In the world of credit card points and miles, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more valuable points currency than American Express Membership Rewards points – the points you earn from cards like *amex platinum card* and the *amex gold card*.
Sure, a stash of Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus miles, or even American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be great. But with Amex Membership Rewards, you have some unbeatable flexibility and value. You can book flights or hotels directly through amextravel.com … or best of all, transfer them to a long list of airline and hotel partners.
Want to partake in a lūʻau in Hawaii or walk through pink cherry blossom paths in Japan? Hoping to fly in a lie-flat seat where you can shut the door and sleep? Dreaming of eating paella in Spain or seeing some kangaroos in Australia?
There's no shortage of ways to put these points to use, but we've rounded up some of our favorites.
- Fly Iberia to Spain for 34K … or in Business Class!
- Delta SkyMiles Sales: Hawaii for 14K, Europe for 27K & More
- Book the World's Best Business Class: Qatar's Qsuites
- Fly Delta to Tokyo and Back from 55K Points
- Or Book Business Class with ANA Instead!
- Fly United Polaris Business Class to Australia
- Escape to the Caribbean on the Cheap
- Book Delta One for 50K … But Not With SkyMiles
- How to Earn Amex Points
Fly Iberia to Spain for 34K … or in Business Class!
Europe doesn't have to be expensive. And Iberia is the key to pulling it off for the least amount of points.
This Spanish flag carrier has great award rates that can get you to Spain and back for a fraction of what most airlines typically charge. You just need to transfer 34,000 Amex points to Iberia Avios to fly to Europe roundtrip.
If you time it right during the off-peak travel season – and that's fairly easy, because 75% of the year or more is considered off-peak – it's just 17,000 Iberia Avios each way. You'll also need to start from (or return) to select cities like Boston (BOS), New York City (JFK), Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD), and Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to get this low rate.
Read up on how to save some major miles by using Iberia to fly to Europe.
Want your own bed and better meals for the long flight across the Atlantic Ocean? While most airlines charge at least 60,000 miles (or much more) for a one-way business class ticket to Europe, you can fly Iberia business class for as low as 34,000 miles each way – or 68,000 for the round-trip flights in business! It's one of the best deals in the world of points and miles.
Check out our step-by-step guide to booking business class to Europe for 68,000 miles roundtrip – and read our Iberia business class review, too!
The trick is that you need to find the award availability to actually book these flights with your miles. We've got you covered.
We do all the legwork for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members: Finding availability, in-depth booking instructions, and guiding you to the best credit card points to use to book what's typically a $4,000-plus fare. If there's a transfer bonus to Iberia (or British Airways), it can get even cheaper just like it did on this deal we sent subscribers this past summer for a trip to Spain next year.
And since Iberia is a transfer partner with Amex, it was easily bookable with Amex Membership Rewards points.
This is one of our favorite ways to cross the pond in style using points. Cheap? Yep. Easy to book? Check. Easy to earn the points you need to do it? Definitely.
Delta SkyMiles Sales: Hawaii for 14K, Europe for 27K & More
American Express Membership Rewards are the only flexible credit card points that you can transfer to your Delta SkyMiles account.
While there's no denying it can be tough to get a great deal using your SkyMiles, that doesn't mean there aren't great redemptions, or that you should never transfer your Amex points to Delta.
One of our favorite ways to use Delta SkyMiles is on Delta SkyMiles flash sales, the frequent sales Delta runs with deeply discounted rates for flights almost anywhere in the world. Here's just a taste of what's possible from some past SkyMiles flash sales:
- Domestic trips to New York, Las Vegas, and more for under 9,000 SkyMiles roundtrip
- Nationwide flights to Hawaii from just 14,000 SkyMiles total
- Just 37,000 SkyMiles to get all the way to New Zealand!
- 27,000 SkyMiles roundtrip to Europe
- 11,000 SkyMiles or less to get down to Mexico, Costa Rica, or Colombia
Every SkyMiles flash sale is different, but when they happen, you won't find a better deal booking through 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.
If you've got Hawaii on your wishlist, transferring your Amex points to Delta SkyMiles might just land you a dirt cheap ticket to Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG), Kauai (LIH) or the Big Island (KOA) when you get wind of a great SkyMile sale.
Whether you're going all the way from Austin (AUS) or Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) or you're grabbing that sweet 14,000-SkyMile fare from Los Angeles (LAX), a dream Hawaii trip could be within reach for travelers who wait for an excellent sale like this, then transfer their Amex points to Delta.
This is one of the cheapest ways to fly to Hawaii on points and miles.
One thing to be aware of when transferring Amex points to Delta SkyMiles: You have to pay a small fee when transferring to Delta (and any U.S.-based airline): .06 cents per point, or $6 for every 10,000 points. These transfer fees are capped at $99.
Book the World's Best Business Class: Qatar's Qsuites
What's the single best business class in the world? We say it's the Qatar Airways QSuite. And your Amex points could make it happen.
Don't believe us? The seat is the first business class in the sky with a fully-closing door that made a true “first class” seem irrelevant. These business class seats – and the airline itself – have piled up accolades and constant praise as the best business class in the world.
If you're looking to fly to the Middle East in style, you could fly from several U.S. gateways to Qatar Airway's hub in Doha (DOH) for 70,000 miles in Qatar's Qsuites one-way.
How? Just find the award availability and transfer your Amex points to British Airways or Qatar Airways Avios to book. You can even combine your Avios between the two programs to get all the miles you need.
Read more: The #1 Trick to Booking QSuites Right Now
Qatar flies to more than a dozen cities from coast to coast and generally flies planes equipped with Qsuites to all its North American gateways … but not always. In our experience, flight from Boston (BOS), Atlanta (ATL), Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), and sometimes Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) are the most likely not to have Qsuites onboard.
To make matters worse, Qatar Airways has a knack for unannounced equipment swaps that could leave you on a Qsuite-less plane, despite having it locked in when you booked. That means you'll want to double-check before booking anything … and watch your reservation as your trip draws near, just in case Qatar changes what plane you'll be flying.
Regardless, it's easily one of the best ways to book Qatar Qsuites with points & miles. And one of our favorite ways to redeem Amex points, period.
Fly Delta to Tokyo and Back from 55K Points
Japan is more popular than ever, a bucket list destination for millions of travelers. Unfortunately, long flights often make it an expensive trip. But Amex points can help you make it there and back without breaking the bank.
All you need is at least 55,000 Amex points, which you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic use to book nonstop Delta flights to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) for a fraction of the SkyMiles Delta typically charges. You can book roundtrip, main cabin Delta flights from the U.S. to Tokyo for as low as 55,000 miles total!
Just to underscore how good of a deal this is: Delta would charge over 140,000 SkyMiles for these exact same flights. With airfare typically hovering around $2,000 or more, this is one of our favorite ways to fly to Japan – and your Amex points can easily put it within reach.
Delta operates nonstop flights from hubs like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Detroit (DTW), and Atlanta (ATL), and Los Angeles (LAX), but the longer distance means you'll need more points to book flights from those cities. That puts Seattle (SEA) in the sweet spot for the lowest rates when booking through Virgin.
We recently sent our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers an award alert to book nonstop Delta main cabin flights to Tokyo from Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Seattle. One of the frequent 30% transfer bonuses from American Express to Virgin meant you could book for even fewer Amex points.
Or Book Business Class with ANA Instead!
The 12-plus hour flights to get to Japan 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 at least 75,000 Amex points and transfer them to All Nippon Airways (ANA), one of Japan's flag carriers and one of the best airlines in the world. Using ANA Mileage Club 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 what 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 roundtrip, as ANA does not allow one-way bookings.
Availability to actually book at these rates can be hard to find. But earlier this year, we sent Thrifty Traveler Premium members an award alert to book ANA's The Room Business Class for just 45,000 points each way.
Consider this: Star Alliance partner United would charge 176,000 miles for the exact same flights.
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.”
Fly United Polaris Business Class to Australia
Finding award availability to fly to Australia from the U.S. using points is typically impossible. – especially in business class. But that has changed recently, and Amex points can get you in these seats to the land down under.
Recently, our team has discovered business class deal after business class deal for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members to book trips to Australia using points. After seeing next-to-zero availability for years, we've sent 10 lie-flat award alerts for flights to Australia in 2023 alone.
Whether you fly to Sydney (SYD), Brisbane (BNE), or beyond, United Polaris business class is a great way to get there. The seat converts to an even better bed, making 15-plus hours not just bearable, but comfortable.
The problem? United charges an average of $6,000 each way or 400,000 United MileagePlus miles for these routes. For us common folk, trips in premium cabins like this are simply out of reach.
But if you time it right with award availability on these routes to Australia, you can transfer your Amex points to Star Alliance airline programs like Avianca LifeMiles, Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles, or Air Canada Aeroplan and book for under 80,000 points each way – or even less with a transfer bonus!
That's a lot of points … but for these ultra-long flights, it's worth it.
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 down to the typically pricy Caribbean.
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.
Book Delta One for 50K … But Not With SkyMiles
I'll be honest: This one has gotten tricky to pull off lately. But it's worth keeping in mind because it's such an incredible deal.
Delta regularly charges 300,000 SkyMiles for a one-way flight to Europe at the front of the plane. No joke: Delta wanted at least 240,000 SkyMiles for a business class seat on the flight from New York City (JFK) to Brussels (BRU) earlier this spring. No, thank you.
But if you wait for a Thrifty Traveler Premium alert, you can book that exact same flight – same day, same flight, same lie-flat seat – for just 50,000 points through Virgin Atlantic instead. That's right: Less than a quarter of the price.
Read our full guide on how to book Delta flights via Virgin Atlantic!
But making this happen is easier said than done. Finding the award availability through Virgin Atlantic to actually book these Delta business class seats can be a chore – especially lately.
Still, we're always digging for when these flights pop up and alerting our members when they do … like earlier this month, when we spotted a raft of Delta business class award space from New York to Brussels (BRU), Frankfurt (FRA), and even Zurich (ZRH) for early next year bookable through Virgin Atlantic.
These seats are gone now, get the next award alert for open Delta One seats to Europe with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
Virgin is a transfer partner of American Express (along with many other bank points). As long as you've got the points, you can transfer them instantly to Virgin Atlantic to book a deal like this.
Just remember: Never transfer credit card points to your airline account until after you've confirmed the flights you want to book are available.
How to Earn Amex Points
Few credit cards can unlock more amazing travel than American Express Membership Rewards credit cards. And that's more true now than ever.
It starts off with an 80,000-point welcome bonus on *amex platinum card* after spending $8,000 within six months.
And make sure to check to see if you are eligible for the 150,000 point offer via CardMatch!
Even if you aren’t eligible for the 150,000-point offer, you can get a 125,000-point bonus (plus earn a whopping 10x points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 spent at restaurants in six months) by applying for the Platinum Card through Resy!
Learn more about *amex platinum*.
And then there's the *amex gold card*, one of the best all-around cards, period. It earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 each year, then 1x) and restaurants. You'll earn 60,000 Amex points after spending $6,000 within six months.
Learn more about the *amex gold*
With either card, you'll have a hefty stash of points to put to use for some future travel that can easily offset their annual fees: $695 a year on the Amex Platinum (see rates & fees) and $250 for the Amex Gold Card (see rates & fees).
There's a reason why *amex platinum card* and the *amex gold card* are at the top of the list for so many travelers. Earning a 60,000-point welcome offer bonus – or much, much more – is just a small part of the reason why it's earned its place in many wallets. As you can see, those points can get you far.
Ultimately, this list is just a small slice of what's possible with Amex points. What would you do with your Amex points?