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How To Save 20% Off Points Awards With American Express Pay With Points

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In this post, we’ll share how you can use American Express’s Pay With Points option and an eligible card with the 20% points back benefit to save points off your award flights. The best part, the Pay with Points tickets earn airline miles while saving points.

On a recent award booking I found the two award seats I wanted to purchase were going for over $400 a person with a cash rate. Delta of course wanted 80,000 miles for each of those tickets. Instead of transferring my American Express Points to Delta and redeeming there, I used American Express’s Pay With Points Option and saved 20% off my award ticket since it comes as one of my card benefits.

Pay With Points 20% Bonus

Using the pay with points option isn’t always the best value. But when cash outlay isn’t an idea option, or you have so many points you don’t know what to do with them, or the cost of an airline award is higher, it can make sense. Here are the terms and conditions from American Express’s website.

To use Pay with Points, you must charge purchase through American Express Travel to Membership Rewards® program-enrolled Card. Points will be debited from Membership Rewards® account, and credit for corresponding dollar amount will be issued to Card account used. If points redeemed do not cover entire amount, the balance of purchase price will remain on Card account. Minimum redemption 5,000 points. For American Express Travel Pay with Points redemptions, Business Platinum Card members and Centurion members will receive 1 bonus point for every 5 points you redeem. To be eligible to earn bonus points, Card account(s) must be active and not in default at the time of bonus points fulfillment. Transactions charged to a Corporate Card are excluded. Bonus points will be credited to your Membership Rewards®account approximately 6-10 weeks after charges appear on your billing statement.

I get the 20% benefit from my Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPENFor my search, the tickets were pricing out at around $790 for all the tickets. I had to use 79,200 American Express points to pay for the flights. Since I got a 20% bonus back, it reduced the flight to only 63,720 American Express Points. This made the value of each point about $0.012 cpm. Not a great value, but at the time we would have rather parted with points instead of ~$800 in cash.

100k Platinum Points Posted to Amex

20% Travel Bonus(2) – Platinum Card members can now redeem points and earn 20% of those points back every time. When Card members use the Membership Rewards® Pay with Points feature to pay for part or all of their travel including airlines, hotels, cruises and vacation packages, they will get 20% of those points credited back to their account to bring them closer to their next trip. For example, if a Card member redeems 30,000 points to pay for an airline ticket, American Express will credit 6,000 points to the Card member’s Membership Rewards account. Notably, the Pay with Points feature allows Card members to purchase any category of ticket, on any airline, at any time, with no blackout dates or restrictions. Rather than trying to redeem mileage rewards points during high-traffic holidays that can come with airline restrictions and blackout dates, American Express offers a liberating point redemption option.

How To Get American Express Points

American Express membership rewards points can be earned through everyday spend on Membership Rewards cards:

But some of these cards are offering what I would consider a generous signup bonus like:

For everyday spending, American Express rolled out their every day cards like the The Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card from American Express and the The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card from American Express. I thought these cards offer a unique benefit for everyday spending so I picked one up along with two other cards in my recent card application. I earned a total of 125,000 bonus points from three different cards, you can read about it here.

How To Use Pay With Points

Step 1: Find Airline Ticket Cost & Award Ticket Pricing

The first step to use pay with points is to make sure the flight will be cheaper than just transferring the points to your airline of choice and booking the award there. So look up the award ticket cost on the airline you wish to fly with. If the airline’s program requires more points than you would use with the Pay with Points option, and the value of points you’d get with this option is acceptable, then consider the Pay with Points option.

Step 2: Go To American Express Travel

Log in to your account and go to the American Express Travel site to book your flight. Enter your flight details and select search flights.

Pay with Points American Express

Step 3: View The Points For Flight And Select Option

At this step, you’ll be able to see the cost for the flight and the miles that are required to cover that cost. Just below the flight schedule, the system will show you what benefits you are eligible for with your American Express cards. Since I have the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN I’ll receive the 20% bonus points back. Make sure you check this benefit. If you don’t have it, you won’t get the 20% points back offer. Since I have the 20% offer, it means my ticket would require me to use 62,719 points, but I’ll get 12,543 points added back to my account. 

American Express Pay With Points Compare

Bottom Line

Using American Express Pay With Points option and having an eligible card with the 20% off benefit can save you a significant amount of points in some cases. It doesn’t always give the best value, most cases a rather low value, but can save you money and can often save you points if the airline is requiring more miles for the same flight.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

About the Author

About the author: The Weekly Flyer is writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way. Feel free to reach me at theweeklyflyer@gmail.com

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