Perhaps one of the most mysterious aspects of credit card award travel is learning how to boost rewards with transfer partners — namely hotel and airfare accommodations. In most cases, these transfer partners give your rewards higher redemption values than things like statement credits, cash or gift cards.
The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the most popular award travel ecosystems, offering a large variety of transfer partners with a network that spans across many travel brands and airline alliances.
If you’re considering an American Express credit card and want some options when it comes to redeeming your Membership Rewards points, the Amex travel portal should be top of mind. This guide goes over all Amex transfer partners and how to maximize your rewards with them, so keep reading to learn more.
American Express airline partners
Booking airfare with American Express Travel means you’ll get at least a 1:1 ratio — or one cent apiece — for your rewards. If you’re strategic about your redemptions, your American Express Membership Rewards points’ value can go upwards of 2 cents per point or more.
One detail often overlooked is the fact that many Amex airline partners have alliances that allow you to expand your flight options and, at times, boost the value of your points. It may take some time to connect the dots to find great deals, but if you’re flexible with your dates and destinations, there are plenty of deals that can get well over the 1:1 redemption ratio.
For instance, you may not think you’d get much use out of transferring points to an airline like British Airways. However, you can use the British Airways Executive Club currency, called Avios, to book flights on all Oneworld carriers. Unfortunately, using Avios on British Airways flights carries substantial fuel surcharges, making your points much less valuable with those flights.
However, if you focus on British Airways partner flights, there’s significant value you can score due to the airline’s distance-based award chart. There are a number of U.S.-based short-haul flights where you can get economy fares starting at just 6,000 points — whereas these same award flights on say, American Airlines or United, could cost 20,000 points or more for the same destinations and dates. When you start looking at aspirational travel options like international flights in first or business class, you stand to earn even more value for your points.
Again, it might take a little time to make these connections and understand exactly how the alliances work, but you can garner significant discounts for flights once you get the hang of it.
Here’s the chart of Amex airline partners along with their transfer ratios.
|Airline partner||Transfer time||Transfer ratio||Estimated point value (including transfer ratio and excise fee, where applicable)|
|Singapore KrisFlyer||Up to 24 hours||1:1||2.36 cents|
|Iberia Plus||48 hours||1:1||1.7 cents|
|Aeromexico||24 hours||1:1.6||1.6 cents|
|Delta SkyMiles||Instant||1:1||1.55 cents|
|Avianca LifeMiles||Instant||1:1||1.5 cents|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||48 hours||1:1||1.48 cents|
|British Airways||72 hours||1:1||1.4 cents|
|Emirates Skywards||48 hours||1:1||1.1 cents|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Instant||1:1||1.08 cents|
|Aer Lingus||Instant||1:1||1 cent|
|Asia Miles||72 hours||1:1||1 cent|
|Etihad Guest||120 hours||1:1||1 cent|
|Flying Blue||96 hours||1:1||1 cent|
|Virgin Atlantic||Instant||1:1||0.8 cents|
Should you transfer Amex points to an airline partner?
For the most part, this transfer option will give you more value for your rewards points. However, there are some issues to watch out for when you transfer your Membership Rewards points.
- Get higher redemption values for your points
- Some alliance partners can expand route options and potentially boost points’ value
- Get great deals on first and business class award fares
- Blackout dates and limited availability apply
- Can take up to 48 hours to transfer rewards to some transfer partner programs
- Transferring points from your Amex card to a loyalty program is not reversible
American Express hotel partners
Transferring your Amex rewards to hotel partners doesn’t fetch as much value as airline partners, but it can still be a good use of your points in the right circumstances. You may find better deals and value for off-peak accommodations, but generally, your points will have more value with airline transfer partners. Here’s a look at Amex’s hotel partners:
|Hotel partner||Transfer time||Transfer ratio||Estimated point value (including transfer ratio)|
|Hilton Honors||Instant||1:2||1 cent|
|Choice Privileges||Instant||1:1||0.6 cents|
|Marriott Bonvoy||Instant||1:1.5||0.8 cents|
Should you transfer Amex points to a hotel partner?
- Can find good deals on hotel bookings depending on your destination and travel dates
- Use 20 percent fewer points on a five-night stay, since Hilton and Mariott offer the fifth night free on five-night stays
- Could find additional perks and free stays to compliment your points if you have hotel elite status or access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection
- Don’t get a great redemption ratio by transferring points to Amex hotel partners
- May be blackout dates or high prices in peak season that further decrease the value of your points
- Transferring points from your Amex card to a loyalty program can’t be reversed
How to transfer Membership Rewards points
- Log in to your American Express account online.
- Under “Rewards,” select “Transfer Points” to see a list of all available American Express transfer partners.
- From here, you can transfer the number of points from your rewards balance to the transfer partner you want to book in increments of 1,000 points.
- Note, before making any transfers, you must connect your hotel or loyalty account to your Amex account.
- The name on your loyalty account(s) has to match either your name or the name of an authorized user on your credit card account. You’ll also need the four-digit card ID on the front of your Amex card as well and the three-digit security code on the back of the card to connect these accounts. As long as all the information can be validated and matched up, your Amex and loyalty accounts should be linked immediately.
How to get the most value when transferring points
If you want to get the most out of your Membership Rewards points, here are a few tips and that can help:
- Consider being flexible with your travel destinations and dates to score the best deals
- Watch out for transfer bonuses Amex offers that boost your points’ value from 20 to 50 percent
- First, verify that award reservations are available for the dates you’d like to travel (reserve your accommodations first, if possible) then, transfer your points and make your reservation
- Check for alternative booking options, like alliances that have distance-based award charts versus dynamic award flight pricing.
- Check award pricing for business and first-class fares for more luxury travel options at lower rates
- Be mindful of additional costs, like fuel surcharges (British Airways) and federal excise taxes for transfers to U.S.-based airlines (Delta, JetBlue or Hawaiian)