Amex Transfer Partners

Amex Membership Rewards points are transferable to many airline and hotel partners. Below you’ll find a complete list of Amex transfer partners as well as quick tips for best uses.

Tips

Don’t transfer yet: Don’t transfer points until high value awards are available and you are ready to book them.  Transfers are one-way only.  Membership Rewards points are valuable for their flexibility. Once you transfer, you are locked into a single program that may or may not have awards available.

Transfer to friend’s loyalty account: You can transfer points to a friend’s loyalty account as long as you add them as an authorized user or employee to one of your Membership Rewards accounts.

Watch for transfer bonuses: Amex often offers improved transfer ratios through limited time transfer bonuses.

Always have at least 1 transferable account: Some Membership Rewards cards do not directly allow point transfers (such as the discontinued Blue for Business card), but most do. As long as you have at least one card that permits transfers, then you’re good to go.  A few fee-free cards that allow transfers are: Amex EveryDay, Blue Business Plus, and The Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express.

Don’t forget about the pay with points option: Usually, paying for travel with Amex points results in poor value: 1 cent per point or less.  However, the Amex Business Platinum card makes it possible to get approximately 1.5 cents per point value or more on certain flights.  See this post for details.

Current Transfer Bonuses

If Amex is running any transfer bonuses, details will appear here:

Transfer Bonus DetailsEnd Date
40% transfer bonus to British Airways or Iberia Avios
250 Membership Rewards points transfer to 350 Avios
9/17/17

Best Amex Transfer Partners

The following transfer partners represent the best potential value in my opinion:

Airline
Transfer Ratio
Best Uses
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1000 to 1000 Redeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed on international flights. Reasonable award prices to Europe for business and first class.
Air France KLM Flying Blue 1000 to 1000 Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France also has a very generous definition of “Europe” (includes Israel for example)
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1000 to 1000 Redeem for Star Alliance flights. Multiple stopovers allowed.  Very good award prices for round-the-world travel.
British Airways Executive Club (also Iberia Plus) 1000 to 1000 While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges.  Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights.  You can also transfer BA points to other Avios programs: Avios.com, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1000 to 1000 Cathay Pacific has a fairly generous distance based award chart and allows  multiple stopovers.  Fuel surcharges can be very high on certain routes.  See: Best Use of Asia Miles (Cathay).
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1000 to 1000* Award flights to Canada are often a great deal. Partner awards often have terrific availability, but you may pay more miles than with other programs.
Etihad Guest 1000 to 1000 Etihad has a very competitive award chart for American Airlines flights, among others.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1000 to 1000 Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Very low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1000 to 1000 Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses.  Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines.  A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart.  Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.

* For transfers to US airlines, Amex charges an excise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (with maximum fee of $99).

The Other Transfer Partners

Here are the transfer partners that didn’t make my “best of” list, above.  Note that many of these are still worth considering under certain circumstances.

Airline Program
Transfer Ratio
AeroMexico 1000 to 1600
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1000 to 1000
EL AL Israel Airlines 1000 MR to 20 EL AL Matmid points
Emirates Skywards 1000 to 1000
Hawaiian Airlines* 1000 to 1000
Iberia Plus 250 MR to 200 Iberia Plus Avios
JetBlue Airways TrueBlue* 250 MR to 200 JetBlue TrueBlue
Virgin America* 200 MR to 100 Virgin America Elevate

* For transfers to US airlines, Amex charges an excise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (with maximum fee of $99).

Hotel Program
Transfer Ratio
Choice Privileges 1000 to 1000
Hilton Honors
1000 MR to 1500 Hilton Honors Points
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) 1000 MR to 333 SPG Starpoints

 

Other Programs
Transfer Ratio
Plenti 500 MR to 500 Plenti Points (which are worth 1 cent each towards purchases)

Indirect Transfer Partners

In many cases it is possible to transfer to an airline or hotel program in order to then transfer from that program to another program.  I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether or not it is a good idea to transfer in these ways (hint: usually no, but there are exceptions).

Transfer First To
Then To
Transfer Ratio Details
SPG Marriott 1 to 1 Transfer 1000 to 333 to SPG, then SPG allows 1 to 3 transfers to Marriott.  This results in an even 1 to 1 transfer from Membership Rewards to Marriott
SPG Many different airlines 60,000 to 25,000
(2.4 to 1)
Transfer 60,000 Amex points to 20,000 SPG points. Then transfer 20,000 SPG points to any of a long list of airlines in order to end up with 25,000 points.
SPG / Marriott United 270,000 to 132,000
(2 to 1)
Transfer 270,000 Amex points to 90,000 SPG to 270,000 Marriott points. Use points to purchase Category 1-5 7 Night United Package offering 132,000 miles.
SPG / Marriott United / Alaska (or other SPG partners) 285,000 to 132,000 United and 25,000 Alaska
(1.8 to 1)
Transfer 285,000 Amex points to 95,000 SPG to 285,000 Marriott points. Use 270K points to purchase Category 1-5 7 Night United Package offering 132,000 miles. Return 7 Night certificate for 45,000 Marriott points. Convert remaining 60,000 Marriott points to 20,000 SPG to 25,000 Alaska miles (or to any other 1 to 1 SPG airline transfer partners)
Virgin America Alaska 2 to 1.3
(1.5 to 1)
This option won’t last long since Virgin America’s mileage program will soon be subsumed by Alaska’s.  But, for now, you can transfer points 2 to 1 to Virgin America and then 1 to 1.3 to Alaska.
Virgin Atlantic IHG 1 to 1 Transfer minimum of 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to equal number of IHG points.  Details here (under “Spend Miles”).
Virgin Atlantic IHG 1 to 1.33 (or better) Points transferred to IHG are tier qualifying points. If you transfer enough to earn IHG Spire status (requires 75,000 tier qualifying points), you can choose 25,000 points as your Choice Benefit.  In this way, you can transfer 75,000 Virgin Atlantic points into 100,000 IHG points.  You’ll do even better if you have earned tier qualifying points through other means and can therefore transfer fewer miles.
Virgin Atlantic Hilton 2 to 3 This is the same transfer ratio as transferring directly from Amex MR to Hilton so it’s generally not recommended. That said, when Amex offers a transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, it may be worth going this route.

Note: Amex occasionally has transfer bonuses to SPG and/or Virgin Atlantic which would make the above transfer ratios much more compelling.

See Also

Comments

  1. Flying to Dublin this summer on Aer Lingus using Avios. AL is now an Avios participant since being acquired by BA.. Moved Amex points to Avios.com to use on AL. Transfer ratio still mediocre of course.

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