Ask an Expert: Best Ways to Use AmEx Points?

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A Money Talks News reader recently wrote me with the following question:

I don’t get enough on my Gold AmEx for the $175/yr cost, so I just replaced it with a Chase Southwest Airlines Visa. But my question is: What’s the best way to use my 750,000 AmEx points? The merchandise is way overpriced. All my travel is tax deductible, so I won’t use the points to buy tickets at 100 points per dollar.

What’s the best airline to transfer points to?

Thanks,
Gary

Wow, we should all be so lucky to have more points than we know what to do with! Your first priority should be making sure that you keep your points. Do not cancel your card before redeeming them, or you’ll lose them.

There are 16 airline programs that you could transfer your points to: AeroMexico, Air Canada, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific and DragonAir), British Airways, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue (Air France/KLM and others), Frontier, Hawaiian, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore, Virgin America, and Virgin Atlantic.

To make matters more complicated, miles on most of the programs can be redeemed for flights on their airline partners. For example, British Airways miles can be redeemed on American Airlines. You also need to consider that some airlines, like Air Canada, are now charging hefty fuel surcharges on award flights.

Be sure to research these programs before you move your miles into them. Although it depends on your own travel needs, I would probably put some miles in British Airways for use on American Airlines, and move others to Delta and Singapore. This way, you will have access to flights on all three of the major alliances: SkyTeam, OneWorld, and the Star Alliance.

Finally, if you need more time to decide, you can always get the American Express Green card, which has only a $95 fee that is waived the first year. This will allow you to cancel your Gold AmEx and retain your points while you figure out what to do with them.

And if you still can’t figure it out, give me a call. I’ll be glad to take them off your hands!

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