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American Express upped its rewards game in the last quarter of 2016, with targeted promos for the SPG Amex cards, double Membership Rewards points at all small businesses until the end of 2016, the introduction of 5X points on airfare for The Platinum Card® from American Express (on up to $500,000 of airfare purchases per calendar year booked directly with airlines), and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express receiving a 35% Airline bonus.
Note: Amex recently dropped this benefit from 50% to 35% and introduced a points cap of 500K per year. They later increased the cap to 1 million points per year for business cardholders. See our breakdown of the changes for all the details.
What that means for points and miles fans is a bumper crop of Membership Rewards points quietly filling up Amex accounts. And likely, some itchy trigger fingers ready to push the button on points transfers and award redemptions from the Amex Travel Center.
To ensure you’re getting the best value out of your Membership Rewards points, we want to share 5 of our top strategies for maximizing Amex points, with the hope you’ll discover some new options for redeeming Amex Membership Rewards for maximum value.
Air France/KLM FlyingBlue Promo Awards and Unique Region Definitions
We covered some of FlyingBlue's sweet spots recently with details on the unusual region definitions, and some of the incredible economy deals the program offers. If you are looking to fly between the continental U.S. and Hawaii, FlyingBlue partner Delta can get you there for 30K miles return in economy.
Air France/KLM also consider Israel to be a part of Europe, which means a return award flight can cost as little as 50K miles return between the U.S. and Israel, the same goes for a number of countries in Northern Africa.
And lastly, FlyingBlue offers a rotating monthly list of Promo Awards, discounted by up to 50%, which provide some of the best award rates of any airline program in the world. The Promo Awards list is a fantastic way of discovering new destinations, simply browse the list each month to find new locations to explore.
British Airways Avios for Short Haul and the Travel Together Pass
British Airways Executive Club offers some of the best value of any Amex partner because the award chart is still distance based, rather than region based, opening up some interesting routes.
Despite the recent devaluation when transferring Amex points to BA Avios, they still offer top value, particularly on short-haul flights under 650 miles outside the U.S., particularly when running one of the regular transfer bonuses between the programs.
These flights will cost only 4,500 Avios, with flights under 1,150 miles, both within the U.S. and abroad, pricing at only 7,500 Avios which is hard to beat.
Avios also offer cheap redemptions on flights between the mainland and Hawaii on AA and Alaska Air, costing just 12,500 miles one way in economy from many ports on the east coast.
The British Airways Travel Together Certificate is valid for flights originating in, or departing, the U.S., and allows a companion to fly in the same cabin just paying the award fees and taxes, which can be steep on BA award flights.
KrisFlyer for International Suites and Premium U.S. Domestic
The holy grail for many frequent flyers, Singapore Airlines Suites are the first-class equivalent of The Plaza in New York, offering a double bed and the best first class experience you can have in the sky. From 110,000 miles, you can fly from the U.S. to Singapore in the A380 suites.
KrisFlyer also offers better premium cabin rates within the U.S. on partner airlines United and Air Canada than you’ll receive booking directly trough the carriers themselves, with premium cabin redemptions as low as 25K miles one-way.
You can find many more sweet spots within the KrisFlyer program in our guide to Singapore Airline’s rewards program.
ANA Mileage Club Around the World Awards
ANA Mileage Club retains one of the only Round the World award fares to offer competitive value if you are willing to do your homework. Offering up to 8 stopovers, an Around the World award redemption with ANA can be a fantastic way of seeing multiple destinations inside one trip. We recently put together a three-part series on how to understand, book, and maximize ANA Mileage Club, click on the links below for more info.
- Understanding ANA Mileage Club Award Charts
- How to Book ANA Mileage Club Award Flights
- Maximize ANA Mileage Club Award Sweet Spots
There are lots of conditions that accompany these awards, but it's worth the time invested for the value you’ll receive.
35% Airline Bonus on the Business Platinum Card
The last strategy was recently devalued in Amex’s latest update to Business Platinum Card. Amex now offers cardholders a 35% rebate on points when using Pay with Points on their selected airline, or when booking first or business class with any airline, through the American Express Travel website.
Effectively offering flights at just over half price for Business Platinum Card members, this has the potential to save cardholders thousands of dollars on premium air fares, and also the chance to buy cheap business class tickets, while still earning miles on the flight. A win/win situation.
Rewards Credit Cards That Earn Membership Rewards
Just a quick recap of our favorite rewards cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
With so many transfer options available, getting the best value for Membership Rewards points can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. The trick is to figure out your plan before you start accumulating points, a goal that you can plan for and collect points towards.
If you learn strategies to maximize the value of Amex’s 20 travel partners, you can rest easy knowing your Membership Rewards points will help you reach your travel goals.
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