About those points...

Points for Presents

Some people care more about earning loyalty points than others. You know, the measure by which you make everyday purchases a game, or just love to watch add-up. Some let the points tally up over time, others get — well — fanatical. But for most of us, we check in every once in a while and maybe treat ourselves to a new gadget or even the odd plane ticket. But at the end of the day, are there other worthwhile options out there to save for or burn a trove of points on? Is there anything better one can use them on?

Recently, and just in time for the holidays, American Express asked me to dive into their burgeoning Membership Rewards catalog to hand pick a few items. There’s a lot in there, some of which you may have known or not. Here are a few standouts along with a little insight why that run the gamut — from charity to a coffee machine — that will hopefully provide you some inspiration to get you started. Either way, it’s a good way to think about using those points burning a hole in your pocket.

Leatherman Charge AL

A Leatherman is handy in practically any situation. In fact, they’re so handy I like to keep one at the office, home and car. The Leatherman Charge AL is one of their latest and it offers up a bit, blade or bobble for nearly any scenario — 17 legitimate tools all together. The Charge AL ratchets things up in the x-factor department making everything that much better: bevel edged scissors, diamond-coated files, hard-anodized aluminum handles. And let’s face it, the Charge AL looks killer too.

Learn More: Here (16,100 points)

Sandy Relief

It’s fun to hoard points or miles or any type of loyalty program denominator, but something that’s even more fun is to give them away to someone who really needs them. A lot of fellow New Yorkers were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October and people are still reeling from the aftermath. Donating a handful or trove of points may seem like a small gesture, but every bit counts and it doesn’t cost a dime to do. It’s that simple. If you’re on the fence about where you’d like to spend your points, the answer is simple: give them to those in need.

Learn More: Here

Amazon Kindle

The iPad is a great device to work, watch and play, but when it comes time to really tuck into a book or long read, or even catch up Instapaper bookmarks, the Kindle really rules in gadget appeal. There’s something about its E Ink non-backlit screen that makes turning off the workaholic tendencies easier too. At least for a while. Everything from getting a book to its unbelievable battery life also make the Kindle a no-brainer to use. Plus, it’s a featherweight on the road.

Learn More: Here (18,700 points)

Jura Impressa F50 Classic Coffee Center

Being a consumer of copious amount of coffee, it’s hard not to want a Jura machine. They’re the Maserati of coffee makers. What sets the F50 Classic apart from other automatic behemoths though is a back to basics approach. There’s customization where you want it — like aroma and water temperature — but it makes the confusing stuff — like consistent milk frothing and confusing drinks — a cinch. It even bathes your coffee in amber light as it’s being prepared. The one-touch preparation modes are simpler to operate than ordering with your local overperky barista, which means you’ll never have to leave your house on a cold morning for a perfect Americano or macchiato.

Learn More: Here (236,030 points)

SkyMiles Transfer

At the end of the day, flying is a pretty level playing field. Yes, every airline has their own benefits and downsides, but I’ve thrown in with Delta for a while now and found their routes and frequent flyer program, SkyMiles, to work well (tip: just stick with one and the payoffs will happen). Nearly every Delta continental flight has wi-fi (a must for work) and my Amex gets me access to every Delta lounge as well as others, making it much easier to work at the airport while waiting for a connection or flight. I particularly like the SkyMiles transfer because it’s a 1-to-1 point-to-mile swap so I know exactly what I’m getting. Plus, they even have the occasional promotion that sweetens the pot.

Learn More: Here (1000 points = 1000 miles)