Credit cards that earn transferable points currencies are extremely valuable because of the tremendous flexibility they provide. American Express (AmEx) partners with eighteen airlines and three major hotel chains and these partnerships are the key to unlocking the most value from your AmEx Membership Rewards Points.
A large part of what makes transferring AmEx points to airlines so valuable is that you can use award chart sweet spots to really maximize that value of your points. As you can see from the chart below, different AmEx airline transfer partners have different strengths and familiarizing yourself with these award chart sweet spots can save you a ton of points.
2019 AmEx Airline Transfer Partners Master List
|Transfer Partner||Ratio||Sweet Spots||Transfer Time|
|AER Lingus AERCLUB||1:1||US to Ireland (Biz)|
US to Europe (Biz)
|AeroMexico||1.1.6||US to Russia (Biz)|
US to North Asia (Biz)
RTW Ticket (Biz)(15 stops)
|Air Canada||1.1||US to Europe (Biz)||Instant|
|Alitalia||1.1||Us to Italy (Biz) (AZ metal)|
Italy to Chile (Biz) (AZ metal)
|ANA||1.1||US to Europe (Biz)|
US to Middle East (Biz)
US to Hong Kong (Biz)
RTW ticket (Biz)
|Asia Miles||1.1||HKG to SE Asia (econ)|
HKG to India (Biz)
HKG to Australia (Biz)
|Avianca||1.1||North Asia to AUS/NZ (Biz)|
North Asia to North Asia (Biz)
No YQ on award tickets
|British Airways||1.1||Short Haul economy|
Premium economy awards
|Delta||1.1||short haul US domestic|
|Emirates||1.1||Upgrade business to first||Instant|
|Etihad||1.1||Royal Air Maroc (Biz)|
AA flights (Biz and first)
Brussels Airways (econ and biz)
Czech Airlines PRG-ICN (Biz)
|Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)||1.1||US to Israel (Biz)||Instant|
|Iberia||1.1||Shorthaul AA business|
East Coast to Ireland
|~1 to 3 days|
|Hawaiian Airlines||1.1||Virgin Atlantic US to LHR (Biz)||Instant|
|JetBlue||250.200||JetBlue Getaways program||Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1.1||Hawaii to Southern South America (Biz)|
Hawaii to Central America (Biz)
Alaska Airlines econ flights
S. America to S. Africa (Biz)
US domestic (Biz)
US to Hawaii (econ)
|~1 to 2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1.1||US to Japan ANA (Biz or First)|
Delta US to Europe (Biz)
JFK to LHR (PE or econ)
South African IAD-DSS (Biz)
Just how much more value can you get from your AmEx points by using award chart sweet spots?
An Example of Using a Sweet Spot
By using sweet spots relevant to your trip it’s often possible to stretch your miles twice as far as you might be able to otherwise. This simple example of a round-trip, first class ticket on ANA illustrates that point quite clearly.
Why use 280,000 Singapore miles to book ANA first class from the US to Japan and back when you could book the same award with Virgin Atlantic miles for 120,000 points? Both programs are AmEx transfer partners, yet by choosing to transfer your AmEx points to Virgin Atlantic to book this award you get the ticket for 160,000 fewer points. That’s less than half the amount of AmEx points you would need if you would have transferred to Singapore Airlines!
That’s just one simple example, but there are dozens more sweet spots mentioned in the chart. If you take advantage of these sweet spots you will be able to travel more often, more comfortably, or likely both, for the same amount of American Express Membership Rewards points.
Note: If you don’t feel like memorizing all the AmEx airline transfer partner sweet spots yourself let my award booking service maximize the value of your points for you.
Hotel Transfer Partners
AmEx also has 3 hotel transfer partners, though there is often much less value to be found by transferring to hotel partners. I personally would save my AmEx points for flights, as that is where you have the best chance of getting out-sized value from your points.
The transfer ratios are as follows:
- Choice Privileges – 1,000 = 1,000
- Hilton Honors – 1,000 = 2,000
- Marriott Bonvoy – 1,000 = 1,000
One Notable Hotel Sweet Spot
While I generally don’t think that there is much value in transferring AmEx points to hotel partners, there is one specific example that comes to mind where you can multiply the value of your AmEx points by transferring them to a hotel partner.
The Choice Privileges program transfers from AmEx at a 1:1 ratio and is surprisingly valuable when used for redeeming at Nordic Choice hotels in Scandinavia. While using points will often get you about 2 cents per point in value for using your AmEx points, selecting a Points Plus Cash award will often push the value of the points to nearly 3 cents per point, which is a very good redemption value for hotel points.
There are a couple good posts from Ric at Loyalty Traveler that go more in depth on how to use your Choice Privilege points for Nordic Choice hotels that can be found here and here.
Making The Most of Your AmEx Points
Transferring your American Express Membership Rewards Points to their airline partners is the key to unlocking tremendous value from your AmEx points. By using the above chart of AmEx airline transfer partners and their sweet spots you will be able to increase the value of your AmEx points substantially. While transferring to airline partners generally offers the greatest value, transferring to Choice Privileges hotel program and using points plus cash awards can be quite valuable for hotel stays in Scandinavia. Using the sweet spots mentioned in the chart you will be able to travel more and travel better for the same number of points.
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