American Express now lets you redeem Membership Rewards points for airline tickets and prepaid hotels at Expedia.com.
You link your American Express Membership Rewards card to your Expedia account (only one eligible Card can be linked per Expedia account) and then you’ll be able to see your point balance and its associated dollar value for use at Expedia.com.
When you make a purchase on the Expedia website there will be a Membership Rewards option for payment.
You can enter the amount you want to pay with points for prepaid hotels or flights (Membership Rewards points cannot be used toward bundled packages).
Your Amex card gets charged for the whole booking, and then a statement credit for the points you used will appear on your account after 2-4 business days.
Refundable bookings will be refunded in cash to your credit card. If you want your points back instead you need to call Membership Rewards customer service.
That’s great, nice and flexible, you book travel with Expedia (and give up all associated hotel elite status benefits with most chains, as well as hotel loyalty program earning, although generally give up little for flight bookings). But here’s the kicker: your points are worth only 7/10ths of a cent apiece when spent this way.
Even if you were earning triple points on your spend you’d only be breaking even with a 2% cash back card. The idea of getting just 7/10ths of a cent in value per point just breaks my heart. I beg you, don’t do this, ever.
Even if you don’t want to transfer points to airline frequent flyer programs (their most leveraged use), you can pay with points via Amex travel at a penny apiece (or more depending on your card). Or you can use points for retail, dining, and entertainment gift cards at mostly a penny apiece.