From the North Pole to the Serengeti: How to use 20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points
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Membership Rewards, the points currency of American Express, are one of the most valuable points currencies out there. Because they’re a transferrable currency, they can be transferred to 12 different airline partners and three different hotel partners. Until 29 June, our favourite credit card for beginners, the Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card from American Express has doubled its welcome bonus to 20,000 points, which you’ll get after spending £3,000 in the first 90 days of cardmembership.
Those 20,000 Membership Rewards points are worth £280 based on TPG’s current monthly valuations of miles and points. It’s easy to reach that welcome bonus even without leaving your own home. Once you’ve earned your bonus, here are the best ways to use it.
For this list, I’ll consider redemptions of up to 23,000 Membership Rewards points, seeing as you would be earning an additional 3,000 Membership Rewards points for spending the £3,000 required to earn the welcome bonus.
Membership Rewards can be transferred to the following programmes at the following rates in the following time periods. Transfer partners that are bolded are those I think are a good use of your 23,000 Membership Rewards points.
|Airline and Hotel Programmes||Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1:1||4 working days|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||1:1||3 working days|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1||3 working days|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1||3 working days|
|Delta SkyMiles||1:1||up to 30 minutes|
|Emirates Skywards||1:1||2 working days|
|Etihad Guest||1:1||5 working days|
|Finnair Plus||1:1||3 working days|
|Iberia Plus||1:1||4 working days|
|SAS EuroBonus||1:1||5 working days|
|Singapore KrisFlyer||1:1||3 working days|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||usually 30 minutes|
|Hilton Honors||1:2||5 working days|
|Marriott Bonvoy||2:3||5 working days|
|Radisson Rewards||1:3||10 working days|
1. Luxury hotel stays
You can transfer 23,000 Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy where they will become 34,500 Bonvoy points. That’s enough for a standard night up to a Category 5 property, which includes luxury options like:
- Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa, Costa Adeje, Tenerife
- Domes Miramare, a Luxury Collection Resort, Corfu
- Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel
- The Westin Grand, Berlin
- The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul
- Hotel Football, Old Trafford, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
If you were to book a lower category property at an off-peak date, you book up to six nights accommodation with your welcome bonus. For example, the Courtyard Istanbul West is only 5,000 points per night off-peak.
If you would rather a Radisson brand instead, at a transfer rate of 1:3, those 23,000 Membership Rewards points will convert into a huge 69,000 Radisson Rewards points. That means you could book:
- 2 nights at the Park Inn by Radisson City Centre, Cardiff;
- 2 nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Al Ain, UAE
- 2 nights at the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Orlando, Florida
- 1 night at the Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel, Stockholm
- 7 nights at the Park Plaza CBD, Delhi, India
2. Anywhere in Europe British Airways flies
We love British Airways Reward Flight Savers here at TPG because they provide low-cost redemptions to British Airways’ extensive Europe network. Membership Rewards transfer to Executive Club at a 1:1 rate, meaning 3,000 Amex points are worth 3,000 Avios.
You could book two people, return on peak or off-peak dates to the following popular destinations:
- Amsterdam (AMS), Netherlands
- Berlin (TXL), Germany
- Copenhagen (CPH), Denmark
- Geneva (GVA), Switzerland
- Munich (MUC), Germany
- Nice (NCE), France
- Salzburg (SZG), Austria
If you want to fly further afield, your 23,000 Membership Rewards points would be more than enough for one person, return on peak or off-peak dates to:
- Athens (ATH), Greece
- Budapest (BUD), Hungary
- Corfu (CFU), Greece
- Gran Canaria (LPA), Spain
- Istanbul (IST), Turkey
- Malta (MLA)
- Split (SPL), Croatia
Better yet, double the value you could be getting by using a Companion Voucher so you and travel partner can travel to these destinations together.
3. A return Air France or KLM flight to Northern Africa or Eastern Europe
If you transfer your Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club programme at a rate of 1:1, you can use 20,000 miles for one person return on an off-peak date flying from the U.K. on Air France or KLM to the likes of:
Given you should have 23,000 Membership Rewards points for meeting the minimum spend, if you can reach an extra 1,000 points, your 24,000 Flying Club points could fly one person return even further afield to Cape Verde, Georgia, Kenya, Oman, Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates.
4. A return British Airways flight to the Middle East
Again, those Membership Rewards points can be transferred to British Airways Avios at a rate of 1:1. You could use them for two passengers return to Europe as a Reward Flight Saver, but if you’re looking further afield, the 23,000 Avios would be enough for a return, off-peak flight on British Airways from the U.K. to:
- Amman (AMM), Jordan
- Beirut (BEY), Lebanon
- Cairo (CAI), Egypt
- Kuwait City (KWI), Kuwait
- Tel Aviv (TLV), Israel
Better still, if you have a Companion Voucher, two of you can travel together for the same number of Avios.
5. (Almost) anywhere in Europe on on Star Alliance airlines
Europe is incredibly well served by Star Alliance airlines, flying to dozens of destinations that British Airways doesn’t fly to. If you transfer your 23,000 Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer programme, you only need 2,000 more miles before you can book yourself a return from the U.K. to anywhere in Europe.
While this might instantly seem like a better deal than British Airways Reward Flight Saver option by transferring your Membership Rewards points to Avios, if you are trying to reach somewhere very remote that would otherwise cost hundreds of pounds, it could be a sensible option.
Here are some ideas to get your wanderlust going:
- Any of the Canary Islands;
- The northernmost parts of Finland and Norway (Christmas in Lapland, anyone?);
- Russia and the Ukraine; and
- The remote Greek islands only Aegean fly to.
If you’ve been following our series on how to best maximise Companion Vouchers with six-figure Avios balances, 20,000 Membership Rewards points might not seem like much. But with the versatility of Membership Rewards points, you have so many options to use them, from the North Pole through to the Serengeti.
Note that for the flight redemption options, fees, taxes and charges are also payable.
Featured image by Gettys Images