Right now, there’s a swag of Membership Rewards points on the table with the American Express Explorer Card. Discover the best ways to use them right now.
For a limited time, score 150,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $750 in Gift Cards) with the American Express Explorer Credit Card.
But how to best use that whopping sign on bonus in the current climate?
When it comes to spending points, international flights have traditionally offered the highest value. But with ongoing restrictions on air travel, an increasing number of us are looking to redeem points closer to home.
From domestic flights to hotels, credits on your account, future international travel and more, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to redeem 150,000 Membership Rewards points right now.
First up: What is 150,000 Membership Rewards points worth?
150,000 Membership Rewards Points is worth a minimum of $750 in value – that’s when you choose to pay off your card account statement or in gift cards with leading brands.
150,000 Membership Rewards points is also equal to 75,000 frequent flyer points in programs such as KrisFlyer Asia Miles and Velocity, or 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
But how to best spend a stash of points in the current climate? We’ve put together an article to help you discover realistic redemption opportunities that are accessible in the short to medium term.
Get $750 to spend in gift cards
In the midst of the current pandemic, it’s not surprising that an increasing number of American Express card members are opting to redeem Membership Rewards points for gift cards. A swag of 150,000 Membership Rewards Points is enough to get $750 in value from gift cards across a range of major retailers.
We’ve listed out some of the most popular retailers in the table below:
Apply a $750 credit to your Card Account
Cash equals convenience, which is why using Membership Rewards points to pay for charges is an attractive redemption option for those who are reluctant to redeem for travel right now.
Simply login to your online account or the Amex App, select the ‘use points for charges’ option below your Membership Rewards balance and apply points to charges with a single click.
150,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $750 credit towards your Card Account. Points can be used toward eligible charges that appear in your ‘Recent Activity' or ‘Current Statement'.
Redeem for Qantas flights via Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Membership Rewards Gateway points aren’t transferrable to Qantas Frequent Flyer – but there’s a loophole that can still have you easily redeeming for flights on Qantas metal.
Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles frequent flyer program provides access to Qantas-operated flights across the domestic network. Membership Rewards points transfer at a rate of 2 to 1, unlocking 75,000 Asia Miles from 150,000 Membership Rewards points.
In some cases – such as longer flights in economy and business class – you’ll be able to access cheaper redemption rates with Asia Miles than if you were to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points, so you’ll come out significantly ahead.
So, where could a stash of Asia Miles take you domestically on Qantas?
Below, we’ve put together a summary of the Asia Miles cost of domestic Qantas redemptions across economy and business cabins:
|Sydney – Melbourne||10,000||20,000|
|Melbourne – Hobart||10,000||20,000|
|Adelaide – Darwin||15,000||30,000|
|Sydney – Perth||15,000||30,000|
|Melbourne – Perth||15,000||30,000|
|Brisbane – Perth||15,000||30,000|
75,000 Asia Miles is enough to unlock up to seven short economy flights, or up to three in business class and one in economy (taxes/fees apply).
For longer routes – including selected trans-continental routes which are operated by the superior Qantas A330 with lie-flat business class suites – it’s possible to unlock one flight in business class, and one in economy.
Of course, when borders re-open (and they will!), Asia Miles can also unlock tremendous value for international redemptions in business and first class across oneworld partner airlines. Think the Qatar Airways QSuite, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and more.
You can find out more about this here.
Whichever way you look at it, Asia Miles could be a great redemption option if you’re keen to travel on Qantas metal. Depending on the route, you could also save significantly on the number of points required.
Transfer to Velocity Frequent Flyer for domestic flights with Virgin Australia
A stash of 150,000 Membership Rewards points is the equivalent of 75,000 Velocity Frequent Flyer Points – and that’s enough to get you travelling extensively in Australia. Here’s what you could book.
Up to nine short-haul flights in Virgin Australia economy
With a balance of 75,000 Velocity Points, you could book in nine zone one domestic flight rewards in economy.
The Virgin Australia network is extensive, with a number of Zone One routes on offer. This includes:
- Sydney-Gold Coast
Zone one covers travel under 600 miles (965 km), with a redemption costing just 7,800 Velocity Points (excluding taxes/fees).
Four short-haul Virgin Australia business flight redemptions
Prefer to travel in business class? A zone one business class redemption costs just 15,500 Velocity Points (excluding taxes/fees). So, with 75,000 Velocity Points, you could book four one-way redemptions, with enough points left over for one economy class redemption. To extract maximum value, consider using your points for regional routes where cash fares are typically high.
Redeem for 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points
As a leading global hotel loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy boasts an extensive portfolio of hotels in Australia and overseas.
Subject to availability, Bonvoy points can be used to book a room at any one of Marriott’s properties. This includes a portfolio of aspirational Marriott properties in Australia across brands including Ritz Carlton, W, the Westin, and more. This includes multiple five-star properties in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and ‘The Tasman’, a Luxury Collection hotel due to open soon in Hobart.
Marriott Bonvoy is one of my favourite redemptions, and I recently used Bonvoy points to book the luxe new Ritz Carlton in Perth.
3 Membership Rewards points is equal to 2 Marriott Bonvoy points. So, with 150,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll score am impressive 100,00 Marriott Bonvoy Points.
Marriott Bonvoy award nights are priced by category, and then by ‘standard’, ‘peak’ and ‘off peak’ pricing levels, as driven by demand. The table below sets out the number of points you’ll need for a free night at each one of Marriott’s categories:
|Hotel Category||Off Peak||Standard||Peak|
Currently, Marriott properties in Australia are classified between Categories 3 and 6. Depending on your property of choice and applicable pricing level, a stash of 100,000 points is enough to book multiple nights at your property of choice.
As an added sweetener, all award stays of four nights or more automatically get a fifth night free. This free night is instantly credited when you book online and it applies to stays across all participating Marriott brands.
Unlock $750 in value with American Express Travel
For a convenient way to book travel, you can use Membership Rewards points for $750 to spend with American Express Travel Online. Through the Amex Travel portal, you can easily book flights, hotels, and car rentals.
It’s worth remembering that the American Express Explorer Credit Card comes with a $400 travel credit each year.
So, by choosing to convert the sign-on bonus of 150,000 Membership Rewards points and the annual travel credit, you could extract $1150 in value on your Amex Travel booking.
Amex Travel allows users to pay with travel credit, points, cash, or a combination of all three.
For seasoned points collectors, Membership Rewards stands out from the pack. With the ability to transfer points to multiple airline partners, or to redeem for gift cards, travel credit and charges, Membership Rewards points are as flexible as it gets.
As we've highlighted in this article, while international travel is off the cards, there are many tangible redemption options that are accessible right now.
And, with no expiry on Membership Rewards points and a range of transfer partners, you can also choose to save up your nest egg and book a dream overseas redemption at a later date.
The redemption options we’ve highlighted in this article are current as of 2 August 2021 and may be subject to change. Membership Rewards redemptions are subject to program T&Cs and availability.
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