Few cards can unlock more amazing travel than the Platinum Card from American Express.
It starts off with a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 within three months, and that alone is tough to beat. But if you’re lucky, you might be targeted for a whopping 100,000-point welcome bonus via the CardMatch tool.
Either way, you’ll have a hefty stash of points to put to use for some great travel that can easily offset the card’s big annual fee. So fire up the wanderlust machine and check out some of the best ways to put all those Amex points to use.
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Get to Hawaii for 24,000 Points – Or Less!
Hawaii is the ultimate dream destination for many travelers. And if you’ve got a stash of Amex points, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
There are a handful of ways you could deploy Membership Rewards points for flights to Hawaii. You could start by transferring points to Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer miles program. Read our full guide on how to transfer Amex points to partner airlines.
We know what you’re thinking: “Singapore? But I want to go to Hawaii.” Well, thanks to a partnership between Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines, you can use Singapore miles to fly Alaska from the West Coast to all four major Hawaiian islands. By using this partnership, you need only transfer 24,000 points for a round-trip flight in economy – when Alaska itself would charge at least 35,000 miles for the exact same flights.
You’ll need to book a nonstop flight to get these low rates, so you may need to book a connecting flight separately. Alaska only flies direct to the Hawaiian islands from West Coast airports like Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), and Portland (PDX).
The hitch here is that you can’t book Alaska flights directly through Singaporeair.com – you’ll have to call the airline at 1 (800) 742-3333 to book. Considering most airlines charge at least 40,000 for the round-trip flights – and frequently, much more – it’s worth the extra work.
And getting the Singapore miles you need to book is extremely easy, as you can transfer them directly from your Amex Platinum card.
Another great option is using British Airways to book flights on American Airlines to Hawaii, at just 26,000 miles round-trip in economy. Once again, you’ll need to depart from the West Coast in order to make this work – namely, Los Angeles (LAX) or Phoenix (PHX).
But it gets even better. Thanks to a 40% transfer bonus on Amex transfers to British Airways, you currently only need to transfer 19,000 Amex points to British Airways, and you’ll have enough.
With a standard 60,000-point bonus on the Amex Platinum, you’d have enough to book three round-trip tickets to Hawaii. If you get a 100,000-point bonus, you could book five round-trip tickets in one fell swoop.
Don’t live on the West Coast to maximize one of these sweet spots? No worries. There’s one more option that works from almost anywhere in the U.S.
Using Air France/KLM FlyingBlue miles – which, you guessed it, transfer directly from your new stash of Amex points – you can fly on Delta Airlines to Hawaii and back for 35,000 miles round-trip. It works at that price whether you’re flying nonstop from the West Coast, a long one-stop haul from New York City (JFK), or a two-stop from a tiny airport anywhere in the country.
It can sometimes be a challenge to find the award space you need to book these flights on Delta, so be sure to read our guide to booking flights to Hawaii using FlyingBlue miles. Delta typically charges at least 50,000 SkyMiles – if not closer to 100,000 – for many of these flights, so it’s a great workaround.
Want to learn how you can utilize all these sweet spots to save on flights to Hawaii? Read our full guide on the cheapest ways to get to the islands.
Fly Iberia to Europe for 34,000 Points Round-Trip – or Less!
Europe doesn’t have to be expensive. And Iberia
The Spanish flag carrier has great award rates that can get you to Spain and back for a fraction of what most airlines typically charge. It gets as low as 34,000 Iberia Avios round-trip.
The trick is to fly from Boston (BOS), New York City (JFK), or Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). And you’ll get these ultra-low rates by flying during off-peak times – basically any time but Christmas, New Years, and mid-June through mid-September. Read our full guide to booking Iberia awards.
You can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards directly to Iberia to book. And at 34,000 per person, you’d have enough for three round-trip tickets if you qualify for the 100,000-point sign-up bonus (100,000 points plus another 5,000 after factoring in the minimum spending requirement).
But it gets even better. Thanks to the ongoing 40% transfer bonus to Iberia, the 100,000-point bonus could net you more than 140,000 Iberia Avios – enough for four round-trip tickets to Madrid (MAD), with some miles to spare!
… Or Do it in Business Class (for Two)
How about flying in style to Madrid, with upgraded meals and a lie-flat bed? And bringing your favorite travel companion along with you to experience business class?
Just as Iberia has some of the best rates to fly to Europe in economy, the same is true of business class. Flying from Chicago, New York, or Boston, it’s just 68,000 Iberia Avios to book a round-trip flight in business class. Most airlines charge more for a one-way ticket!
These tickets typically cost more than $3,000, so it’s a great way to use your American Express bonus. With even the standard, 60,000-point bonus, this flight is almost within reach immediately. If you qualify for 100,000 points via CardMatch, it’s a cinch.
And yet again, the current 40% transfer bonus can help you even more. Factoring in this bonus, it would require just 49,000 Amex points for one person. That means you could book two round-trip tickets in business class with a single credit card bonus. That’s nearly impossible to beat. Read our full guide to booking Iberia business class.
The one consideration to keep in mind is that a round-trip business class ticket booked through Iberia would typically have roughly $230 in fees. But given the normal cost of these flights, that’s reasonable – especially compared to the fees many other airlines charge for business class.
Save up a Stash for Delta SkyMiles Flash Sales
You’ve heard it all before: “SkyMiles are useless. Don’t bother with SkyMiles.”
There’s no denying it can be tough to get a great deal using your SkyMiles. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t great redemptions, or that you should never transfer your Amex points to Delta. FEE
One of our favorite ways to use Delta SkyMiles is on flash sales, the frequent sales Delta runs with deeply discounted rates for flights almost anywhere in the world. They can be unpredictable, but here’s a taste of what’s possible from some recent SkyMiles flash sales:
- Nationwide sale on domestic flights from 10,000 SkyMiles round-trip
- Fly to South America from just 12,000 SkyMiles
- Or fly elsewhere in Europe starting at only 18,000 SkyMiles
- Round-trip flights to Japan from just 30,000 SkyMiles
Every SkyMiles flash sale is different, but you won’t find award rates that low on any other airline. Read up on SkyMiles flash sales and you’ll see why it could easily be worth using your Amex points to book them.
The one small hitch with transferring to Delta (and any U.S.-based airline) is that you have to pay a small fee – .06 cents per point, or $6 for every 10,000 points. These transfers are capped at $99.
Delta One Suites from 50,000 Points
Here’s your chance to fly the new Delta One Suites on points. You just won’t be using Delta SkyMiles to do it.
Whether you’re flying these fully enclosed suites to Europe or Asia, Delta regularly charges 200,000 SkyMiles or more each way. You’d need a few of these American Express bonuses to pull it off. But a workaround can get you there for a fraction of the miles.
Introducing Virgin Atlantic miles, one of the best ways to save when booking Delta flights. Delta’s unpredictable award rates when booking SkyMiles often mean you’ll get charged an arm and a leg. But with Virgin Atlantic, you can book the exact same flights in Delta One suites for 50,000 miles one-way to Europe, and 60,000 miles to get to Asia.
Finding the availability to book these Delta One Suites can be tricky, so be sure to read our guide to booking Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. And remember not to transfer those Amex points until you know the flights you want are available.
No matter which bonus you get on the Amex Platinum Card, you’ll have enough to fly one of the best business class seats in the world.
Fly to Tokyo and Back in Business Class with ANA
Japan is a bucket list destination for thousands, but the 12-plus hour flights to get there scare off many travelers.
What if you could make the trip there and back in business class – and for the same amount of miles most airlines charge to fly economy?
All you need is the 100,000-point bonus on the American Express Platinum card and All Nippon Airways (ANA), one of Japan’s flag carriers and one of the best airlines in the world. Using ANA miles – which you can get by transferring them from your Amex account – you can book round-trip flights from the U.S. to Tokyo for as low as 75,000 miles each.
Your final price will depend on which time of year you go, as ANA prices business class awards at low (75,000 miles), regular (85,000 miles), and high-season (90,000 miles) levels. And these rates are all round trip, as ANA does not allow one-way bookings.
Just to underline how good of a deal this is: Star Alliance partner United would charge 160,000 miles for the exact same flights. This is perhaps the best way to fly to Japan, and your bonus from the Amex Platinum card puts it in reach easily.
No matter which ANA plane you’re on, you’ll luck out with comfortable seats, great meals, and quintessentially Japanese service. But look for ANA’s brand new business class dubbed “The Room,” which is set to take flight between New York City (JFK) and Tokyo sometime this winter.
Escape to the Caribbean on the Cheap
Pining for the beaches of Aruba (AUA), Saint Martin (SXM), or elsewhere? Transferring your Amex points to British Airways is your answer.
British Airways uses a distance-based chart, where the number of miles you need to book a flight depends on how many miles you’re flying. That means short flights are often a bargain – even after a recent price hike for using British Airways Avios on partner airlines like American.
To keep things short and cheap, the best play is flying from East Coast American Airlines hubs like Miami (MIA), Charlotte (CLT), Philadelphia (PHL), or New York City-LaGuardia (LGA). British Airways charges for flights per segment, so you’ll want to make sure to find nonstop flights on American.
When you do, it can be a goldmine for getting to even far-flung Caribbean islands – like St. Lucia (UVF) – using miles.
And once again, it gets even cheaper thanks to the 40% transfer bonus ending Oct. 1, 2019. You’d need to transfer just 16,000 Amex points to book that same 22,000-mile flight to St. Lucia in the example above.
Use Aeroplan to Fly to Europe
Aeroplan is the mileage program of Air Canada, and it’s one of the best ways to book flights on Star Alliance airlines like United, ANA, Lufthansa, and many more. And if you’re in the market for a flight to Europe in business class, it’s hard to do much better.
While most airlines charge at least 70,000 miles for a one-way business class flight to Europe, it’s just 55,000 miles with Aeroplan. And that’s worth keeping in mind for your Amex bonus, as you can immediately transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan.
The trick to coming out ahead is being picky about what airline you fly. Some airlines like Lufthansa and Air Canada will pass on huge cash fees when flying business class to Europe using Aeroplan miles.
Instead, focus on Swiss, United, Scandinavian (SAS), or TAP Air Portugal airlines, on which you’ll typically pay less than $100 in fees – or even far less than $50.
There’s a reason why the Platinum Card from American Express is top of the list for so many travelers. A 60,000-point welcome bonus – or much more – is just a small part of the reason why it’s earned its place in many wallets.
Ultimately, this list is just a small slice of what’s possible with American Express Membership Rewards points. What would you do with up to 100,000 points?