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There’s a Better Way to Pay for Airbnb With Amex Points

Nov. 3, 2015
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards
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Aw Nerds! Looks like this article is out of date. See our American Express Membership Rewards program review for redemption options. 

American Express has teamed up with home- and apartment-rental website Airbnb to make booking your stays easier. With Amex Express Checkout, you can set up an Airbnb account with your Amex credentials and check out more securely.

More important, you can now pay for some or all of your stay with your Membership Rewards points directly on Airbnb’s site. But convenience usually comes at a price, and this is no exception.

Airbnb e-gift cards offer higher point value

The value of Membership Rewards points depends on how you redeem them. Using points to book an Airbnb stay directly gives you a value of 0.7 cents per point. For example, redeeming points for $100 will cost you 14,286 points whether you’re staying in San Francisco, Dallas or New York City:

$100 / 14,286 = $0.007, or 0.7 cents  

However, if you order an Airbnb e-gift card through the Membership Rewards site, a $100 gift card will cost you only 10,000 points, giving your points a value of 1 cent apiece. You can order an e-gift card in $100 and $250 denominations, and it will be available almost immediately after you order. So you can still book your stay without waiting for a gift card to come in the mail — and you’ll save $42.86 worth of points in the process:

14,286 – 10,000 = 4,286 points
4,286 points x $0.01 = $42.86

One deal worth taking

American Express’s announcement also includes a deal through Amex Offers in which eligible cardholders can get $50 back when they spend $100 or more on Airbnb stays through Dec. 31. This offer doesn’t apply to amounts you pay with your points, however. If you don’t have an American Express card, check out our favorites.

Maximize your points wherever you have them

Before redeeming your rewards with any program, it’s important to understand how much value you’re getting with each redemption scenario. Like Membership Rewards, most rewards programs offer a range of value on their points or miles, depending on how you use them. The Nerds have reviewed many of the top rewards programs and calculated an average value and value range for each one.

In most situations, whether taking a lower value is worth the convenience is up to you, but understanding all your options is key to making the best decision possible.

Ben Luthi is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Twitter: @benluthi.

Image via iStock.