This is my updated guide to earning and using American Express UK Membership Rewards points. 

American Express Membership Rewards points are a flexible points currency. A flexible points currency is one that allows you to convert your points to a variety of different frequent flyer/hotel loyalty schemes, at your discretion.

For UK readers, American Express Membership Rewards, Tesco Clubcard, Marriott Bonvoy, HSBC Reward and Heathrow Rewards are all examples of loyalty programs that allow you to earn flexible points. Flexibility is great, but it can be confusing to make sense of all the different options for redeeming your points and work out which one offers the most value.

Today, I’m going to break down the American Express Membership Rewards program and look some of the best ways of using those points.

What are Amex Membership Rewards points?

Membership Rewards points are the rewards currency issued by American Express to customers using their charge cards as well as certain credit card products.

Although Membership Rewards points are a currency used by Amex globally, each country’s program offers different transfer options when redeeming your points.

In the US for example, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan frequent flyer program, which isn’t an option in the UK. Conversely, UK Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Radisson Rewards but that option isn’t available in the US.

How to earn Membership Rewards points

Firstly, here’s a look at the different cards that all earn Membership Rewards points. Many of these cards also offer significant welcome bonuses for taking out the card.

The Platinum Card – 30,000 Membership Rewards points, equal to 30,000 Avios, when you apply and spend £2,000 on your card within 3 months. Read my full review here.


Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card – 10,000 Membership Rewards points, equal to 10,000 Avios, when you apply and spend £3,000 on your card within 3 months. An ideal beginners card. You can read my full review of this card here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card

Representative 57.6% APR variable. Based on purchases rate 22.9% p.a. variable, an assumed credit limit of £1,200 and a £140 annual fee.

American Express Green Card – One Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent.


American Express Rewards Credit Card – 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.


Representative 22.9% APR variable. Based on a purchases rate of 22.9% p.a. variable and an assumed credit limit of £1,200. 

American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card – 2,500 Membership Rewards points when you spend £1,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership.


Representative 9.9% APR variable. Based on a purchases rate of 9.9% p.a. variable and an assumed credit limit of £1,200. 

American Express Rewards Purchases Credit Card – One Membership Rewards point for every £1 spent.


Representative 22.9% APR variable. Based on a purchases rate of 22.9% p.a. variable and an assumed credit limit of £1,200. 

Note: To be eligible for any of the welcome bonuses above, you must not hold or have held any personal American Express cards in the last 24 months. The one exception to this is the Platinum Card which only states that you cannot have held any personal Membership Rewards-enrolled cards in the last 24 months.

The above is part of a number of changes introduced by American Express in March 2019. You can read about these changes in more detail in this article.

What can I do with Membership Rewards points?

Generally speaking, you’ll get the best value from your Amex points by redeeming them via one of Amex’s various travel partners.

While the Amex website is full of options allowing you to cash in your points for everything from TV’s to iPad’s to coffee machines, you’ll struggle to achieve more than about 0.5p per Membership Rewards point by cashing out this way.

Take this Bose Solo 5 TV Sound System for example:

Amex MR option 1.png

This costs 47,880 Membership Rewards points.

However, a quick Google search reveals that John Lewis is currently selling the same device for £199 – giving you a value of 0.41p per point –  which is pretty poor.

At a minimum, you should be aiming for more than 0.45p per point.

That’s because Amex offers a number of other redemption options including their Shop with Points promotion with Amazon that gives you a fixed 0.45p per point (1,000 Membership Rewards points is worth £4.50 to spend at Amazon).

You can also “use points towards purchases”, which allows you to redeem your points for a credit against purchases you’ve made using your card. As with the Amazon option, the ratio is a fixed 1,000 Membership Rewards points = £4.50 of credit.

If you’re giving those two options a miss, you really need to ensure that your redemptions surpass that 0.45p mark.

Here’s a look at various travel partners that should help you get better value for your points:

Airline Partners

You can currently transfer UK Amex points to 12 frequent flyer programs:

  • Alitalia MilleMiglia – 1:1 ratio
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) – 1:1 ratio
  • British Airways Executive Club – 1:1 ratio
  • Delta SkyMiles – 1:1 ratio
  • Emirates Skywards – 1:1 ratio
  • Etihad Guest – 1:1 ratio
  • Finnair Plus – 1:1 ratio
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) – 1:1 ratio
  • Iberia Plus – 1:1 ratio
  • SAS EuroBonus – 1:1 ratio
  • Singapore KrisFlyer – 1:1 ratio
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – 1:1 ratio

With a couple of exceptions, all of the above partners require transfers to be made in blocks of 1,000 points. So every 1,000 Membership Rewards points are worth 1,000 Avios, for example.

It’s impossible to put a definitive value on what an airline mile is worth, as so much depends on the individual program, class of travel, route etc. But for illustrative purposes, getting in and around 1p of value per point is very much a realistic target when redeeming Avios for example.

Hotel partners

There are also three hotel loyalty program partners:

  • Hilton Honors – 1:2 ratio – 1 Membership Rewards point = 2 Hilton Honors points (minimum transfer: 200 Amex points)
  • Radisson Rewards – 1:3 ratio (minimum transfer: 3 Amex points – useful for emptying out an account)
  • Marriott Bonvoy – 2:3 ratio (minimum transfer: 400 Amex points)

Again, it’s just as tricky to put a definitive value on redemptions via a hotel partner.

For perspective, redeeming your points at a top-end Waldorf Astoria hotel costs (up to) 95,000 Hilton Honors points a night*. I was looking at this recently and cash rates on the dates I was looking at were over £450 a night. If I’d chosen to redeem 47,500 Membership Rewards I would’ve achieved almost 0.95p of value per Membership Rewards point. Of course, had cash rates been considerably lower this would’ve become a poorer redemption.

Rail partner & other partners

  • Club Eurostar – 15:1 ratio (minimum transfer: 1,500 Amex points)
  • Nectar – 1:1 ratio


*With the exception of the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives

When should I transfer my Amex points?

I would advise keeping your points as Membership Rewards for as long as you can. This ensures you’re well covered for whatever situation may crop up.

Here’s an example of the convenience of having access to flexible points:

Say you have 65,000 Membership Rewards points in your account and you need to travel to New York at short notice. A quick check reveals that Virgin Atlantic has miles availability requiring 20,000 Flying Club miles for a return ticket. You can simply transfer 20,000 Membership Rewards points instantly to Virgin to book your flights.

Then you need a hotel. A search on the Marriott website shows that The Lexington New York City, Autograph Collection is available for 40,000 Marriott points per night. You can then move just over 26,000 Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy giving you the required 40,000 points.

By keeping your points flexible, you’re able to cherry-pick redemptions as and when you need them.

However, I would link your Membership Rewards account straight away with any transfer partners you are likely to use in the future. When you make your first transfer to a program, it can take a couple of days to link and verify your partner account. Linking them now minimises the risk of unnecessary delays for points transfers in the future.

How long do points take to transfer?

This varies partner by partner. The Amex website advises between 2 and 5 working days, depending on the partner.

In reality, Membership Rewards points transfers to Virgin, Delta and Emirates transfers are virtually instantaneous. In my experience, transfers to British Airways Executive Club take between 24 and 48 hours, while Singapore Airlines are usually overnight.

Feel free to add your experience with transfer times in the comments section below.

Do Amex Membership Rewards points expire?

Membership Rewards points don’t expire. However, you do need to hold an active Membership Rewards-earning card in order to maintain a balance.

I want to close my account but I’m not ready to spend my points – where should I transfer them to?

It’s tricky to give a definitive answer of where to send them – but I can recommend where you may not want to send them.

Unless you’re confident of using them within the next three years or so, I wouldn’t recommend speculatively transferring points to Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest or Singapore KrisFlyer. All of those programs have a ‘hard expiration’ policy i.e. their miles expire two to three years after being earned regardless of any further activity on the account (this article has more info on when airline miles expire and how to stop it).

There’s nothing worse than having to let miles expire and go to waste because you’ve sent them to a program that you now find you can’t use.

If I need to empty a Membership Rewards account, and don’t have any short/medium-term travel plans, my go-to program is British Airways Avios. I know that between Reward Flight Saver and lucrative long-haul redemptions, I’ll be able to put them to good use. Plus Avios points don’t expire unless you have no qualifying activity for 36 months.


Amex Membership Rewards points offer excellent flexibility – arguably second only (from a UK perspective) to Marriott Bonvoy points in terms of sheer variety of transfer options. They are particularly useful for building balances in programs that don’t offer a dedicated UK credit card such as Singapore KrisFlyer and Air France’s Flying Blue.

What’s your favourite way of using your Amex points?


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