You are currently viewing Best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points: From business class flights to Europe to Hawaii

Best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points: From business class flights to Europe to Hawaii

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Travel

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information.

It’s no secret that American Express Membership Rewards are one of our favorite points and miles currency.

TPG’s latest valuations give Membership Rewards 2 cents per point value. However, leveraging the right transfer partners makes it easy to get even more value out of your points.

To prove this value to you, we’ll look at some of the best ways to redeem your Membership Rewards points in this article. From high-end business class redemptions to domestic flights around the U.S., there are ways to stretch your points for the best possible travel experience.

Related: Best American Express Credit Cards of 2024

How to earn Membership Rewards points

The best way to do this quickly is by utilizing welcome offers on Amex’s top credit cards. Here are some of our favorites:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. However, some readers have been targeted for up to a 100,000-point bonus using the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
  • American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership. However, some readers have been targeted for an even higher welcome offer using the CardMatch tool (offer subject to change at any time). Terms apply.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.

How to use your Membership Rewards points

You’re likely to get the most value from your Amex points by transferring them to partner programs. Membership Rewards partners with 18 different airlines, including Air Canada, JetBlue and British Airways. You also have the option to transfer your points to three hotel chains: Hilton, Marriott and Choice.

You can book flights or hotels directly through Amex Travel, but redeeming points with a transfer partner usually results in a better redemption value. This is because Amex Travel only lets you redeem at a set 1 cent per point value for flights, while transfers can yield a much higher value.

Most Membership Rewards transfers process instantly, while others can take up to 48 hours. Check out our guide to Membership Rewards transfer times for more information.

Here are some of the best ways to redeem your Membership Rewards by transferring them to partners.

Business class to Europe for 50,000 miles

plane cabin

If you want to travel to Europe comfortably, consider transferring your Membership Rewards points to Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue program. The program prices award tickets dynamically, so on peak dates, you can be charged more than 100,000 miles for a flight to Europe. However, on dates with less demand, you can fly from North America to Europe from as low as 20,000 miles one-way in economy, 35,000 miles in premium economy and 50,000 miles in business class.


Remember that fuel surcharges on these awards can be a little hard to handle — close to $400 per person if you book round-trip business-class flights. Still, 40,000 miles for round-trip economy flights and about $120 in cash is still a great deal.

Flying Blue’s monthly Promo Awards are worth checking out as they can offer 25% discounts on the prices above to select destinations.

Related: Is KLM premium economy worth it on the 787 Dreamliner?

Book Delta and ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic

ANA business class

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club charges 50,000 points (so 50,000 Amex points) from the U.S. to Europe in Delta One business class. This pricing applies to all nonstop Delta tickets from the U.S. — connecting tickets are subject to extra mileage.

This is substantially cheaper than transferring points to Delta SkyMiles for the same award ticket, where 375,000 miles for a flight to Europe in business class is not uncommon.

Related: Dynamic airline award pricing is out of control — here are some ways to beat it

Always check Virgin Atlantic first to book a Delta One ticket to Europe. It consistently offers lower prices than Delta and other SkyTeam programs on these routes.

Availability can be hard to come by (though it is usually more available last minute than well in advance). You may wish to consider investing in an award search tool like, with its handy Delta One search finder to easily see availability. Then, you can book directly on Virgin Atlantic’s website.


Virgin Atlantic’s ANA award chart must be one of the best sweet-spot redemptions in the entire points-and-miles world. The chart below shows round-trip prices:


This means you can fly round-trip from West Coast airports to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) or Haneda International Airport (HND) in ANA first class for only 145,000 miles or in business class for 90,000 miles. That’s less than some airlines charge for a one-way ticket.

ANA first-class tickets sometimes cost $16,000 or more, so this is an easy way to get more than 10 cents per point in value.

Fly ANA First Class with Avianca LifeMiles (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
ANA’s newest First Class seat. CHRIS DONG/THE POINTS GUY

Again, availability can be difficult to find and won’t show on Virgin’s website. It’s best to use a partner site like United MileagePlus to check availability and then call Virgin Atlantic to book.

United and Alaska flights to Hawaii

hawaii beach

From the great city of Honolulu to the vast beaches of Maui and Kona, the Hawaiian islands truly have everything. You can book flights to the islands on United and Alaska Airlines by transferring your Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

You’ll pay just 12,000 Krisflyer miles for a one-way flight from California, Oregon, or Washington to any Hawaiian island. Just note that Singapore doesn’t let you book Alaska flights with stops, so you’re restricted to booking flights from one of Alaska’s various hubs. You also need to call in to book these awards.

Those based elsewhere in the country can book nonstop or connecting flights with United Airlines. You’ll pay 19,500 KrisFlyer points for a one-way economy ticket or 39,000 for business class.

Fly the world’s longest nonstop flight in comfort


Singapore Airlines operates two of the world’s longest flights: Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

Of course, you’re not going to want to spend 18 hours in an uncomfortable seat, so use your Membership Rewards to fly business class.

Both routes cost 111,500 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer points plus taxes and fees one-way — a small price for comfort on such a long flight.

Related: 18 hours in nonstop style: Singapore business class on the world’s longest flight

Iberia flights to Madrid

plane cabin

Booking premium-cabin award flights to Europe can be a complicated and expensive endeavor, but Amex’s transfer partner, Iberia Plus, uses a distance-based award chart. This is one of the best options to consider when searching for nonstop flights to Spain.

Here are the one-way award prices:

Destination to/from Madrid Blue class (Off-peak/Peak) Economy (Off-peak/Peak) Premium economy (Off-peak/Peak) Business (Off-peak/Peak)
New York 17,000/20,000 22,000 / 28,000 25,000 / 35,000 34,000 / 50,000
Chicago 21,250 /25,000 27,750 / 35,000 31,750 / 43,750 42,500 / 62,500
Boston 17,000 /20,000 22,000 / 28,000 25,000 / 35,000 34,000 / 50,000
Miami 21,250 / 25,000 27,750 / 35,000 31,750 / 43,750 42,500 / 62,500
Los Angeles 25,550 / 32,500 30,000 / 42,000 38,250 / 52,500 51,000 / 75,000
San Francisco 25,550 / 32,500 30,000 / 42,000 38,250 / 52,500 51,000 / 75,000

Off-peak business-class flights offer the best deal. You can fly from JFK and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Madrid for just 34,000 Avios in economy, 50,000 in premium economy and 68,000 in business class. Yes, those are round-trip prices. Considering that most airlines charge at least 50,000 miles for a one-way business-class flight to Europe, this is an absolute steal.

Related: Private suites and high-tech touches: What it’s like flying Air France’s new business class

Book Choice hotels around the world

Radisson Blu Mall of America
Radisson Blu Mall of America. CHOICE HOTELS

The Choice Privileges program is lesser-known than the bigger chains like Marriott and Hilton, but it’s still worth a look. You can still get value by transferring Membership Rewards to Choice Privileges, with awards starting at just 8,000 points per night.

The company’s hotels sit conveniently outside major cities. For example, you can use 10,000 points per night to book the Comfort Inn near the Six Flags theme park in Gurnee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. This can be a good option for a staycation or a stop on a long road trip.

Things get more exciting when you travel abroad. A handful of properties in Tokyo can be booked for 8,000 points per night. The centrally located Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda is one of them. The rooms look solid and are within walking distance of public transit.

Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda Price

Book short-haul flights with British Airways Avios

American Airlines 777-300ER economy cabin

You don’t have to jet halfway around the world to get a great redemption.

Using British Airways Avios is the best way to book domestic flights operated by American and Alaska Airlines. The program uses an unpublished distance-based award chart, so you’ll pay more Avios for longer flights; short and mid-haul domestic flights are the award chart’s sweet spots for Oneworld flyers.

Flights that are 1,151 miles or shorter can be booked for just 11,000 Avios, and for the shortest flights up to 650 miles in length, you’ll need just 8,250 Avios on any date with availability. This is a solid way to use your points if cash flights are otherwise expensive. Think of peak travel times like holidays, conferences and school breaks.

One thing to note about Avios: It charges per leg. This means you’ll pay more for connecting flights. In most cases, you should only use Avios to book nonstop flights.

Related: Here’s why you should care about British Airways Avios

Bottom line

Whether you’re looking for first-class airfare, an economy flight home for the holidays or a road trip hotel, you can use Membership Rewards to cover it all. Use these examples as inspiration for your next big trip. Not only will you have a better experience, but you’ll spend significantly less out of pocket, too.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.