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The 5 best AmEx transfer partners – and 8 to avoid

By on March 11, 2021 0

How to earn American Express Membership Rewards points

You can earn American Express membership rewards through welcome offers on credit cards and spending with the following cards:

Personal American Express Membership Rewards points accumulating cards

Business American Express Membership Rewards points accumulating cards

Redeem American Express membership rewards for paid travel

Before we talk about transferring Membership Rewards to partner airlines and hotels, it should be noted that you can also redeem Membership Rewards through the American Express Travel Portal. You will get 1 cent per flight booking point when you do this …

… and 0.7 cents per point on hotels.

In general, this is not a good use of your Membership Rewards. The only exception is if you have The American Express Business Platinum Card®. One of the benefits of this card is a 35% discount when you pay for flights with points through the American Express travel portal. Conditions apply.

In the Delta flight example above, you would pay 17,360 points and then collect 6,076 points, costing you 11,284 net points. Note that this discount applies only to economy class flights of the airline you have selected, or to any paid business class or first class flight.

The 5 best American Express transfer partners

Now let’s take a look at five of the best American Express transfer partners:

  1. Singapore KrisFlyer: If you’re looking for some great redemptions using Singapore KrisFlyer miles, you’ll want to check out our article on the best spots of Singapore Airlines, including booking premium cabin trips like Singapore Suites or a flight from the US West Coast to Hawaii for 12,000 KrisFlyer miles.

  2. Air France / KLM Flying Blue: The best use of FlyingBlue miles is to book Monthly promotional rewards. These promotional rewards are for a limited time, but as long as they are available, you can get up to 50% off award flights.

  3. British Airways Executive Club: The current distance-based reward table allows you to trade as little as 9,000 Avios one way for flight distances less than 1,151 miles flown in North America.

  4. Avianca LifeMiles: Avianca is a member of Star Alliance, which means you can use your LifeMiles to book travel on United, Lufthansa and other Star Alliance carriers. Avianca has sweet spot price in Southeast Asia.

  5. Delta SkyMiles: With Delta’s excellent route network in the United States and their frequent promotional sales on award flights, transferring Membership Rewards to Delta can be a great option. Depending on the route, you can sometimes find cheaper rewards on Delta using Virgin Atlantic miles (see below), so be sure to check this before transferring to Delta. Delta also has a few strengths, especially for domestic short-haul flights.

Other decent AmEx transfer partner buyouts

The next set of American Express transfer partners isn’t as lucrative, but you can still find some pretty good situational value here:

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Virgin Atlantic is a Delta Partner, which means it is sometimes possible to find the same Delta flights for less than miles via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club rather than using Delta SkyMiles. Using Flying Club miles to fly in ANA premium cabins can also be great value.

  • Miles Cathay Pacific Asia: You can certainly find value with the Asia Miles rewards table, but it does take a bit of work. This is because Cathay has an odd array of rewards which partly depends on whether you only steal Cathay or include additional Oneworld partners. Look for buyouts of 7,500 Asian miles for intra-Asian flights over distances of 750 miles.

  • Etihad Guest: Etihad has different reward tables for all of its different travel partners, and you can find value on Brussels Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and (interestingly) American Airlines flights.

  • Choice Privileges: American Express has three hotel transfer partners, but Choice Hotels is the only one we recommend to most people. In the US, people often think of their budget brands like Rodeway Inn, Comfort Suites, or Quality Inn, but internationally, Choice has some great options like award nights costing too. as low as 8,000 points.

  • Iberia Plus: Like British Airways, Iberia uses the Avios program as its reward currency. There are times when Iberia can deliver exceptional value. In 2021, Iberia overhauled its American Airlines awards table, eliminating some weak spots. However, some nonstop rewards are now cheaper.

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Aeroplan’s value lies in its sweet spots. An example of a redemption voucher is a one-way business class award ticket between the United States and Europe for only 55,000 to 57,500 Aeroplan points.

8 American Express transfer partners who are not of great value

And finally, we come to the bottom of the barrel: the eight AmEx transfer partners that we would only recommend in the most extreme circumstances.

  1. Aer Lingus AerClub: As AerLingus is now owned by the same company as British Airways and Iberia (also AmEx transfer partners), you will almost always be better off with one of these other programs.

  2. JetBlue TrueBlue: TrueBlue is a revenue-based mileage program, so it’s generally best to pay for your flights through the AmEx travel portal as discussed above.

  3. AeroMexico Club Premier: No strengths in the rewards table.

  4. Alitalia MilleMiglia : Strictly speaking, there are no strong points in the price table.

  5. Marriott Bonvoy: Unlike Choice Hotels, there will almost never be a reason to transfer your AmEx membership rewards to Marriott Bonvoy. Between the inflated rewards table and the peak / off-peak price structure, you’re almost always better off paying in cash.

  6. Hilton Honors: Situation similar to Marriott, but Hilton has an even more inflated rewards table.

All information on the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and American Express® Green Card was independently collected by NerdWallet. Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and American Express® Green Card are no longer available through NerdWallet.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our choices for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those that are best suited:

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