Five fun uses of 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points

Right now the The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express (affiliate link) has a promotional welcome bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on the card within three months, so I figured it might be fun to make a post with five ideas for redeeming 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Keep in mind the card offers triple points on airfare and double points on shipping and gas stations, so if you put your minimum spend in the right categories, you could be looking at up to 65,000 Membership Rewards points.

In no particular order, here they are:

1. 50,000 British Airways Avios for Aer Lingus Business Class Boston to Dublin roundtrip

One of the very best uses of Avios is roundtrip business class between Boston and Dublin for just 50,000 Avios and about $150 in taxes/fees/fuel surcharges. I did this exact trip last year, and outlined the process here. I loved Ireland, and actually quite enjoyed the business class product offered by Aer Lingus as well.

Best of all with the 35% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards, you’d have more than enough Avios left over to connect elsewhere in Europe after a stopover.

2. 25 nights at the Doubletree Beijing

People say I don’t spend enough time at destinations. With 25 nights at the Doubletree Beijing for just 100,000 HHonors points, I might as well move there. 😉

Membership Rewards is transfer partners with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio. Then Virgin Atlantic is transfer partners with Hilton at a favorable ratio of 1:2. So you can convert 50,000 Membership Rewards points into 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, and then convert those into 100,000 Hilton HHonors points. The Doubletree Beijing is just 5,000 points per night, and as an elite member every fifth night is free, meaning 25 nights would cost you just 100,000 points.

Compared to the revenue rate of over $4,100USD+, I’d say that’s a hell of a bargain.

3. 59,000 British Airways Avios for LAN Business Class Miami to Cuzco roundtrip

Since British Airways has a distance based award chart they charge just 25,000 Avios one-way for business class between Miami and Lima on LAN. Then you can add on a tag flight to Cuzco for just 4,500 Avios. Travel destinations don’t get hotter than Machu Picchu right now, so that’s a great deal under which to get there.

And while I didn’t find the service on LAN to be amazing, the fully flat bed is pretty tough to beat.

4. Jet around Asia in Business Class

With the current 35% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways, 50,000 Membership Rewards points gets you 67,500 British Airways Avios. That’s more than enough to fly from Tokyo to Seoul to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Singapore in business class on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific, with stopovers in each city for as long as you’d like. I can’t think of any other mileage program that will give you that many segments with stopovers at such a low cost.

5. 63,750 Singapore KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Airlines Suites Class Hong Kong to Sydney via Singapore

I know I said 50,000 points earlier, but we’re talking about Singapore Suites here, probably the most coveted airline product in the world. Find a way to get an extra 13,750 points (or complete the minimum spend in the right categories and you’ll already have enough points) and redeem for Suites Class between Hong Kong and Sydney. This gets you two segments in Suites Class and a visit to “The Private Room” in Singapore.

This is the ultimate redemption when one first class suite simply isn’t enough anymore. 😉

Anyway, those are just five possibilities, though there are dozens of other great ones out there.

Filed Under: Advice, American Express
  1. Just a note: Aer Lingus appears to have pulled availability on flights between BOS and DUB for the foreseeable future, at least in economy, where there were typically 9+ seats available per flight.

  2. I was also going to ask if there is really any J availability on EI?

    Are you doing individual segments to add up to get 67500 Avios for the Asia short hops?

  3. Dumb question about #4 Asia redemption… How would you book a flight with that many stopovers for so few points? I have not redeemed Avios before but I have a healthy number of Amex points… And I’m going to be flying around Asia in a few months. Any help appreciated 🙂

  4. Same question for me on #4 redemption. I don’t get it and I’d like to because I have like waaaay to many Avios points and would love to understand this trick.

  5. Hi Lucky, I am tempted by No 5. and should do some time. Passing through the region on way to Sydney I plumped for the Thai experience. next time. I have a question about No 4. How is that done and what are the fuel charges on this kind of option? I am thinking of doing similar – flight to one of the regional hubs and then jotting around the region for a few weeks. Thanks!

  6. @ bill — Is this based on calling British Airways or searching space online? Keep in mind the only place to accurately see availability for those redeeming Avios is by calling British Airways.

  7. @ Stefan @ Kelly — Yes, adding up the individual segments:
    Narita to Incheon: 15,000 Avios
    Incehon to Hong Kong: 20,000 Avios
    Hong Kong to Bangkok: 15,000 Avios
    Bangkok to Singapore: 15,000 Avios

    Since BA has a distance based award chart it works out quite well for redemptions like this.

  8. @ Meghanb904 — There’s no way to search space online (at least as it’s released to BA), so you have to call.

  9. @ Levy Flight @ Pan — There are fuel surcharges for the individual segments, though they’re not too much for intra-Asia flights.

  10. Lucky —

    This is on FT’s Aer Lingus board, according to people calling in to BA to make reservations. I haven’t called myself in the past couple of weeks.

  11. Hi I have looked at number 5 and can not make it work is it that I’m from Australia so how do you book a suite with 63,750 points the best I can do is 157,000

  12. @ Wayne — If you can find saver level award space using Singapore KrisFlyer miles, 63,750 miles is the cost. Where are you searching and for what route?

  13. Just a followup – I went ahead and called in today and those Aer Lingus flights that I saw earlier that had 9+ seats available in Economy as of two weeks ago (both per my call to BA as well as EF) no longer have any economy seats available within several days of the dates I had been looking for. They do all have two business class seats available, though.

  14. Question – I’m planning a trip to Europe in September, leaving from South Carolina, business class (at least for the leg over the Atlantic) – I have a bunch of Delta and American miles, but they’re pretty much worthless until November/December or later, which doesn’t help me out. United offers plenty of flights out of South Carolina and nearby Charlotte, so they’re usually my best bet for a rewards flight. I barely have enough United miles for the trip, at 100k per ticket.

    I also have 200k AmEx membership rewards points, which I can transfer to Air Canada, which seems to offer many of the same flights for 90k per ticket (business class). As long as I make sure my transatlantic flights are offered by United/US Airways/NAS/Swiss (no fuel surcharges), is there a downside to doing this? My wife and I have kids, so we’re a one big vacation per year type of family and I don’t see myself using the membership rewards points for anything else before years end, when I’ll probably cancel the Green card that keeps them active.

    Am I missing something, or is the membership rewards points –> Air Canada exchange a good idea. That way, I can bank my United miles (which are the best value for my geographic area) for later.

    Thanks for your opinion on this!

  15. @ Michael — Your strategy is exactly right. As long as the flights are on United/US Airways/Swiss/etc. there won’t be fuel surcharges.

    Just also make sure you stick to “Europe 1” and not “Europe 2” on Aeroplan’s award chart. The distinctions seem to be arbitrary at times, and it’s a 15,000 mile difference in terms of cost for business class.

    Enjoy the trip and let me know if you have any other questions!

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