Last Friday I wrote about the option of Upgrade Bidding and now American Express (U.S.) introduced the option of allowing to pay for such bids with Membership Rewards points.
American Express has introduced an interface for these upgrades on their website and customers are able to enter their corresponding bids for which points will be deducted upon acceptance at $0.01 per 1 point ratio (exceptions apply to certain card types).
While one point per US$ cent is a relatively low value considering how flexible Membership Rewards can be used, I think it’s a pretty neat option to add to the MR redemption portfoliio.
You can access the Amex Rewards Portal for these upgrades here (might prompt you to log in).
What this interface does is basically open the same style of bidding window you would get when doing it via the airline itself, but with the add on that instead of cash you’d be using the Membership Rewards balance in your Amex account.
This is the upgrade process:
There is a very extensive FAQ section (access here) about the upgrade process.
Keep in mind that each airline has a slightly different process and terms attached so I highly recommend reading up on your desired airline individually.
Now to the value. Unfortunately the valuation of 1 cent per point is comparatively low and there are card types that don’t even reach that.
As per the FAQ:
For most American Express Card Members with a Membership Rewards account, 1,000 points = $10 of value through Upgrade with Points, except as noted below.
For the following Cards, 1,000 points = $5 of value through Upgrade with Points:
- American Express® Platinum Credit Card
- Blue for Business® Credit Card
- Blue for Students®
- Some Blue from American Express Cards
- Business Management Account
- Gold Optima® Card
- Optima® Credit Card
- Optima® Platinum Card®
- Platinum Business Credit Card®
- ZYNC® Card
$5 value per 1000 points is an absolute killer in the most negative sense – stay away from that if you’re a customer with the cards listed above!
American Express also put out a video tutorial on their YouTube channel:
This explains it quiet well and there is nothing more to add in terms of functionality.
Since I wrote an article last Friday about Upgrade Bidding via Plusgrade on.Lufthansa and mentioned that their upgrades earn additional miles for the new class of service a word of warning here: The airlines working with the Amex Upgrade Program DO NOT give you extra bonus/status miles following the upgrade as it’s a different platform that processes these upgrades.
One cent per point is on the low side of redemption value but not horrible if one would like to use points in a practical way. Sometimes it’s better to just burn the points you have instead of hoarding them and using cold hard cash. As mentioned above, this doesn’t apply to the low values for the Business Cards (at least in my personal opinion).
I have used these upgrade bidding functions many times in the last few years and always enter close to the minimum bid which has almost always been accepted. No need to bid very high with these things.