Is American Express’ Upgrade with Points Feature Worth It? | How it Works & Whether It’s a Good Deal

Is American Express’ Upgrade with Points Feature Worth It? | How it Works & Whether It’s a Good Deal


For most of us, flying business or first class
is something we aspire to do, but it isn’t something that we can afford to do on a regular
basis. While collecting points and miles can be a
great way to make it happen, it can still be a fairly expensive proposition. Which is why it’s interesting to see American
Express offering another way to get upgrades through their Upgrade with Points feature. Hey, how’s it going everyone? It’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In this video, we’ll review the Upgrade
with Points feature on American Express and explore if it’s worth spending your hard-earned
points for a flight upgrade. For those of you with American Express cards,
you’re probably familiar with many of the redemptions offered by the program. But one redemption option that doesn’t get
much attention is the Upgrade with Points feature. If you look under the Benefits tab on your
American Express account, you’ll notice it’s one of the features in the list. But before we get started, if you’re new
here, welcome to our channel. Trip Astute is a travel channel that is focused
on sharing ways to make travel easier, affordable, and more enjoyable. Traveling can be stressful and expensive,
so we’re looking for ways to help you maximize your experience through travel tips, points
and miles, and innovative gear. If that sounds interesting to you, please
consider subscribing. The Upgrade with Points option from American
Express allows you to apply Membership Rewards points to bid for an upgrade on 21 different
airline partners. You won’t any of the major US carriers on
the list, but is still a fairly diverse group of airlines covering flights to all parts
of the world. To use this feature, you’ll want to go to
the Benefits tab in your American Express account and select Upgrade with Points. You’ll then select the airline and enter
your last name and confirmation number. Once your flight information is confirmed,
you’ll be given the opportunity to bid for an upgrade using your points. The dashboard had some hints as to what would
be a competitive bid for an upgrade. It tells you how likely you are to get the
upgrade based on your bid amount. Keep in mind that it does have a minimum bid
amount, so you can’t go in with a low-ball offer. Using this option, each Membership Rewards
point is redeemed at a value of one cent per point, which is definitely on the lower end
of most valuations. I know that The Points Guy values American
Express points at two cents per point, so keep that in mind. Of course, everyone’s point valuation will
be different, but just know that you’re not usually getting a high redemption rate
using this program. You also have the option of adding dollars
to your offer. This doesn’t replace your points bid. You would still need to submit the minimum
bid required. This just gives you the option of adding more
to the offer using cash. Once you submit your bid, you’ll hear back
within five days of your flight. It’s that simple! If your upgrade is accepted, then it is non-refundable
and cannot be changed. If your itinerary contains multiple flights
or stopovers, you can bid for each fight individually. However, keep in mind that you can only bid
one offer per flight. Now the big question — is it worth it? For most people, probably not. That’s mostly due to the low redemption
rate of one cent per point. For those of you that collect American Express
points, you’ll likely be discouraged by the low per point rate. In fact, you could probably find business
class flights for fewer points than using the upgrade with points option. On the other hand, there are two scenarios
where I think this could be useful. The feature doesn’t require the ticket to
be your own, so you could upgrade a friend or family member’s ticket if they qualify
for an upgrade. Again, you would be accepting a low redemption
rate, but it might be worthwhile if you’re looking to treat a family member or friend,
especially someone who might have a long trip ahead of them. Also, if you happen to have a ticket booked
for you from work, then this feature could also be worthwhile if you want to fly business
or first class, but your work doesn’t approve it. You would essentially be paying for your own
upgrade, but it could be valuable especially if you’re someone that struggles to sleep
on a plane and are essentially flying on a paid ticket through work. If you decide to use the feature, here are
a couple of things to keep in mind. 1. Be aware of restrictions: The Upgrade with
Points benefit only works with certain classes of tickets. If you’ve booked a low-cost economy ticket,
then it’s unlikely that the booking will qualify for an upgrade. You’ll want to check with the airline’s
website to see what classes of economy tickets are eligible for upgrades. 2. Consider upgrading directly with the carriers:
Many airlines will allow you to upgrade directly through their website. Some have a similar bidding system as American
Express, while others show an exact point total for an upgrade. Going directly through the carrier often means
that you’re getting a better point value rate than the suggested bids through American
Express. 3. Always search for business class tickets to
compare the rate: As I mentioned earlier, you can often get more value per point by
booking a business class award ticket versus using upgrading an economy ticket. I suggest using tools like Awardhacker to
see the approximate point requirements and airlines that serve your flight plan. This often gives me a lead on where to search. Awardhacker even tells you which partner airlines
to check for the flight, and which point currencies are needed. It’s not always 100% up-to-date, and award
availability may be limited depending on the time of your trip, but it’s a great starting
point for your search. Overall, while I don’t think that I’ll
be using the Upgrade with Points option anytime soon, I do think it’s a step in the right
direction. I’d love for American Express to make it
a more compelling value proposition, and I’d love to see their competitors, like Chase,
offer similar redemption options for their points. What do you think of the Upgrade with Points
feature? Have you used it to upgrade your flights? Please let me know in the comment section
below. If you’re interested in applying for a credit
card, we would love it if you used our link in the video description or on our website. It’s an easy way to support our channel,
especially if you’ve found our content to be valuable and helpful. Also, if you need any help with picking the
right credit card or developing a card strategy, sign-up for our free card consultation service. You basically fill out a questionnaire and
schedule a 15-minute video or audio call with me to review your recommendation. As always, we hope you enjoyed the video and
found it useful. If so, please give us a thumbs up and consider
sharing the video with others. It really helps us with growing our channel
and community. Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

7 Comments

  1. What do I think? For the most part, nah at 1 cent per point. Do like your tips to check out the airline sites too. In general – using cash or points, I would book the class I want and possibly hope for a complementary upgrade.

  2. Thank you for doing a review on this Amex feature. Ask Shebby, TPG, Credit Shifu and others had not dived into this feature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *