American Express Membership Rewards points are one of the most valuable point currencies out there. Along with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou points, they offer an incredible degree of flexibility. You can redeem them for a host of things and can use them at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Expedia or even in a NYC Taxi. However, some of the best value you can get from your points is when transferring them over to airlines or hotels.
Airline Transfer Partners
You can transfer US Membership Rewards to 17 Airline Frequent Flyer programs. Although the ratio and the minimum number of points needed vary between airlines, the majority transfer at a ratio of 1:1, with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points.
The transfer time varies between airlines; typically points will transfer to most carriers instantaneously, although in practice you need to allow one or two days for the transfer to be completed. Some airlines like Aeromexico can take up to 14 days.
|Amex Transfer Partner||Transfer Ratio||Minimum Transfer|
|Aer Lingus||1:1 Avios||1,000|
|Aeromexico||1:1.6 Premier points||1,000|
|Air Canada||1:1 Aeroplan Miles||1,000|
|Alitalia||1:1 Alitalia Miles||1,000|
|ANA||1:1 ANA Mileage Club miles||1,000|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1 Asia Miles||1,000|
|British Airways||1:1 British Airways Avios||250|
|Iberia||1:1 Iberia Plus Avios||250|
|Emirates||1:1 Emirates Skywards miles||1,000|
|Etihad||1:1 Etihad Guest||1,000|
|El AL||100:2 El Al Matmid Club miles||1,000|
|JetBlue||5:4 JetBlue TrueBlue points||250|
|Hawaiian Airlines||1:1 Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles||1,000|
|Virgin Atlantic||1:1 Flying Club miles||1,000|
|Singapore Airlines||1;1 Kris Flyer miles||1,000|
|Choice Privileges Rewards||1:1 Choice Privileges Points||1,000|
|Hilton Honors||1:2 Hilton Honors Points||1,000|
|Marriott/SPG/ Ritz Carlton||1:1||1,000|
Hotel Transfer Partners
American Express has 3 hotel transfer partners. You can transfer Membership Rewards to Choice Hotels, Hilton Honors, and SPG/Marriott/Ritz Carlton. Points transfer to Choice hotels and the Marriott group are at a ratio of 1:1 with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points. The transfer ratio to Hilton Honors is 1:2, with a minimum transfer ratio of 1,000 points.
Holding Cash Or Points
There are almost always plenty of promotions to get you to part with your hard-earned cash or points. Earning points for spending that is necessary is not ideal, you are always better off holding cash.
You will also regularly see transfer bonuses from point currencies to various programs. Unless you have an immediate use for the points, it is best to avoid speculative transfers to airline and hotel programs. Even if you transfer points with a 30% bonus, but have no immediate use for them, you always run the risk of a devaluation before you can use them, or worse the program going bust and losing all your points.
The best strategy is to maintain the flexibility of your points and keep them up to a time when you have a specific redemption in mind before initiating a transfer. Your priority should almost always be holding cash, then flexible points, then program specific points.
How To Earn Membership Rewards
You earn Membership Rewards for spending with certain American Express cards, both personal and business cards. The earning rates vary according to the specific cards; most offer a minimum of 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent. Although bear in mind that several cards, especially premium ones, have bonus spending categories that earn you several points per dollar for spending in specific categories like travel, airfare, or dining. Cards that earn Membership Rewards points include:
- The Platinum Card®from American Express
- American Express Gold Card
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
- American Express® Green Card
- The Amex EveryDay®Credit Card from American Express
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Planning is Key
Earning airline or hotel points for everyday spending is one of the key strengths of credit cards points. Getting closer to your travel goal every time you buy anything from putting gas in your car, to buying a sandwich is a bonus. However, like everything you need to a have a long-term strategy and goals and be fully aware of the fine details to take advantage of your points and miles effectively!