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I’ve been going back and forth with Amex since last week on a rather bizarre hiccup linking my Membership Rewards account to Emirates. I was going to fly their First Class home from Europe but this issue (despite 6 hours on the phone and live chat with them) has yet to be resolved.

But during a very enjoyable call with a MR representative today, I learned of an interesting fact that didn’t apply to my situation, yet seemed to warrant a post.

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Emirates has a rule/limitation wherein you can only link one external program to your Emirates account. So, if you link your Membership Rewards account to Emirates and then later want to transfer from SPG, you will not be able to. The transfers will fail. I’m told there are some herculean efforts that can go on behind the scenes at Emirates to remove one link to allow another but it’s quite involved and will take time.

This even applies to multiple Membership Rewards accounts. So if you chose to keep separate MR accounts for business and personal (mind you, they are all combined generally – but you can choose to separate them for accounting purposes), you will only ever be able to link one of those to Emirates.

Good to know, since transferring Amex to Emirates occurs instantly and may be the best way to score availability in their 1st Class product, complete with onboard shower.

If you’re wondering, Emirates operates a flight between New York and Milan which you can get for 85,000 Emirates Skywards points one way in First Class. So you don’t HAVE to fly to or through the Middle East to try it out. No connecting flights can be added to the award on either end.

Have you ever encountered a complex issue like this while learning this hobby? Let me know here or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

Your Best Credit Cards
Your Best Credit Cards
I got "in the game" in 2003 and since then I've collected literally millions and millions of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. I've flown around the world in first class seats that would cost $29,000 using frequent flyer miles and a few bucks in tax. And I've stayed in some of the finest hotels - all for free! A few years ago I realized many of my friends actually thought I was paying for these!! So I started sharing my tips. It's long been a passion, but when I hosted a session on Miles and Points at this year's South by Southwest festival, my love of the game intensified and this blog was born.


  1. Wow, I’m in this exact predicament. Thank you for sharing. I transferred 30k points from Amex and then linked Chase to transfer the remaining 170k points for my RT flight from IAD-DXB. Amex went through right away but Chase has been pending for the last 6 hours. Thought I might just have to give it time but now that wait seems like it might be futile. Who/what dept do you recommend speaking with at Emirates to switch loyalty partner from Amex to Chase? And do you think they’ll let me keep the Amex points that were already transferred?

    • IIRC Skywards can do this by unlinking your Amex. Then Chase will work. It’s not more complicated than that except finding a person to do the unlinking may not be simple. I recall hours of phone calls.

      Once Amex is unlinked Chase will work fine.


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