer points to travel partners unless you have a specific redemption in mind. Once transferred, points can’t be moved back.

I have made this mistake several times with airlines that seem to show availability for a specific flight but I cannot complete the booking once the points are transferred. Call the airline if you require assistance in booking a specific flight with points.

Don't Squander Points on Low-Value Redemptions

Avoid using points for options like shopping, gift cards, or Amazon purchases. These redemptions rarely offer good value compared to travel bookings or transfers to partners. Amazon purchases are usually only valued at .7 cents per redemption.

If you want to use your points for Amazon purchases, cash out your points through the Amex Platinum for Schwab first at 1.1 cents each, and then use the points for Amazon purchases. Using the Schwab Amex Platinum earns you 57% more value for your points. Instead of 100,000 points = $700, 100,000 points = $1,100.

Don’t Let Points Expire

Amex points don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. Closing a card without using or transferring the points first can lead to loss of those points.

If you are considering closing an Amex card, perhaps consider opening a no annual fee American Express card that earns Membership Rewards so that you don't lose access to your points. For instance, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns Amex Membership Rewards points and has no annual fee.

Amex Blue Business Plus

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Learn how to apply on our partner's secure site

  • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases up to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Don't worry about unexpected surprises that go beyond your credit limit with with Expanded Buying Power. (Limits apply based on the use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors)
  • No Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply, see rates and fees.

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