Maximising Amex Points Redemptions…
American Express Rewards points regularly feature on Thrifty Points! Today we’ll be taking a look at the best ways to spend Amex points in the UK. In doing so we’ll look at the various Amex points redemption options and which one is likely to provide best value for you!
Now, there are two things that everyone should know from the start. The first is that not every Amex points redemption provides the same value. Redeeming through the shopping section of the American Express website is likely to be a bad idea (learn why later!) whereas converting to frequent-flyer air miles can provide great value.
The second thing you should know is that the Amex points value is not the same for everyone. If you rarely travel then you’re unlikely to want to redeem the points for flights and as such you should base the valuation on your personal circumstances. We’ll cover numerous examples below so you can decide what method is likely to provide the best use of Amex points for you.
Best ways to earn American Express points?
The chances are you’re reading this article because you’ve recently signed up to an American Express credit card or are planning to do so in the not too distant future and would like to work out what the various sign-up bonuses are really offering.
With an excellent sign-up bonus of 20,000 points, an ongoing earnings rate of 1 reward point for every £1 you spend on the card and 2 free airport lounge passes, you’ve come to the right conclusion with the Gold card! You may not know however that you can increase the sign-up bonus to 22,000 points if you are referred using this link.
For those who travel a considerable amount, in some instances the whopping annual fee of £450 pa for the Amex Platinum card can actually be offset by the numerous benefits offered. Read my review here where I cover the value of each of these perks. Similarly to the Gold card, you can boost the sign-up bonus from 30,000 reward points to 35,000 reward points by using this referral link.
Poor (Base Case) Amex Membership Rewards Value
As I mentioned earlier, not all Amex points redemptions are equal, and as we’ll see some provide significantly less Amex points value than others. I thought I’d start with highlighting the base-case scenario and then work through to methods that drive significantly higher American Express points value.
Redeeming Against Credit Card Balance – My Base Case
Some will know that it’s actually possible to use Amex Rewards points to pay off your credit card statement. With a redemption rate of 0.45p per point this would essentially provide a base (or more realistically, worst) case scenario for an Amex points value.
If used against your credit card statement, the sign-up bonus of 20,000 points with the American Express Gold card (22,000 if you use this link) could be worth as much as £99. Don’t forget this would be a worst-case scenario, with the likely value going to be significantly more!
To redeem your points for purchases just log in to the American Express website and click the ‘Use Points for Purchases’ button which should appear on the home page of your accounts (outlined in red below).
Using Amex Points for Shopping on the American Express Website
As we’ll see, this is one to avoid at all costs. Let’s assume you were going to redeem your points for a new iPad mini 4 128 GB. This would set you back 99,470 points as we can see below.
We can also see that the same iPad is available on the Apple Store website for £399.
Based on the above, by saving £399 using 99,470 American Express Rewards points you’ll be receiving an Amex points value of a mere 0.4p per point. This is one of the better options – most equate to 0.33p per point!
In this instance you may as well pay for the iPad mini on your credit card (and don’t forget you’ll earn 400 points for spending £400 on the card) and then using the rewards points to pay off your credit card balance at 0.45p per point. By doing this you’d save roughly 11,200 Amex points – that could be enough for a return British Airways flight within Europe!
Average American Express Points Value UK
Now we’ve seen that the base-case value of an Amex point is in the region of 0.45p. Let’s take a look at a few examples which will provide values in the region of 0.5p to 1.2p.
Amex Points Redemption with Vouchers
By redeeming your points as vouchers you’ll receive 0.5p for every reward points. Whilst this is still not the best way to spend Amex points in the UK it’s a very easy method of redeeming membership rewards points.
Hotel Amex Points Redemptions
American Express Rewards provides 3 hotel transfer partners. These are Hilton, Radisson and the recently combined Marriott and Starwood loyalty programmes.
You’ll receive the following transfer rates for each of the Hotel partners:
- Hilton Honors: 1 Membership Rewards point to 2 Hilton Honors points
- Radisson Rewards: 1 Membership Rewards point to 3 Radisson Rewards points
- SPG / Marriott: 2 Membership Rewards points to 3 points
I’ve recently written about SPG and Marriott points and estimate the value to be in the region of 0.5p per point (see my review here). With an exchange rate of 2:3 you’d be receiving 0.75p per American Express Rewards point.
Hilton Honors are moving towards a revenue-based redemption structure and as such the points value tends to be less than both SPG and Radisson. Generally redemption values equate to 0.3p per Hilton Honors point. With a rate of 1 membership point to 2 Hilton Honors points, you’d achieve a value somewhere in the region of 0.6p per Amex reward point redeemed.
The final option, and possibly the best, is to redeem with Radisson reward points. You can see a list of points required for a number of reward redemptions below.
There are no category-1 hotels in the UK, however there are a few category-2 hotels which would require 15,000 reward points for a redemption. The category-2 Park Inn Radisson Nottingham costs £60 for a night’s stay in 3 months’ time. This would equate to a Radisson points value of 0.4p. With an exchange rate of 3 Radisson points for every 1 Amex reward point you’d be receiving an Amex points value of 1.2p. At this rate the 22,000 points from signing up to the Amex Gold would be worth £264!
Booking Eurostar Tickets
It’s possible to transfer American Express reward points to Club Eurostar at a rate of 15:1. A standard-class ticket would require 1000 Club Eurostar points, which at the aforementioned rate would equate to 15,000 Amex points.
The cheapest train ticket in 4 weeks’ time would cost £118. In this instance you’d be receiving a value of 0.8p per point, which I’d consider to be reasonable.
Best Amex Points Value UK
Redeeming for Avios Points
One of the best methods of generating consistently strong value for Amex points redemptions is by converting to Avios points (British Airways air miles). Now the value of an Avios point can vary quite significantly depending on an individual’s travel habits and preferences.
You can read about how I value an Avios point here. Within the article I conclude that the value of an Avios point would ordinarily vary between 0.75p and 1.25p. However as you can read in my BA Club Europe review (short-haul Business Class), I recently managed to achieve a points value in the region of 3.2p per point. With a conversion rate between American Express Rewards and BA Avios at 1:1, this was by far the most lucrative Amex points value I’ve ever achieved!
FAQs – Amex Points Redemptions and Value
Do Amex points expire?
Fortunately not. You can keep your points as long as you have your card.
Can I transfer Amex points to friends and family?
No. Some redemption partners (such as Avios) will let you combine points but make sure you read the T&Cs.
Are Amex points taxable?
If you’re based in the UK then the answer is no. Fortunately HMRC treat frequent-flyer miles as non-taxable.
Let’s Wrap this Up
Within this review we’ve looked at a variety of Amex points redemptions and it’s clear to see that not all redemption partners provide good value. We’d strongly recommend avoiding using your points to shop through the American Express website which offers notoriously low points value.
When redeeming points, your base-case scenario should be to either use the points to pay off your credit card at 0.45p per point or convert to vouchers at 0.5p. As we’ve seen, redeeming for a budget Radisson hotel can offer good value of up to 1.2p per point. There are occasionally exceptional opportunities with Avios however this will depend on your travel habits. You can learn about how I used American Express reward points and a BA branded credit card to earn enough points in a year to fly from London to Sao Paulo in First Class with British Airways (reviewed here).
Don’t forget that the sign-up bonus of 20,000 reward points could be worth as much as £240 if redeemed with the likes of Radisson. This sign-up bonus can be increased to 22,000 points if you use this referral link.
We hope you’ve found this review interesting and please do reach out with any comments.