What’s the Value of AmEx Membership Rewards Points? 

How you use your points — either through partner transfers or booking travel directly — will determine their value.
Apr 19, 2022

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Flexible travel rewards like American Express Membership Rewards points are, effectively, a currency. So understanding the relative value of these points is an important consideration when earning or spending them.

So how much are AmEx points worth? Based on our analysis, the current AmEx points value is between 1 cent when used to book travel directly and 2 cents when transferred to partners.

This is a big gap, and you might wonder why anyone would use these points to book travel directly if they’re so much more valuable when transferred. The short explanation is based on convenience — booking through the AmEx travel portal is a snap, whereas transferring and redeeming points can be significantly more labor intensive.

The value when booking travel through the AmEx portal

This is simple: American Express Membership Points are worth exactly 1 cent apiece when booking travel through the issuer's portal. This math is made explicit when booking a flight or hotel while logged in.

For example, a $210 flight will cost 21,000 points. There’s no way to “maximize” AmEx points when used in this way. You’re effectively using the points as pennies, and can book any airline or hotel room available with cash.

The big benefit here is convenience and simplicity. You don’t have to spend hours researching how to use your points or find the right transfer partner, or search for scarce award availability. You just search and book.

The big drawback is cost-effectiveness. You’re accepting a lowball value for your points as a trade-off for this convenience.

The value when transferring to partners

Here’s where things get more interesting — and complicated. The AmEx Membership Rewards program has some excellent transfer partners, meaning you can transfer your points to a partner and then book travel there.

With great maximization potential comes great responsibility. Understanding which AmEx transfer partners offer the best value, and which even offer flights or hotels that match your travel plans, is a major undertaking.

Here are some key programs to highlight, along with their estimated NerdWallet value.

Table showing the points value and transfer ratio for AmEx transfer partners.

Transfer partners

Estimated value

Transfer ratio

1.9 cents.

1:1.

1 cent.

1:1.

0.8 cent.

1:1.

1.3 cents.

1:1.

1 cent.

1:1.

1.4 cents.

1:1.

1 cent.

1:1.

1 cent.

1.25:1.

0.7 cent.

2:3.

1.1 cents.

1:1.

Notice that some of the better-known programs, such as Marriott and British Airways, offer some of the lowest-value points and miles, while lesser-known programs, like Air Canada and ANA, offer some of the best.

It definitely pays to do your homework when considering AmEx transfer partnerships.

Remember to factor your travel plans into consideration, and not just transfer your points to the program with the highest-value miles. Some programs offer excellent value but limited routes and award availability.

Always search for availability on your preferred travel dates and destinations before transferring points.

AmEx points calculator

Use our AmEx points calculator below to determine the value of your stash of points, based on both the baseline and NerdWallet estimated values.

Another resource to help you get the best value for AmEx points is our Airline Point Transfers and Partner Award Bookings tool.

Cards that earn AmEx points

More than a dozen American Express cards earn Membership Rewards; here are some of the most popular, including some with no annual fee:

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Credit Card
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  • Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants.

  • Earn 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending each year, then 1 point back).

  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and American Express Travel.

  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

The current welcome offer is: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

American Express Platinum Credit Card
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  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.

  • Earn 5 points on prepaid hotels booked on American Express Travel.

  • Earn 1 point on all other eligible purchases.

New members are enticed with this welcome offer: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

American Express Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Credit Card
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Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent in two categories (from the following six) where you spend the most each billing cycle (up to the first $150,000 in combined purchases per year; then 1 point back):

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines.

  • U.S. purchases at restaurants.

  • U.S. purchases at gas stations.

  • U.S. purchases for shipping.

  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio).

  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions.

Other spending earns 1 point per dollar spent. Terms apply.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN Credit Card
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  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express — and earn 1 point for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases at U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers and shipping providers — as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.

Terms apply.

Other AmEx cards that earn Membership Rewards points include:

Terms apply.

How did we determine our AmEx points value?

For our NerdWallet estimate of 2 cents per Membership Rewards point, we factored in several variables:

  1. The value of these points when used to book travel directly with the credit card’s travel portal.

  2. The value of the airline and hotel points to which these points can be transferred, when applicable (based on the separate analyses above).

  3. The number of top-tier travel transfer partners, as determined by our expert panel.

The overall value is determined as: A weighted average between (1) and (2), with the weight determined by (3). The program with the largest number of high-value partners receives a 100% weight on (2), and a program with zero high-value partners receives a 50% weight on (2).

AmEx had the highest number of top-tier transfer partners, so it received a 100% weight on its most valuable transfer partner (ANA).

To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

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