The time has come. After two years of patiently waiting while our points balances were quietly soaring, the world has finally opened up. If, like us, you’ve spent the better part of it splurging on lockdown projects and maximising new Bonus Points offers from American Express, now’s your chance to cash in on your rewards.
An international long-haul flight at the pointy end of the plane may first spring to mind, and there’s no doubt that Business and First Class seats on some of the world’s most premium airlines is one of the best ways to enjoy your American Express Membership Rewards points. But how far can your points get you elsewhere? Before the wheels have even left the tarmac, you can swap your hard-earned points for all sorts of goodies, and the perks continue long after you’ve touched down at your final destination.
We sent John to Phuket, Thailand, armed with the American Express Platinum Card, to show you Boss Hunting’s five best ways to spend your American Express Membership Rewards points.
Stock Up On New Gear
What better excuse do you have to refresh your travel gear than a surplus of Membership Rewards points? From a new set of suitcase wheels to noise-cancelling headphones – if you need it, you can almost certainly get it by redeeming your Membership Rewards points in one way or another. Of the three essential items we were genuinely looking to purchase prior to flying, we quickly realised that all of these brands could be unlocked in via American Express rewards.
John copped a brand new GoPro Hero 10 (yes, somehow they’re up to 10 now) for any and all underwater activities with a $750 JB HiFi gift card (150,000 points). Around the neck are a pair of AirPods Max he got directly from Apple with $900 worth of Apple gift cards (180,000 points), and he snapped up his new 574’s from New Balance via The Iconic gift cards valued at $140 (28,000 points). All the gear with no idea has never been easier. Explore the full range of retailers that are swapping gift cards for American Express Membership Rewards points here.
Redeem On A Premium Long-Haul Flight
If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that when you have an opportunity to maximise life’s pleasures, you need to take it – and international travel is a great example. Australia has always copped the short end of the stick when it comes to the sheer distance we must cover to reach the rest of the world. But now with your surplus of Membership Rewards points in the bank, you can redeem them for a premium seat on nine different long-haul carriers to get you pretty much anywhere in both comfort and style.
Redeeming at a 2-for-1 redemption rate, John swapped 130,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 65,000 Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus miles. That nabbed him a window seat in Thai’s Royal Silk class on the direct Boeing-777 service from Sydney to Phuket with just $93.48 in taxes and charges. Super compelling. The circa 9-hour day flight enjoys two fantastic meal services, the third-best cabin crew in the sky (according to Skytrax), a lie-flat seat, and all the niceties you could hope for while tasting of the sweet life at 36,000 feet.
Splurge On Some Deluxe Digs
In a destination like Phuket, both your money – and your points – can go a long way. If you’ve still got plenty of Membership Rewards points in the bank, or you’re happy to sub the premium flight for more premium digs instead, there are a host of incredible accommodations you can book online at American Express Travel or their Fine Hotels & Resorts service.
A night at V Villas Phuket’s palatial pool villa with a sea view set John back $1190 for his particular date (238,000 points). Boasting towering ceilings, sunken bathtubs, walk in robes that are bigger than most apartments, and direct pool access from your bedroom to the window, there really is no place you’d rather be on Phuket’s Panwa peninsula. A dedicated butler service is at your beck and call, spa treatments available whenever you should desire, and the incredible rooftop bar is an absolute destination in itself; funky tunes spin during prime time and yummy cocktails are shaken well after the sun goes down.
If you’re savvy with American Express Travel’s website and flexible on dates, you could see yourself living it up in a private poolside oasis like this one starting at $850 per night (170,000 points).
Quench Your Thirst For Adventure
Gear, flights, hotels – there’s no doubt the American Express Membership Rewards program is quite enabling already. But of course, it doesn’t stop there. With many booking platforms now offering experiences as well as accommodation, the semi-frequent customer might forget that you can also book a huge suite of on-ground activities through operators like WebJet and Luxury Escapes.
The redeemable gift cards for each partner give you access to literally thousands of must-do experiences all over the world. Just name the city. For John, Phuket has no shortage of wild and magnetic cultural sights, but the absolute pinnacle is without a doubt the famous Phi Phi archipelago.
Closed to visitors for the last two years as a result of the pandemic, the notoriously beautiful but equally overcrowded island chain is back open – but as of May 2022 – still without the chaotic tourism to match. As the flow of international visitors gradually turns from a trickle to a stream, it’s important you do everything you can to experience the beautiful national park as low-key as it was intended. Simba Sea Trips offer a sunrise tour of the Phi Phi islands by speedboat, which gets you to all the gorgeous beaches and crystal clear lagoons before everyone else. John booked it with a $200 WebJet gift card (40,000 points), and didn’t even feel the pinch. A great way to offload any smaller quantities of points when you’re not sure what to spend it on.
Enjoy A Luxe Staycation At Home
Now, it would be remiss of us not to mention that you don’t even have to dig out your passport to enjoy the benefits of the American Express Membership Rewards program. Book yourself a little weekend away at one of the many hotels available through American Express Travel, then treat yourself to a day out that’s arguably as beautiful as anywhere in Thailand.
Sydney Seaplanes fly from Rose Bay to a host of fine dining destinations in the Sydney region, but we thought we’d stick a little closer to home with a scenic flight over Sydney Harbour, followed by lunch at one of Sydney’s most iconic restaurants, Catalina in Rose Bay. Which just so happens to be right next door to the Seaplane Terminal.
The 20-minute flight takes you immediately north over Manly, before turning around and circling over the world-famous Bondi Beach. It then banks west with a bee-line toward the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, giving passengers absolutely incredible views of the Harbour city from just 500ft and all redeemed with just 100,000 points for two people, which we swapped for a RedBalloon voucher.
Pull up right outside the restaurant at the pontoon for the most Hollywood entrance ever, then enjoy a delicious 3-course lunch overlooking the harbour at Catalina, which is conveniently also available on RedBalloon, that’ll set you both back a combined 60,000 points for $300 worth in gift cards.
To explore the full suite of American Express Membership Rewards partners, head to the website below and then consider our two favourite American Express cards – the Platinum Card and the Explorer Card.
This article is sponsored by American Express. Opinions expressed in this article solely belong to Boss Hunting. Points redemption rates we’ve published here are correct as at June 20th, 2022 and subject to airline T&Cs and availability. Fees and charges are may be payable in addition to the points redeemed. The earning and redemption of Membership Rewards points is subject to the terms and conditions of the American Express Membership Rewards program. To transfer Membership Rewards points into an airline rewards or frequent guest partner program you must be a member of the partner program. Membership of the partner program is the Card Member’s responsibility and is subject to the Terms and Conditions of the applicable program. A joining fee may apply.