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American Express and Expedia have linked up offering Expedia users a new way to use their Membership Rewards. You can link now an eligible Membership Rewards earning American Express card to your Expedia account and use your Membership Rewards at check out. While it’s great to see Amex expanding its partnerships, this is not a terrific redemption and you should probably not ever do this.
Why using Amex Membership Rewards on Expedia is not worth it
When you use your Amex Membership Rewards to book travel on Expedia, you’ll only be able to redeem them at a rate of .7 cent per point. Compare that to cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve that allow you to cover airline and hotel expenses at a rate of 1.5 cents per point or even the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card which allow you to redeem points for airline and hotels at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Heck, you can even redeem American Express Membership Rewards for flights at 1 cent per point and hotels at .75 cent per point.
So this redemption rate for Expedia is not very good at all. In fact, you could probably redeem Membership Rewards for hotel gift cards at a higher rate than that and then just use the gift card for your booking so you’ll still earn hotel points and receive elite status benefits.
How does it work?
The way the system will work is that you’ll first have to link your eligible American Express card to your Expedia account. Million Mile Secrets has a good walk-through of how to link your card. Once you check out using points, your eligible American Express Card will be charged for the entire booking and a statement credit for the Membership Rewards points you used at checkout will appear on your Eligible Card account in 2–4 business days.
Expedia allows you to use partial payment with points so you don’t have to use points to cover the entire cost. However, these bookings must be made on pre-paid rates and cannot be used on flight+hotel packages and other expenses like rental cars, cruises, etc.
There’s nothing good about the redemption rate of this new opportunity for Expedia bookings. Assuming you’re not transferring your Membership Rewards to travel partners (which is where most of the value lies), you’re better off booking your flights and hotels through the Amex Travel Portal or redeeming gift cards for the hotel you want to stay at.
In limited cases, it could make sense to use some points to cover an Expedia purchase if you just really didn’t want to use cash but I wouldn’t make it a habit. And while Expedia can be useful, if you’re wanting to utilize an OTA and want to get massive returns, check out BonWi.com which blows away other OTAs with its high cash back rate.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.