So if you’re like me, then you might have a ton of Amex points saved up from cards like the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum. But how do you redeem them to guarantee you’re getting a good value? In this blog post, I’ve got three examples of redeeming Amex points for flights that’ll give you as much as 15 times more value than if you just redeemed them for cashback. And it sounds crazy, but if you had 50,000 Amex points, you would only get 0.6 cents per point for cashback, which is equal to just 300 bucks.
But I’ve got examples that’ll give you 2.2, 4.7, and even up to 9.3 cents per point, which makes those same 50,000 Amex points worth 1,100, 2,300, and even up to 4,600 dollars, which is absolutely insane value compared to cashback.
1. Flying Singapore Airlines Business Class
Let’s get right into it here with example number one that I think a lot of people are going to enjoy, and that’s going to be Flying Singapore Airlines, business class. So Singapore Airlines has its Chris Flyer program, and your American Express membership rewards points are going to transfer to that program at a one-to-one rate. Now, on the Singapore Airlines website, you can search around to see different routes from the US to a few international destinations, including Singapore, Germany, and Thailand, just to name a few.
But for this example, I decided to show a flight from New York JFK to Frankfurt, Germany. So first, let’s see what options we have for booking this flight with Amex points so that we can compare them and pick the best one. And the starting cash price we have for this random day I selected to fly is going to be $1,803 for this seven-and-a-half-hour business-class flight.
Now, our first option would be to redeem some Amex points for cashback, which again is a terrible choice since we’re only getting 0.6 cents per point. And we want to aim for at least one cent per point in value as an absolute minimum. So doing some quick math to book this $1,800 flight, it’s going to cost just over 300,000 points that we’d have to redeem as cash and then book the flight over on the Singapore Airlines website, and that’s just ridiculous.
If we went over to our Amex account to see what the Amex travel portal will cost us, let’s click on rewards and benefits, then earn and redeem, then redeem for travel, then select book and flights. We can see that the cash price is pretty much the same, except for maybe a few dollars more. But then the points required to book this flight are a little over 181,000, which is relatively low compared to the cash price through Singapore Airlines.
That’s right around one cent per point. And that’s what you can expect when booking just about any flight through the Amex travel portal. So that’s not as bad, but we could do so much better if we just transferred our points instead. Transferring points to partner travel programs are going to give you by far the best value.
Okay, now if we go back over to the Singapore Airlines website and log into my Chris Flyer account, and if you don’t have an account, then you can make one for free on just about any travel program in just a couple of minutes, but then let’s search for the exact same flight, and we’re going to select the “redeem flights button” before we do the same search.
And you can see the same flight is available for just around 81,000 Chris Flyer miles, but since Amex can transfer directly to Singapore Airlines at a one-to-one rate, that means this method only costs 81,000 Amex points too. So to do that transfer, all we have to do is head back over to our Amex account, then go to rewards and benefits, then earn and redeem, and then transfer points.
And finally, we just scroll down to Singapore Airlines’ Chris Flyer. Now I already have my account linked, but if you need to, you could just enter your Chris Flyer account number yours, then enter however many points you want to transfer. So 81,000 in this case, and we have to transfer in 1,000-point increments.
But this transfer could take up to a day or two, so that’ll vary, but you need to plan in advance if you want to book something. Also, make sure that you do want to book something before you make that point transfer, because once you transfer the points out of your Amex account, you can’t go back. So that’s just something to keep in mind.
But with this 81,000-point business class flight, that’s substantially less than the 181,000 points through the Amex portal or the 300,000 points if you cash out first. And if we take a look at the point-for-point comparison, the $1,800-$3 cash price through Singapore Airlines versus the 81,000 Amex points that we transferred over to Chris Flyer miles gives us a value of around 2.23 cents per point, which beats out all the other options.
Now, when you’re traveling to Germany or any other destination, you’ll probably want to try out all the local food and do a bunch of sightseeing to get the full experience. So what I do and what I recommend most people do is use their points to book the flights and hotels, but then keep some sort of separate travel fund so that way you can save up and have access to cash to pay for things while you’re away.
That’s why I felt like Wealthfront was the perfect place for this, because they have an amazing cash account that’s a great place to keep a travel fund, and it’s actually exactly what I’ve been using as I’m saving up for some travel next year. So after you redeem your Amex points for even more value towards a future trip, like the next two examples in this blog post, you can also protect some of your travel funds against inflation with that 3.3% APY that Wealthfront just increased under the cash account, which is one of the highest in the game, and this is the first time ever the APY has been this high, so it’ll be tough to find something higher.
Wealthfront’s cash account also allows you to create savings categories, which for me right now are that travel fund along with some savings that I’m putting away for my upcoming wedding. So now it’s time to focus on saving, and every little bit of that 3.3% APY that Wealthfront has is helping me out because it turns out weddings are expensive. Now the Wealthfront cash account is also FDIC insured through partner banks for up to $2 million, and one of the big things that I like about this account is that there are also zero account fees, which some other accounts are notorious for.
2. Economy Flights from New York JFK to Dublin Ireland
Now, I’m a big believer that not everyone needs to fly first class or business class all the time with points because, when we think back to that first example with Singapore Airlines, you have to ask yourself, “Would I pay cash for a $1,800 business class flight in the first place?” And if your answer is no, then you need to kind of discount what the value of that flight really is to you.
So that’s why I wanted to include at least one general economy class Amex Point Redemption in this blog post, but even though that might not sound too flashy, knowing how to redeem points for these types of flights can still save you a ton of money.
When you see the difference in the cash prices versus how many points it takes for this flight to Ireland, when we pull up a Google flight search for nonstop flights from JFK to Dublin on a random Saturday next spring, we have a few options from either Delta or Aerlingus.
Now both of these airlines are one-to-one transfer partners with American Express Points, but after I did a little bit of digging, the Aer Lingus one actually looks to be the better deal. But no matter what, I think we can all agree that paying $500 to $700 for an economy flight is pretty expensive. So I’m going to choose the 5 p.m. Aerlingus flight, and if we do a search over on their website, we can see that the price for this flight is currently around $725 one-way.
And also, I just wanted to mention that I’m choosing one-way flights in all these examples just to keep things simple and because one-way is usually the most flexible option, but you can always book round-trip tickets if you prefer to do that; just know what you’re getting and what the prices are. So at a rate of 0.6 cents per point, it would take cashing out around 121,000 Amex Points to have enough cash to book this full-price ticket through the Aerlingus website, or, of course, we could go over to the Amex Travel Portal again, where the cash price is actually around 20 bucks more.
So the 74,000 points it takes here puts us right around one cent per point, or just under, which again is typical for the Amex Travel Portal on flights. For me, I’ve booked through Amex before at one cent per point, but very rarely and only if it’s a super cheap flight, and I have a ton of extra Amex Points just laying around.
But then, of course, Aer Lingus is a 101 transfer partner with American Express, and their mile system is called Avios, which a few other airlines like British Airways also use, but Aer Lingus had a separate page that I kind of found hard to get to through their main website. So just Google something like “book Aer Lingus with Avios” and then goes to reward flights and book a reward flight, then book now.
Again, you’ll have to create an account or log in, but after that, we can put in our search details, and see if there’s something available. You can see that it says 13,000 Avios plus $106 in taxes and fees, so obviously it’s not a free flight with all those extra costs, but here’s how we can calculate the cent per point value to know it’s still a good deal.
We take the cash price of $7.25 and subtract the $106 amount that we’d have to pay on the award booking to get $619, and we want to do that because those taxes and fees are the out-of-pocket cash price that we have to pay no matter what. So the extra $6.19 is effectively our real cost in cash if we weren’t using points.
Sometimes you’ll see trips to places where there’s maybe $500 in taxes and fees plus 20,000 points for a flight, but the cash price alone is also $500, so that would be a bad redemption because I’m paying $500 either way, but the award ticket is just wasting 20,000 points in the process.
Now hopefully that makes sense, but when we calculate the final cent per point value of this Aer Lingus flight, we do $7.25 minus $106 and then divide that by the obvious $13,000 it takes to book this, which gives us $4.76 cents per point. So this is a pretty good value on paper, but obviously, you’re still paying some cash, and it’s just an economy ticket.
So I wouldn’t say this is one of the more glamorous ways to fly with points, but if you approach travel like me and decide where you want to go first, and then decide the best point redemption second, and not the other way around, then if you’re looking to go to Ireland, this could be a good option.
You can also check for the same flight on the British Airways website because we can transfer one-to-one from Amex points to Avios through them as well, but when I did a search over on their website, I found the same obvious $13,000 where the taxes and fees were nearly 60 bucks more, so just check between these two to make sure you’re paying as little as possible in cash.
Now if we compare our booking options for points, we can pay 121,000 Amex points if we cashed out to book the flight or around 74,000 points if we book through the Amex travel portal, and finally, just 13,000 points plus $106 if we transfer points over to Aer Lingus, so that’s the clear winner here.
3. New York JFK to London Heathrow
Then, for the third Amex point redemption in this video, I want to do a pretty cool first-class redemption on American Airlines’ flagship airline for a flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow. So for this, it might seem a little complicated because we need to find some workaround since American Airlines is not a direct transfer partner with Amex, but luckily I found a nice article on the Point Sky website because I think this is a trip in redemption I plan to do, so let me walk through it to explain as simply as possible.
Now if we do a search on the American Airlines website, we can see that it’ll cost us $5,850 one way, which is just a crazy amount of money to pay. But if you’re trying to get to London, then maybe you want to have those late flat seats, access to the flagship lounge dining, and a bunch of other cool stuff to step up your travel experience.
So let’s find a cheaper way to book this flight with Amex points. Now, just for fun, if we wanted to cash out Amex points at 0.6 cents per point, we would need 975,000 Amex points per deemed redemption to use that cash to book this flight. So this is technically almost a million-point flight, but we can do so much better than that.
Okay, now in the Amex travel portal, we can find the same flight for a lower cash price that’s available to Platinum card members. So Amex was nice enough to lower the price for me from $58.50 to a much more affordable $53.50. Now, obviously, that’s still a lot.
And if you don’t have the Amex Platinum, then I’m assuming your cash price will be around the same ($5,850) or cost $585,000 points. So I’m still going to say one cent per point here in the Amex travel portal based on whatever cash price they quote you, but we can cut the points price down significantly with the best way to book this flight next year.
Now to do that, first, we’ve got to switch up our search to redeem miles on the main page for American Airlines. And next, with search results, we want to click on the points calendar button, and then we want to filter on non-stop and first class.
Now, I’ll admit, I had to search around for several months to find the saved reward space for this flight, which is why I’m all the way back in August 2023 for this search. But what we’re looking for is 84 or 85,000 miles because that’s the American Airlines award price for this flagship’s first product. Then we just select the flight we’re looking for to see that this is a first-class award, and we’ll confirm that it’s the top-end flagship first by going back to the cash price search where it says so.
Now, these are not easy awards to find, so you’ll want to look far in advance and be flexible with your travel dates, but you can also search for other routes to Europe as well as some other transcontinental domestic flights across the U.S. from New York to LA in San Francisco, where you can also find flagship first.
Now that we can’t do a direct transfer from Amex points to American miles, we’ll need to bring in Etihad, which is a direct one-to-one Amex transfer partner and also partners with American Airlines, so we can book American flights through Etihad. Unfortunately, the bad news is that we can’t search for or book this flight on the Etihad website, so we’ll need to call their customer service number to book it.
But the good news is that it’ll cost fewer points because, according to this American Airlines redemption chart that Etihad has, flights from North America to Europe and their flagship first-class product are 62,500 miles, so we’d only need to transfer 62,500 Amex points to Etihad to book this flight.
Now make sure to call Etihad to confirm availability before you transfer points from Amex and see if they can hold the ticket while you’re making that transfer, but it should be as simple as just logging into your Amex account and then transferring the points instantly from there before the customer service representative is going to book the flight for you.
So at 62,500 Amex points based on the $5,850 cash price for this ticket on the American Airlines website, that gives us a value of 9.36 cents per point, which is our highest value so far in this blog post, and there might be some smaller taxes and fees mixed in there as well as you book this ticket over the phone, but overall you’re getting above 9 cents per point, which is over 15 times more value than if you just cashed out points at 0.6 cents per point.
So for this comparison, that’s 975,000 Amex points if we cash them out and then book this flight in cash; 585,000 points, or maybe a little less if you have the Amex Platinum card in the Amex Travel Portal; or just 62,500 points plus any taxes and fees, and of course, that’s easily the best option for this redemption.
So that’s a great way to save on travel costs while still having a one-of-a-kind travel experience by flying first class with Amex points. And again, make sure you’ve got a travel fund set up so you can have fun while traveling to any of these places.