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If you’re collecting miles & points through credit card spend, I always recommend doing what you can to accrue transferrable points currencies. That’s because these points are much more flexible than when you’re earning an individual airline or hotel points currency. You have the flexibility to transfer these points to all kinds of travel partners, and you’re safeguarded from a devaluation in a specific points currency.
With that in mind, I figured I’d write a series of posts about the three major transferrable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou — talking about how long it takes to transfer points, along with the other basic details you need to know about transferring points.
How many airline and hotel partners does Amex Membership Rewards have?
As of now, Amex Membership Rewards has 20 airline and hotel partners — that includes 17 airline partners and three hotel partners.
How long does it take to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points?
Below is a chart with how long it typically takes to transfer Membership Rewards points:
|Membership Rewards Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1000 : 1600||~ 4 to 5 days|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Air France KLM FlyingBlue||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia Club||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|ANA Mileage Club||1000 : 1000||~ 2 to 3 days|
|British Airways Executive Club||250 : 200||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1000 : 1000||~ 1 day|
|Delta SkyMiles||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|El Al Matmid||1000 : 20||Instant|
|Emirates Skywards||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Etihad Guest||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Hawaiian HawaiianMiles||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Iberia Plus||1000 : 1000||~ 1 to 2 days|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||250 : 200||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1000 : 1000||~ 12 to 24 hours|
|Virgin America Elevate||200 : 100||Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1000 : 1000||~ 1 to 2 days|
|Choice Privileges||1000 : 1000||Instant|
|Hilton Honors||1000 : 1500||Instant|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||1000 : 333||Instant|
As you can see, transfers to all but six partners are typically instant, and even the partners that aren’t instant process points transfers pretty quickly.
Are there fees associated with transferring Amex Membership Rewards points?
Of the three major transferrable points currencies, Amex is the only one that charges to transfer points. Amex Membership Rewards charges a federal excise tax for points transfers to U.S. frequent flyer programs. That means non-U.S. frequent flyer programs, as well as hotel programs, don’t have any fees.
For those programs with fees (which include Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and Virgin America), the cost is 0.06 cents per transferred point, up to a maximum of $99. In other words, transferring 100,000 points would cost $60. If you transfer more than 165,000 points then there’s no incremental cost to transfer points, since you’ll have paid the $99 fee, and the fee is capped at that.
Can you transfer Amex points to someone else’s Amex account?
No you can’t. Amex lets you combine the Membership Rewards points you’ve earned across all your cards that earn Membership Rewards points, but you can’t transfer your balance of Membership Rewards points to someone else’s Amex account.
Can you transfer Amex points to someone else’s airline or hotel accounts?
Nowadays Amex only lets you transfer your Membership Rewards points to an airline or hotel account that’s in your name or the name of an authorized user on one of your cards. Fortunately Amex lets you add authorized users on many of their cards at no additional fee, which is a great way to transfer points to someone else.
What cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points?
Some of the best cards for earning Amex Membership Rewards points include the following:
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers 2x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 of spend per year, plus a 20% points bonus when you make at least 20 transactions per billing cycle; the card has no annual fee
- The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express offers 3x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 of spend per year, plus 2x points at U.S. gas stations, plus a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle; the card has a $95 annual fee
- The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers 3x points on flights purchased directly with airlines, 2x points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets; the card has an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN offers 3x points on one category of your choice from the following: airfare purchased directly with airlines, U.S. purchases for advertising in select media, U.S. purchases at gas stations, U.S. purchases for shipping, U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers, plus 2x points on the four remaining categories; the card has an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175
- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines; the card has a $450 annual fee ($550 as of March 30, 2017)
- The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express offers a 50% points bonus for transactions of $5,000 or more; the card has a $450 annual fee)
Note that you can earn the sign-up bonus on each of the above cards, and pool all those points towards one Membership Rewards account. Having multiple Amex cards is a great way to maximize your points earning potential.
Redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Suites Class
Should you transfer Amex points to travel partners?
In general the best use of Amex Membership Rewards points is to convert them into airline miles. However, you only want to do this once you’ve figured out the award you want to book, have verified availability, and are sure you understand how that program works.
However, there’s one other great value for redeeming Amex points, but only if you have The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express. If you have this card then you can get a 50% refund on all “Pay With Points” redemptions, when either redeeming for travel in first or business class, or redeeming for travel on your designated airline.
You ordinarily get one cent of value per point using the Pay With Points option, so when you’re getting a refund of 50% you’re potentially getting two cents of value per point, which is excellent. In other words, you can book just about any airline ticket you want, and each point will get you two cents of value towards that redemption.
Personally I value Amex Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each.
Amex Membership Rewards points are one of my favorite points currencies out there. Not only does Amex have some great transfer partners, but the points are pretty easy to rack up as well, between the 5x points offered on airfare with The Platinum Card® from American Express, the 4.5x points offers at U.S. supermarkets and and 1.5x points offered on everyday spend with The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, etc.