American Express Membership Rewards Points With Increased Value To Offset Card Charges (Targeted)

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American Express (U.S.) has a new targeted promotion that allows using Membership Rewards points to offset card charges at increased rates which have traditionally been quite poor with Amex.

Customers with cards that have a Membership Rewards earning function might see an offer in their account that allows redeeming points for up to 1.0 cent per points (cpm) which is a lot better than their usual 0.6 cpm.

It can be argued that the best use for membership rewards points is to transfer them to travel partners in such as airline frequent flyer programs in order to redeem them for premium class flights but that might not hold value to everyone.

I previously wrote about a similar promotion by Chase called Pay Yourself Back (access here).

In times where people find international travel difficult to come by, hotel rates plummeting and the prospect of travel might not seem that enticing many elect to use their points to cover card charges and depending on the promotion that might be not a bad idea at all.

American Express has now followed Chase with a targeted promotion in the same way.

When you look up your Points for Charges tab in the Rewards section it will display you redemption options and if you’re targeted the increased rates:

The list of eligible charges can change from time to time without notice. We do not have to make any charges eligible for you to cover with points.

Generally, an eligible charge is one that:

  • Occurs in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory
  • Appears in your recent activity online or in your current statement
  • Has never been disputed
  • Is at least $1

You may use points only toward the entire amount of an eligible charge.

I don’t have many charges listed as eligible, mainly because I’m not in the U.S. for over a year. Most are online services that are billed in US$ such as web hosting, Amazon Prime and Apple Store.

In my account it looks like this:

This is still rather bad value even with an increased redemption ratio. Right now I get 0.8 cpm per miles (0.6 cpm previously) and I don’t consider this very enticing at all.

One of my favorite credit card Youtubers Ask Sebby (no relation) has put out a video saying some carholders are targeted with up to 1cpm for their MR redemptions. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see this offer on my own account.

I’m not against redeeming points for cash but it has to make sense. I’ve prevously redeemed 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a total cash reimbursement of $450 which exactly covers my annual fee that I paid for the CSR. That in combination with the US$300 travel credit that’s also applicable to grocery purchases until the end of June 2021as part of Chase’s pandemic relief policy.

Usually I’d just move my points to Hyatt but when I do the math I find that getting $150 cash per 10,000 points transferred is a better value as hotels are cheap right now and flying not really in the books, especially since I still have a good stack of airline miles.

I wish American Express would make this program a bit more attractive. I wonder what their deal is with the travel partners and how much they pay for the miles. Some partners such as ANA where I transfer most of my Membership Rewards points to are really hard to collect miles with, the only option (aside from flying) is Amex, the ANA Visa Card or transferring hotel points.

Conclusion

The value one can get out of this is ok but not great, especially in comparison with Chase PYB where It’s a straight 1.5 cent per point when carrying the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Either way, redeeming this way means it’s cold hard cash right away instead of some travel currency in the future.

While it’s theoretically possible to get a higher value when redeeming points and miles for award travel that all depends on the real value of these trips and if you’d pay that price under normal circumstances. I’m not a fan of ‘feelgood redemptions’ convincing myself that I’m traveling on a $10,000 ticket paid by miles when in reality you could get a similar flight for a $2500 saver fare and I’d probably not even pay that if I had a choice.

These are the Terms & Conditions for the campaign:

Use points for your American Express charges

You can use points to cover eligible charges on your Card Account only if you’re the Basic Card or Basic Business Card Member. You also may be able to use points for this purpose if you’re the Account Manager or Rewards Manager for a Card Account. Corporate Card Members are not eligible.

The list of eligible charges can change from time to time without notice. We do not have to make any charges eligible for you to cover with points.

Generally, an eligible charge is one that:

  • Occurs in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory
  • Appears in your recent activity online or in your current statement
  • Has never been disputed
  • Is at least $1

You may use points only toward the entire amount of an eligible charge.

We’ll deduct the points from your Rewards Account right away and we’ll credit your Card Account within 48 hours. If we process the credit after your Card Account’s closing date, it will not appear until your next statement. In this case, you must still pay the amount due on your current Card statement by the due date.

Offer Terms

If a limited time offer appears, it is valid for solicited U.S. Membership Rewards® program enrollees only. Offer is not transferable and may not be combined with other offers. American Express in its sole discretion reserves the right to alter and or terminate this offer at any time. If you return to redeem points later, this offer may no longer be available. To be eligible to receive this offer, all Card accounts linked to an enrollee’s Membership Rewards program account must not be canceled,past due or have a returned payment outstanding at the time of point redemption. Individual terms, conditions and restrictions apply to the respective Membership Rewards offers.

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