Q: I’m considering switching to AmEx for their Gold Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum, but don’t know how much the Membership Rewards Points are worth for cash/statement credit?
A: Points from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, have their pros and cons.
Membership Rewards are a good option if you want travel because you can convert them to a variety of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, usually on a 1 for 1 conversion (i.e. 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Delta SkyMile).
But they’re a less desirable option for statement credits.
Not every purchase is eligible, but with many you can redeem points to offset the cost. From my experience most dining and retail purchases will be eligible for this option.
But guess what? I never use it!
The reason, you too, will want to avoid this option is obvious, once you run the numbers. How much are AmEx points worth in dollars? About 6/10th of a penny, per point.
This option, along with merchandise, are not the best ways to spend your Membership Rewards points.
If you want cash back or statement credits, your best bet will be to stick with their Blue Cash cards or go with Chase’s cards that run on Ultimate Rewards points (Sapphire, Freedom, Ink). With the Ultimate Rewards, you always get at least 1 cent per point for statement credits. The minimum required for redemption is only 2,000 (twenty dollars worth).
Better alternative = gift cards
You will get 1 cent worth per point with many of the gift card options from American Express.
However not be confused, because you will not get it with their own branded AmEx gift cards (those can be worse than statement credits, since 10,000 points = $50 gift card = 1/2 cent per point).
But with the gift cards options they have for stores and other retailers, there are plethora of them that have a conversion rate of 1 point = 1 cent worth.
Best alternative = travel
If you want the most bang for your buck, travel is the way to go, hands down.
The best option is to take advantage of the conversion opportunities for miles and hotel points. For example, Virgin America’s Elevate program typically carries a fixed value of approximately 2.2 cents per point. Since 200 MR points = 100 elevate points, you could be realizing a 1.1 cent value per AmEx point.
With most carriers you’re getting a 1 for 1 deal. Delta, AeroMexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, Frontier, Hawaiian, Iberia, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic you were getting 1,000 miles per 1,000 AmEx points the last I checked (for August 2015).
Depending on airline redemption options, you might be able to get up to 2 cents or more per mile. Obviously, your results will vary based on the carrier and the flight you’re booking.
So ultimately, it’s up to you
How much are points from AmEx worth? That’s up to you. As you see, the value can vary greatly.
If you want a rewards program that is a bit more predictable in terms of the value equation, you may wish to consider a cash back card:
Or a non-branded travel card like this one:
This article was written or last updated February 15, 2016