How to save money on flights with Membership Rewards points from American Express
We often see American Express Membership Rewards points in two ways:
- as transferable points to airline programs (Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, etc.) or hotel programs (Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors)
- like travel points you can use for a statement credit for travel or everyday purchases charged to your Card
However, there is a third way to use American Express Membership Rewards points: via the American Express Travel Booking portal!
American Express Travel booking portal
With American Express Travel, you can use your Membership Rewards points to book your flights in two ways:
- via the fixed points travel program
- via the flexible points travel program
The flexible points travel program means that points are used at the same rate as travel purchases (10,000 points = $100 = 1 cent/point).
The Fixed Points Travel Program can be much more advantageous!
American Express Fixed Points Travel Program
Fixed points travel program
For example, with American Express Travel, you can get this round trip on Air Canada at $509.41 with the fixed points travel program:
With the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program, you can pay this short-haul flight with 15,000 Membership Rewards points + $209.41. Here is the price breakdown:
We can therefore see that the basic ticket price is $360.97, plus taxes, fees and carrier surcharges of $148.44.
In this case, the 15,000 Membership Rewards points have a value of $300. This corresponds to the American Express Fixed Points Travel Chart, which we will detail later.
Flexible Points Travel Program
With American Express Travel, you can get this same round trip on Air Canada at 36,097 points and $148.44 with the Flexible Points Travel program:
Here is the price breakdown:
We can therefore see that the basic ticket price is still $360.97, plus taxes, fees and carrier surcharges of $148.44.
In this case, you would have had to use 30,000 points to save $300 or the double vs the fixed points travel program! A dead loss of 15,000 Membership Rewards points!
Comparison of the two options
Let’s calculate the profitability of using Membership Rewards points for this trip.
|Program||Membership Rewards points used||Fees and Taxes||Savings||Membership Rewards Point Value|
|American Express Fixed Travel Program||15 000||$209,41||$300,00||2 cents|
|American Express Fleixble Points Travel Program||36 099||$148,44||$360,97||1 cent|
|American Express Statement Credit||50 941||$0,00||$509,41||1 cent|
The fixed points travel program is a winner here with a Membership Rewards points value of 2 cents / point.
American Express Fixed Points Travel Program Chart
American Express has divided the world into 5 categories:
- Canada and United States (short-haul)
- Canada and United States (long haul)
- Alaska, Bermuda, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii or Mexico
And there is also an economy class chart and a business class chart.
For a short-haul flight, the maximum ticket price covered by the 15,000 points will be $300. This is the most advantageous solution!
American Express Membership Rewards Cards
7 Cards are part of the American Express Membership Rewards Program:
The American Express fixed points travel program is therefore an option to keep in mind when planning your itinerary. It will not necessarily be the most advantageous all the time, but it allows you to book the flight that YOU really want.
For your information: RBC offers virtually the same system within its RBC Rewards program. However, a minimum of 14 days notice is required to book with RBC. American Express offers you the opportunity to do so until the day before.