Airline and Hotel Programs in 2022

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When it comes to transferable credit card rewards points, you might automatically think of Chase Ultimate Rewards or Capital One miles. But the American Express Membership Rewards program was one of the first points currencies to allow folks with associated credit cards to convert their hard-earned rewards into miles and points with various airline and hotel partners.

In fact, the Amex Membership Rewards program debuted way back in 1991 with just seven US airline partners. Today, Membership Rewards works with 18 frequent flyer programs and three hotel loyalty programs. Those numbers are impressive in and of themselves – consider, Chase has just 14 partners total, and Citi ThankYou Rewards has 18.

What sets Amex apart even more, however, is the excellent quality of its partners, and the myriad redemption opportunities they represent.

Read more: Amex and Chase points are the two most valuable types of credit card rewards — here are their biggest differences

Here is a comprehensive guide to American Express transfer partners and how to get the most value from your points when taking advantage of them.

The best cards for earning American Express Membership Rewards

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Featured Reward

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.
    • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on eligible Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
    • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
    • $695 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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    Before you can redeem Amex points, you’ve actually got to earn them. Only a handful of Amex cards – both business and personal – rack up Membership Rewards points. Other Amex rewards cards earn either cash back, hotel points with programs including Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, or airline miles with programs such as Delta SkyMiles.

    Read more: I had sticker shock over the Amex Platinum card’s annual fee, but 6 lucrative benefits convinced me to open it anyway

    The following personal American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points: 

    And the following business cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points:

    Read more: The best American Express credit cards

    American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

    Now for a quick rundown of the current lineup of Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners.

    You can transfer your Amex points to all of the following airline and hotel partners. Points transfer to many of these instantaneously, though some transactions might take a few business days to process.

    Read more: Use these 3 Amex cards to earn maximum rewards points for every purchase you make

    Most transfer ratios are 1 Membership Rewards point to 1 airline mile or hotel point, but those that vary have been noted.

    How to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points

    Once you start looking into booking awards using partner miles or points, your next step will be to actually transfer your Amex points to a partner program.

    In order to do so, log in to your Amex account online. Click on the “Rewards” tab, and you should see your points balance and various options including one with an arrow that says, “Transfer Points.” You will be redirected to a page that lists the various partner programs and the current conversion ratios.

    Read more: I used credit card rewards to book Emirates first-class flights worth $15,000, and the same strategy works whether you have points from Amex, Citi, or other major banks

    Before you can initiate a transfer, you must link your Membership Rewards account to your various frequent flyer and hotel accounts. Doing so is as simple as clicking on the partner you want to use, then entering your credit card’s security code and four-digit ID as well as your account number with the partner. Once you link accounts, you should be able to transfer whenever you like.

    One thing to keep in mind: American Express also periodically offers transfer bonuses that tend to range from 20% to 40% to various partners. It’s worth checking on available transfer bonuses from time to time, or taking advantage of ones you come across in order to get even more value from your points.

    The best Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners

    Before you get too overwhelmed with the number of transfer partners and all the points possibilities, here are the nine that deserve the most attention, with some examples of what makes them such fantastic options.

    Just a quick note on some of the numbers, airlines, flight cabins, and routes cited here: These are accurate as of the time of publication, but are subject to any coronavirus-related fleet and network changes individual airlines make, as well as government-imposed travel restrictions.

    Air Canada Aeroplan

    This mileage program has had a few ups and downs in recent years, including being spun off then reacquired by Air Canada. In late 2020, the airline introduced several major changes, but its award charts have not changed much, so its points have largely retained their value. Thus, Aeroplan remains one of the best frequent flyer programs for those who want to redeem their Amex points for flights on Star Alliance carriers such as United, Lufthansa, SWISS, and EVA Air.

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Aeroplan points

    Aeroplan’s new award formula includes 10 distance-based charts for travel within and between four regions: North America, Atlantic, Pacific, South America.

    Yes, it’s a bit convoluted. In general, though, economy flight redemptions are a solid bet, and you should keep your eye out for specific premium award opportunities – especially in light of the fact that Aeroplan has eliminated fuel surcharges that used to range into the thousands of dollars.

    Here are three possibilities based on both the distances of specific routes and the partner airlines you can fly:

    • You only need 55,000 points each way for business class on ANA from either Vancouver or Seattle to Tokyo Haneda. For comparison, United would charge you 88,000 MileagePlus miles.
    • Likewise, business class on Lufthansa or SWISS between Europe and several airports in the eastern US should cost just 60,000 Aeroplan points but would require 77,000 United miles.
    • Finally, thanks to that same distance-based formula, you can book coach tickets between the West Coast of the US and Canada and Hawaii starting at 12,500 points each way versus 22,500 United miles – that’s nearly twice as many miles!

    Air France-KLM Flying Blue

    Flying Blue is the mileage program of numerous airlines including not only Air France and KLM, but also carriers like Kenya Airways and TAROM. Members can also redeem their miles for flights on SkyTeam partners like Delta, Aeromexico, and Korean Air, among other partners.

    Though Flying Blue levies hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges for flights to and from Europe, there are still a couple of reasons to recommend the program.

    First, it offers monthly rotating “Promo Rewards” with discounts of 20% to 50% off award pricing between certain cities and regions. In real terms, that means rewards for under 11,000 miles each way between North America and Europe in economy, or 28,750 miles in business class — if you can find them. Those numbers are hard to beat.

    But even on a regular basis, Flying Blue members seem to have a lot more access to premium awards on both Air France and KLM than they would with other programs, such as Delta SkyMiles.

    ANA Mileage Club

    Getting back to Star Alliance for a moment, you can find some phenomenal possibilities by transferring your miles to All Nippon Airways’ underrated frequent flyer program.

    Without getting too bogged down in the details, Mileage Club does have a few important restrictions. Awards must be booked round-trip, though there’s some flexibility thanks to open-jaw and stopover allowances. But the real beauty of the program is just how few miles you need even for the most premium experiences in the skies.

    For example, you would need just 88,000 miles round-trip to fly business class on airlines like SAS and TAP Portugal between North America and Europe. Want to bump it up to first class on an airline like Lufthansa? That’ll cost you 165,000 miles round-trip. Sure, that’s still a lot of miles, but it’s a far cry from the 242,000 miles United would charge you.

    Read more: The best credit card rewards sweet spots that get you the most from your hard-earned points and miles

    You could fly from North America to most of Asia for 85,000 to 95,000 miles round-trip in business class on Star Alliance carriers like Asiana or EVA, or 150,000 to 180,000 in first class. Yes, that’s a lot of miles, but is still around half what other airlines’ frequent flyer programs would charge.

    Interested in taking either United’s new services between Newark and either Cape Town or Johannesburg? You would need just 104,000 miles round-trip in business class with ANA, versus 176,000 United miles, or 170,000 Aeroplan miles.

    British Airways Executive Club

    Thanks to a distance-based award formula that can result in exorbitant pricing for long-haul flights in premium cabins, some folks might shy away from transferring Amex points to British Airways. However, Executive Club has offered some of the most frequent transfer bonuses of any Amex partner, and is still an excellent choice for certain short-haul awards (flights that are about three hours or less).

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize British Airways Avios points

    Flying from the West Coast of the US to Hawaii will only cost you 13,000 Avios each way in economy on either American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, versus 15,000 to 22,500 using either of those carriers’ miles. Likewise, using Avios to book shorter flights within Asia on Cathay Pacific, within Australia on Qantas, or from Miami or Dallas to the Caribbean on American Airlines can be a good way to save money on routes that can be expensive to book using cash.

    You can also get from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Tokyo for just 27,750 miles each way in economy on JAL, or from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus for just 13,000 miles each way at off-peak times. Keep in mind that you can transfer Avios between British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub, and Iberia Plus for even more options, including some with lower surcharges on flights to and from Europe.

    Read more: The best ways to use points and miles to fly to Europe

    Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

    While this Hong Kong-based airline’s award chart won’t be for everyone, if you’re positively raking in the Amex points thanks to bonuses and spending, you might want to splurge with a few redemptions.

    Like American Airlines AAdvantage, Asia Miles will charge you 70,000 miles each way in business class or 110,000 miles in first between the West Coast of the US (and Canada) and Hong Kong. The reason you might want to use Asia Miles instead of AAdvantage (or Alaska Mileage Plan miles, for that matter), is that it’s easier to come by award space using the airline’s own frequent flyer program rather than a partner, and unlike American and Alaska, you can transfer points from Amex as well as other credit card programs.

    Read more: 5 real-life trips taken by credit card reward travel experts to inspire your vacation planning — especially if you have lots of points and miles to burn

    Another great premium possibility is to use 75,000 Asia Miles each way for Qatar Airways’ outstanding business class between its hub at Doha and certain destinations within the US, including Boston, Chicago, New York-JFK, and Philadelphia.

    Delta SkyMiles

    Although Delta has made drastic changes to its award program over the past decade, it’s still one of Amex’s standout transfer partners for a number of reasons. First, it’s the largest US carrier on the list, it’s part of SkyTeam, and it also boasts non-alliance partners like Virgin Atlantic, so you can use your SkyMiles in a variety of ways.

    Read more: How to earn, redeem, and maximize Delta miles

    That said, Delta has done its best lately to peg the value of SkyMiles to about 1 cent each, especially for awards on Delta itself. So use your Amex points for cheaper economy tickets that can cost as little as 5,000 miles each, or simply to top up your account with a few thousand miles here and there for specific tickets you are certain you will need to book in the near future (especially if that bumps you up from economy to business class).

    Etihad Guest

    Due to a clunky online interface and the fact that you have to call customer service to book awards on partner airlines, you might want to avoid Etihad Guest in general, unless you can pinpoint a few specific awards.

    However, the carrier has a lot of interesting airline partners, including American Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA, Korean Air, and Royal Air Maroc, among others. The airline also offers occasional award sales, bringing the price of some tickets down even further.

    Read more: I used credit card points to splurge on Etihad first class flights, and I’m still in awe of the decadent meals and amazing service

    In general, though, here are two great awards you could consider transferring Amex points for:

    • First, you can snag a one-way, one-segment business-class ticket on Royal Air Maroc, including between the US and Morocco, for just 44,000 miles.
    • Second, Etihad makes first-class award space much more easily available to its own mileage program members than those of partners, including American Airlines AAdvantage. So if you want a shot at one of Etihad’s fabulous first-class suites between Abu Dhabi and either the US or Europe, you’ll probably want to start hoarding Amex points for a transfer to Etihad Guest.

    Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

    Singapore Airlines partners with several of the other major transferable points programs, including Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Capital One, so before you transfer Amex points, consider what other options you have. That said, there are a few redemption sweet spots to be aware of.

    Economy awards between North America and Hawaii on either United or Air Canada are priced at a reasonable 17,500 miles each way, while flying business class within North America on either of those carriers is 23,000 miles each way.

    Read more: Bucket-list travel experiences like Singapore Airlines’ first-class suite cost thousands of dollars, but they’re much more attainable if you earn credit card points

    But the real reason you might want to transfer Amex points to KrisFlyer is to redeem them for business- or first-class flights on Singapore Airlines itself, since the airline is very stingy with releasing award space to partners.

    Sure, flights cost a lot of miles – flying business class on the world’s current longest flight from Newark to Singapore will set you back 99,000 miles each way, or first class from New York-JFK to Frankfurt will require 86,000 miles — but spending some time in the lap of luxury could well be worth it.

    Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

    Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points are useful for partner award flights, some of which you can book for fewer points compared to other programs

    Among the best examples are using just 50,000 miles to fly Delta One Suites between the US and Europe (except the UK), or 60,000 miles between the US and Asia – a bargain considering you’d need at least 85,000 Delta SkyMiles for either option. You might also want to use 90,000 to 95,000 of them to fly ANA’s gorgeous new business-class suites round-trip between the US or Europe and Japan, or 110,000 to 120,000 miles to fly first class.

    Other options

    Now that we’ve gotten the best partners out of the way, here are the details on the rest and why might or might not want to transfer your hard-earned Amex points to them.

    Aer Lingus AerClub: In reality, Aer Lingus AerClub is linked to British Airways Executive Club, so it’s relatively easy to transfer your Avios between accounts, but why add another layer of complexity to your rewards strategy?

    Aeromexico Club Premier: Although the transfer ratio to Aeromexico might seem favorable, and there are sometimes transfer bonuses, the Club Premier award chart lacks any truly great redemption opportunities.

    Alitalia MilleMiglia: Alitalia ceased operations in late 2021, and it’s unclear what will happen to the MilleMiglia loyalty program.

    Avianca LifeMiles: While this program offers some fabulous award opportunities on Avianca’s Star Alliance partners, its booking engine is not the most reliable, and its customer service reps can be hard to reach. 

    Emirates Skywards: Emirates reduced the sky-high fuel surcharges it once tacked onto its award tickets, but mileage prices are still astronomical, especially for sought-after seats in first and business class.

    Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: While this program can come in handy specifically for tickets within Hawaii and between the islands and the US mainland, you might be better off simply getting one of Hawaiian Airlines’ co-branded credit cards to enjoy extra earnings and perks.

    Iberia Plus: Another partner linked to British Airways Avios, Iberia’s mileage program is a great way to save on fuel surcharges, and does have some excellent award options between the US and Europe, including certain business-class tickets that cost as few as 34,000 Avios. However, its search engine can be hard to use, and customer service is almost non-existent, so do your homework before transferring Amex points here.

    JetBlue TrueBlue: Folks can get a lot of value from TrueBlue points for flights on JetBlue, but the conversion ratio of 5 Amex points to 4 TrueBlue points takes it out of the running as a truly great transfer partner.

    Qantas Frequent Flyer: You might find some good deals redeeming Qantas miles for expensive flights on the airline’s own metal within Australia and the South Pacific, but award prices for flights beyond that are jaw-droppingly high for the most part.

    Choice Privileges: Booking some budget stays in the near future? Choice points could come in handy, but are unlikely to be a frequent transfer option for more aspirational travelers.

    Hilton Honors: Amex points convert to Hilton Honors points at a 1:2 ratio, which is great on the surface. But if you’re interested in Hilton stays and perks, you should probably apply for a co-branded Hilton credit card instead. For instance, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
    is currently offering 150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening, and it confers automatic top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond elite status, statement credits at Hilton Resorts and on certain eligible stays at Waldorf Astoria and Conrad properties, plus a free weekend night reward each account year.

    Marriott Bonvoy: Considering the paltry 1:1 conversion ratio and Marriott’s excellent stable of co-branded credit cards, you might want to avoid Amex transfers and instead apply for a product like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. It’s currently offering new cardholders 3 free nights (each valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases and 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories, plus benefits like automatic Gold elite status, 6 points per dollar on eligible Marriott purchases, and 2 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

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    Bottom line

    American Express Membership Rewards points are among the most valuable and versatile travel rewards out there. That’s thanks not only to the sheer number of airline and hotel loyalty programs cardholders can transfer their points to, but also the variety of excellent redemption opportunities available.

    The key to optimizing Membership Rewards points is to pick a credit card that will earn the most of them on the things you tend to purchase most frequently. And then, on the other side of the travel rewards equation, you will want to focus on just a few of the transfer partners with the best redemption opportunities for your needs and goals.

    Read more: Don’t let the Amex Platinum’s new ‘lifestyle’ benefits distract you from its true value — here’s what the card is worth to the average person

    Once you pinpoint the right card and the right partners, you should be able to make strategic transfers and enjoy excellent award flights and hotel stays.

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