Amex Membership Rewards can take you all over the world, but my 3 favorite ways to use them provide exceptional value

The author is not pictured.

The author is not pictured.
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  • Anyone with an Amex card like the American Express® Gold Card or Platinum Card® from American Express earns Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed through partner airlines, hotels, or Amex’s own flight-booking portal.
  • Choosing between so many redemption options can be challenging, but my three favorite redemption choices – short-haul British Airways partner bookings, Delta saver awards, and ultra-luxury international flights – can help you get the most value per point.
  • Always compare multiple options and figure out if an award booking is a good deal before transferring points to travel partners.
  • See Business Insider’s picks for the best rewards credit cards of 2019 »

American Express points are among my favorite credit card rewards. They are valuable and redeemable for a wide range of options. In fact, there are so many ways to use Amex Membership Rewards that it can be a bit overwhelming to sift through the options when you’re ready to redeem.

As you grow your American Express balance with cards like the American Express Gold or American Express Platinum, consider these options to get yourself in the air and on the way to your next dream destination.

1. Short-haul British Airways partner bookings

My single favorite use of Amex Membership Rewards is transferring points to British Airways Avios that I can use to book low-cost, short-haul bookings for domestic flights within the United States. Unlike most programs, British Airways uses a distance-based award chart for partner flights.

British Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, as is American Airlines. In the spring, BA updated the chart with a modest devaluation, but it is still a bargain depending on your route. Numbers below via The Points Guy.

Flight costs in British Airways Avios

Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

2. Delta saver awardsAs you can see, a 1,000-mile round-trip would cost 9,000 Avios each way (18,000 round trip). A 1,900-mile journey would cost 22,000 Avios round-trip. I usually plan on a domestic award cost of about 25,000 miles or points. Just about any available US domestic booking with this method is a good deal.

Delta Airlines is another 1:1 transfer partner for the Membership Rewards program. Unlike the option above, you can transfer to the same airline where you plan to book the flight. But also unlike British Airways for short-haul flights, Delta booking costs are not as predictable.

Delta does not use a fixed award chart that tells you a specific number of miles you’ll need to book a specific flight. Instead, Delta uses a flexible chart. That means you should not just look for availability before converting Amex points to Delta, you should also take note of the number of miles required to decide whether or not the flight is a good deal.

Good redemptions options can be hit and miss, but if you want to jet across the US with Membership Rewards, you should always keep Delta in mind.

3. Ultra-luxury international flights

Among the list of transfer 1:1 transfer partners at Amex are Singapore Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad Airways. These three airlines rank among the most luxurious in the world. I flew on Singapore Airlines coach from New York to Frankfurt, and it was better than some domestic first-class flights.

These airlines have excellent business and first class offerings. One of the best flight options on Earth is Singapore’s suite class, which gives you an extremely high value per point when booked right. If you are not familiar, a Singapore Airlines suite gives you a private bedroom in the air!

But even flying coach on one of these airlines is a dream for many travelers. It’s a good idea to compare all of your options first to make sure you’re getting a good deal. If you can book a ride on one of these planes, even through an alliance partner, you won’t regret it.

Use your points for a dream trip before it’s too late

Amex offers a much longer list of airline and hotel partners to book a trip. In addition to transfers, you can also book travel through the American Express portal with your points, but transferring to an airline partner is usually a better deal.

Whatever you do, don’t let those points get too stale. Just like the British Airways example above, mile and point devaluations and inflation are very real. Points become worth less and less over time. But unless you use them, they are not worth a thing!

If redeeming is a bit overwhelming and you are stuck with a case of analysis paralysis, you can book one of the options above and land a great value. Once you get a basic understanding of how to use your points, your biggest problem will be deciding where to go next.