Amex Membership Rewards points are a transferable and flexible points currency which makes them particularly valuable when redeeming for travel rewards. These points can be used for many things, but you can completely maximize their worth by transferring them to one of the Membership Rewards transfer partners.
If you’re a miles and points beginner, knowing how to earn Membership Rewards points and who the Amex airline and hotel transfer partners are is the first step. As you learn, you’ll come to understand how different transfer partners can help you reach specific travel goals and effectively use your American Express points.
In this post about Amex transfer partners, let’s start with the first step.
Which American Express credit cards allow me to earn Membership Rewards points I can transfer to a travel partner?
American Express offers numerous credit card options, but you need to have one or more cards that earn Membership Rewards points and have access to the airline and hotel transfer partners. These credit cards include the list below.
- Everyday Preferred
- Blue Business Plus
- Premier Gold
- Business Gold Rewards
- Platinum (Personal & Business versions)
Who are the American Express transfer partners?
Membership Rewards points transfer to 16 airlines and 3 hotels programs. You’ll notice all 3 airline alliances are represented by the partners, as well. They are as follows.
American Express Airline Partners:
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- ANA (All Nippon Airways)
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- El Al
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Jet Blue
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
American Express Hotel Partners:
- Choice Hotels
- Starwood (SPG)
What’s important to remember is just because these are the Amex travel partners doesn’t mean they’re all good value transfer partners. We’ll talk about transfer ratios in just a second. Before that, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Using your Membership Rewards points with Amex airline partners is almost always the better deal than redeeming for hotel nights.
- Since Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood, 1 Starwood point equals 3 Marriott points. This serves as an indirect route of transferring Amex points to Marriott at an equal transfer ratio. But, if Membership Rewards points are valued at just about 2 cents per point and Marriott points are worth a smidge under 1 cent per point, acting on this indirect transfer route means losing half the value in your American Express rewards points.
- Points transfers can’t be undone. Make sure you’ve linked your accounts correctly and checked for award availability before transferring your points to one of the American Express partners.
What is the transfer ratio for the Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners?
Many of the Amex points transfer partners have a 1:1 ratio as indicated in the chart below.
Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex often has transfer bonuses which offer a specific percentage increase in the number of points being transferred. For example, we transferred Membership Rewards points to JetBlue during a 25% transfer bonus for a last-minute flight to Turks and Caicos. This improved the ratio to 1:1 and turned an unfavorable transfer ratio into a favorable one.
But, what about in the case of Hilton where Amex points transfer at a 1:2 ratio? Start with the math. Hilton points hover around half a cent each so 2 Hilton points are still just 1 cent in value, half what an Amex point is worth. In addition, Amex has a variety of Hilton credit cards which make earning Hilton points easy to do and saves the more valuable Membership Rewards points for something else.
Lastly, the American-based airline partners, including Delta, JetBlue, and Hawaiian, come with an excise fee of $0.0006 per point to paid at the time of transfer.
How long does it take for my American Express points to transfer?
I’ve taken a combination of my own personal experiences and compared them with data points from Flyertalk and others in the miles and points community to create the chart below. But, it’s important to keep in mind these are estimated transfer times.
There isn’t much you can do to make the transfer process go more quickly once you submit the request, but here are a few tips.
- Make sure you’ve given yourself plenty of time to wait out the transfer and get your award booked.
- Link your loyalty program accounts to your Membership Rewards account in advance to not add additional time to your transfer.
- When using an airline transfer partner that’s not instant, call the airline and ask if they’ll hold the award for you. Some will and some won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Have a backup plan in mind, just in case. Transfers are final and it’s gut-wrenching to transfer Amex points to an airline only to no longer find the available award flights.
Who can I transfer my American Express rewards points to?
Membership Rewards points can only be transferred to your travel loyalty accounts and accounts belonging to authorized card users. This applies to spouses, too. Your spouse must be an authorized card user in order to transfer points into his/her travel loyalty accounts.
Some of the Membership Rewards earning cards charge an additional fee per year to add an authorized user. One way around this is to have the no-fee Everyday card and add your spouse or someone else as an authorized user.
What are a few of the best ways to use Amex reward points?
There are so many unforgettable trips you can plan with your Membership Rewards points. You can use some for your Italian honeymoon like I did or plan a family trip to Asia!
The ideas below are just a small peek at what is possible! The more you learn, you’ll know how to maximize these Amex partners and get the most value when you redeem Amex points.
British Airways is great for short-haul flights within the U.S. and Canada. You can also fly from an east coast city like New York or Boston to Dublin for as little as 13k Avios. Looking for fun in the sun? How about west coast to Hawaii for just 25k Avios round trip! Learn more in my British Airways beginner guide.
Virgin Atlantic doesn’t always get the love it deserves because of its high taxes and fees on award tickets. But during a transfer bonus, you can transfer as little as 8k Membership Rewards points and pay around $140 in taxes for a one-way flight to London.
ANA (All Nippon Airways) is a tremendous value for business class round the world itineraries! Starting in the low 100ks, it’s possible to fly to several destinations around the globe for fewer miles than any competitor out there.
How have you used the American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners?
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