How can you buy airline tickets with American Express points?
Just like most credit card rewards programs, your points can be used to buy airline tickets. Just think of your rewards points as a form of cash. Usually the value of rewards points when redeeming airline tickets comes out to about 1 cent apiece, not very great huh?
One of the few good benefits with buying your airline ticket with your rewards points, is that you will actually earn the airline miles when you fly.
When redeeming airline miles for a free airline ticket, you do not earn the miles when flying. You only earn airline miles when the ticket has been purchased with money or with rewards points (not with airline miles).
The first step for booking an airline ticket with your American Express Membership Rewards points is to log into your account. On the top navigation you will see ‘Travel‘ and then on the drop-down menu will be ‘Book A Trip‘. Booking a trip through American Express is just like using any other service, like Expedia or Kayak.
Once you find the perfect flights and get to the last screen you will notice this message:
At the bottom of the form you will have the option to either pay for the flight with your credit card, pay for part of the ticket with your credit card and the other part with points, or you can pay for the entire flight with just points.
You will notice that the value of your points is 1 cent each. 36,749 rewards points only equals a ticket price of $367.49.
TIP – You get a better value by transferring your rewards points to partner airlines and then redeeming the reward ticket that way. If you have patience and can wait for a transfer bonus such as what Delta and British Airways offer once-in-awhile, then your rewards points can turn into 20%-50% or more airline miles. The minimum number of miles needed for an airline ticket with Delta is 25,000, which means 25,000 AMEX rewards points would get you a free flight, saving you 11,749 rewards points from the example above.
One of the main reasons why you would want to use your American Express points for an airline ticket is the fact that you will gain miles for the flight. Sometimes flying long distances to gain miles might make sense. Other times its for either earning an airline status or holding onto a status.
For instance, if its December 1st, you have flown 20,000 miles with Delta and need 5,000 more miles to either gain a rewards level or to hold on to whatever status you currently have, then paying for the airline ticket with your rewards points would be beneficial.
All airlines have their own set of rewards levels, so be sure to check out what your airline has. With Delta if you fly 25,000 miles within the calendar year, you will become a Silver Medallion Member, to hold onto that status you have to fly 25,000 miles the following year.
If you were to pay for your airline ticket with your membership rewards points, you would earn miles if you flew on Delta. Sometimes this makes sense when trying to gain or hold onto a status.