American Express Reward Points
June 3, 2006 7:30 AM   Subscribe

What is average value of American Express Reward Points?

I have a lot of American Express Reward points....Enough to buy serveral computers, plane tickets, etc...

What is best use of the points? I guess I can keep saving the points until I figure out what I want.. but I feel unsafe to keep these points so long.

Getting actual cash out of those points will make my day but.. I gotta feeling the conversion will not be as valueable as buying something with the reward points.

I want to get some Dell products or southwest airline tickets...

What will be the best use of these reward points?
posted by curiousleo to Shopping (8 answers total)
Unless you can convert 1-1 to cash, don't ever bother converting reward points to money. My company works with a couple of major reward points companies, and the good rewards are the ones you use points for. It's a pretty simple equation, though; figure out the MSRP (or actual retail) of what you want, divide that by the number of points it costs.

Best plan: save them until you know exactly what you want... because you may use 40K points now... and then realize if you'd saved another 10K, you could have gone to, say, an incredible speaking engagement with Bill Clinton. (An actual reward offered by one company here in Canada)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:37 AM on June 3, 2006

This is my guesstimate, but the point to dollar ratio is usually around 100:1.

That is, a "prize" worth 1000 points can be usually bought for $10.

Using that ratio, you can estimate if a particular prize is worth your points or not.

Usually, prizes from the company itself have better values. So a plane ticket from United might be "cheaper" that a similar ticket from AmEx. So in some cases it might be wise to transfer points from one program to another.
posted by sd at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2006

Response by poster: Another question:

the airline X, i would like to use is not connect to AmEx...
but United is connected to AmEX...

So if I transfer points to United and again transfer that points to Airline X.... Can it be possible...

When I called to ask.. CS says they are not 100% sure....

Airline X says getting points from united is no problem.. but they weren't sure if that united points are from other company like AmEx would transfer.....

United wasn't sure if the points they get from AmEx would transfer to Airline X unless if I actually try to do it online...

I don't want to transfer points to United and find out later that it is not possible to transfer back to AmEx nor transfer to Airline X
posted by curiousleo at 8:50 AM on June 3, 2006

Best answer: This is discussed exhaustively on flyertalk amongst other forums. However, estimate your points at approximately 1% of purchase if you're seeking a retail gift certificate, 10,000 Membership Rewards (not Options) will yield a $100 gift card. You can transfer your points out to various airlines a hotel programs at possibly better yield, especially if you're interested in international first class fares. In this case I've seen some math say 2-3% of value. Regardless, the Membership Rewards are a difficult box to actually obtain value. I've recently switched to the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX card with a lot of the same protections, $30 cost, and a 25% bonus on airline transfers.
posted by sled at 8:59 AM on June 3, 2006

United is no longer in the AMEX network for Membership Rewards point transfers. If you transfer out points to a airline, they are bound by that airline. Be warned, there is not a easy way to transfer points back to AMEX.
posted by sled at 9:05 AM on June 3, 2006

Best answer: yeah cash is about the lowest conversion rate, so try to get gift cards if you can find ones that are useful to you, those seem to be the highest (1000:1 as mentioned above)


many of the gift cards have restrictions, e.g. the Dell ones only let you use 1 gift card per transaction (and I think the highest Dell card was $250 last time I checked) and are also limited to certain desktop/laptop systems (e.g. you may not even be able to buy a fancy big monitor or mp3 player or pda or other expensive peripheral)

most of the time I end up getting home depot gift cards, but those are only allowed to be used in physical stores and not online. I've also gotten crate & barrel cards, etc. which make nice gifts.

there is also the online shopping directly with points, have never used it so no idea what the conversion is like.
posted by dorian at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2006

(also also: consider simply getting e.g. Dell cards and then selling them at slightly below dollar value on ebay or craigslist or locally &c. &c. I have not tried this but I really should as it seems rather sensible)
posted by dorian at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2006

Some of the specific vendors' gift cards give a better return (My wife and I have used the Home Depot and Toys/Babies R Us ones to great effect).

Your best bet is to do the math for what you can get it for online vs. with Membership Rewards points. I tend to avoid the actual products because they are usually slightly out of date and/or based on MSRP as opposed to street price. The vacation packages can be of dubious value, too.
posted by JLobster at 12:30 PM on June 5, 2006

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