Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Michael Y. Park
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The American Express Membership Rewards program provides amazing redemptions, thanks to its many airline transfer partners. From hops to Hawaii to once-in-a-lifetime trips around the world, dream vacations are often just a matter of finding the right award-flight sweet spot for you.
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to several hotel partners, but transferring to airline partners is often the best use of your Amex points.
Ready for a trip after earning Membership Rewards points? Let’s take a look at how to redeem your Amex points to get the most bang for your buck!
If you want to start earning Membership Rewards or boost your current earnings, American Express has several credit cards that could fit your needs.
Here are the American Express credit cards you can use to earn Membership Rewards points for your trip:
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)
This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 90,000 points with the Amex Gold card. The current public offer is 60,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)
Depending on the benefits of the card, you may pay a high annual fee — but high-fee cards generally offer generous rewards and valuable benefits.Hot Tip:
Are you a business owner? Read our review of the best business credit cards.
There are several ways to use your Amex Membership Rewards points, including flight upgrades, redemptions on Amex Travel, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, purchases on Amazon or Ticketmaster, and charitable points donations. Our favorite way to redeem points is for luxury travel leveraging Amex transfer partners.
Additionally, American Express often runs transfer bonus promotions with individual transfer partners, which can be great if you need to book an award flight.
Transfers to partners usually complete almost instantly, but check the table below to see estimated transfer times. Remember: Once you transfer points, you can’t undo the transfer.
With the 17 Amex airline transfer partners, you have access to award flights with members of Oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam. You even have access to partners that operate outside the major airline alliances, such as Etihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
|Amex Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Aer Lingus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air Canada||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|British Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||Up to 1 Week|
|Delta Air Lines||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Etihad Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue Air France/KLM||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
American Express charges a small fee to transfer Membership Rewards to any U.S. domestic airline rewards program, which in this case means Delta and JetBlue. The fee isn’t huge: 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99.
Amex lets you transfer to 3 hotel loyalty programs: Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, and Radisson Rewards. That said, hotel points transfers are not the best way to use your points. You can get much more value by transferring to airline partners.
In a pinch, though, the Amex hotel partnerships can be helpful.
|Amex Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Choice Privileges||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Hilton Honors||1,000||1:2||Almost Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
Transferring your points to airline partners is how you can get the most value out of your points.
The award flights described below are typically centered around North America. You’ll find first class, business class, and economy class from the U.S., as well as great deals between other regions.
Of course, there may be other great award redemptions available, and everyone has different opinions on travel destinations. If you’ve found a good one we haven’t listed here, please feel
Most people transfer points to the Singapore KrisFlyer miles program because they’re after the Singapore Suites, the luxury first-class experience that Singapore Airlines is famous for. If you book 2 tickets with a loved one, you can even experience a double bed in the sky!
Awards for the suites cost 148,500 miles one-way from New York (JFK) to Singapore (SIN). These suites are only available on the Airbus A380, so be sure to check the destinations when planning.
The A380 flies between Singapore and a number of other cities, too, including London (LHR), Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG), Tokyo (NRT), Mumbai (BOM), Delhi (DEL), and Hong Kong (HKG).
Singapore is also expected to fly the A380 to Auckland (AKL) starting in mid-November 2023 and to Shanghai (PVG) in early January 2024.
Singapore Airlines is known for having one of the best (if not the best) first class/suites experiences. So, if you can, definitely book award travel in Singapore Suites with your Amex points.
Another great thing about the Singapore Airlines program is that it’s a transfer partner of all the major points currencies: American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. That means that if you don’t have quite enough Membership Rewards points, you can top off your Singapore Airlines account with other currencies.
It’s tough to find more than 1 Singapore Suite at the saver level, but you might be able to waitlist a second seat, book business class, and cross your fingers and hope you clear the waitlist.Hot Tip:
Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide for booking Singapore Suites or first class.
Arguably, one of the classiest ways to fly to Europe in style is on Lufthansa first class. Don’t forget about the First Class Terminal (Frankfurt only) and the First Class Lounges! These take an already amazing experience to another level.
Avianca LifeMiles charges 87,000 miles to fly one-way. Best of all? Taxes and fees are just $41 per person!
This is a stunning redemption, and flying Lufthansa without reasonable surcharges is often difficult. Lufthansa award flights in first class are almost never available more than 15 days in advance to partners, so you’ll have to book pretty close to departure.
Luckily, Avianca LifeMiles doesn’t assess any close-in booking fees! Avianca LifeMiles provides the most affordable way to fly on Lufthansa first class from the U.S. to Europe without paying about $600 in fuel surcharges each way.
First class from the U.S. to Europe costs 87,000 LifeMiles plus $41 in taxes and fees. Here are great example routes:
Is Europe on your bucket list? We’ve written an extensive guide on flying to Europe with points and miles.
Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide to booking first class on Lufthansa.Hot Tip:
Air France-KLM Flying Blue is one of the few loyalty programs that can bypass the majority of fuel surcharges that Virgin Atlantic levies on its flights.
For example, if you used Flying Blue points, you could expect to pay about $200 per person in surcharges to fly one-way from the U.S. to Europe in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. That’s in addition to your points cost of about 74,000 to 106,500 miles. In contrast, if you book with Virgin Atlantic’s own points, you’d pay about $975 per person in surcharges tacked onto the base points redemption.
Availability on Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class tends to be quite good, so you shouldn’t have many issues booking this flight, especially far in advance.
Virgin Atlantic used to charge about 74,000 points for flights from the U.S. to Europe, but that’s dropped dramatically in some cases. We found plenty of availability in Upper Class from New York to London or Paris at 47,500 points (plus those $975 or so in surcharges, of course). So that’s an option if you’re dead set against using cash for a flight. If you’re still not sure what to do to join Upper Class, check out our guide to booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class!
Singapore Airlines offers great pricing to the Middle East and North Africa from the U.S. You can redeem KrisFlyer miles for travel on Star Alliance member airlines, including United, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SWISS, and Lufthansa.
On these airlines, you can get to the Middle East or North Africa for 52,000 miles one-way in economy class, 88,000 miles one-way in business class, or 114,000 miles one-way in first class.
Singapore Airlines has a pretty good award price for travel to Central and South Africa in business class. A one-way business class flight costs you 111,000 miles when you fly with a Star Alliance partner airline.
This pricing is now higher than United, which requires at least 88,000 miles each way to fly Star Alliance partners to Central and South Africa.
Singapore offers a great price to fly from the U.S. to Europe in economy class at 30,500 miles in each direction on Star Alliance member airlines.
This is an amazing way to do some Pacific Island hopping if you’re able to take an extended trip.
Singapore Airlines charges 13,500 miles, 34,500 miles, and 47,000 miles each way for travel in economy, business, and first class respectively, within the South Pacific.
Availability can be tough to find on many of these routes, but if you have flexibility, you can’t beat using your Singapore Airlines miles for travel between South Pacific islands in business or first class.
Singapore Airlines has a handful of other sweet spots in its award chart. Flights on United within the U.S. in business or first class are someof them. Since United MileagePlus no longer offers an award chart, its pricing can often be much higher.
You can redeem KrisFlyer miles to fly on United Airlines within the U.S. for 26,000 miles in business class or 39,000 miles in first class.
You can redeem your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for a good value between the continental U.S. and Hawaii in all classes of service for travel on Star Alliance airlines.
One-way prices are 19,500 miles, 39,000 miles, and 52,000 miles in economy, business, and first class, respectively. United no longer publishes an award chart, so it’s impossible to precisely predict its redemption tiers, but its pricing tends to be much higher.
ANA used to have an awesome distance-based award chart allowing 3 stopovers for no additional cost. This was a great deal, but now ANA has more common region-based award charts for flights operated by ANA and flights on ANA’s partner airlines.
Booking awards with partners also means you’re on the hook for carrier-imposed surcharges. Sometimes, you can get lower fees on partner flights through United, Turkish, Air New Zealand, and Air Canada (depending on the routes).
ANA allows 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw (including backtracking) on both ANA and partner flights, though you should closely read the fine print before you book. Thanks to this tiny bit of flexibility in the new scheme, you still have a lot of options for multiple destinations on 1 ticket!
ANA flights from North America to Japan cost 85,000 miles round-trip in business class during the regular season and can go as low as 75,000 miles during the low season. Flights on partners always cost 85,000 miles in business class.
Flying ANA in economy class costs you 40,000 miles in the low season, while flights on partners always cost 50,000 miles. For 2024, the low season is considered January 4 to February 8, April 1 to April 24, May 13 to June 30, and December 1 to December 15. You might be able to book an award flight to catch the cherry blossoms in early April!
Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide to booking ANA business class.Hot Tip:
You can also transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy to ANA Mileage Club.
ANA includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines in its Asia 1 region (confusingly referred to as “Zone 3” on its maps and award charts). Business class one-way from North America to these countries costs 80,000 miles during the low season when flying on ANA.
ANA’s definition of North America is Canada, Mexico, and the U.S., including Alaska. Though Central America is part of North America, ANA lumps it in with all of South America when it comes to its award charts.
If you’re looking at flying with a partner airline, the deal isn’t quite as good at 95,000 miles. That’s the same cost as flying ANA during high season. Flights in economy class cost 60,000 miles.
Aeroplan charges 90,000 or 110,000 points to fly one-way on Etihad business class to the Middle East or Africa. You can also book first class for 130,000 or 140,000 points. The lower numbers are for when your total flight distance is 6,001 to 8,000 miles. If your total flight distance is 8,001 or more miles, it’s the higher redemption price.
Etihad’s business class has received great reviews — we doubt you’ll be disappointed with this redemption.
Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step instructions on how to book Etihad business class!
ANA’s Asia 2 region includes India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, but also “stan” countries like Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. And it doesn’t stop there! Asia 2 also includes areas such as Sri Lanka and Russia east of the Urals. To make it a little more difficult, ANA also refers to Asia 2 as “Zone 4.”
Some of these countries are usually quite expensive to reach from North America, so using miles can present incredible value. Round-trip business class to Asia 2 countries during the low season costs 100,000 miles, or 55,000 miles in economy.
Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide to booking business class with ANA’s Star Alliance partner EVA Air, one of the best business classes in the sky.Hot Tip:
Flying to Asian countries besides Japan also carries lower fuel surcharges than flying directly to Japan on ANA — even when your flights to Asia go through Japan!
Flying one of ANA’s partner airlines to Japan on miles isn’t as good as redeeming miles for ANA flights directly, but the award chart does have a few solid partner redemptions.
You can fly round-trip from the U.S. to Europe in business class for 88,000 miles or in economy for 55,000 miles. This price used to be a lot better, but it’s still better than many competitors’ prices.
Watch out for carrier-imposed surcharges that can really add up. If you can, find availability on LOT Polish, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines, or United Airlines to avoid higher taxes and fees.
ANA also offers good pricing in economy class from North America to Africa and the Middle East. A round-trip flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Cape Town (CPT) costs 65,000 miles in economy.
Flights within Africa can be expensive, but ANA hands you a pretty great option to use miles instead.
You need 30,000 miles for round-trip in economy class within Africa and the Middle East when you fly Star Alliance partners, including South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Egypt Air.
Many award charts split South America into 2 regions: northern South America and southern South America. Sometimes this is beneficial, but other times it isn’t, especially when you’re trying to get to the southern part of the continent from the Northern Hemisphere. ANA, however, considers South America a single region. It even includes Central America in its South America zone, even though it’s technically part of North America.
Since ANA doesn’t fly to South America, though, you’ll have to utilize the ANA Partner Award Chart. ANA charges 88,000 miles round-trip in business and 55,000 miles round-trip in economy class to fly from North America to South America.
If you’re planning to go to a northern South American country (like Peru or Colombia) or a Central American country (like Costa Rica or Nicaragua), it’s a good idea to check other airlines’ redemptions before you book with ANA.
A lot of airline programs have gotten rid of their around-the-world award charts, but ANA basically turned its old, distance-based program into an around-the-world chart when it made program changes.
If you have time and want to make a bunch of stops on your trip, this is a fantastic redemption! When making an ANA partner redemption, you can make up to 8 stopovers on a round-the-world trip. You can put together incredible trips if you have the time, flexibility, and patience to plan them out.
There are important restrictions to consider:
One great redemption from the Flying Blue program is for flights to Hawaii from the continental U.S.
Round-trip flights cost 35,000 Flying Blue miles and a little over $20 in fees. Considering that flights to Hawaii from the East Coast usually cost $650 to over $900 round-trip, you can find great redemptions even at the lower end of the spectrum.
Award prices start at 35,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip and can go higher from there. Be sure to look for mileage prices around 35,000, or else you’ll pay way more than you should!
Flying Blue has special Promo Rewards for award tickets that are usually 25% to 50% off economy class and business class from Europe to certain cities.
The Promo Award that most U.S.-based flyers find useful is from Europe to North American cities. For example, we found flights from Paris to New York City for only 11,250 points at 25% off in economy, plus just under $165 in surcharges.
Speaking of that, surcharges tend to be a little higher on Flying Blue awards, but they’re not terrible. If you consider how many miles you’re saving, it might be just what you need.
Flying Blue has odd region definitions that you can take advantage of for incredible awards! For example, the program considers Israel, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia as part of Europe. They’re grouped under what Air France/KLM calls “Europe 3.”
Right away, this means 75,000 miles for round-trip itineraries in economy class from the U.S. and 150,000 miles for round-trips in business class. And since these countries are all considered part of Europe, Promo Rewards for Europe could also apply to these destinations.
Most airline award programs separate Mexico from the U.S. in their award charts. Flying Blue, however, counts them as the same region. That means you can fly from the U.S. to Mexico round-trip in economy for only 29,000.
Flying Blue also has pretty solid prices for flights to the Caribbean. One-way flights in economy class can be had for as few as 25,000 Flying Blue points and in business for as little as 67,500 points.
For more information, check out our guide to flying to the Caribbean with points and miles.
Flying Blue charges a low number of miles for flights to Tahiti and other islands in the South Pacific: 51,000 miles for a round-trip economy ticket or 128,000 in business.
There’s really only 1 valid route here:
There are good Aeroplan redemptions worth mentioning, too.
You can fly from the U.S. to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific for 120,000 miles round-trip in economy class. Where this award really shines is with the ability to make 1 stopover in each direction in addition to your final destination for 5,000 points per stopover. If you’re already flying so far, why not add a few days and an extra country to your trip?
This won’t be the lowest possible price to get to Oceania, but if you can make use of the stopovers, it might be worth paying more miles than a carrier like United would charge.Hot Tip:
Air Canada charges 70,000 to 120,000 points to fly round-trip in economy class from the U.S. to Western Europe. Though many airlines charge around this same price, Aeroplan also lets you make a stopover for 5,000 points in each direction.
The same routes cost 120,000 to 320,000 points in business class and 180,000 to 360,000 points in first class! In other words, you could fly Lufthansa first class for as few as 90,000 points each way.Hot Tip:
Looking for the best ways to get to or from Europe in style? Check out our guide to booking Lufthansa first class!
Air Canada charges 110,000 to 160,000 points to fly round-trip in economy class from the U.S. to the Middle East. Again, this is with the ability to make a stopover in each direction in addition to your final destination for 5,000 additional points per stopover.
Flights from 6,001 to 8,000 miles cost 55,000 points one-way in economy, 90,000 points in business, and 130,000 points in first class.
Meanwhile, flights longer than 8,000 miles cost 70,000 points one-way in economy, 110,000 points in business, and 140,000 points in first.
Flights on Air Canada within North America are generally quite expensive when purchased in cash. Transferring Amex points to Aeroplan offers you a way around that.
But any short-haul flights on any Star Alliance partner that are shorter than 500 miles in flight distance start at 6,000 Aeroplan points each way. Flights between 501 and 1,500 miles cost 10,000 Aeroplan points each way.
The more far-flung provinces of Canada can be expensive to get to — we’re talking easily over $1,000 from the U.S. round-trip (and we’ve even seen prices over $2,000).
But awards to these often beautiful places can be booked for a relative handful of miles: 25,000 round-trip! If you like off-the-beaten-track destinations, this is a great (and cheap) award. To nab this redemption, your flight distance in each direction has to be between 1,501 and 2,750 miles.
A $2,000 round-trip ticket for 25,000 miles nets you a fantastic value of 8 cents per point, which is on par with a redemption in first class.
The cost of traveling with an infant varies by airline when booking award tickets. Some airlines charge 10% of the cash ticket, which can be absolutely brutal if you’re traveling in a premium cabin.
Air Canada has a simple and reasonable structure for the cost of traveling with an infant: CA$25 or 2,500 miles per ticket.
Generally, we would recommend paying cash for these infant fees since the value per mile is less than 1 cent per point after conversion to U.S. currency. But if you’re looking to cover as much of your trip as possible with your miles, Air Canada is one of the better options when you’re traveling with a lap child.
If you’re traveling with a lap child, always book a round-trip ticket. The lap child fee is per ticket, so you’ll pay this fee twice if you book 2 one-way tickets.
One of the best ways to redeem Amex points for an amazing business class product on an ultra-long-haul flight is on Qatar Airways Qsuites.
The 2 most obvious partners are Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and British Airways Executive Club, but we generally find redemption rates on U.S.-Middle East itineraries to be the best through British Airways.
You’ll pay 70,000 British Airways Avios plus around $100 in taxes and fees for a one-way ticket in business class between the U.S. and Doha (DOH), with departures from cities such as Chicago (ORD), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington, D.C.
We’ve always been able to find great deals on British Airways. Paired with the Amex Membership Rewards transfer ratio of 1:1, using Amex points on British Airways is often a solid choice.
For short-haul flight deals, try searching for flights up to 650 miles outside of the U.S. These flights cost 4,750 Avios each way for travel on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.
On partner-operated flights, that number is 6,000 Avios one-way. This can present incredible value in areas of the world where distances are short, but flights are expensive, like Japan. For flights within North America, that price is 7,500 Avios.Hot Tip:
British Airways is notorious for attaching high fees to its flights, but fees are much lower when you redeem Avios for flights on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines.
One-way, direct flights from the West Coast to Hawaii in economy class on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines cost you 13,000 British Airways Avios plus just over $5 in taxes and fees!
This might be the best economy-class redemption from the continental U.S. to Hawaii.
You can get from the East Coast of the U.S. to Dublin on Aer Lingus for 13,000 Avios off-peak with low surcharges.
In addition, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Iberia Avios. If you ever book flights on Iberia, you want to book with Iberia Avios, not British Airways Avios, even though you have the ability to book with both.
You can also transfer miles between the British Airways and Iberia programs. In order to transfer, your account must be at least 90 days old, and you must have had some kind of points activity on your account, such as a transfer from American Express.
Some one-way redemptions in business class on Iberia to Europe are Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA), or New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) for 50,000 miles plus taxes and fees; or Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) for 62,500 miles plus about $575 in taxes and fees. If flying on the highly competitive route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Madrid (MAD), you’ll shell out 75,000 Avios plus about $575 in taxes and fees.
If you’re looking to venture somewhere other than Europe, a flight from Miami (MIA) to Lima (LIM) is a great option. You could be walking along the Malecón in almost no time!
This award costs 13,000 British Airways Avios plus around $20 each way in economy. That’s not much more than it would cost to fly within the U.S.!
British Airways doesn’t charge a fee for booking last-minute travel. This means even if you don’t have status with another airline, you have a good way to book just before your trip without an extra fee.
As far as cancellation fees go, they’re also pretty reasonable. If you’re booking from the U.S., your cancellation fee is $55 per person per ticket.Hot Tip:
Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Chase, and Marriott Bonvoy partner with British Airways and transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
Getting to Easter Island is not cheap — round-trip flights from Chile start at around $850. Rather than dropping serious cash, you can use 15,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles plus relatively low taxes and fees to fly from Santiago (SCL) to Easter Island (IPC).
Flying from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND, NRT) on Japan Airlines puts you right in the 25,750 Avios bracket. If you want to fly the same route in first class, it’ll set you back 103,000 Avios plus around $160 in taxes and fees each way.
Business class could be a happy medium for this itinerary, at 77,250 Avios plus about $160.Hot Tip:
If your goal is to use your miles to fly first class on British Airways, be prepared to pay a cash surcharge — though you’ll save a ton over a cash-only ticket.
Flying British Airways first class from Chicago (ORD) to London (LHR) costs as little as 68,000 British Airways Avios off-peak and as much as 80,000 Avios during peak dates (plus a little over $700 to $1,000 in taxes and surcharges in each direction).
This ticket gives you a second seat for a companion on the same flight in the same cabin when you book a reward flight. It has to be round-trip on a British Airways mainline flight originating in and returning to the U.S.
You still need to pay taxes and fees on the companion ticket, but you’re only using points for 1 person! You need to book your departure date within 2 years of receiving the Travel Together Ticket.Hot Tip:
Read our guide to help you book British Airways first class using points!
Want a chance to experience Cathay Pacific first class?
On select flights between the U.S. and Hong Kong, you can access one of the world’s most exclusive first classes starting at 110,000 Asia Miles one-way.
Business class on the same flight costs 70,000 Asia Miles.
American Express occasionally offers bonuses of up to 25% when you transfer points to Asia Miles. Wait for one of these to come up to get an even better deal!
Need help booking? See our step-by-step guide to booking Cathay Pacific first class.
When looking at most foreign carriers, you have to be careful about whether or not carrier-imposed surcharges are passed on when you’re booking an award ticket. Thanks to Etihad’s partnership with Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, you don’t need to worry about that.
Using your Aeroplan points, you can fly from Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) for 90,000 points in business class or 130,000 points in first class. Similarly, on a shorter trip between London (LHR) and Abu Dhabi, you can fly in business class for 45,000 points and first class for 65,000 points.
Need help booking? Take a look at our step-by-step instructions on how to book Etihad business class!Hot Tip:
Use cards such as the Amex Platinum card to get elite status for your car rentals upon enrollment with Avis, Hertz, and National.
One of the most amazing things about the Asia Miles award program is the ability to make 2 stopovers on a round-trip award.
On flights from the East Coast, you should be able to fly in economy class for 70,000 points round-trip or business class for 110,000 points round-trip. An example routing you might want to consider is New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD) to Helsinki (HEL) back to New York (JFK).
You need to be careful which airline you fly with to avoid fuel surcharges, but flights on Iberia and Finnair will generally have low surcharges.
Asia Miles has 2 award charts: one for Cathay and another for all other Oneworld flights. The number of partners you are flying dictates the number of stops you’re allowed to make:
Try to avoid carrier-imposed surcharges when making these bookings. In addition to flying Aer Lingus and Air Berlin, you should also consider flights on LATAM, American Airlines (within the Americas), and Air New Zealand.
Other partners will likely have carrier-imposed surcharges. Depending on the miles you’re spending and the amount of the surcharge, you could still find a good deal, though.
Flyers praise the business class on many Chinese airlines. When using your Delta SkyMiles, you can book business class on China Eastern or China Airlines for 120,000 SkyMiles in each direction.
While both airlines are good, China Airlines is generally considered to be slightly superior. Assuming there is availability to your destination, you should consider booking China Airlines over China Eastern.
Don’t forget you can also fly Delta One to Asia starting at 120,000 SkyMiles.
Need help booking? Use our Delta award flight booking guide to simplify the process.Hot Tip:
Marriott Bonvoy also partners with Delta Air Lines, and there are many ways to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points.
All of the airlines seem to be getting in on the low-mileage, short-flights game. Delta charges 7,500 SkyMiles in Main Cabin for select short flights within the U.S., like San Francisco (SFO) to Seattle (SEA). These redemptions can be a great deal, especially if there is availability at the last minute when flights tend to be more expensive.
A month out, flight prices for SFO to SEA are currently only $89 on select days, making the redemption not as good. Since Delta’s award pricing is so variable, it always makes sense to compare the award price to the cash price on any day you’re looking at flying.
Etihad isn’t part of an airline alliance, but it does have a lot of different airline partners. In March 2023, it rolled out a simplified, zone-based redemption table that eliminated many of the great redemptions the airline’s loyalty program was known for.
Amex points transfer to Etihad Guest at a ratio of 1,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for 750 Etihad Guest miles.Hot Tip:
Looking for more Etihad redemptions ideas on its new chart? Check our guide to the best Etihad redemptions!
If you want to fly with American Airlines and Virgin Australia, you can book those award flights right on the Etihad website. Call Etihad at 877-690-0767 for all other partner award flights.
The new Etihad chart can offer better redemptions with AA than on American’s own chart. For example, it offers Charlotte (CLT) to London (LHR) in business one-way for 80,000. The trick here is finding available flights.Hot Tip:
See our step-by-step instructions on booking American Airlines first class.
Brussels Airlines was a sweet spot with Etihad’s old partner-by-partner redemption arrangement, and it can still be a good use of Etihad miles.
From East Coast airports like New York (JFK), Toronto (YYZ), or Washington, D.C. (IAD), you can fly to Brussels (BRU) in business for 80,000 miles one-way. Economy costs 45,000 miles.
Etihad’s partnership with Royal Air Maroc still provides an opportunity to redeem points to get to Morocco. New York (JFK) or Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Casablanca (CMN) costs 45,000 miles one-way in economy or 80,000 miles one-way in business class. Both fall under the 3,001-to-4,000-miles bracket.Hot Tip:
Traveling on Etihad with an infant lap child is reasonable — it charges 10% of the mileage cost of the ticket for your infant to travel on your lap.
For example, if you’re thinking about booking the Brussels Airlines business class flight for 80,000 Etihad miles from JFK to BRU, you would only need to budget an extra 8,000 miles to book a lap child ticket.
Another sweet spot you can take advantage of with transferred Amex Membership Rewards points is on United Airlines 787-10 routes between Newark (EWR) or New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).
You can fly transcontinental on United’s awesome Polaris business class! Trying United Polaris across the U.S. will set you back 25,000 miles each way when booking through its Star Alliance partner Avianca LifeMiles.
Avianca routinely runs promotional awards for destinations all around the world. These provide solid opportunities to eke out extra value from your LifeMiles due to the discounts offered here.
You need to read the fine print carefully and be sure to book the awards when the sale is actually occurring. The promo awards are typically only valid if booked within a small window, usually 2 or 3 weeks.
Deals from past promotions include:
Emirates has one of the sky’s best economy products and a fantastic business class. But it’s not currently in an alliance and only partners with a handful of airlines, which makes these award redemptions tougher to snag.
You can earn Emirates miles through transfers at a 1:1 ratio from Amex Membership Rewards. For Business Saver tickets booked round-trip from JFK to Dubai (DXB), you can spend as few as 145,000 miles. For one-way tickets, you’ll spend around 115,000 miles.
Taxes and fees are extremely high, though, hovering at around $1,200 one-way.
There are several East Coast cities with nonstop flights to Dubai on Emirates, including Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), and Washington, D.C. (IAD).
Try to catch superior business class on the A380, as opposed to the 777-300ER!Hot Tip:
Read our guide on how to book Emirates business class using points.
Up until this point, we’ve only talked about American Express airline transfer partners, but you can also book award stays at hotels through Amex hotel transfer partners.
Generally, you won’t get as much value from your Membership Rewards points by booking a hotel, especially compared to buying flights, but there are still deals worth considering.
For example, one good option is booking a lower-tier Hilton hotel. Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio. So, with Membership Rewards, you can transfer 10,000 points to get 20,000 Honors points for a night at one of Hilton’s most affordable properties, like the Hampton Inn in Decatur, Alabama.
Though the entry-level hotels aren’t the most glamorous stays in the Hilton portfolio, they still mean you’ll have places you can stay on points both domestically and internationally. So how about a stay at the Hilton Alexandria Green Plaza in Alexandria, Egypt (19,000 points per night), or 2 nights at the Hampton by Hilton Guilin Lingui in Guilin, China (9,000 points per night)?Hot Tip:
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Choice Privileges at a 1:1 ratio, and there are excellent hotel redemptions to be had in Europe. For example, you can stay in Europe starting at 8,000 points per night. During peak season, these hotels can easily cost hundreds of euros per night.
Here are some of the best redemptions for Choice Hotels award stays:
You can also earn lots of Choice Privileges points by using the Choice Privileges® Mastercard®.
Step 1: Navigate to the American Express website and log in to your account.
Step 2: Select a credit card account that earns Membership Rewards points. This might be the American Express® Gold Card or the Amex Platinum card, among others.
Co-branded cards such as the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and the Hilton Honors card don’t earn Membership Rewards.
Step 3: On the top, righthand side, choose Rewards. On the next page, choose Transfer Points from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Choose the airline or hotel partner you want. If you haven’t already linked its loyalty program account number to your Amex account, do so now.
Step 5: Once the accounts are linked, choose how many points you would like to transfer. Generally, you’re required to transfer in chunks of 1,000 points. You’ll have to verify you’re the cardholder by entering your 4-digit card ID and your 3-digit security code. Both can be found on your physical card.
Step 6: After entering the number of miles you want to transfer, click Review Transfer and complete the process.Hot Tip:
All transfers are final and cannot be reversed, so double-check that everything is correct!
There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to American Express partner airlines and hotels, but only some of these will maximize your redemption value.
By carefully calculating your Membership Rewards transfers, you could fly Singapore Suites to experience the famous double bed. Or maybe you’ll decide to get 8 stopovers on your flight around the world. Use your imagination!
To maximize the points you get for any flights and take advantage of these deals, the Amex Gold card is a great option — you’ll earn 3x points for flights purchased directly through the airlines or on amextravel.com. There are also many different Membership Rewards credit cards to choose from.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Choice Privileges® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, click here.
Amex’s points program is called Membership Rewards. The points you earn, redeem, and transfer are Amex Membership Rewards (or MR) points.
The value of an Amex point depends on where you’re redeeming your points. A really bad redemption, such as redeeming points for purchases at Amazon.com, has a value of about 0.5 cents per point.
Other airline and hotel partners of Amex return a value of up to 8 cents per point! That’s like getting a $100 ticket for the equivalent of about 1,250 Membership Rewards points.
Fly one-way to Hawaii from the continental U.S. for as low as 13,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to British Airways Avios spent on an Alaska Airlines flight.
Fly one-way to Europe from the U.S. for as few as 11,250 Membership Rewards points transferred to Air France-KLM Flying Blue during certain Flying Blue promotions.
The short answer is no. The IRS and tax court have decided, alongside American Express, to treat frequent flyer miles or mileage awards as nontaxable.
To transfer your MR points to airlines or hotel partners:
Note: Once you transfer points, you cannot transfer them back!
Membership Rewards points earned will appear as “pending” in your account at the end of a billing cycle, which is after your statement closes. This means you can sometimes wait months for points to post — whether from purchases or welcome bonuses.
In their pending state, points are eligible to be used if you are in a hurry to use them. As long as your account is in good standing, you can call up Amex and ask the representative to turn pending points into posted points immediately. This may require speaking to a few different agents or a supervisor to make it happen.
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