AMEX’s fixed points travel program – an overview

Sandra Macgregor
by Sandra Macgregor October 23, 2019 / No Comments

AMEX’s Membership Reward Program is one of the most popular reward models in Canada. Flexible, user friendly and with a host of different possible rewards—including travel, statement credits, gift cards and merchandise, to name a few—it’s got lots to offer Canadian cardholders. 

Among its plethora of rewards options is the Fixed Points Travel Program, which forms part of the AMEX’s Travel Rewards program. Transparent and simple to use, it takes the guesswork out of point redemption and makes it easier than ever to put points towards travel.

AMEX fixed points travel program  

Possibly one of the biggest complaints you’ll hear among reward credit card users is how complicated it can be to figure out how to redeem points for travel. Many credit card issuers’ travel rewards programs are not straightforward and redemption can vary depending on things like blackout dates, time of year you want to fly or the carrier you want to use.

With AMEX’s Fixed Points Travel Program, however, cardholders can redeem a set amount of points for a specific flight category—like short haul, Europe, worldwide and more—at any time of year without worrying about redemption fluctuations. 

How the fixed points travel program works

Cardholders can redeem points up to a maximum base ticket price within a specified flight category, ranging from short haul to worldwide. Check out the Fixed Points Travel Program Chart (see below) to see how many points it would take to cover a specified base fare (excluding taxes, fees and carrier surcharges). You can also use points for Business Class fares.

You would then log into your account, purchase the ticket via the Membership Rewards site and redeem the required points. Within 10 to 15 days, your statement receives a credit for the payment of the base ticket price. 

For example, a long-haul route requires 40,000 points for a base fare up to a maximum of $700. So, if you find a flight worth $650 with another $100 in fees and taxes for a total cost of $750, you would redeem 40,000 points and be charged $750. Within two weeks you would then receive a statement credit of $650 to cover the base price (and you could then redeem more points if you choose, as a statement credit to cover the taxes and fees). 

Note that the Fixed Points Travel Program can offer great value, especially depending on what flight category you redeem for and whether you can redeem a fare for the maximum allowable value. For example, if you do redeem 40,000 points for a ticket worth the maximum eligible fare of $700, you’re getting a 1.75% return on your points (which are normally valued at .01 for a travel credit).

Amex Fixed points travel chart for personal

 

amex-fixed-points-travel-chart-personal

Amex fixed points travel chart for business

 

amex-fixed-points-travel-chart-business

Fixed points travel program vs AMEX’s flexible points program

In addition to the Fixed Points Travel Program, AMEX offers members another way to redeem points towards travel with their Flexible Points Program—but don’t get the two programs confused. With Flexible Points, you can redeem points for a variety of travel-related purchases, like flights, hotels or rental cars, charged to your AMEX card or purchased through their travel services. Furthermore, unlike with the Fixed Points Program, each point redeemed with the Flexible Points model has a flat value of $.01 (aka a 1% return). 

While this program is flexible, you can sometimes get a better value by using the Fixed Program model, such as with eligible long-haul flights where you’re getting a 1.75% return on points. For example, if you found a flight to Hawaii for $750, you would be better off using the Fixed Point Program to redeem points (for a cost of 50,000 points) than using the Flexible Program (which would cost you 75,000 points).

To ensure you’re getting the most out of the AMEX Membership Rewards program, it’s important to compare the redemption value of both the Fixed Points and the Flexible Points programs before you redeem your points. 

American Express Cobalt

One of the best ways to earn points fast and start taking advantage of AMEX’s Fixed Point Program (or Flexible Points program, for that matter) is with American Express’s Cobalt credit card. Since its launch in 2017, Cobalt’s been winning acclaim as one of AMEX’s most lucrative reward cards and it also consistently ranks among the top travel cards in Canada.

  • 5 points per dollar on “eats and drinks”: Groceries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and food delivery.
  • 2 points per dollar on “travel and transit”: Flight tickets on any airline, as well as hotel bookings, public transit (subway, streetcar, or bus fare), and taxis (including Uber).
  • 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  • Annual fee: $120 (charged at $10 monthly)

A large part of Cobalt’s success is its wide-ranging and generous array of earning categories that pretty much cover the main big spending areas of most Canadians. Cardholders earn:

  • 5 points per dollar spent for “eats and drinks,” which includes groceries, restaurants, bars and food delivery.
  • 2 points for every dollar you spend on “travel and transit.” This category is a real boon for frequent fliers and includes plane tickets, hotels, public transit (subway, streetcar or bus) taxis and even ride-shares like Uber. 
  • 1 point per dollar on all remaining spending.

The card also features an excellent welcome sign-up offer of 30,000 Bonus Points; you get 2,500 Membership Rewards points every month you put at least $500 in purchases on your card. There’s also an impressive insurance package that offers purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and travel insurance, including hotel and motel burglary, emergency medical and lost or delayed baggage. The annual fee of $120 ($10/month) is quickly offset by the Cobalt’s reward-earning potential and money-saving perks.

 


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