Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Wondering about the best ways to redeem Amex points?
You’re in the right place.
American Express Membership Rewards points are arguably the most valuable flexible travel rewards points and certainly among my favorite and treasured points to earn.
So, in this guide, I’m going to highlight some best ways to use Amex points and make some unforgettable travel memories in the process!
Basics to know about How to Use Amex Points
First, let’s cover some basics to make sure we’re all on the same page.
American Express Membership Rewards points are a flexible travel rewards currency that can be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel partners to book award flights and nights.
Membership Rewards transfer partners include airline partners like British Airways, Air France/KLM-Flying Blue, All Nippon Airways, Marriott, and Choice Hotels, among a dozen others. In general, you’ll get the best value for your Amex points when booking award flights.
Points typically transfer at a 1:1 ratio instantly. Although in some cases, the ratio and transfer times may differ. Keep an eye out for bonus transfers when you can get 10-40% more value for your points when transferring Amex points to select partners.
Even more importantly, though, once you transfer Amex points to your selected airline or hotel, you cannot transfer them back. For this reason, you must always check for available award space first and then book as quickly as possible.
Why bother with transferring points at all? You’ll almost always get a better value for your hard-earned Amex points as compared to booking through the Amex travel portal.
How to Transfer Amex Points to Airline Transfer Partners
American Express makes transferring points to transfer partners straightforward. As long as you have a card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can transfer these points to any of the Amex transfer partners.
To start, log in to your American Express account. You’ll land on your main account page where you’ll see the account balance on your default card (assuming you have more than 1 American Express card).
Be sure that the card account you’re seeing first is a Membership Rewards earning card and not a co-branded card like a Hilton or Marriott card.
At the top, you’ll see a menu of options. Choose “Rewards & Benefits.” Then, scroll down a bit to select the “Transfer Points” option. Once you select this tab, you’ll likely see a couple of feature partners. To see all transfer partner possibilities, scroll just below this to “View All.”
From here, you can see the complete list of American Express airline and hotel transfer partners. You’ll see the transfer ratio for each partner, and if you’ve linked your American Express account to that airline or hotel loyalty program in the past, it will say “Enrolled.”
If you haven’t linked your account to the transfer partner you need yet, you’ll be prompted to do so. You’ll need your loyalty program number for that account.
Once you choose the transfer partner you’d like to transfer Amex points to, simply follow the prompts on the page and fill in the required fields to set up your transfer.
You’ll see the transfer ratio again, along with a slider and fields that automatically calculate how many airline or hotel points or miles you’ll have once you transfer your designated number of Membership Rewards points.
On the left side, there is information about the minimum and maximum transfers, as well as the necessary increments to transfer. Typically, this is in 1,000-point increments.
You’ll also see the estimated transfer time. Many transfers happen instantly, however, with partners like Iberia, ANA, and Aeromexico transfers could take between a few hours to a few days to complete.
ProTip: If you’re transferring to a non-instant transfer partner, be sure to have a “Plan B.” Perhaps you found award space on a range of dates and you have the flexibility for when you travel. Or you might even have alternate airports for your departure or arrival.
Once you fill in how many points you’d like to transfer, you’ll be directed to a “Review Transfer” page. From there, you can finalize the details.
Check over everything carefully. Once you transfer American Express points, you can’t transfer them back.
If this is your first time transferring flexible points to a transfer partner, this “How To Transfer Points Guide” explains all the things you should think of and do before you transfer.
How to Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points
Luckily, the American Express Membership Rewards program makes it easy to earn points. There is a portfolio of Membership Rewards point-earning cards for both personal use and small businesses.
I’ve listed a few of my favorite cards below. These cards have an array of benefits and unique bonus categories. So, it’s possible to target different spending to earn the most points possible.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Current Welcome Bonus: 80,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening. Plus, choose your favorite metal Card design!
Favorite Card Features:
- Get Uber VIP Status + $200 each year in the U.S. for Uber rides or eats with monthly statement credits. Uber Cash & Uber VIP Status is only available to the Basic Card Member.
- 5x on flights booked with an airline directly or through Amex Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year
- 5x on prepaid hotels with Amex Travel
- Get $200 back in statement credits every year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts(R) or The Hotel Collection* bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum. (*For The Hotel Collection, a minimum 2-night stay is required.)
- Get through security in a flash with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, entertainment venues, and stadiums nationwide with up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Card. Learn more.
- Get up to $20 in statement credits every month (up to $240 annually) when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card(R) for one or a combo of the following: Disney+; a Disney Bundle, Peacock, ESPN+, SiriusXM, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
- Earn a statement credit of $12.95 for a monthly Walmart+ membership when you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card(R). Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Up Benefits are excluded.
- Choose one qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees charged by the airline paid with your Platinum Card(R).
- Earn up to $300 back each year in statement credits on an Equinox+ subscription, or any Equinox club memberships (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card(R). Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
- Lounge privileges with Priority Pass, Centurion, and others around the globe
- No foreign exchange fees (See rates & fees details)
- Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like Delta, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, and Choice
- Terms Apply
Annual Fee: $695
American Express® Gold Card
Current Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months from your account opening
Favorite Card Features:
- 4x on restaurants worldwide
- 4x on U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 each calendar year, then 1x thereafter
- 3x on flights booked with an airline directly or through Amex Travel
- $120 statement credits ($10 per month) for Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
- $120 statement credits ($10 per month) in Uber Cash for rides
- No foreign exchange fees (See rates & fees details)
- Transfer Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners like Delta, Eithad, and Aeroplan
- Terms Apply
Annual Fee: $250
For a complete listing of cards that earn Amex points, visit my guide about travel rewards credit cards.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Current Welcome Bonus: 0.0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate between 18.49%-26.49% thereafter.
Favorite Card Features:
- 2x American Express Membership Rewards points for up to $50k a year
- Add Amex Offers to the card to earn bonus points and statement credits for qualifying purchases
- Transfer Membership Rewards points to valuable airline and hotel transfer partners including Delta, Aeroplan, Virgin Atlantic, and ANA
- Terms Apply
Annual Fee: $0
For a complete listing of business cards that earn Amex points, visit my guide about business credit cards.
How to Redeem Amex Points for Amazing Travel Experiences
1. QSuites with Qatar or British Airways for 70k Avios One Way
Qatar Airways converting to using Avios as its points currency has undoubtedly been one of the more exciting developments in the miles and points world given that most announcements tend to be devaluations. Instead, we gained flexibility and competitive pricing for one of the most coveted flying experiences, QSuites on Qatar Airways.
Not only can you move your British Airways Avios to your Qatar Avios account and vice versa as has been possible with Iberia, but British Airways also modified its award pricing to align more closely with Qatar’s own pricing. British Airways has also lowered its notoriously high taxes and fees when booking an award flight operated by Qatar.
This means that you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Qatar or British Airways and then book QSuites through either airline directly.
Why book through one airline over the other? For direct routes, like New York’s JFK-Doha, the price will be nearly the same. However, if you’re connecting from Doha or adding a segment to your route, BA’s pricing will likely be higher given their distance-based, per-segment pricing model as opposed to looking at the complete journey as a whole.
From U.S. airports like New York JFK, Los Angeles (LAX), Miami, San Francisco, Atlanta, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas-Fort Worth, you can fly one-way to Doha (DOH) in QSuites for just 70k Avios and about $100 in taxes and fees! This is an excellent value for a flight that costs thousands of dollars one-way.
Want to connect from Doha? It’s just a total 85k Avios to the Maldives, 75k to Dubai, and 80k to Cairo for what’ll likely be one of the best one-way flights you’ve ever flown. Not to mention also being arguably the best use of Amex points, hands down!
How to Book:
Log in to your Qatar Airways or British Airways Executive Club account and search for the QSuite route you need. Be flexible! QSuites are highly coveted. Consider repositioning to another airport. It’s worth it for the flying experience.
One advantage to booking through Qatar Airways is their award calendar opens up 10 days earlier than British Airways will see the partner availability. If you plan to connect from Doha, booking with Qatar Airways directly is likely to be cheaper than BA.
2. Miami to Quito, Ecuador for 11k Avios One Way
Continuing with British Airways, another of their Oneworld Alliance partners is American Airlines. This means you can book American Airlines flights through British Airways using BA Avios.
With British Airways’ distance-based award pricing, it’s possible to book flights from Miami (a hub with many AA-operated flights) to South American destinations for super cheap.
Ecuador is a fantastic example…and destination! Quito’s historic old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with colorful architecture, beautiful churches, and a lot of interesting history.
From Quito, you can access all the biodiversity Ecuador has to offer. Take one of the many popular day trips from Quito to places like Cotopaxi National Park, the cloud forests of Mindo, the Equator Museum, and Otavalo. From Ecuador, you can even plan time in the Amazon Rainforest or head to the bucket-list-worthy Galapagos Islands. (More on this below.)
Got Machu Picchu on your list? Miami to Lima is just 13k Avios one way! Cartagena in Columbia is just 9k Avios one way from Miami!
South America is definitely calling!
How to Book:
You’ll need to log in to your British Airways account and search for the specific routes operated by American Airlines, i.e. Miami to Quito. If there is SAAver award availability, BA’s search results will show these award flights. If you find what you’re looking for, book the American Airlines-operated flight directly on the British Airways website.
Note, though, that it was easy to first search on the AA website to identify dates with SAAver space before replicating the search on the BA website. However, with AA’s dynamic pricing, it’s harder to know which flights have SAAver space and which don’t. If your search on BA is coming up with no availability, try searching with ExpertFlyer or use alliance partner Qantas’ website with its calendar view to cast a wider net for dates with available award space.
ProTip: Prefer some beach relaxation instead of hiking to ruins or through the jungle in South America? You can get to the Caribbean for super cheap with Avios as well! From Miami, fly to islands like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and St. Lucia to name a few for cheaper than what American Airlines would charge for the exact same flights.
3. Quito to Galapagos for as little as 8k Avianca LifeMiles
Did someone say Galapagos?! This volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean tops many a travel wish list. With plentiful natural beauty and the land and sea wildlife, some of which are only found in the Galapagos, outnumbering human inhabitants, these islands offer a laundry list of unforgettable experiences.
The best part is you don’t have to break the bank crossing this destination off your bucket list! You can cheaply get to Ecuador with miles and from there spend as little as 8,000 Avianca LifeMiles to get from Quito to San Cristobal. If you find flights to Baltra, the gateway to Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos you might see prices slightly lower and starting at just 7,200 Avianca LifeMiles for a one-way flight.
How to Book:
Log into your Avianca Lifemiles account. From there, you’re able to search and book directly through Avianca. You want to use the Lifemiles website and then click on “Travel” to do your award search. Also note, the website can be glitchy. Be patient and persistent as you search for award space.
ProTip: Avianca is a Star Alliance member along with United and Aeroplan Air Canada. Avianca-operated flights will show on these airline websites as well. However, you’ll pay the price set by United or Aeroplan, even if Avianca has a cheaper price on its website. Still, it’s a good practice to compare among alliance partners to ensure you’re booking the best price possible for the miles and points you have.
4. ANA to Southern South America for 88k miles in Business Class
For those of you looking to explore further south into South America, like perhaps planning a trip to Patagonia, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has one of the best award redemptions.
Many airlines divide South America into 2 regions, northern South America and southern South America. ANA, though, prices South America as a single region.
You can fly round trip to a city like Santiago, Chile for just 55k ANA miles in economy and, even better, for only 88k ANA miles in business class. Santiago can be your gateway to Patagonia, as it was mine.
Honestly, this is one of the best ways to redeem Amex points. Flying from North America to South America is a lot farther away than it may seem! The value of having a comfortable, lie-flat seat cannot be overstated.
How to Book:
ANA is a member of the Star Alliance along with United and Avianca. And even though ANA does not fly a route from the United States to southern South America, its partners do. When you search on ANA’s website, available United and Avianca award seats will show in the result should there be availability.
ANA’s website has a bit of a learning curve. To start, I go to the ANA-US homepage and log in to your ANA Mileage Club account. With the “Reservations” tab highlighted, select “Flight Awards” and then “Award Reservation.” A new tab will open with the search fields you need to complete. For better results, check the box to search +/- 3 days.
Upon finding the flights on the ANA website, click the “Next” button to continue the process and complete your booking. Remember, when booking an ANA award ticket, you must book a round-trip flight.
5. Delta Flash Sales
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Delta’s award pricing can be laughably overpriced, especially for premium seat awards! You’re not wrong. There have been many times I’ve searched on Delta’s website to run price comparisons and seen absolutely insane pricing. It’s the reason why I don’t work to earn a huge stash of Delta SkyMiles.
However, periodically, Delta will run flash sales on award flights for both domestic and international destinations.
These sales come with a specified period to travel, specific home airports, and of course, destinations. For example, a flash sale price may be good for travel during October and November from New York’s JFK airport to select European cities.
If you have the travel flexibility to capitalize on one of these deals, it’s possible to book a fantastic award flight and get great value from your American Express points.
In fact, it’s one of the best ways to save on travel, in general, whether you pay with cash or miles. Let the destination choose you!
And while you do pay a $0.0006 per point excise tax (capped at $99) when you transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to a domestic airline, the flash sale makes it well worth it.
How does 11k Delta SkyMiles sound for a round-trip ticket from the U.S. to Mexico? Or flying in Delta One for less than 100k SkyMiles round trip to places in Europe or even Japan?!
For example, I once snagged a nonstop round-trip award flight from NYC-JFK to Milan for only 34k Delta SkyMiles. To compare, most airlines routinely charge double the price for a standard round trip economy seat from the U.S. to Europe.
And on top of the amazing pricing, the benefit of flying into a central and well-connected city like Milan means you’re just a train ride from places like the Cinque Terre, Florence, or even another country, like Switzerland.
How to Book:
Follow travel bloggers and deal bloggers, as well as Delta, to find out about these flash sales as soon as they are discovered. Then, search and book directly on the Delta website as quickly as you can.
6. ANA to South Africa for 104k in Business Class
If you love animals as I do, safaris are what dreams are made of. It’s an unbelievable experience to see wildlife in its natural habitat but the unpredictability of what you’ll see when you arrive makes each safari trip its own unique adventure.
Safaris also have the reputation of being prohibitively expensive. While this isn’t always the case as my Okavango Experience in Botswana proved, there’s often no getting around the need to pay for national park fees and professional guides.
But this is why I love miles and points so much! You can use them to offset a huge cost (airfare) when planning your African safari. There are a lot of different ways to get to South Africa with miles but booking through ANA is the sweet spot.
For just 104k ANA miles, you can fly round trip in business class to South Africa from the United States. If you’re ok flying in economy, it’s only 65k ANA miles…round trip!
How to Book:
As mentioned above, ANA’s website isn’t the most intuitive until you get the hang of it. But once you’re logged in and on the award search screen, it’s straightforward to enter your flight search details.
ANA search hack! Always check the box to search +/- 3 days to see a wider view of availability and avoid having the website tell you there’s no availability. ANA will return a no availability message even if there are seats for one of the ways because it only searches award flights in round trips.
Also, watch out for fees! ANA passes on award ticket fees and some can be quite eye-popping. However, the key is to look for flights operated by partners like United, Ethiopian Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Air Canada, and perhaps even Turkish Airlines to keep the fees within a justifiable amount.
If you can’t remember which Star Alliance partner airlines come with higher fees when booking via ANA, experiment by clicking on different airline itineraries to see how the cost of the taxes and fees fluctuates.
7. Europe in Business Class
What better way to arrive well-rested and ready for that long-awaited European trip than on a trans-Atlantic flight in business class where you can sleep in a lie-flat bed? With your Amex points, it’s possible and, luckily, several options stand out above the rest.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is finding available Delta One seats on the Virgin Atlantic website for just 50k Virgin Atlantic points one-way. However, we all know how rare rainbows are and, that when one appears, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow seems even more elusive. Bottom line? If you stumble upon Delta One availability through Virgin Atlantic, book it immediately and then go buy yourself a lottery ticket.
All hope isn’t lost though with Virgin Atlantic! Partners like Air France and KLM, as well as more recently ITA, release award space to Virgin Atlantic. This can be a great alternative, especially for business class.
Similarly, it’s also worth a look at Air France and KLM directly. While at times pricing for a one-way flight in business class can be ludicrously astronomical (200k+!), there are times when you can find one-way business class seats on Air France or KLM for just 55k Flying Blue miles.
Another way to redeem Amex points to fly business class to Europe is with ANA. The Japanese All Nippon Airways is part of the Star Alliance which has a lot of partners with routes throughout Europe.
When you book a round trip flight in business class with one of their Star Alliance partners like United, Turkish, Air Canada, LOT Polish Airlines, or TAP Air Portugal, you can fly for just 88k miles and have low taxes and fees! Given that an airline like United would charge nearly double to fly the exact same business class seats, 88k miles via ANA for business class to Europe is an absolute steal!
Lastly, don’t forget about Avianca which is also an American Express transfer partner. If you can persevere through the airline’s infamously glitchy website, you might just find one-way business class seats to Europe for just 63k Avianca LifeMiles with one of their Star Alliance partners like Swiss Air or United.
How to Book:
As you may have already guessed, finding award availability for business class seats to Europe is competitive. EVERYONE is looking for these seats, especially during busy travel periods. Regardless of which option you go with, book as far in advance as you can and be as flexible as you can.
For Delta One and other SkyTeam availability, check on Virgin Atlantic’s website and/or directly with Air France or KLM.
To book award flights using ANA or Avianca miles, search and book directly through each airline’s respective website.
ProTip: While it’s not business class, I have flown Premium Economy with Air France and Delta and thought it was quite comfortable and a solidly better experience overall than flying economy. It’s an option to consider if you’re not finding business class seats for your travel dates.
8. Iberia Business Class to Spain for 68k Avios…Round Trip!
This business class to Spain option on Iberia stands out because the total price for a round trip is in some cases less than what other airlines charge one-way!
During Iberia’s off-peak pricing period (which is the majority of the year), you can fly from NYC-JFK, Boston, Chicago, and even Washington, D.C. to Madrid for as little as 34k Avios one-way or 68k Avios round trip. Even if Madrid isn’t your final destination, it’s easy to take trains to places like Barcelona or Seville to access other parts of the country.
Taxes are roughly between $120-140 each way, which is a bit higher than you would pay if you booked this same flight through American Airlines, Iberia’s Oneworld Alliance partner. However, American Airlines would also charge nearly 60k AA miles (and sometimes more depending on dynamic pricing) for the same one-way business class seat on Iberia.
How to Book:
There are a few options to book this award seat, which is great because Iberia’s website isn’t always the most user-friendly.
The first option is to log in to your Iberia account on the Iberia website. Enter your search criteria and check the box “Pay with Avios.” Once the results are returned, Iberia will show a week-long strip of availibility, however it highlights economy pricing, as does their calendar view. You could select a few different dates to check for business class availability. You could also encounter some glitches when you start asking Iberia’s tech to do too much.
Alternatively, you could try to use the calendar view on American Airlines’ website to search for Iberia award flights and then return to Iberia’s website to search using the dates you discovered. This can also be hit or miss, however.
Another option though, given British Airways also uses Avios and is partners with Iberia, is to search for and book your Iberia flight on the British Airways website. BA’s award cost and fees for this flight are now the same as you’d see on Iberia’s website. Plus, British Airways’ website is a less frustrating experience.
ProTip: Considering Ireland instead of Spain? Did you know you can fly to Ireland for as little as 13k Avios each way in economy and 50k Avios each way in business class during off-peak times of the year? Avios can move between your Avios earning account (i.e. British Airways Avios to Aer Lingus, Iberia, or Qatar Airways!) so you can book through Aer Lingus or even British Airways directly. Just be sure to compare taxes and fees to ensure you book for the best deal!
9. Hawaii Starting at 24k Avios…Round Trip!
This award flight deal specifically applies to travelers on the U.S. west coast. But, depending on the time of year you want to visit Hawaii, it could make a lot of sense to position to the west coast from wherever you are to book one of these deals.
Let’s face it. Hawaii is on almost everyone’s bucket list. Award space to one of the islands is competitive and can come with high prices, thanks to dynamic pricing of award tickets. That’s why it can pay off to use your Singapore Airline miles or your British Airways Avios to fly with miles and points to Hawaii. Of course, both can be transferred from your American Express Membership Rewards balance!
Nope, these airlines don’t fly to Hawaii, themselves. But they have partners who do. Singapore Airlines is partners with Alaska Airlines and British Airways is partners with American Airlines. (Just for reference, Alaska Airlines is also a member of the Oneworld Alliance along with AA and BA.)
Singapore Airlines and British Airways price these award flights to Hawaii a lot better than you’re likely to find on American or Alaska Airlines. So it can pay off to understand airline alliances and partnerships!
For as little as 24k Singapore KrisFlyer miles or 26k British Airways Avios, you can fly round trip in economy to Hawaii from places like Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Portland, San Francisco, and Anchorage.
How to Book:
The easiest way to book among these two sweet spots is to search and book through British Airways. If there’s availability on either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, it’ll show on BA’s website. Remember that even though BA has its booking calendar open through a certain date, partner airlines may lag several weeks behind in releasing their space for all airline partners to see.
If you’re up for a bit of a challenge and want to save 2k Amex points per person, make an attempt to book through Singapore Airlines. First, search on British Airways for Alaska Airlines availability. You need direct flights flown by Alaska Airlines for this to work.
Record all the flight information like dates, airports, and flight numbers. Then, call or chat online with a Singapore Airlines agent. It’s likely you won’t find an agent at first who can get this booking done for you. But keep trying with different agents because you’re likely to find someone who can eventually see the award space you’re seeing and get the award booked for you.
10. Tokyo in Business Class…Yes Please!
Your American Express points come with a couple of great ways to get to Japan in comfort!
Other than Marriott which comes with a 3:1 transfer ratio to ANA, American Express is the only flexible points program with ANA as a transfer partner.
As we’ve already seen in this guide, ANA has some stellar redemptions and that includes to its hub city, Tokyo. ANA’s award chart is split into 3 time periods, low, regular, and high season. Award pricing varies according to these calendar divisions. But, for just 75k, 85k, or 90k ANA miles respectively, you can book round-trip business class flights to Japan!
Keep in mind, ANA isn’t just another airline. They are known for being one of the best business class experiences in the sky. And when you consider that booking the same flights through a Star Alliance partner could cost as many miles each way, you’ll rest even easier as you fly over the Pacific.
The downside? ANA can come with high taxes and fees. Although they do adjust periodically based on gas prices, they can still be quite high.
Virgin Atlantic is also a partner with ANA, as well as an Amex transfer partner. You can also book flights on ANA via Virgin Atlantic for 90k-95k Virgin Atlantic points round trip.
Why consider this when ANA itself might seem cheaper? Amex typically offers 25-30% transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic a couple of times each year, meaning you’ll need to transfer fewer Amex points. ANA requires round-trip itineraries on award tickets. When booking through Virgin Atlantic, though, you can book one way on ANA.
How to Book:
You can search and book directly on ANA’s website if you’re paying with ANA miles. You might think the trickiest part of this booking is navigating the airline’s website. However, keep in mind, that Amex points take about 2-3 days to transfer to ANA. You can speak to an agent and ask if they’ll hold an award for you, however, this can be hit or miss. So, it’s best to search for a few dates with availability and be flexible just in case the award space you want disappears before your ANA miles arrive in your account.
If you’re booking through Virgin Atlantic, you won’t be able to search or book through Virgin Atlantic’s website. Instead, go to an ANA Star Alliance partner website like United or Air Canada/Aeroplan and search for award space to Tokyo operated by ANA.
Once you find the space you want, you’ll need to call Virgin Atlantic to book the award. As someone who tries to avoid making actual phone calls, this is a lot more straightforward than it sounds because Virgin Atlantic’s agents are knowledgeable about booking this award.
ProTip: Looking to fly to Japan super cheap and willing to go in economy? Check on the British Airways website for award availability from west coast airports like Los Angeles or Seattle to Tokyo via a Oneworld partner like American Airlines or more preferably, Japan Airlines. You’ll pay just 25,750 Avios one-way + $280-ish in fees.
11. ANA US to Australia
Finding award space to Australia, especially premium space is not easy. There are only so many direct flights to Australia from the U.S. and, of course, everyone wants the best possible seat given how long the flight is. The next best options are to connect in a place like Japan, Singapore, or even possibly, Hawaii and to book your award seats as soon as the award calendar for your travel dates opens. This will be nearly a year in advance.
Luckily, your American Express Membership Rewards points can help achieve this coveted award space for your bucket list trip to Australia. Their transfer partner ANA has excellent pricing for a round-trip business class seat to Australia
ANA is a member of the Star Alliance along with United Airlines. United operates several routes to Australia from Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. ANA will charge 120k miles for a round-trip business class seat on one of United’s direct flights to Australia. Even better, ANA’s taxes and fees are low for United-operated flights.
If you fly on ANA itself and connect in Japan, the pricing varies depending on whether it’s low, regular, or high season according to ANA’s award chart calendar. Low and regular season dates are 105k and 115k miles, respectively, round trip in business class from the U.S. to Australia with a connection in Japan. High season award pricing is 210k miles for round-trip business class.
Compare this with United’s own pricing for business class seats to Australia at 250k, 300k, and more, and the phenomenal deal that is booking through ANA becomes crystal clear! In one case, United even wanted 300k miles in a mixed cabin itinerary where the segment from Tokyo to Sydney was in economy. For context, that’s still a 9 1/2-hour flight!
How to Book:
As mentioned above, ANA’s website isn’t the most user-friendly until you get the hang of it. You can log in to your ANA account and search for award availability using the +/- 3 days feature to help see a range of dates.
You can also search on United or Air Canada Aeroplan websites for award space. Once you find what you need (fingers crossed!), replicate the search on ANA. It’s also worth calling ANA to have an agent help you replicate the search but also so you can ask for an award hold to allow time for your Amex points to transfer.
12. Aeroplan remote Canadian destinations like Yukon or the Northwest Territories
For something a bit more off-the-beaten-path, how about using your American Express points transferred to a partner like Air Canada Aeroplan to reach some of Canada’s northern highlights!?
Places like Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Churchill, or Newfoundland can be expensive to reach! Short-haul flights (1-3 hours) can sell for thousands of dollars round trip during peak season. Typically, airports to these places have limited flights and carriers who service these routes. So, in the absence of any competition, the cash price can soar.
Luckily, you can transfer Amex points to Aeroplan, the loyalty program for Air Canada to book these flights. And if Air Canada doesn’t fly the route directly, they often have smaller non-alliance airline partners who do. For example, Calm Air goes between Winnipeg and Churchill. They’re the only airline to fly this route and they’re also partners with Air Canada.
Pricing is calculated by miles flown and can be as low as 6k Aeroplan points one-way in economy or 15k for business class. In peak season, this can amount to an incredible cents per-point value!
So, whether you’re hoping to explore the Yukon by flying into Whitehorse, see the northern lights in Yellowknife, go on a polar bear safari in Churchill, or hop between Canada’s Eastern Maritimes to spot whales and icebergs, your Membership Rewards points transferred to Air Canada-Aeroplan can help you save a lot of cash!
How to Book:
Log in to your Aeroplan account to search for award availability on flights operated by Air Canada. In some cases, non-alliance partners are also searchable and bookable through the Aeroplan website.
However, some airlines, like Calm Air with its flights to Churchill, won’t appear. You’ll have to call Calm Air directly and ask an agent to search for availability when paying with Aeroplan points. If you’re in luck, then Calm Air will handle the details to get the award flight booked.
Lastly, it’s worth remembering that Delta is an American Express transfer partner, too. Delta partners with WestJet, an airline with routes throughout Canada. If the route you’re hoping to book is flown by both Air Canada and WestJet, it’s worth doing a price comparison to make sure you get the best deal for your points.
ProTip: To reach some of these Canadian locations, you’ll need to first fly to a main city nearby, for example, Winnipeg or Montreal. If American Airlines operates the route, compare pricing with their partner, British Airways. Short-haul flights operated by AA but booked through BA can be an excellent value!
American Express Membership Rewards points are arguably the most valuable flexible travel rewards points to earn. With the variety of airline and hotel partners and so many travel possibilities, redeeming Amex points for a terrific trip to wherever you’ve been dreaming of is just a few clicks away!
So, what are your questions about the best way to use Amex points?
Like this post? Please share on social media using the share buttons in this post.