How to Get Max Value from Your Amex Points with Hotel Redemptions

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
Before booking your next hotel room, read this article to understand how to maximize your Membership Rewards points.
Updated Nov. 17, 2023
Man looking out hotel room window

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American Express Membership Rewards is a powerful program that offers great value to its members. Many Membership Rewards members know that you can use your points to book flights. But you can also book hotel reservations with Membership Rewards points — and with the right redemption, you can offset the cost of your hotel stays and keep more cash in your pocket.

Here’s how to find the best possible hotel redemptions for your Amex points.

In this article

How to earn Amex points

You can earn American Express Membership Rewards points with at least five Amex personal cards and four Amex small business credit cards.

  • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
  • Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Green Card
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Business Green Rewards Card from American Express

All information about Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

All information about Business Green Rewards Card from American Express has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

All information about Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

All information about American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.

Here are a few of the most popular American Express credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express® Green Card

The American Express Green Card earns 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at eligible restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.; and 1X points on all other eligible purchases. Plus, it offers up to $189 in annual credits for a CLEAR Plus membership and up to $100 in annual LoungeBuddy credits. 

This is the first travel rewards card that I've seen that offers reimbursement for CLEAR Plus, which is a powerful travel tool to skip lines at the airport. Combine CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for the ultimate airport security VIP treatment.

Check out our Amex Green Card review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum Card is a classic offering and considered one of the best travel credit cards. With this card, you earn 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. 

Cardmembers also get access to the exclusive Amex Centurion Lounge and Escape Lounge. To help offset the cost of its $695 annual fee (terms apply), this rewards card offers up to $200 annual Uber Cash and up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit. 

Plus, you'll enjoy complimentary Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy and have access to Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits. Unlike typical credit cards, the Amex Platinum Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Check out our Amex Platinum Card review.

American Express® Gold Card

One of the best rewards cards for earning Membership Rewards points is the American Express Gold Card. It earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases. 

With this card, you'll also get up to $120 in dining credits each year. There are no foreign transaction fees, and you'll receive valuable perks at properties that participate in The Hotel Collection from American Express. The Amex Gold does come with a $250 annual fee (terms apply) and enrollment is required for select benefits.

Check out our Amex Gold Card review.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Business Platinum Card is very similar to the personal version, but it offers a couple of benefits that the Amex Platinum does not. You'll still earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com, a $200 airline fee credit, and access to more than 1,400 airport lounges. But the business version stands out for a few key reasons. 

First, you'll earn 1.5X on eligible purchases at U.S. suppliers of construction materials and hardware, U.S. retailers of electronic goods, U.S. providers of shipping, software and cloud systems, and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to $2 million per year, then 1X). Plus, you’ll get up to $200 Dell statement credits semi-annually (that's up to $400 per year). And if you redeem for travel using Pay with Points, you’ll get 35% of your points back. The Business Platinum Card does come with a $695 annual fee (terms apply) and select benefits require enrollment.

Check out our Amex Business Platinum Card review.

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card is a great option for small businesses that want to earn Membership Rewards but don’t want to pay an annual fee. You'll earn 2X Membership Rewards points on everyday eligible business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on eligible purchases after that. 

Many people pair the Blue Business Plus card with other credit cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards to maximize their points. They'll use the other Amex cards for their spending category bonuses, then use the Blue Business Plus credit card for non-bonus purchases.

Check out our Blue Business Plus Credit Card review.

Transfer Amex points to hotels

One of the best ways to maximize the value of your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to a hotel partner. You can get incredible value from these transfers depending on what type of room you select and where you plan to stay.

Which hotel brands are Amex transfer partners?

You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards to three hotel transfer partners:

Hotel Program 1,000 Membership Rewards Points equals Value per point (in cents)
Choice Privileges 1,000 0.6
Hilton Honors 2,000 0.6
Marriott Bonvoy 1,000 0.8

These valuations are averages, and the value that you receive will vary. Variables include the time of year you're traveling, the type of room you book, and which hotel brand you choose within these loyalty programs.

Where to start and how to find great deals

Before you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to a hotel partner, verify that award reservations are available for the dates that you'd like to travel. In all three programs, you can search for award rooms even if you haven't created an account yet. And if you have elite status, you may find additional award availability.

Before you make a transfer, it’s always good to calculate what value you’ll receive from using your points. If you are getting less than 1 cent per point, you may be better off booking your hotel through Amex Travel and using your points as cash.

Save points with fifth night free

When you book with your Amex points at Hilton and Marriott properties, you get your fifth night free. This benefit offers great value — you use 20% fewer points on a five-night hotel stay.

For example, if you were booking a standard Category 6 Marriott hotel room for five nights, the normal price would be 250,000 points (or 50,000 points per night). With the fifth-night free benefit, the cost would now be only 200,000 points (or 40,000 points per night).

With Marriott, you do not need to have elite status or the hotel's co-branded credit card to access this perk. For Hilton, you must have Silver, Gold, or Diamond elite status. Each of the Hilton credit cards from American Express, including the no annual fee version, offer at least complimentary Silver elite status.

Get extra benefits with Hilton and Marriott

You can also get extra benefits with Hilton and Marriott if you have certain cards. With the Amex Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card, you'll receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status with enrollment. These elite statuses offer valuable perks when staying at both Hilton and Marriott properties. Check out our list of the best business credit cards for more information about cards with the best benefits.

Examples of killer room deals at 3 different hotels

To inspire you to transfer your Membership Rewards points to its hotel transfer partners, let's take a look at some options that you can book today.

Choice Privileges

Choice hotel properties are not known for luxury, but that doesn't mean you can't find great value in this program.

New York City can be an expensive destination. For hotels, cash prices can be high and award availability is often lacking. However, you can book a room at a Choice Privileges property in the heart of Times Square for only 30,000 points per night. The Cambria Hotel New York - Times Square is a good option in the Big Apple with a modern look. This is a great value for the price.

If you’re seeking a sunny getaway, consider San Diego, California. Choice offers many properties in Southern California, including the Quality Suites San Diego SeaWorld Area. For only 12,000 points per night, you'll be soaking up the sun while you explore the beaches and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Hilton Honors

Hilton offers a range of hotels to fit your budget. Some of the most impressive properties in its collection are Waldorf Astoria and Conrad hotels.

If you’re a Hilton Honors Aspire cardholder, you get a free weekend night certificate each year, making this one of the best hotel credit card options. The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is a perfect place to use it because rooms can get pricey. If you search enough, you'll find rooms available for 95,000 Hilton points or 47,500 Membership Rewards points. Rooms routinely go for $700 or more per night, so this is an absolute steal.

Although you can book a standard room at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for 95,000 points per night, staying in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives is a bucket list item for many travelers. The Conrad Maldives allows you to upgrade with your Hilton Honors points. Before you book the upgrades, contact the hotel manager to compare what the cash prices would be for a premium room.

Marriott Bonvoy

With the acquisition of SPG, Marriott boasts an impressive array of hotels and resorts around the world where you can redeem your points.

The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is one of these properties. Here, you can book a room for 60,000 points per night, which is a great deal considering cash prices start at $360 plus taxes.

A little closer to home — but still tropical and sunny — is Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. At Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos, rooms start at 70,000 points per night; cash prices start at $445 plus taxes.

Book rooms through the Amex Travel portal

You can also book your flights and hotel rooms in Amex Travel using your points as cash. You'll receive 1 cent per point in value on the redemption, but you’ll forgo some other perks.

Is it a good option to redeem points for hotel rooms through Amex Travel?

Because Amex Travel operates OTA, or Online Travel Agency, similar to Expedia and Hotwire, you will not receive elite status benefits if you book a room through Amex Travel. This means that you will not receive stay credits, night credits, or hotel points for your reservation in most cases.

For this reason, I suggest booking hotels through Amex Travel only when you're staying at properties that are not part of a hotel loyalty program where you have elite status or want to earn points towards a future free night. Booking hotels in Amex Travel may also be a good idea when Hilton and Marriott properties are not available and you want to use your Membership Rewards points to keep your costs down.

Where to start and how to find great deals

Booking a hotel room through Amex Travel generally will not result in great deals. The value that you'll receive is limited to 1 cent per point. That being said, you can still find decent deals on hotels when booking through Amex Travel.

If you opt to book this way, your best option is to first look for rooms that participate in the Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection programs. Through these programs, you can get extra perks even if you don't have status, and you may even find hotels offering the third or fourth night free on your reservation.

Get more value with Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts is a global collection of more than 1,000 hand-selected properties. Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders get access to special perks at properties in the Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio.

Benefits include a room upgrade (when available), daily breakfast for two people, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, noon check-in (when available), complimentary Wi-Fi, and a unique property amenity. The amenity has a minimum value of $100 and often includes a spa or food and beverage credit.

Select locations offer additional resort credits or a free night to further add to the value of the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.

Amex Gold and Platinum cardholders can also access special perks at properties in The Hotel Collection portfolio. When you book a hotel reservation through The Hotel Collection, you'll receive a room upgrade (if available) and a $100 hotel credit. This credit can be used for dining, spa treatments, and resort activities at participating hotels.

FAQs about Amex Membership Rewards hotel redemptions

Readers often have specific questions about redeeming their American Express Membership Rewards. We created this list of frequently asked questions to make it easy for you to find the answers that you need.

How do I redeem American Express points for hotels?

You have two options when it comes to redeeming Membership Rewards points for hotel reservations. You can transfer your points to one of three hotel loyalty program transfer partners to book an award reservation. Once these points are transferred, the transaction is final and points cannot be moved back to American Express. The value that you receive for your points will vary based upon the hotel program, the type of room you book, the time of year you are traveling, and other related factors.

The second option is to use your points like cash to pay for a hotel reservation through Amex Travel. Search for the hotel you'd like to book and pay with points or a combination of points and cash. Your credit card will be charged for the full amount of the reservation, then a credit for the number of points used will post to your account within 48 hours of booking the room.

Who are Amex travel partners?

Cardholders can transfer their Membership Rewards points to any of the hotel and airline transfer partners. Your points can be transferred to any of the 19 airline and three hotel loyalty programs. In most cases, you need to transfer a minimum of 1,000 Membership Rewards points, but there are a couple of exceptions among the airline transfer partners.

Amex airline transfer partners are:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Matmid Frequent Flyer Club
  • Emirates Skywards Miles
  • Etihad Guest Miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus Avios
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

And Amex’s three hotel loyalty program transfer partners are:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Can I transfer points between Amex cards?

Your American Express Membership Rewards points are automatically combined when you have your credit cards linked under one login. This is true whether you have personal cards, small business cards, or both.

How do I transfer my Amex rewards points to hotels?

In order to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to a hotel loyalty program, you must first link your hotel accounts to your American Express account. Once your account is linked, simply choose how many Membership Rewards points you would like to transfer and submit your request. There is a small fee for points transfers to airline and hotel loyalty programs.

Can I transfer Amex reward points to my spouse's hotel loyalty account?

You can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to someone else's loyalty account. However, they must be an authorized user of one of your credit cards that earns Membership Rewards points. Before you transfer points to an airline or hotel loyalty program, make sure there are award redemptions available.

Also, note that there is a 90-day waiting period for authorized users, so be sure to add your authorized users in time for any transfers that you would like to make.

The final word on Membership Rewards points

When you need to book a hotel room, consider using your American Express Membership Rewards to pay with points or transfer to a hotel transfer partner. Choice, Hilton, and Marriott all offer thousands of hotel options around the world to meet your needs. If you have the right Amex card, consider using the Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection benefits for elite-level perks and possible free nights, even if you don’t have status with that hotel.

Luxury Travel Benefits

5.0

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Current Offer

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months

Annual Fee

$695

Rewards Rate

5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Lee Huffman Lee Huffman is a former financial planner and corporate finance manager who now writes about early retirement, credit cards, travel, insurance, and other personal finance topics. He enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better. When Lee is not getting his passport stamped around the world, he's researching methods to earn more miles and points toward his next vacation.

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