I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
American Express Membership Rewards points are great. They’ve been one of my favorite currencies for years which is why I’m working with a seven figure balance of them and I hate parting with them.
- They can be earned quickly, whether 5 points per dollar on airfare booked with airlines using The Platinum Card® from American Express; 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines and 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express; 3x points in your choice from 5 categories with the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN; 2x on your first $50,000 in purchases per year with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express.
- They can be transferred to a variety of airlines for great value redemptions. My favorite transfer partners include ANA Mileage Club, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Etihad Guest, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Aeroplan, and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
Etihad A380 First Class
Membership Rewards aren’t great for hotel points transfers though. They do have three current hotel partners: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, and Starwood Preferred Guest.
While you transfer points 1:2 into Hilton, a Hilton point is worth only 4/10ths of a cent in my estimation. You’re usually getting less than a penny a point in redemption value this way.
Similarly, while I value Starpoints at 2.3 cents apiece a 3:1 transfer ratio gives you about 4/5ths of a cent in value. In contrast I value most of the airline mileage transfer options at around 1.5 cents apiece.
In the new Marriott program there will be two card issuers: Chase for personal cards, and American Express for premium personal and small business cards. All legacy cards will continue to be serviced.
And in the new program the transfer ratio of Membership Rewards to Starwood (and ultimately Marriott) will be changing as well.
- Currently you transfer 3 Amex points to 1 Starwood point, and 1 Starwood point transfer to 3 Marriott points. So the effective transfer rate is 1 Amex to 1 Marriott.
- That’s exactly what the transfer ratio will be once the new program starts. American Express tells me “In August, when the broader changes to the Marriott loyalty programs are implemented, the new conversion ratio will be 1:1.”
Al Maha Desert Resort
This is neither a devaluation nor an improvement, except to the extent that you view Marriott’s new award charts as a devaluation or an improvement.