The American Express Membership Rewards program is considered the quintessential rewards program in Canada. Compared to other reward programs in the Canadian market, most would argue that the American Express Membership Program ranks supreme.
It’s extremely versatile in the sense that you can easily transfer your MR Points to other programs, earning MR is extremely favourable and in abundance in the Canadian points market and lastly, they offer pretty darn good redemption opportunities which we’ll a look at.
Without further ado, here is the Amex MR Program.
4 Cards to choose from to earn Amex MR Points; 1 Card to earn Amex MR Select points
Ability to transfer points to a many programs (8 Airline/Hotel transfer partners)
Redeem points for Flights, Hotel/Resorts, car rentals, vacations, statement credits, transfer to Airline Partners and more.
Bells & Whistles:
Let’s first talk about how we can accumulate Amex MR Points. As I mentioned above, there are 4 Amex cards in Canada that will allow you to mass a scary amount of MR points. There is also another Amex card that will earn Amex MR Select points, more on that later.
American Express Cards:
In Canada you have 4 American Express Cards to choose form if you want to earn MR Points.
The Welcome bonuses for these cards range from 25,000 MR Points all the way up to 75,000 MR Points. Take a look below:
- American Express Gold Rewards Card – 25,000 Welcome Bonus
- American Express Business Gold Card – 40,000 Welcome Bonus through a Referral
- American Express Platinum Card – 60,000 Welcome Bonus through a referral
- American Express Business Platinum Card – 75,000 Welcome Bonus through a referral
You can also earn MR Select Points though the American Express Cobalt Card – up to 30,000 Welcome Bonus
You can also accelerate your MR earning potential through the referral program that Amex offers, which by the way, is the only credit card issuer who offers this sweet deal.
Simply put, when you refer others to apply for an Amex card, you’ll get referral points once their application is successfully approved. Let’s take a look, shall we?
- American Express Gold Rewards Card – 5,000 MR Referral bonus when you refer to the Amex Cobalt Card
- American Express Business Gold Card – 5,000 MR Referral Bonus when you refer to the Business Platinum/Business Gold
- American Express Platinum Card – 15,000 MR Referral Bonus when you refer to the Platinum
- American Express Business Platinum Card – 25,000 MR Referral Bonus when you refer to the Business Gold/Business Platinum
- American Express Cobalt Card – 7,000 MR-S referral bonus when you refer to the Amex Gold Card
We’ll delve a little deeper into the realm of referrals in another blog post.
When the time comes to redeem your MR Points, you’ve got a lot of options.
The beautiful thing about the Amex MR program is that it is extremely flexible. This is probably one of the only cases where having all your proverbial eggs in one basket, is a valuable thing.
See, the best part about MR points is that you can redeem/transfer them as you wish and see fit. You’re not stuck using your points towards one type of redemption like you would if you had, as an example, an Aeroplan or Air Miles branded credit card.
One last important note, devaluations happen and they can be quite crippling, especially if you had all your points in that program. By placing stock in MR Points, you’re quite protected since you can utilize your points towards other programs.
Want to use points and miles for your next vacation to Europe? You can transfer your MR points to an Airline Program to cover that portion of your trip as well as MR points to SPG (and possibly to Marriott Points) to cover your hotels. Winner, winner chicken dinner!
Airline Transfer Partners:
Transferring MR to Airline Transfer Partners is a valuable redemption opportunity.
First off, you have access to 6 transfer partners including: Aeroplan, British Airways, Alitalia MilleMiglia, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, and Etihad Guest.
Secondly, all of the transfers are at a ratio of 1:1 except, Alitalia (1:0.75), Cathay Pacific (1:0.75), Delta SkyMiles (1:0.75), Etihad Guest (1:0.75)
I’ve broken it down into a chart below that’s a little easier on the eyeballs.
Sadly, there aren’t too many options for hotel programs so we’ll briefly talk about them.
Within the MR program you have the ability to transfer your points to only Marriott Rewards.
Transfers to Marriott are at a ratio of (5:6)
**Hilton is no longer a Transfer Partner as of late 2018**
Fixed Points Travel:
Another way to redeem your points is through Amex Fixed Points Travel program.
In a nutshell, Amex allows you to redeem a set chunk of points towards any flight (up to a max. base ticket price) along certain routes. You will still need to cover the taxes/airport surcharges, etc on your own. You can however redeem points towards those incidentals using your MR points at a rate of $1/100 points or you can just charge it to your Amex card and pay for it out of pocket.
Let’s take a look at an example:
Let’s say you wanted to fly to Hawaii. As a comparison, using Aeroplan Miles you would need to shell out 45,000 Aeroplan points for a roundtrip redemption, plus, pay for the associated taxes, surcharges as well.
With the Fixed Points Travel program, you would need to shell out 50,000 MR Points (up to a maximum base ticket price of $800) plus taxes, fees, etc.
Now, this is where things get a little confusing. The 50,000 points will only cover your fare up to $800. Anything above and beyond is your responsibility and will need to be covered in addition to all other taxes/fees.
Let’s say a flight you choose within the Amex Travel search engine costs $700 and taxes and fees are an addition $300. You would redeem 50K points plus have to pay $300.
Now let’s say another flight costs $850 with $300 taxes/fees. Once again, you would need to redeem 50K points plus pay the $300 taxes and fees, PLUS, you would also have to pay the $50 that was above and beyond the $800 maximum base fare amount. Did I lose you?
Long story short, depending on the routes you are interested in, the Fixed Travel may be a good option. Other times, it may be best to just pay out of pocket or even transfer your MR points to another Airline Program and redeem that way.
In any event, I’ll dedicate a post to this in the near future since there a few more intricacies to deal with!
Lastly – and I saved this to be used as a last resort – you also have the opportunity to redeem your MR points for statement credits at 100points/$1 or even worse, for random stuff like toasters and body fat scales. I don’t recommend the latter redemptions, to be honest because well, they offer extremely poor value for your points. So please, make a promise to me that you won’t redeem for that stuff, okay?? Repeat after me, “Steve, I will not redeem my MR points for garbage!” And if you must, please use statement credits as a very, very, very last resort. Capisce? Good!
I’m hoping I was able to shed light on how awesome the Amex MR Program is.
The Amex Train should be your first plan of attack when you dabble in the Miles and Points game. MR points are extremely valuable and versatile in the sense that you can accumulate them extremely easily and in massive proportions as well as use them where and when you want to.
If you have any questions or want to know more, you know the drill, get in touch!