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Guide to the American Express Fixed Points Travel Program

Many people are drawn to Miles and Points because of the insane amount of value you can get when redeeming points for luxury travel in premium cabins.

It’s not unheard of to get 15–20 cents per point (cpp) in value against the cash fare, and because of that, many points enthusiasts are transfixed with trying to derive this kind of value.

It’s almost a right of passage to tell people that you redeemed for 10+ cpp in value, which is why “fixed points” programs like Amex Fixed Points Travel are sometime ignored – perhaps to your detriment.

Recap: Redeeming Amex MR Points

I think by now, most of know that American Express Membership Rewards points are among the most powerful points currency in Canada.

These MR points can easily be exchanged for airline reward points with Aeroplan, British Airways Avios, Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Etihad Guest Miles, and now even Air France/KLM Flying Blue points.

You can also transfer your points to Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors for hotel redemptions, often with a 25–30% transfer bonus in play.

If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that for the most dedicated points collectors, 95% of your Amex MR points are being transferred to one of these airline or hotel programs, so you may have completely ignored another important option for redeeming your MR points.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards
Credit Card Best Offer Value
105,000 MR points $1,426 Apply Now
105,000 MR points $1,393 Apply Now
75,000 MR points $1,341 Apply Now
Up to 67,000 MR points $1,221 Apply Now
65,000 MR points $1,016 Apply Now
50,000 MR points $944 Apply Now
10,000 MR points $220 Apply Now

Amex Fixed Points Travel – The Basics

First introduced in November 2016, the Amex Fixed Points Travel program aims to give more flexibility to travellers who simply can’t find the award availability they need through the aforementioned airline loyalty programs, or are perhaps too timid to learn all the ins and outs of each program. 

While you will never derive more than 2 cents per point in value from Fixed Points Travel, what you do gain in return is incredible flexibility. 

Some of the benefits that American Express touts for the Fixed Points Travel program include:

  • Book any airline, fly anywhere, travel any day
  • Book up to a day before departure
  • Economy or business Class
  • Direct flights
  • Enjoy travel related insurance benefits included with your card (if applicable)

Clearly, flexibility wins the day with this program, but there are a few limiting aspects to consider:

  • Round-trips departing from Canada only
  • Points only cover the base fare, not fuel surcharges or taxes and fees
  • Only bookable if you have enough points to cover the cost
  • Multiple tier prices depending on where you are travelling 

Redemptions in the Amex Fixed Points Travel program depend on your destination and class of service (i.e., economy or business class), so your redemption values range from a low of 1.5cpp to a high of 2cpp. 

One thing to keep in mind is that redemptions through Fixed Points Travel are viewed by the airline as a regular cash ticket, meaning that your flight will earn frequent flyer miles and count towards any qualifying mile, segment, or spend requirements to earn elite status.

However, also note that American Express is functioning as a regular travel agency in issuing the ticket, so they may present Basic Economy fares that may not qualify for earning miles or elite-qualifying criteria.

Amex Fixed Points Travel – Economy Class 

Here’s the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart for economy class flights:

The best value you can derive from an economy class redemption using Amex Fixed Points Travel is in the Popular Routes – Canada/US Short-Haul category, which consists of five popular short-haul routes:

  • Calgary–Vancouver
  • Montreal–New York
  • Toronto–Montreal
  • Toronto–New York
  • Toronto–Ottawa

Here, you can redeem 15,000 MR points to cover up to $300 in base fare. With this redemption, you are redeeming at a program high of 2 cents per point. 

Other redemptions in the economy class bucket provide you value of 1.5cpp (a program low) to 1.75cpp, so the redemption values aren’t spectacular.

But again, this is about convenience and choice, rather than the fantastic outsized value you may achieve with airline award bookings.

Amex Fixed Points Travel – Business Class 

Here’s the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart for business class flights:

The business class bucket provides much better value than economy class, with values ranging from 1.6cpp for the Canada/US Short-Haul category to 1.8cpp for either the Canada/US Short-Haul or Worldwide categories.

I myself have redeemed 250,000 MR points for the Worldwide business class redemption in the past, but unfortunately had to cancel the trip due to a change in plans.

I used this redemption because I wanted to book a business class flight to Australia but could not locate any award availability using my preferred MR airline partners of Aeroplan or Avios, or even through Alaska miles.

In this case, the Amex Fixed Points Travel program saved the day.

How to Book Amex Fixed Points Travel

In order to search for redemptions using Amex Fixed Points Travel, you simply navigate to travel.americanexpress.ca, log in, and begin your search. Remember that you must have 100% of the MR points available in order to redeem for Fixed Points Travel.

When you search, you will be presented with your results and two tabs at the top of the results page: Fixed Points Travel and Flexible Points Travel. Click on Fixed Points Travel and you will be able to view your options. 

Let’s say for example, you were based in Calgary and wanted to join us in Vancouver at the Prince of Travel Signature Event 2021 and you were having difficulties locating reasonably priced award availability through Aeroplan.

You could simply head on over to Amex Fixed Travel Points program and easily locate availability for 15,000 MR points and a bit of taxes.

Once you select your flights, you can head to the checkout and complete your purchase. You will notice at this step that you have two choices for the number of points to redeem.

The first choice is to redeem only for the selected redemption, in this case 15,000 MR points. In this situation, you are responsible for paying the taxes and fees.

You can also move the slider to the right and use your MR points to pay for the remaining taxes and fees at a rate of 1cpp – not a great redemption in my opinion, but fairly standard for these types of things.

Once you have made your decision on how many points to redeem, all that is left is to complete the checkout. You will receive a receipt as well as a booking reference via email.

Watch Out for Carrier-Imposed Surcharges

In certain situations, using Amex Fixed Points Program can be less than ideal.

This is especially true for European flights, as many airlines that fly to Europe like to keep base fare low and make up the fare difference in their carrier-imposed surcharges. It’s not uncommon to find a ticket that is composed of 50% base fare and 50% surcharges, taxes, and fees. 

With Amex Fixed Points Travel, your MR points only cover off the base fare, with the remainder the responsibility of the traveller, which can be quite a hefty sum.

As an example, I took a look at a Toronto–Lisbon flight in late October and found that a $825.74 round-trip flight was composed of the following:

  • $420.00 base fare
  • $405.74 taxes, fees and carrier-imposed surcharges

Therefore, if you booked this flight through Fixed Points Travel, you would still be paying $405.74 on top of the 60,000 MR points you needed to redeem. This would mean that you’d be redeeming MR points for 0.7cpp – a terrible value.

Conclusion

Amex Fixed Points Travel isn’t the best way to use your Membership Rewards points; for that, check out our complete guide to Membership Rewards to review all of the high-value redemptions you could unlock among airline and hotel partners.

I would not suggest using Fixed Points Travel unless you have exhausted your search for redemptions using your airline loyalty program of choice, but I would certainly advocate for its usage if/when you come up empty in that search. 

Sometimes convenience outweighs the need to extract extreme value out of your points, and other times, you don’t want to take two connections with an award redemption when you know there is a direct flight available.

Amex Fixed Points Travel unlocks the possibility of booking any flight you want, anytime you want, and with any airline you want – all without having to pay full fare out-of-pocket. 

The next time you pull out your credit card to pay for a flight because you can’t find any award availability, try using Amex Fixed Points Travel instead – it just might surprise you. 

Jayce Loh

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