If you’re unfamiliar with the American Express Membership Rewards program, it’s one of the best travel rewards programs out there. The reason it’s my favourite program is due to its flexibility. You basically have multiple ways to use your points. Most people use Amex Membership Rewards points as travel credits or to convert them to transfer partners like Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy. Although these are a good use of your points, you can often get even better value by claiming flights via the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program. In this Amex Fixed Points Travel Review, I’ll go over how the program works, how to maximize the value of your points, and how to earn Amex Membership Rewards points fast.
How the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program works
The American Express Fixed Points Travel Program is a Membership Rewards program feature that allows you to book flights and pay with Membership Rewards points using a fixed redemption schedule. Once logged into your account and on the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program, you will be able to search for round-trip flights on any dates and on any major airlines.
You can always use Membership Rewards Points as travel credits to offset any travel purchase charged on your card at a ratio of 100 points = $1 or 1cpp (1 cent per point). Alternatively, you can use the American Express Travel portal and book any travel available and redeem your points at the same ratio.
What makes the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program interesting is that you can get more than 1cpp value out of your points when booking flights. As you can see in the chart below, you can redeem 15,000 points to cover up to $300 of a base fare for a round-trip between Toronto and New-York. This means you can get up to a 2cpp value out of your Membership Rewards for that route.
Check out this flight from Toronto to Newark, NJ where the cash fare is $451.93, but you can book it for 15,000 points + $151.93 in taxes. After subtracting what you pay in taxes, your 15,000 points still has a real value of $300 value (2cpp) which is an excellent for Membership Rewards.
You’ve essentially doubled the value of your points by using the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program instead of just charging the standard fare to your card. Had you decided to use the Flexible Points Travel option which allows you to book any flights and redeem points at a value of 1cpp. The same flights as the example above would cost you 45,193 points. Clearly 15,000 points + $151.93 in taxes is a much better deal but often people get obsessed with free flights and don’t think about the greater value.
Amex Fixed Points Travel Program redemption chart
The Amex Fixed Points Travel Program has a fixed redemption chart. As you can see from above, it’s pretty straightforward. It shows how many points it’ll cost you for specific routes, as well as the maximum base ticket price. If the base ticket price exceeds the maximum value, you can simply pay the difference. Taxes can vary quite a bit so that’s something to consider too. Generally speaking, I’ve found the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program to be incredibly valuable whenever flights are going for the above average price e.g. during peak seasons or when there are special events going on.
How does the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program compare to Aeroplan?
In case you didn’t know, you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio, so it’s always good to compare the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program vs using Aeroplan to book flights.
Aeroplan also has a fixed point redemption chart so we can easily compare both charts.
Both Amex Fixed Points Travel Program and Aeroplan have the same 15,000 points cost for Toronto-New-York and the same 60,000 points for Europe. However, Aeroplan is considerably cheaper for a long-haul within Canada/USA at 25,000 points whereas it takes 40,000 points via the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program. Taxes and fees to pay on top of points/miles are similar between both programs.
However, Aeroplan fixed miles pricings are subject to award seats availability and anyone that has searched for popular destinations or popular dates knows how frustrating this can be.
For example, someone wanting to go from Vancouver to Halifax for the Holidays and looking 75 days in advance will find no fixed mileage flight rewards on Aeroplan. You do have the option to go with the market fare flight rewards option, but that would cost you an insane 82,450 Aeroplan miles. That’s more than triple what the standard redemption should be.
Since the Amex Fixed Points Travel Programs has no blackout dates and no award space restrictions, you’d be able to book that Vancouver-Halifax round-trip flight for 40,000 points + $107 in taxes which is much better than 82,450 Aeroplan miles in that case. Yes, 40,000 points are more than the 25,000 points if there was availability on Aeroplan, but there aren’t any seats so you can’t use that as a reference anymore. In this scenario, it makes perfect sense to use the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of examples when it’s more advantageous to transfer to Aeroplan and use Aeroplan miles to book, but here is a list of when it’s better to use the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program instead of Aeroplan:
- When you want to fly on airlines not bookable via Aeroplan (WestJet, Porter, Air Transat, Delta, American Airlines, Air France, etc.)
- When there is no availability on Aeroplan for your dates or routes
- When flights offered by Aeroplan aren’t good (adding connections or bad departure hours)
Note that the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program can only be used for round-trip flights, you can’t book one-way or multi-city itineraries. You also need the full total of points required to book with the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program.
How to earn American Express Membership Rewards
The only way to earn Membership Rewards points is to be an American Express cardholder. There are currently 5 credit cards that earns Membership Rewards points:
- American Express Personal Platinum – my personal favourite due to its benefits
- American Express Business Platinum – best sign up bonus in Canada
- American Express Personal Gold
- American Express Business Gold
- American Express Cobalt
All of these cards are all excellent since they give generous sign up bonuses and an excellent earn rate. Just about all of them are on my list of the best travel credit cards in Canada. I personally use the American Express Platinum card as my main card and I recommend it to anyone who loves to travel since you can earn 60,000 points as a sign up bonus when using a referral link. If you have some major purchases coming up, consider the American Express Platinum Business card since the sign up bonus is an insane 75,000 points when you charge $7,000 to your card in the first three months of card membership.
The American Express Fixed Points Travel Program can be really useful and give you great value for your hard-earned points. I personally always check it when searching for flights and it’s often the best way for me to book my flights due to its greater flexibility and value. The Amex Fixed Points Travel Program is a great feature in a great loyalty program and I strongly recommend using it.