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One of our favourite rewards programs is the American Express Membership Rewards program.

Why? The points are both incredibly valuable and flexible at the same time which is a rare combination.

Travel redemption options have always provided the most value but, with COVID-19, travel is off the table for the time being.

Your next best options, statement credits and shopping through Amazon, normally come at a significantly reduced point value.

That just changed…

(Don’t miss this tip at the end if you’re an Amex Gold cardholder for max point value boost.)

Amex Membership Rewards cash value increases up to 186%

Normally, you need 1,000 points for a $7 statement credit (0.7 cents per point).

Amex just increased the value of their Pay with Points program for a limited time, making each point worth up to 2 cents each.

Depending on the card you have, you’ll get increased value when you redeem for statement credits or use your points to pay for Amazon purchases. This effectively turns their Membership Rewards cards into solid cash back card equivalents.

The value you get depends on the card you’re carrying

For both the & the , 1,000 points will now give you $10 back, a value of 1 cent per point. That’s an increase of 43%.

If you have the , the value is double that. 1,000 points will give you $20 back, for a value of 2 cents per point, an increase of 186%! However, this is only until July 20, 2020. Afterwards, you’ll see 1,000 points for $10.

These increases are a welcome change and make it easier to redeem your points for some immediate savings, whether through statement credits or shopping through Amazon.

Better than travel redemptions?

One thing to note – even with this boost, they’re still not worth as much as travel redemptions.

Our typical points value for both the & is 2.5 cents per point based on transferring points to Aeroplan. For the , it’s 1.75 cents using the Fixed Points Travel Program.

But you will see more immediate savings, if that’s a better goal for you right now. A bird in the hand is often worth 2 in the bush…and right now travel is definitely in the bush.

This offer ends September 30, 2020.

Amex Platinum earn rates DOUBLE

We’re not through with Amex news yet.

If you have the , there’s an even better offer that stacks with the already increased point values.

Until July 20, 2020, you’ll also be earning double points on all purchases.

That means you’re earning:

  • 6 points per $1 spent on restaurants (12% cash return on spending*),
  • 4 points per $1 spent on travel (8% cash return on spending*), and
  • 2 points per $1 spent everywhere else (4% cash return on spending*).

A 4% cash-equivalent return on spending on ALL purchases blows any other cash back card currently on the market out of the water. 12% on restaurants is simply unheard of.

Seeing as most of the benefits of the card are travel related and can’t be used right now, it’s a great way to instead stock up on points, and either save them for future travel, or get great value right now on Pay with Points purchases.

This offer ends July 20, 2020.

Return rates on Amex Membership Rewards cards

So for those 3 cards, what kind of return rates are you looking at? Here’s a summary for each, and an intriguing strategy to consider for one of them.

If this offer interests you but you don’t have one of these cards, we’ll let you know what you can earn for signing up for one of these cards.

Let’s start with the most popular card of the group – the .

When redeeming for statement credits, here is your rate of return until the end of September:

  • 5% back on groceries and restaurants,
  • 2% back on gas, transit, and travel, and
  • 1% back on all purchases.

As for new cardholders, every month you spend $500 in the first year, you’ll earn 2,500 bonus points, for a maximum of 30,000 points earned.

So, you won’t be able to use the total bonus towards these new point values, but you will be able to use some of them for an increased instant discount.

The other card with an increased value of 1 cent per point, the , offers these earn rates on Pay with Points purchases:

  • 2% back on gas, groceries, drugstores, and travel, and
  • 1% back on all purchases.

The welcome bonus is much more straightforward with this card. You’ll earn 25,000 points after spending $1,500 in the first 3 months, which is worth $250 in savings.

Related: American Express Gold Rewards Card Review

The big daddy of them all – the . It’s offering double the value of the other 2 cards.

At 2 cents per point, here’s what you’ll get back:

  • 6% back on restaurants,
  • 4% back on travel, and
  • 2% back on all other purchases.

However, with Platinum Card holders getting double points until July 20th, that means your return doubles again until then and is now between 4% and 12%.

Related: American Express Platinum Card Canada Review: A Rare Metal Card With Premium Perks

How to double the value of your existing Gold Rewards points

If you have the , have a ton of points, and are interested in this promo, it may be worth looking into upgrading to the for the double value it’s providing.

We can’t guarantee it, but all signs point to you simply being able to upgrade your Amex Gold to Amex Plat and then you should instantly be able to qualify for the higher statement credit point value on all your existing points.

To be clear, a member of the CCG Team successfully upgraded from Gold to Platinum and downgraded back to Gold a couple of years ago, and the points transferred easily. There’s a good chance that’s still the case today.

To offset the extra annual fee of $549 for the Platinum, you’d have to redeem at least 54,900 points to break even.

It’s up to you to decide if it may be worth it or not. If you think it might be, you can Apply online for the Platinum card and then cancel your Gold card later after verifying the points have merged.

If for any reason it doesn’t work out, I have found their support to be very helpful. In the worst case you’ve got a welcome bonus worth $500 in statement credits.

And remember, you only have until July 20, 2020 to take advantage of the increased value.

Keep in mind, this strategy won’t work with the for 2 reasons:

  • it’s a credit card, not a charge card, so they’re different types of credit products, and
  • the points collected are different as they can’t be transferred to airline partners.

Your turn

If you have one of these cards, are you more likely to redeem some points for statement credits or shopping at Amazon right now?

Or are you going to sit tight, and wait to use your points for travel?

Let us know in the comments below.