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You Can Now Use AmEx Points to Bid on Flight Upgrades

May 10, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Vacations & Trip Planning
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Let the bidding begin. American Express has announced a new plan — titled Upgrade With Points — that allows consumers to bid on seat flight upgrades using Membership Rewards.

If you’re an AmEx Membership Rewards member (consumer, business or corporate), you can now use your points — or a combo of points and cash — to bid on seat upgrades from 18 different airlines. Upgrades are available for first, business or premium economy seats.

How it works

Here’s how the program works:

  1. Log onto
  2. Scroll through the partner airlines to find yours.
  3. Enter your reservation information to make sure you’re eligible for an upgrade.
  4. If everything is a go, you’ll see an option to use Membership Rewards points, or a points and cash combo, to bid on a seat upgrade.
  5. Within five days of your flight, you’ll receive notice from the airline indicating whether your offer was accepted or declined. AmEx will also send notice of the decision.
  6. If your bid won, head to the corresponding airline’s website to get a copy of your updated itinerary.

Should you need to change your reservation, don’t worry about being locked into the seat upgrade. You can edit or cancel your bid at any time up until you receive notification from the airline. Again, this typically occurs within five days of your flight.

Is it a good deal?

If you really want that seat upgrade, you’ll want to present a solid bid — but the higher you bid, the less of a return you’d be getting per point. While the criteria for accepting bids is completely up to the airline, AmEx says some things considered are the offer amount, number of bids and seat availability.

Given that it’s pretty easy to redeem Membership Rewards for at least 1 cent of value per point, if you’re not getting at least that much value from the upgrade, consider saving your points for something else.

A couple of final notes:

  • You can use the Upgrade with Points program even if you didn’t use an American Express card to purchase the original ticket.
  • Upgrades aren’t available on U.S.-based airlines at the moment.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
How to earn and use AmEx Membership Rewards
NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards
3 great cards that earn AmEx Membership Rewards

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