Some of the most popular credit cards today are American Express cash back cards, including the American Express Blue Cash Preferred and the American Express Blue Cash Everyday. These cash back cards earn American Express Reward Dollars which can be redeemed for a statement credit, gift cards, or merchandise.
American Express Reward Dollars Redemption Summary
We are about to go in-depth into the Reward Dollars program. If you are looking for a quick summary, here it is:
- The best way to redeem Reward Dollars for a gift card on sale (where a $50 gift card may cost as little as 45 Reward Dollars).
- If no gift cards you like are on sale, it is usually best to redeem for a statement credit (which comes in $25 increments).
- In general, merchandise is overpriced and should be avoided (although a few good deals can be found). If you insist on redeeming for merchandise, always check prices at other stores and make sure you are getting a good deal before checking out.
Login to American Express Reward Dollars Website
To access your Reward Dollars balance and view your redemption options, you can access the account through your American Express account page. Just login to your account as if you were going to pay your bill or view your transactions, and click the “Explore Rewards” link on the right side of the page.
If you want to go straight to the Reward Dollars site without viewing your account, you can go directly through the Reward Dollars site and login from there.
Cash Back = Statement Credit in $25 Increments
As a cash back program, many people look to use Reward Dollars to earn cash back instead of buy merchandise or order gift cards. If you want cash back with American Express Reward Dollars, your only option is to redeem Reward Dollars for a statement credit.
Also, you can only redeem Reward Dollars in $25 increments. If you have 23 Reward Dollars and want a statement credit, the website will not allow you to redeem your rewards. You’ll need to earn 2 more Reward Dollars before you are eligible to redeem your statement credit.
It is important to note that a statement credit is your only Cash Back option. There is no option to request a check, or even transfer the money to an American Express savings account. If you want cold hard cash in your hands or your bank account, you’re out of luck with Reward Dollars.
Cash Back Summary: You can redeem Reward Dollars for a statement credit in $25 increments. There is no option for a check or a deposit into an American Express savings account.
Gift Cards: Look For Cards on Sale
For reward programs that don’t offer a statement credit or other cash back options, gift cards are typically the best way to redeem rewards. But as we just mentioned, you can redeem American Express Reward Dollars for a statement credit.
Why would you order a gift card, wait until it’s delivered, and then try to remember to bring it to the store on your next trip (and be sure you don’t lose it) when you could just use your card, buy something, and redeem a statement credit for your purchase? The only reason you would want a gift card is if it is on sale.
Gift cards do occasionally go on sale through the American Express Reward Dollars redemption site. I personally have gotten $200 worth of Lowe’s gift cards for 190 Reward Dollars, so I know from experience it can be valuable.
Luckily, it’s easy to find the gift cards on sale. Just click the “Gift Cards” link on the left, then the “All Sale Items” button on the right, and you’ll find all the gift cards currently on sale.
If you are planning to spend money at one of the stores with a gift card on sale, order it and enjoy a slight bump in the value of your Reward Dollars!
Gift Cards Summary: If you can find a gift card on sale to a place where you normally shop, this is the best way to redeem Reward Dollars. If you don’t find anything on sale, you are better off using your American Express card at that store and then redeeming Reward Dollars for a statement credit to pay off the purchase.
Merchandise: Always Compare Prices Before Redeeming
As soon as you login to the Reward Dollars main page, you will be greeted with a large picture of a piece of merchandise that is “on sale”. In the following picture, you will see a Canon digital camera for 245.00 Reward Dollars, marked down from 305.00.
At a glance this appears to be a great deal. The camera seems to be almost 20% off based on the 305.00 original price. However, I was able to find the exact same camera on Amazon.com for a mere $85.95. The original retail price of the camera is only $129.00 on Amazon, so I have no idea why American Express set the original price in Reward Dollars at 305.00.
It is important to note that the Reward Dollars price includes taxes and shipping, while the Amazon price includes neither, but considering the Amazon price is $159.05 cheaper, I think paying taxes and fees would be worth it. The other difference is that the Reward Dollars camera comes with a 4GB SD card. To add this to your Amazon order, it would add another $4.99 for a Sandisk 4GB SD card.
Not only is this particular camera a terrible way to redeem Reward Dollars, it’s disappointing that American Express would put this in the front and center of their Reward Dollars homepage.
The next item I looked at was a box of Nike Power Distance Women’s golf balls. The Reward Dollar price was 32.00, and the Amazon price for the same item was $22.09 (including shipping, not including taxes). At $9.91 cheaper on Amazon, the exchange rate for Reward Dollars to federal reserve notes is not very good.
Sales on Merchandise Can Be Good Deals
In almost every product I looked at on the Reward Dollars site, I could find it cheaper somewhere else. There was one interesting exception.
It’s not easy to find, but there is a section for merchandise on sale. First, click “Shopping” on the left. Then you’ll see a dark orange filter button called “All Sale Items”. Click that button and you’ll find the sale items, as you can see below.
Under this section I found a Bose SoundDock 10 digital music system. The price in American Express Reward Dollars was only 530.00. When I found the same product on Amazon.com, it was listed at $599.00 + tax.
After paying tax on the Amazon version, the total price could come to over $630, meaning Reward Dollars could save over $100 on this item.
It is important to remember that the digital camera above was also considered “on sale” and was a big rip off, so even when you are looking at the sale items it’s still important to compare prices and make sure you are getting a fair exchange rate for your Reward Dollars.
Merchandise Summary: We generally recommend redeeming Reward Dollars for gift cards or cash, but if you want to redeem for merchandise make sure you compare prices to Amazon or other stores to ensure you are getting a good deal.