Advertising Disclosure: Links and credit card offers on this page may earn us a small commission. They never influence what we cover but they do keep the lights on. Learn More
In this article
This is a Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points
Want to know where you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points? The chart below will give you information on both all of your transfer options as well as the expected transfer times.
American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners and Transfer Times
|American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners||Last Updated October 2020|
|Transfer Ratio||Approximate Transfer Time *|
|Aeromexico||1:1.6 (1,000 Amex = 1,600 Aeromexico)||~4-7 days|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1:1||Instant|
|Air France Flying Blue||1:1||Instant|
|ANA||1 : 1 (transfers only from Amex and Marriott)||~2-3 days|
|British Airways Avios||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1||~1-2 days|
|Delta||1:1 (subject to excise tax; waived in 2020)||Instant|
|El Al Matmid||1,000:20 (Partnership ends Dec 31, 2020)||Instant|
|Hawaiian Airlines||1:1 (transfers only from Amex and Marriott; subject to excise tax; waived in 2020)||Instant|
|Iberia Avios||1:1||~1-2 days|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||250 : 200 (subject to excise tax; waived in 2020)||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||~ 1-2 days|
Best Uses for American Express Membership Rewards Points
Everyone uses points differently, but the best redemptions from a pure “cents per point” perspective will always be using the airline transfer partners.
The hotel partners are tougher to extract value out of because of the poor transfer ratios, although when Hilton is bonused to a 1:3 ratio, there can be value there.
I’ll also note that those with a Business Platinum Card from American Express have the option to spend their points on flights with a 35% rebate which works out to roughly 1.5 cents per point.
As far as the airline transfer partners, here are my favorite ways to transfer my Amex points:
Transferring points to ANA probably means you are at least an intermediate or higher “points player.” It’s also probably the best way to extract value out of your American Express Membership Rewards. For 125,000 miles (meaning 125,000 Membership Rewards transferred to ANA), you could fly over 20,000 miles in Business Class. As a Star Alliance member, your segments can be on any Star Alliance carrier. You could fly to Europe, on to the Middle East, on to Asia, and all the way home for less than some carriers charge for a one way flight! Of course, you’ll need to find award availability for all of your segments to book (I recommend using the United search engine for this) and then call ANA to book.
The rules for the RTW using ANA miles are:
- The required mileage is calculated according to the total mileage of all segments (including connections)
- You must cross both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans (once each).
- You must go in one direction (west or east) and cyou cannot backtrack.
- You may have up to 8 stopovers. (No more than 3 stopovers are allowed within Europe and up to 4 stopovers total are allowed within Japan.)
- Your trip must last at least 10 days.
- You can have a maximum of 12 flight sectors, which can have a max of 4 ground transport sectors (i.e. you transit from one airport to another between flights).
The required miles are:
ANA is also the cheapest round trip from the US to Europe at 88,000 miles, though with some caveats.
Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is in the Star Alliance (alongside United) and also can access Etihad Airways awards. In November of 2020, the award chart is changing. The points required will go up a bit, while award surcharges will go down. The ability to spend just 5,000 more miles to add a stopover on a one-way award is fantastic and the rates remain competitive with the best of all possible options on most Star Alliance awards. You can also add a lap infant to an Aeroplan award for just $100 CAD in Business or $125 CAD in First. Compare that to most programs which require 10% of the cash fare and you’ll see why many love to redeem via Aeroplan. Miles expire after 18 months of no activity but any activity will extend the miles by 18 more months.
Amex frequently has transfer bonuses of 30% to Virgin Atlantic, which can make a good deal even better. The two best uses of Virgin Atlantic points are 1) Round trip to Japan on ANA in Business or First Class. Round trip in First is just 110,000 – 120,000 miles, which is absolutely fantastic for more than 24 hours in ANA First Class, and 2) Delta flights. You can book a transcon to/from NYC and LAX/SFO for just 22,500 Virgin Atlantic points. And you can book a Delta operated flight in Business class to Europe for 50,000 Virgin points. Neither has any surcharges, either, though if you were to fly from Europe to the US one way, that would have large surcharges. Asia would be 60,000 miles in Business Class. All of these prices are just a fraction of what Delta’s own Skymiles would charge to book the same flights. You can also now book Air France and KLM flights with Virgin points.
The Cathay Pacific program is great to have in your back pocket for Oneworld awards. If you don’t have American AAdvanatge miles (and no bank points transfer there – only Marriott Bonvoy) Cathay’s AsiaMiles is often the next best option on longhaul flights. AsiaMiles are also a better way to book British Airways longhaul premium cabins. Mixed cabin award itineraries can be a great use of AsiaMiles, with long segments in business or first connecting to a short flight in a lower cabin can be much cheaper than flying the same cabin class all the way through.
British Airways Avios
Due to their distance-based award chart, Avios are excellent for short-haul awards on Oneworld carriers like American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines and Qantas. Note that when you book an award with little to no tax (like AA awards domestically [$5.60 per segment] or JAL awards within Japan [$0], you can cancel for just the loss of your taxes. Else, awards are $55 to cancel. You can also freely transfer and combine your BA, Iberia, and Aer Lingus Avios via avios.com.
Hawaiian used to have good availability on their non-stop from New York to Honolulu, but awards at the low 40,000 mile level are exceedingly rare these days. Still, it’s the only way to book those awards with bank points. (Note: You’ll pay a $0.0006 per mile to transfer to domestic carriers, max of $99)
You can transfer from any bank point into Singapore and that’s what’s great – the combinability from all of your various bank points to get to an award. You can only book long haul awards in First and Business on Singapore metal with Singapore’s KrisFlyer miles.
Useful for booking awards on American Airlines transcons in a premium cabin for just 25,000 miles. Also for booking AA to Europe in First of Business for 50,000 miles. Want to go to Casablanca? That’s just 44,000 Etihad miles in Business on Royal Air Maroc. All partner awards require a phone call to book.
Not often a great deal since Skymiles is an opaque program with notoriously high rates. However, you’ll find great deals from time to time. For example I paid just 12,000 Skymiles last year to fly New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia when the cash fare was over $1,000. So, it’s good to have an optional way to get more Skymiles beyond the Delta Skymiles credit cards.
Useful for booking award flights with no surcharges when they are charged by most other carriers. An example is Lufthansa to Europe for 63,000 in Business class or 87,000 miles in First Class. Here are more details on the best ways to spend Avianca Lifemiles. But also read: LifeMiles Awards – Changes and Cancellations: What You Need to Know.
If you are trying to fly on Emirates, it used to be recommended to book literally any other way. But now that, for example, New York to Dubai in Business Class would incur just $161.50 in fees + 100,000 miles, it’s worth keeping in mind from where you can transfer points to Emirates. You can also fly their Fifth Freedom routes like EWR-ATH and JFK-MXP. Alaska Airlines remains perhaps the very best way to book, but they lack a bank transfer partner. You can also read my Emirates A380 First Class Review.
Honorable Mentions – Choice Hotels and Hilton
Hilton points transfers can be decent when they have a transfer bonus of 1:2.5 or 1:3. Still, that’s only a deal if you have a good Hilton award ready to book. I don;’t think that it’s ever worth a speculative transfer. Also, fans of Choice hotels will point out that the brands can offer some decent deals on redemptions. Always worth checking.
Ways to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points
Primarily, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points by spending on credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- American Express Business Gold Card
- The Business Green Card
- Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express (no fee)
You can also earn American Express Membership Reward points when you shop via the Rakuten (formerly Ebates) cashback portal and have your Membership Rewards account linked.
Thoughts or Questions?
And if this post helped you, please consider sharing it!
You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.