As an Amex Card holder and rewards program member, you may be wondering what the best use of your points is. Put frankly, the best use of Amex Points is booking business class flights. There is simply no debating it – booking business class reward seats provides the best value return on your hard earned points.
It does not come from paying off your Amex statement with points, nor from buying retail items or gift cards. Even booking hotels or hire cars with your Amex points doesn’t provide optimum value.
“Of course you’re going to say that,” you might be thinking, “You’re a travel agency.” This is true, but let’s analyse the nature of Amex Membership Rewards for a moment.
The nature of Amex Membership Rewards
American Express differentiates itself from competitors (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) by targeting high net worth individuals who spend large amounts of money with their cards. Naturally, those customers will be the most valued, and therefore the ones who are rewarded most handsomely.
High net worth individuals are quite often business owners, executives, celebrities, etc. They may charge many high value business expenses, travel expenses or luxury items to their cards, generating significant revenue for American Express.
So when it comes to rewarding these individuals, American Express must provide them with something of high value. Something befitting their status as a customer. And business owners, executives and celebrities are likely to want to travel in business class. Therefore, American Express has arranged for the booking of business class flights to represent the best value points exchange over things like small appliances, retail gift cards or economy car hire for example. This is how they reward their high value customers.
Booking the best value flights with your Membership Rewards
So we’ve established that you will receive the best value from your Amex Membership Rewards points by booking business class flights. But for the savvy points collector, we can take it a step further.
There are 10 airlines (and their associated air miles reward programs) to which you can convert your Amex points and redeem for flights.
- Air New Zealand (Airpoints)
- Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
- Emirates (Skywards)
- Etihad (Etihad Guest)
- Malaysian Airlines (Enrich)
- Qantas (Frequent Flyer)
- Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
- Thai Airways (Royal Orchid Plus)
- Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club)
- Virgin Australia (Velocity)
For all of these airlines, 2 Amex points = 1 air mile when exchanged. What differs is the valuation each airline assigns to those 2 airmiles points. Each airline prices their reward seats differently.
A Qantas Frequent Flyer one way Classic Rewards flight from Sydney to Brisbane in business class next month might cost 18,400 Frequent Flyer points. That’s 36,800 Amex points. This will be different on Virgin Australia, however.
The valuation can vary further due to factors such as:
- The availability of reward seats
- Whether the airline is holding a sale or promotion
- The time of year
*Points savvy tip!
In case you weren’t aware, on every airline flight, only a certain percentage of the seats are eligible to be booked with rewards. We don’t know for certain what it is, but we estimate it to be around 20%. The remaining seats are reserved for airline customers who are paying cash for their ticket. This is why it can sometimes be challenging to find your desired seat – and it is especially true at times like these when there are global surges in demand for reward seats.
Your personal reward tier within each reward program also has an effect on flight availability for you. Gold and Platinum reward members are more likely to snag reward seats than those with base level memberships.
What’s the best airline to book your reward flight on?
If we’re looking at the straight up price of reward flights alone, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program represents the best value at the moment. Singapore Airlines will take you further for less. That’s even taking into account the upcoming change to their rewards valuation. However, it’s one of the most difficult airlines to book at the moment due to pandemic related staffing shortages.
But as you know, the best airline to book your reward flight on is actually the one that:
- Has available seats
- Has the shortest travel time
- And provides the best possible value for your points
It’s not always easy to secure your desired seat
Here’s another little spanner for the works.
Scenario: You have found the perfect flight to your dream destination and you have logged into your Amex Rewards dashboard and exchanged the required points into that particular airline’s air miles. But you notice that it’s going to take 5 whole days for that points exchange to process. Because it’s high season, your ideal flight is likely to be gone by then. What you see today isn’t necessarily what you will see next week.
This is what often vexes Amex card holders who are trying to book their own rewards.
Here’s a breakdown of how long points exchanges take to process:
|Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines
|Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic
So how can you truly know what the best use of Amex points is?
There’s a lot of information to consider and it can certainly be overwhelming. It can also be very time consuming to try and tackle this yourself.
Remember, you should think of your reward points as if they were cash. You wouldn’t pay $10,000 for a product or service that you could get for $3000, right? So why would you do it with your points?
The truth is, it’s sometimes best to leave it to the experts.
Here at The Well Connected Traveller, our consultants book reward seats for our clients all day, every day. We know what factors to consider based on where and when you wish to travel. We use our unique advantages to secure your desired seats. And we know that sometimes, the best way to get from A to B is via X on an airline you may not have even considered.
We consider your rewards tier, we check all your available points balances, and we know how to combine them to get you where you want to go, when you want to go. In business class, no less.
We are points experts and we have been doing what we do for well over a decade. Contact us today to book your reward flights. Fill out our Book With Points enquiry form and we’ll be in touch shortly to discuss your desired travel arrangements.
And here’s our secret for earning MORE Amex points FAST
If you would like to bask in the luxury of Business Class more often, you can supercharge your points earning ability by creating an account with our partners pay.com.au.
Pay.com.au is an innovative new platform that allows you to use any major credit card for your business payments and earn rewards simply by running your business.
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