Best Way to Maximize American Express Points

Posted by Madison on July 18, 2012

After the Credit Card Application Spree to Maximize Sign Up Bonuses I ended up with a bunch of American Express membership rewards points. The next challenge: finding the best way to convert the Amex membership rewards points to cash (or something else of value).

Specifically, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card gave us 25,000 points and I’d like to redeem it for $250 if I can!

Ways to Maximize American Express Points

Gift Cards. Ideally, I want to redeem the American Express points for gift cards. To get the maximum value on the gift card redemption I look for the 1:1 conversion on points and cents. I want to make sure I get $250 worth of gift cards for my 25,000 points. The redemption values change over time, so I’m keeping my eyes on it.

Shop at Amazon. I love Amazon.com! And ideally this would be the easiest way to redeem the points. You can link your membership rewards with your Amazon account to redeem points. However, there’s a catch to the convenience: the conversion rate is only 0.7 cents for each point.

Redeem for Travel. Another option is the ability to turn the Amex membership points into miles. You can transfer to the airline that you already use. Delta (the airline we use) sometimes runs a special when you can redeem your points for 1.5 miles per point.

ShopAmex. There’s actually two links available when you sign into your account. Don’t get caught up in the shopAmex portal because you’ll see gift card options, but they have terrible options compared to the gift cards in the main Amex rewards area.

Offset your Statement Charges. When you are logged in viewing your statement, you can click on “Use Points for Everyday Charges”. Ideally, converting the points to a statement credit is great. The part that isn’t so great: the conversion rate is 0.6 cents for each point. Ouch! We’ll avoid this option!

Tips and Tricks

Reselling Gift Cards. Since the gift cards have one of the best conversion rates, it’s my ideal choice. However, if I don’t have a need for the gift cards, I’m also referring to the redemption options at Plastic Jungle. For example Home Depot gift cards pay around 79%, but the Gap cards pay only around 63%. If you are planning to resell the gift cards, make sure to pick a retailer that has a high resale value. (Too bad they don’t have Walmart gift cards at around 96%!).

Promotions. From time to time, Amex will offer gift card promos. That’s actually what I’m waiting for before redeeming my points. In the past, they’ve had 50% off the Gap, which if resold later, can get you greater than 1.25 cents to points.

Watch You Timeline. Don’t forget, if you are redeeming points on gift cards from credit cards that have the annual fee waiver for a year, make sure you remember to redeem your points before your year is up. Then you can cancel the card and maximize your redemption of points.

American Express Membership Rewards Cards



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Comments to Best Way to Maximize American Express Points

  1. I only have one AmEx card which is tied to my brokerage acct. I usually just redeem the points to put money in investments.

    Linda

  2. Madison, Could you tell me where it shows the conversion rate of .60 for a statement credit.
    Thanks.

    Sandy

    • Sandy,
      After I clicked on “Use Points for Everyday Charges” when I was viewing my statement online, it brought up three of my most recent purchases and the points needed to offset each of the charges. It doesn’t show the actual conversion rate, but you can calculate it. All three of my charges showed the same rate – .60.

      Madison

      • Calculate as follows: Take the dollar amount you will spend, multiply by 100, then divide that number by the number of points it costs you.

        rate = (dollars x 100)/points

        Dave


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