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The American Express Gold Credit Card is almost always the best option on the UK market for anyone who wants to start collecting airline miles / hotel points from their everyday spend. It’s free for the first the year, comes with 2 airport lounge passes and offers 22,000 Membership Rewards Points as a signup bonus (after spending £2,000 in 3 months) if you use a referral link like this one. It really is the perfect ‘starter’ card. Once you’ve collected your juicy signup bonus though, you’re inevitably going to ask a question that I hear all the time: “what are the best American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners?”.
First of all, it depends on the sort of thing you want to use your Amex Membership Rewards Points for: Hotels, Flights, or ‘Other’.
This is a travel website, so naturally I’m going to focus hotels and flights, but the main reason to avoid spending time discussing redemption options like gift cards, merchandise, statement credits, Amazon credit, etc, is because the value you get from spending your points on those things is usually relatively very low (~0.5p per point). I’m also going to ignore Eurostar and Nectar for the same reason, despite them being travel-related.
My view is that you should aim to get AT LEAST 1p of value per point – and hopefully more.
If you adopt the same valuation, that means the sign up bonus for the Amex Gold is worth at least £220, if you sign up using a referral link.
Best American Express Membership Rewards Points Transfer Partners: Hotels
There are three hotel programmes you can choose to transfer to: Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards and Marriott Rewards (soon to be called Marriott Bonvoy).
Each Amex Membership Rewards Point converts to 2 Hilton Honors Points. I generally value Hilton Points at ~0.4p each, so you’re looking at roughly 0.8p per Amex Point (2 x 0.4p).
It’s not a terrible option, but it’s not a good one either
Each Amex Membership Rewards Point converts to 1.5 Marriott Rewards Points. I generally value Marriott Points at ~0.7p each, so that’s equivalent to getting ~1.05p per Amex Point (1.5 x 0.7p).
One of the main reasons I value Marriott Points highly is the ability to transfer them to lots of airline programmes at a favourable rate, so this can be a very good option for more than just hotel stays. I’ll have more to say on that later.
Each Amex Membership Rewards Point converts to 3 Radisson Rewards Points. I generally value Radisson Points at ~0.3p each, so that’s equivalent to getting ~0.9p per Amex Point (3 x 0.3p).
This can be a fairly solid option for hotel stays in some parts of the world, but Radisson’s global footprint isn’t in the same league as Hilton or Marriott, so watch out for that.
Best American Express Membership Rewards Points Transfer Partners: Flights
This is where things get complicated. There are so many options and so many personal factors involved in deciding which one is ‘best’ for you, that a universally applicable answer doesn’t exist. One of the biggest factors though is, “where (and how) would you like to fly?” – and we can help to simplify things in that regard.
I’m therefore going to spend some time over the next few weeks systematically mapping out the best options for flying to each region of the world from the UK/Europe, in Economy, Business Class and First Class.
I’m not just going to look at the 12 direct transfer partners that Amex offers, but also at whether better value can be achieved by transferring to other airline programmes indirectly via Marriott Rewards.
I think the series will ultimately prove very useful, but expect that refinements may have to be made along the way, so if at any point you think I’ve missed out a great option, please let me know in the comments!