American Express Membership Rewards points are some of the best rewards you can earn because they're flexible - you can use them for travel, gift cards, or statement credits, among other things.
Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards include:
Each card offers a unique set of bonuses and benefits depending on how you spend and travel.
While Amex's rewards program has a lot of flexibility, that doesn't mean all redemption options get the same cents per point value.
Let's start with the worst ways to use your Amex points.
Amex has a shopping portal with many products you can buy with Membership Rewards points. While this is a versatile way to use your points, it doesn't have a high redemption value.
For 10,000 points, you'll only get a value of 0.5 CPP— which is not the best value for Amex points.
If you're set on using points for merchandise, you might be better off buying a gift card or going through a shopping partner like Amazon.
Amex has a ton of airline transfer partners that you can transfer your points straight to.
Most partners offer a 1-to-1 transfer rate, so if you transfer 1,000 points to them, they will give you 1,000 points back. Sometimes, American Express runs promotions for transfer partners where you can get a better rate.
One thing to keep in mind here is the Excise Tax Offset Fee.
In most cases, American Express charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99 for any single transfer) when you transfer points to U.S. airlines with a card such as The Platinum Card®.
American Express's U.S. airline partners that charge an excise fee include:
On a 100,000-point transfer, that fee equates to $60. In addition to these charges, the airline may also charge taxes and fees.
However, not all partners charge this fee. Some of the airline programs where you can transfer Membership Rewards points without paying any fees include:
Since these are points from airlines outside the United States, American Express won't charge you the Excise Tax Offset fee to transfer points into these programs, although you need to evaluate their value (Note: some of them are hard to redeem points from). Transferring points to their hotel partners will also be free of charge.
Unfortunately, the only way to transfer points to your Delta SkyMiles account is through AMEX, so be prepared to pay the fee to utilize them.
To get the best redemption rates, you need to do a lot of research before you transfer your points.
If you don't want to pay your card bill, you can redeem your points for statement credits, effectively wiping out any purchases you made with the card. While this option is handy, it also isn't recommended.
However, if you're in a pinch, this can help.
It's best used as a last resort if you need some last-minute funds to cover your balance. But each point will only be worth 0.6 CPP. So the low value makes it not a great option.
We'll talk about other setups later in this post if you're after cash.
With JustGiving, you can donate your points to over 1.5 million charities. Unless you can redeem your points for travel, you'll likely get no more than 0.7 cents per point from this redemption option.
The points aren't the greatest value for your money, but if you don't need your points, this is a decent option.
Beware of the value change, though. Depending on the organization, the value of your points may vary, so pay attention.
Doing the math can help you make a bigger impact.
With American Express Travel, you can book all kinds of travel, including hotels, vacation packages, and cruises.
If you book travel through the American Express Travel portal (excluding airfare), you will only earn 0.7 CPP. In addition, considering other companies will give you 1 CPP, booking your travel using the Amex Travel portal may not be the best way to spend your Amex points.
Keep in mind that using the Amex Travel Portal is NOT the same as using a transfer partner.
Similar to option 1, you can use your points to spend with certain merchants.
The cents per point come out to 0.7 mostly, except for NYC Taxis and Ticketmaster.com. Those have different point-to-cent ratios, so check the redemption rate before redeeming, as redemption rates may vary from retailer to retailer.
You also need to be careful because some platforms like Amazon can automatically fill in that you're using M.R. points when you check out.
If you want to use your points for shopping, there are probably better options in this list.
This option is new for 2022.
If you have a business checking account with Amex, you can redeem your points for cash. You'll get 0.8 CPP, so 10,000 points would come out to $800. These points are considered rebates instead of income, so you're not taxed on them.
So if you have a lot of points, cashing out your business checking account through your Business Platinum might be a better option. (More about this below)
Gift cards come in different types, and your redemption value varies. Then again, there are many 1 CPP options with less variance, which is not too bad.
It may not be the best redemption method for your Amex points because it has additional hoops to jump through.
With Upgrade with Points, you can bid on seat upgrades at over 20 participating airlines using your Membership Rewards points. This is a convenient option if you are worried about cramped seats on long flights.
It might make more sense to upgrade your seat with the actual card and earn more points because there are higher-value options to redeem your points. However, membership rewards here are worth at least 1 CPP depending on how you use them.
If you value your seat on the plane, you might like this option.
This is a great option for the avid traveler.
Compared to other companies, you can get a decent rate on your points. You can expect to redeem 1 CPP with flights and hotels if you book it through the Amex Portal.
But if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you could get 1.5 CPP when you book through their own portal.
With this option, you can get an elevated value for your points, whether it is flights, and pay yourself back.
This is a better option than the 7th option mentioned above.
Instead of $800 per 100,000 points, you can get a better rate of 1 CPP. That comes out to $1,000 per 100,000 points. You must have the Amex Business Platinum card, though.
If you run a large business, that might be enough to offset the annual fee, but you still need to do the math.
If you own a Morgan Stanley brokerage account, this might be useful.
It's similar to a business checking account using your business platinum but on a more personal card side.
If you own the Platinum Card from American Express Morgan Stanley edition, you can cash out your points to your brokerage account at 1 CPP.
The points can be cashed out anywhere once they reach your brokerage account.
Though, you might want to consider these things first before you use this option:
I made a blog post about this before and how to waive the annual fee. You can learn more about it here: https://www.asksebby.com/guides/waive-amex-platinum-annual-fee
You can transfer M.R. points at 1.1 CPP to your brokerage account with the Platinum Card from American Express Charles Schwab. So if you're looking to redeem for cash, this might be the best option.
However, as with any other Amex Platinum cards, there are a few things you need to consider:
If you have a Business Gold, you can get a 25% rebate when you book an eligible flight.
So, if you use 100,000 points to cover a $1,000 flight, you'll get 25,000 points back. That means you used only 75,000 points for a $1,000 purchase, which works out to a rate of 1.33 CPP.
The maximum rebate is 250,000 points, so you wouldn't want to redeem more than 1 million.
Platinum Business cardholders can redeem M.R. points for travel and get a 35% rebate when they use their card for either first class or business class travel or flights with the airline of their choice (via the travel incidental credit).
That means if you spend 100,000 points for a $1,000 flight, you'll get 35,000 points back. Considering the 35% points rebate, the effective value is 1.54 CPP.
This is your best bet if you're looking for a simple travel redemption. The maximum rebate here is 1 million points per year, so you wouldn't want to redeem more than 2.85 million.
This is the same for the two previous options, but even better!
You can redeem your points with Business Centurion for a 50% rebate. As you know, spending 100,000 points for a $1,000 flight would get you 50,000 points back.
With the rebate, you can effectively get 2 CPP, the highest rate we've discussed.
On top of that, there is no maximum rebate. However, the personal Centurion card does not offer flight rebates.
Finally, you can transfer your points to American Express airline and hotel partners.
The rate here can be up to 10 CPP, but it can generally fluctuate or come out to about 2 or 3 CPP when you get through all the transferring. There are a lot of nuances to this one.
But for avid travelers, this might be a decent option for you.
American Express points can be redeemed in many ways, so it's important to know which one gives you the most value.
While you can use them for merchandise or shopping with Amazon, they don't provide good value.
Most people will get the best value from their points by transferring them to airline or hotel partners or using your Amex business card.
Watch this video to find out how to get the most out of your Amex points:
Starting May 31, 2020, Chase added a new temporary benefit for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® members to “Pay Yourself Back.”
Note: The “Pay Yourself Back” feature is not available to the no annual fee Chase Sapphire card.
The Pay Yourself Back Program lets Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve cardholders redeem Ultimate Rewards to offset select category purchases at a favorable rate.
Pay Yourself Back Categories:
The current promotion is valid through September 30, 2020, but it’s possible that it may be extended due to uncertain times.
[ March 30 Update ] Pay Yourself Back is extended until Sept 30, 2021.
Sign into your online Chase account and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards tab located on the bottom of the left column.
Select the card you’d like to access. If you have multiple Ultimate Reward earning cards, you can choose to pool points to the Sapphire card to redeem.
In our example, we choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Navigate to the left hand column and select the “Pay Yourself Back” menu item. Clicking the main promotional banner also works, as seen in the screenshot below.
The current categories for pay yourself back are: restaurant and grocery stores (including take out and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores, and select charitable organizations.
After each purChase posts, you have 90 days to pay yourself back. Check the respective box to select the purChase.
Enter the dollar amount you’d like to receive as a statement credit by using some or all of your available Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Preferred redemption rate is 1.25 cents per point, and the Sapphire Reserve is 1.50 cents per point.
After setting the cash value, click “Confirm & Submit” to redeem!
One of the main benefits of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that you can transfer them out to partners if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Preferred.
You can view credit card offers by going to the "Credit Card Offers" tab. Find offers for the respective cards in "Travel Rewards Credit Cards" and "Business Credit Cards." You don't have to use our links, but we're grateful when you do. Thank you for supporting AskSebby!
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer at a rate of 1:1. On average, you can get up to two cents per point when you use transfer partners.
If you're looking for the most value possible, then airline partners are the way to go for first class redemption. This also works well for last minute flights.
The way I redeem points for "best value" is hotels because everyone in your travel group can benefit.
For example, if I transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to United:
On the other hand, if I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt:
For the cost of a round trip United Polaris flight to Asia, I can get four nights at a top tier Hyatt property.
IHG is not an ideal transfer partner because of the cost of the points, and you typically need more points for a redemption.
In my experience, Hyatt has the best redemption value for transfer partners. The Category 1 Hyatt properties start at 5,000 Hyatt points.
Category 1 = 5,000 Hyatt points / 5,000 Chase UR points
Check out the video below for more redemption ideas.
Pay Over Time was always a feature for American Express charge cards. Cardholders can choose to pay their statements in full or carry a balance on eligible charges, up to their Pay Over Time Limit.
However, it was recently brought to my attention that some of my cards were auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time, which makes them act like credit cards.
Cards auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time:
You can check your Pay Over Time status by logging into your Amex account -> Account Services -> Pay Charges Over Time. All of my cards had a default Pay Over Time limit of $10,000.
An important note is that although there is a Pay Over Time Limit, it’s not the same as a credit limit. While the cards technically don’t have a credit limit, if your Pay Over Time Limit is $10,000, you can carry a balance of up to $10,000 and pay the remainder in full.
Important note: Although Pay Over Time is an option, I recommend avoiding it since paying interest usually negates any points value. Always pay off the credit card balance in full, and don’t get a credit card if it tempts you to spend more than you normally would.
The negative impact of being auto-enrolled in Pay Over Time is that cardholders are no longer eligible for the 10,000 MR bonus. In the past, Amex sent out targeted offers to enroll in the optional feature. My guess is that the bonus no longer exists.
I had my fair share of enrollment bonuses since I have multiple Amex Platinum and Gold cards.
The elephant in the room is why American Express would change their charge cards to credit cards. To answer this question, let’s dive into their Q4 2019 financial statements.
Since Amex is a publicly traded company, its earnings report is publicly available: https://ir.americanexpress.com/Cache/IRCache/1ef02650-2d57-1ac2-cedb-51e6bc3ad90a.PDF?O=PDF&T=&Y=&D=&FID=1ef02650-2d57-1ac2-cedb-51e6bc3ad90a&iid=102700
If you flip over to page 8 in the earnings report, you can see that the charge net write-off rates jump from 1.4% to 1.9% within 12 months. However, it looks like the 30+ days past due percentage has little change.
My guess is that since the charge net write-off rates have increased, Amex would rather collect interest on outstanding balances instead of writing them off.
By auto-enrolling cardholders in the Pay Over Time program, Amex can earn more interest income instead of chasing after delinquent accounts.
Provisions for losses is money set aside for write-offs. Total provisions for losses jumped from $809 million in Q1 2019 to $1.024 billion in Q4 2019.
It’s no secret that American Express makes a large percentage of their revenue via swipe fees, which increased by 6% in Q4 2019. Other notable increases are net card fees (annual fees) and net interest income.
My prediction is that more people were getting the cards due to good marketing, and they ended up paying interest as opposed to paying the card off in full each month.
By auto-enrolling cardholders in Pay Over Time, Amex is cutting back on potential write-offs and making money on the interest. Only time will tell if their strategy is more profitable.
What if you could save time and find multiple credit card offers that you're prequalified for without impacting your credit score? Sometimes, you may even get targeted for special offers (not publicly available) based on your credit profile when you use the CardMatch Tool.
CardMatch is a tool that shows you pre-approved and special targeted offers (sometimes) from select credit issuers. The tool conducts a soft pull so that it won't affect your credit score. See your matched offers in less than 60 seconds.
Every so often, the CardMatch tool has great offers for select cards. For example, not everyone will be targeted, but sometimes you can find The Platinum Card® from American Express with 125,000-150,000 point welcome offers after you spend $6,000 within the first 6 months. Terms apply. A couple of AskSebby subscribers have reported they were able to apply for and get the offer. YMMV.
Users may not be matched with all offers or banks, and matches are based on your credit profile.
To take advantage of targeted offers available, simply go to the CardMatch Tool. Enter your information, agree to the terms of service, and the system will search for offers.
Be sure to view "All Matches" to see everything you're targeted for.
Want to see if you're pre-qualified for any great offers? Try it out yourself!
On July 23, 2017, Citi removed their card benefits like trip protection and insurances.
A lot of cardholders are wondering what their options are — should they cancel or product change the Citi Prestige?
A significant factor in determining which route to take is the annual fee. The annual fee is $450, but it comes with a $250 travel credit, making the effective annual fee $200.
In some cases, you can apply in-branch to receive a lower annual fee of $350, making the effective annual fee $100 after the travel credit.
The main question is if the lower $350 annual fee will be honored the second year, or if the fee will increase to $450.
We’re hesitant to keep the card with an effective $200 annual fee because there are alternative luxury cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum that provide the same, if not better, value.
Before considering downgrade/product change options, we need to consider if this card is worth keeping.
The best perk the Citi Prestige is known for is book 3 consecutive nights, get the 4th night free. In order to redeem this perk, you have to book through the Citi Prestige Concierge.
Effective July 23, 2017, Citi will rebate the average room rate across your stay of 4 or more nights, not including taxes.
My main concern is that if I cancel or product change the card, I won’t be able to receive an intro bonus for a Citi card (that earns ThankYou points) in the next 2 years.
Citi has a rule that you can qualify for an intro bonus every 2 years across the same product family. For example, if you were approved for the Citi ThankYou Preferred card in 2015, you would not receive an intro bonus for the Citi Prestige if you applied the same year. You would have to wait until 2017 to qualify for another Citi intro bonus.
Since I signed up for the Citi Prestige in September 2016, that means I won’t be eligible for another ThankYou bonus until September 2018. If I cancel the card now, it resets the clock meaning I won’t be eligible for another bonus until September 2019.
In terms of product changes, there are 3 cards I’m considering:
To request a product change, call the number on the back of your Citi Prestige credit card. Let the agent know which product you'd like to switch the card to.
Disclaimer: Don't be that person who is obnoxious and demands an upgrade. You are not entitled to an upgrade — they're usually given based upon availability.
We've been traveling a lot the past month and tested a few methods to see how to get free hotel upgrades. Here are our learnings about what you can do to increase the chance of getting an upgrade, depending on availability. These tips do not guarantee an upgrade.
If you have status with the hotel group you're staying at, your chances of getting a free upgrade increases. Traditionally, people earn status from hotel stays. In order to earn Gold status at the Ritz-Carlton, you'll need 50 nights or 5 meetings. That's a lot of nights!
To get around this, certain credit cards like the Ritz-Carlton, Amex SPG, and the Amex Platinum card will give you certain status levels for free.
There are a ton of people who approach the front desk staff acting like they're entitled to an upgrade. Being nice increases your chances of getting an upgrade.
Follow the Golden Rule: treat people how you would want to be treated.
This one is a bit grey area, but if you have a special occasion to celebrate like an anniversary or honeymoon, it may increase your chances of getting a free upgrade, depending on availability. We don't personally do this, but we have heard success stories from friends.
It's counter-intuitive, but for all of our stays where we received a free upgrade, we checked-in on a weekday and relatively late (after 8 pm).
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel: Checked-in at 10pm, we were offered 3 different complimentary upgrade options.
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles: Checked-in at 6pm, got a free upgrade to a corner room junior suite.
Hilton Double Tree, NYC: Checked-in at 7pm, booked through Hotels.com because there was a good deal, but we were denied a free upgrade because it wasn't booked directly through Hilton. We showed Gold status through the Hilton app on our phone and we were still denied an upgrade.
They assigned us a room on a lower floor, and when we requested a room on a higher floor, the staff granted us a free upgrade to the Hhonors floor.
Some hotel groups won't honor status if you book a reservation through a third-party website. Whenever possible, book the reservation directly with the hotel and be sure to enter your status.
We recently hopped on a private jet to make the most of our JetSmarter membership and ended up in Vegas. Here's our list of what to do in 48 hours in Las Vegas.
Lotus of Siam was crowned the "Best Thai Food in America." Order the crispy duck, soft shell crab over drunken noodles, and garlic prawns.
Be sure to make a reservation at least two weeks in advance. Since this was a last minute trip, we called the Amex Platinum concierge and they were able to secure a reservation with a few days notice.
Visit the Downtown Las Vegas Container Park, which is filled with local boutique shops, a playground, restaurants, and a giant fire breathing pray mantis.
Take a stroll in the old Vegas by walking down Fremont Street. There's a light show, zipline, and tons of restaurants and casinos to see.
Seven Magic Mountains is a temporary public art installation consisting of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than 25 feet high. The exhibit will be available until May 2018. You'll need to rent a car to drive there; it's located 20 minutes outside The Strip.
To me, Vegas is synonymous to buffets. I can't leave Vegas without eating at a buffet at least once. My favorite is the Wicked Spoon located inside the Cosmopolitan hotel.
The buffet consists of tapas style plates with offerings like bone marrow, crab, fresh oysters, oxtail pho, and prime rib.
Pro-tip: go 10 minutes before dinner starts to lock-in the brunch/lunch pricing and enjoy the best of both worlds.
The Bellagio's fountains run every 30 minutes from 3pm to 8pm and every 15 minutes from 8pm to 12am Monday through Friday.
On Saturday, Sundays, and holidays, the fountains run every 30 minutes from 12pm-8pm and every 15 minutes 8pm-12am.
The LINQ Promenade is filled with novelty shops including Sprinkles Cupcakes, In-N-Out Burger, and Gordan Ramsay Fish n' Chips. The Promenade also leads to the High Roller (Ferris Wheel).
On our recent trip to see the Canadian Rockies, we flew into Calgary International Airport (YYC) and rented a car to drive to Banff. We spent 24 hours in Calgary and stayed at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel (watch the video at the end of the post for hotel details).
Calgary Tower is located in the heart of downtown. The tower has a 360° panoramic view of the city, and there's also a revolving restaurant. If you dine at the restaurant, you can gain complimentary access to the observation deck.
101 9 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 1J9
Stephen Avenue Walk is a historic pedestrian mall located steps away from Calgary Tower.
Stephen Avenue Walk
8 Ave SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 1B3
The Galleria Trees sculptures are an iconic part of Stephens Avenue and located between 2nd and 3rd Street SW. There are ten metal trees designed to reduce the wind gusts on the block. The Galleria Trees are also equipped with an audio system and LED lights.
The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the CORE Shopping Centre (entrance is where the Galleria Trees are on Stephen Ave). Take the escalators up to the 4th floor to explore the gardens.
317 7 Ave SW | CORE Shopping Centre
Calgary, Alberta T6G 2E1
The Gardens were closed for renovations when we visited, so hopefully, they'll re-open soon!
Alberta is famous for their steak. Charcut Roast House is the brainchild of Chefs John Jackson and Connie Desousa (a Top Chef Canada finalist). The restaurant has a rustic-chic vibe and a farm-to-table ethos.
Charcut Roast House
101-899 Centre Street S
Calgary, AB T2G 1B8
We ordered one too many items, but it was all delicious. Get the duck fat fried poutine, prime rib of Alberta beef, and the CHARCUT sausage share burger. All the items are farm-to-table and the servers are incredibly knowledgable about the farms each ingredient was sourced from.
Somehow we managed to clear the whole board. It was THAT good.
Prince's Island Park is an urban park near downtown Calgary. There are plenty of picnic areas, hiking trails, and flower gardens.
Prince's Island Park
200 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, AB T2P 4R5
The Peace Bridge is a pedestrian and bike bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It's located on the far west side of Price's Island Park.
River Cafe is one of the most popular restaurants in Calgary. It's located in the heart of Prince's Island Park and has a great view of the Bow River. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
25 Prince's Island Park
Calgary, AB T2P 0R1
Take a stroll in Calgary's Chinatown and grab a bite to eat. Chinatown is located along Centre Street in the northeast area of downtown.
If you're craving Hong Kong style food, stop by Calgary Court Restaurant. I recommend the lunch specials or a classic bowl of wonton noodles.
The lunch special that day was Portuguese baked chicken and pork with spaghetti, milk tea, mushroom soup, and garlic toast, all for CAD $10!
Bow Falls is located in the backyard of the Fairmont Banff Springs. If you're in Downtown Banff and want to go for a light hike, Bow Falls is just a short 5-minute walk away.
Banff National Park
Downtown Banff is lined with tons of restaurants, bars, and shops. Take a stroll and enjoy some Canadian cuisine.
Park Distillery is a distillery, restaurant, and bar located in Banff National Park. They offer a free distillery tour daily at 3:30 pm.
Park is also great lunch spot; try the rotisserie chicken.
Park Distillery Restaurant and Bar
219 Banff Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1A7, Canada
The Vermilion Lakes are a series of lakes located a short 5-minute drive from Downtown Banff. Vermilion Lakes consists of three lakes formed in the Bow River valley.
BeaverTails is a chain store, but it's a novelty. Think Nutella covered pastry topped with fruit or candy. Stop by for a quick snack or dessert.
120 Banff Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1E7, Canada
After a long day of hiking, take a soak in Banff Upper Hot Springs. The water flow consists of 100% natural mineral water. Banff Upper Hot Springs is commercialized, but it's the closest one in vicinity to Downtown Banff.
Feeling adventurous? You can rent a historic swim suit for $1.90.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
1 Mountain Ave
Banff, AB T1L 1K2, Canada
Cave and Basin National Historic site is the birthplace of Canada's national parks. Start your visit with a Discovery Tour, and then explore the historic architecture, bubbling mineral waters, and underground cave.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
311 Cave Ave
Banff, AB T0L 0C0, Canada
Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your trip.
Moraine Lake is less than a 10-minute drive from Lake Louise and well worth the detour. Be sure to visit before 9 am to get a parking spot. Once the small parking lot is full, you'll have to park in overflow and hop on a shuttle to see the lake.
Canoes are available for rent; $95/hour.
There is a free government parking lot located at Lake Louise. When you see the Fairmont Hotel, take a left and there will be a free parking lot with plenty of space. Lake Louise is a short 5-10 minute walk away.
Parking at the Fairmont is $33.
Enjoy lunch or a drink and take in the views of the stunning Lake Louise. We had the prime rib sandwich with a side of French onion soup.
Note: Some of the offers/products mentioned below are no longer available.
For our Bora Bora trip in July 2018, half of our stay was at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa. We reserved all of our nights using points and free night certificates. Here's how to book a trip to Bora Bora with the new Chase IHG Products.
[ Oct 2020 Update ] The Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier credit card currently has an increased offer of 140,000 points and the $89 annual fee is waived the first year.
The benefit of booking with points is that you'll avoid paying for taxes and additional charges out of pocket.
The optimal strategy for booking nights in Bora Bora is to use points + cash if you only have at least 100,000 points from the Chase IHG Premier bonus so you can reserve two nights. Choose the 50,000 points + 125 USD rate.
Ideally, you're in Player 2 mode so you can book a total of four nights if you both have the IHG card.
= 2 x Points + Cash
= 100k IHG + $250
= 2 nights x rack rate ($959.97)
= ~$1,920 in value
= ($1,920 value - $250 cash) / 100k IHG
= $1,670 / 100k = 1.67 CPP
By booking the IHG Bora Bora properties, you're getting at least 1.67 CPP in value.
The most frequently asked question we receive is.."theory is nice Seb, but how do we actually book the nights?" Finding availability for reward nights or points to use in Bora Bora is the biggest hurdle.
The first step to booking the IHG properties is to bookmark the landing page for the reward nights: https://www.ihg.com/hotels/us/en/find-hotels/hotel/list?qDest=Bora%20Bora,%20French%20Polynesia&qCiMy=72018&qCiD=19&qCoMy=72018&qCoD=20&qAdlt=1&qChld=0&qRms=1&qRtP=6CBARC.IVANI&qAkamaiCC=US&qSrt=sDD&qBrs=ic.ki.ul.in.cp.vn.hi.ex.cv.rs.va.cw.sb.ma&qAAR=6CBARC.IVANI&srb_u=1&qRad=30
For me, I checked my desired dates multiple times a day for a whole month to find reward availability.
Dates are usually released 4 months in advance. Don't be afraid to split your time between Le Moana and Thalasso.
If I had to do my trip again, I would spend half my nights in Le Moana and the other half in Thalasso. The benefit of Le Moana is that it's on the main island and you have access to more reasonably priced restaurants and food. The only con is that you are not guaranteed an overwater villa.
For Thalasso, you'll pay a premium for food, but you're guaranteed an overwater villa. If you need to take the IHG shuttle boat to Le Moana after 2:15 PM, you'll have to pay a 2770 XPF (as of July 2018) fee per person, per one-way ticket.
Al Maha is one of the best Marriott Bonvoy redemptions if you plan to visit Dubai. The all-inclusive resort is located one hour away from Dubai, and it’s an amazing escape from the city.
The resort is also a conservation reserve where they have on-site field guides and wildlife.
Al Maha is a Category 8 hotel, and the price ranges from 63,000-100,000 points depending on the season.
Search for availability on Marriott’s site: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/dxbam-al-maha-a-luxury-collection-desert-resort-and-spa-dubai/
Be sure to check the box that says “Use Points/Certificates.”
Example of peak season pricing:
Off-peak season pricing:
The room-rate includes:
Desert Activities to choose from: