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Like some other credit card issuers, American Express has a proprietary rewards currency, called Membership Rewards. One of the things that makes Membership Rewards points so valuable is their ability to transfer to a variety of hotel and airline partners. In fact, transferring your Membership Rewards points to hotel and airline partners is often the best way to use Membership Rewards points.
In this article, we'll explore why Amex transfer partners are so valuable, how to transfer Amex points and where you should transfer your hard-earned points for maximum value.
Amex airline partners
American Express has 19 different airline transfer partners, spanning all three major airline alliances. While all of these American Express transfer partners can have value under the right circumstances, you're likely to get the best bang for your buck with the following partners:
- Star Alliance - Singapore KrisFlyer or Air Canada Aeroplan
- SkyTeam - Air France / KLM Flying Blue or Delta SkyMiles
- oneworld - British Airways Avios
- Non-alliance - Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Remember that in many cases you can use a program's miles to fly on ANY of their alliance or other partners. So even if you don't want to fly to Singapore, Singapore KrisFlyer miles can be used all around the world, including redeeming as few as 11,500 KrisFlyer miles to fly from the U.S. to Hawaii.
Most Amex airline partners transfer at a ratio of 1,000 Membership Rewards points to 1,000 airline miles.
|Aer Lingus AerClub||None||1,000:1,000|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Star Alliance||1,000:1,000|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||SkyTeam||1,000:1,000|
|ANA Mileage Club||Star Alliance||1,000:1,000|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Star Alliance||1,000:1,000|
|British Airways Executive Club (Avios)||oneworld||1,000:1,000|
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles||oneworld||1,000:1,000|
|Delta SkyMiles *||SkyTeam||1,000:1,000|
* - denotes 0.06 cent per point excise fee charged to transfer points.
Is an Amex card worth it if you don't transfer points to airline partners?
To get a higher value from your Amex points, you’ll need to transfer them to an outside loyalty program. Otherwise, for most Membership Rewards cards, your points are worth 1 cent each at most when redeemed through Amex travel. Our advice is to do the math to figure out how many points you’re likely to earn and how much those points are worth for your target redemption option. You might decide that a straightforward rewards card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a better option.
One important thing to note that is unique to American Express among all transferable points currencies: If you transfer Membership Rewards points to a U.S.-based airline (Delta, JetBlue or Hawaiian), Amex charges a fee of 0.06 cents per point transferred, with a maximum fee of $99. This is to offset the federal excise fee that is charged on such transfers.
Amex hotel partners
Amex has three hotel partners where you can transfer points.
Generally it is not recommended to transfer Membership Rewards to hotel partners. We estimate Membership Rewards are worth between 1 to 3 cents per point on average. Hotel points, on the other hand, are only worth between 0.5 and 0.7 cents per point. Even with the increased transfer rate to Hilton Honors, there are only some situations where it makes sense to transfer Membership Rewards points to hotel points.
The best Amex transfer partners
Let's take a closer look at some of the best American Express transfer partners, which we picked based on the value of their awards and their plentiful redemption options:
Home country: Singapore
Major hubs: Singapore (SIN)
Airline alliance: Star Alliance
Singapore's KrisFlyer program is a powerful one, no matter if you are looking for domestic flights within the United States or luxury flights across the world. Singapore recently revamped their already impressive Suites Class, improving a product that was already one of the best ultra-premium products around.
On the opposite side of the price spectrum, you can use Singapore KrisFlyer miles to fly within the United States and Canada on Star Alliance partner United Airlines. Depending on where you live within the United States, you can fly to Hawaii for as few as 11,500 KrisFlyer miles, just over half of the 22,500 miles it would take if you use United MileagePlus miles. Plus, Singapore is one of the few frequent flyer programs that allows you to transfer all of the major transferable points currencies (Citi ThankYou points, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One miles). That makes it easier to consolidate balances from multiple different accounts for an epic trip.
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Home country: France/Netherlands
Major hubs: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Airline alliance: SkyTeam
Flying Blue, the loyalty program for Air France and KLM, can be another great transfer partner for your Membership Rewards points. Flying Blue is another loyalty program that lets you transfer all of the major transferable points currencies, which makes consolidating your account balances easier.
Air France and KLM are members of the SkyTeam global airline alliance. With Flying Blue miles, one sweet spot is domestic flights on Delta Air Lines. Sometimes Flying Blue charges fewer miles than Delta (who is also an Amex partner) for the exact same flight. Transferring your miles to Flying Blue rather than Delta can be a good way to save Membership Rewards points, not to mention the 0.06 cent excise tax fee.
Another good use of Flying Blue miles are their monthly promo awards. Each month, Air France/KLM announces certain routes that are on promotion for a reduced award cost. These promo awards can be for economy, premium economy or business class flights, and represent a great way to stretch your miles and points a bit further.
British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
Home country: United Kingdom
Major hubs: London Heathrow (LHR)
Airline alliance: oneworld
British Airways Executive Club is usually the best transfer partner for oneworld alliance flights, including those on American Airlines. British Airways has a distance-based award chart, which offers the best value on short flights, especially close to the flight date, when cash prices usually rise. Within North America, it only costs 7,500 Avios to fly up to 1,150 flown miles one way.
Another sweet spot with British Airways is from the West Coast of the U.S. to Hawaii. Using British Airways Executive Club, it only costs 13,000 Avios to fly non-stop from several cities on the West Coast to Hawaii on either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. That represents a significant savings over what it would cost to use American AAdvantage or Alaska MileagePlan miles on the exact same flights.
Home country: United States of America
Major hubs: Atlanta (ATL)
Airline alliance: SkyTeam
Delta Air Lines can be another good Amex transfer partner, especially if you are able to take advantage of one of their regular award sales. American Express is the only major transferable currency that transfers to Delta. So if you're looking to top up your SkyMiles bonus, you'll need to do it with Membership Rewards points.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Home country: United Kingdom
Major hubs: London Heathrow (LHR)
Airline alliance: None
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is not a member of an airline alliance, but it does have several useful partners. Delta Air Lines is one of them — in many cases, you can book the same flight for fewer Flying Club miles than SkyMiles. If you're looking to fly Delta, it pays to check Virgin Atlantic (and Flying Blue) before transferring Membership Rewards points to Delta.
Another benefit with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points is their partnership with ANA. Even though ANA is also a Membership Rewards partner, Virgin Atlantic can be a great option for flying ANA premium cabins. It costs only 110,000-120,000 Flying Club points to fly ANA first class from the continental U.S. to Japan, compared with 150,000-165,000 miles if you use ANA's own miles.
How to transfer Membership Rewards points
An American Express points transfer to airline or hotel partners is fairly straightforward:
- To transfer Membership Rewards points, first log in to your American Express account online. Under Rewards, choose Transfer Points and you will be shown the listing of all available American Express transfer partners.
- If this is your first time transferring Membership Rewards points, you will need to first link your hotel or airline loyalty account. The name on your hotel or airline account must match either your name or the name of an authorized user on your credit card account. You will also need both the four-digit card ID on the front of your American Express account as well as the three-digit security code on the back of the card. As long as the names match, linking your frequent flyer account usually happens instantaneously.
- Once you've linked your Membership Rewards account to your frequent flyer loyalty account, you're ready to transfer Membership Rewards points. In most cases, you must transfer Membership Rewards points in 1,000-point increments, and the process is not reversible. That is to say, once you transfer your Membership Rewards points to a hotel or airline loyalty program, it is not possible to transfer those points back to American Express. In most cases, the transfer happens within a few minutes, but in some cases it can take a few days.
For more information about transfer time to specific loyalty programs, check out our complete guide to how long it takes to transfer Membership Rewards points.
Amex transfer bonuses
American Express occasionally offers transfer bonuses to specific airline or hotel programs. These Amex transfer bonuses can either be available to the general public, or targeted to individual cardholders. Amex transfer bonuses usually range from 20% to 50%, and last for a few months.
Here's an example of the current American Express point transfer bonuses:
|Aer Lingus AerClub||N/A||N/A|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||N/A||N/A|
|Air France / KLM Flying Blue||N/A||N/A|
|ANA Mileage Club||N/A||N/A|
|British Airways Avios||N/A||N/A|
|Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles||N/A||N/A|
Which American Express cards allow you to transfer points?
Unlike some of the other transferable points currencies, almost any American Express card that earns Membership Rewards will allow you to transfer points. American Express has a wide array of cards that earn Membership Rewards — from the $0-annual-fee The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express to the ultra-premium The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.||$695|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.||$695|
|American Express® Business Gold Card||Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*||$295|
|American Express® Gold Card||60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.||$250|
|The American Express® Green Card||45,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.||$150|
|The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express||Earn 15,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $2,000 in purchases in your first 6 months of account opening.||$95|
|Business Green Rewards Card from American Express||Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95; waived the first year|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases in your first 6 months||$0|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.||No annual fee|
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here
For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For even more ways to earn Membership Rewards, check out our complete guide on how to earn American Express Membership Rewards points.
The information related to The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Green Card, Business Green Rewards Card from American Express, American Express® Business Gold Card, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.