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A Change Amex I Wish Amex Would Make to the Membership Rewards Program

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


American Express’ Membership Rewards is a strong loyalty program — especially for travelers. Points convert at a 1:1 ratio to several travel partners, including blog favorite Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles. Business Platinum Card from American Express members enjoy a 35% rebate when using Membership Rewards points to purchase select airfares.

But an area where Membership Rewards really disappoints is in the statement credit departments.

I bought lunch at Wendy’s last month for my father-in-law and me. It cost $16.06. I can apply Membership Rewards toward the purchase and pay it off that way (as opposed to cash).

But the cost is slightly ridiculous.

The option to apply Amex Membership Rewards points toward a statement credit.

We almost always can find travel redemptions worth at least a cent per Membership Rewards point. And that’s being somewhat conservative. But applying MRs toward my Wendy’s purchase essentially costs $26.77 worth of points — for a charge of $16.06?

Usually, I wouldn’t care very much because I use Membership Rewards points exclusively for travel. But I’m not traveling until, quite likely, Spring 2021. And I still have monthly expenses — while my income is significantly down this year. So I’d like the option to use points at a reasonable value toward statement credit.

But Amex doesn’t seem too interested in that.

Even their Amex-branded gift cards aren’t worth the points.

$2000 worth of Amex points for a $1000 gift card? Um, no thanks.
$2000 worth of Amex points for a $1000 gift card? Um, no, thanks.

Even Delta, iTunes, and Fleming’s gift cards aren’t worth it.

 

Other gift cards, though, do carry a 1:1 redemption value. Some examples are Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Benihana, Bath & Body Works, Calm, and Crate & Barrel.

All of this is rather disappointing — especially because I love, love, love my American Express Gold Card. But may have to start using it less.

Is the Chase On?

Here’s a spot where Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program shines.

Their Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink cards earn points that can be redeemed for travel, cash back, or statement credit — all at a value of at least a penny per.

Redeeming 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $100 statement credit.
Redeeming 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $100 statement credit.

 

Redeeming 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $100 Chase Sapphire Reserve statement credit.
Redeeming 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for $100 Chase Sapphire Reserve statement credit.

Third-party gift cards are available at friendly redemptions.

 

If Chase were to give good, permanent grocery bonus earnings to everyone holding certain cards — instead of just new cardmembers (like those applying for the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited)– I’d seriously consider moving my supermarket and other grocery purchases from my Blue Cash Preferred and Amex Gold Cards.

Final Approach

American Express offers excellent products for travelers. Their cashback cards — such as the Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday offer some excellent opportunities.

But as the world adjusts to changes COVID-19 brought, so must Membership Rewards. They must become more award-friendly, such as how Chase manages their Ultimate Rewards program.

I hope Amex will consider doing something — and soon.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

3 Comments

  1. Charles Schwab Amex Platinum. 1.25 cents per MR point in cash.

  2. I have learned we all use our miles differently. Personally, if I am not getting an outsized use of points, then why work to get them. You would never be OK just getting 1% on your 401K or other savings. Well, maybe in a down market. Why would anyone go 1 for 1, or less, on redeeming points is something I just do not get.

  3. I got my $500 HD gift card last month when it was 20% off. So 40k points. You can also use the points on Amazon, best buy and i think Walmart, but horrible “exchange ” rates.

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