Reader Question: Is There A “Best” Transfer Partner for Amex Points?

AdSense

Reader Patty G asks: “What are the best airlines/hotels to transfer Amex points to?” Great question!

The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the many flexible points currencies available to savvy frugal travelers. Membership Rewards points, often referred to as simply MR points, are quite valuable simply because they can be used in a wide variety of ways. You can use them for statement credits, for purchases on Amazon.com, or for gift card redemptions – but, for the most part, the best value lies in redeeming MR for travel.

You can use MR points to book cash fares through the AMEX Travel Portal, at a fixed value of $0.01 per point – which, again, is not the best use of Membership Rewards points. Most of the time, the real value lies in the AMEX transfer partners. American Express allows members with MR-earning cards to transfer their points to a total of 20+ partners, including airlines, hotel chains and more. While the best program to transfer to will depend on your personal travel goals in many cases, some programs are generally better than others. Today, I’ll go over some of my favorite Amex transfer partners, but make sure you have a use for miles in any of these programs before you transfer!

What Are the Best AMEX Transfer Partners?

AMEX MR points can currently be transferred to the respective rewards programs of 17 airlines, 3 hotel chains, and Plenti (American Express’ store loyalty program). With so many choices, it can be tough to narrow down the best options. For the most part, the hotel transfer partners offer mediocre value at best, while Plenti is only worth considering if you have more points than you can feasibly use for travel. So, that leaves us with the AMEX Airline transfer partners. We’ll highlight the partners with the best value below.

Delta Airlines – Best Transfer Partner for Domestic Economy Travel

AMEX MR points transfer to Delta Airlines at a rate of 1:1, meaning that 1,000 MR will get you 1,000 Delta miles. Delta does not publish an official award chart, unfortunately, but domestic round-trip fares start at just 10,000 miles for short-haul flights. You can access an unofficial award chart created by Drew from Travel is Free here. For cross-country (Coast to Coast) flights, fares typically run about 25,000 miles round trip in Economy class. Here’s why we picked Delta as a top AMEX transfer partner:

  • 1:1 transfer ratio; miles transfer instantly
  • Excellent calendar-view search engine makes finding award availability easy
  • Typically offers a good amount of award space and good nationwide coverage
  • Economy domestic round-trip fares from 10,000 miles
  • Cross-country round-trip fares from 25,000 miles
  • Domestic US to Canada round-trip fares from 25,000 miles

Singapore Airlines – Best Transfer Partner for Domestic & International Premium Travel

For those looking to fly in a premium cabin (Business/First class), Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer program offers some incredible value. KrisFlyer is a Star Alliance member, and interestingly enough, many routes booked via KrisFlyer miles on partner Star Alliance airlines are significantly cheaper than they would be if booked directly with the partner. For example, one-way flights from the continental US to Hawaii on United (a Star Alliance partner) would normally cost 40k and 50k United miles for Business and First class, respectively, but cost only 30k/40k KrisFlyer miles. Additionally, Singapore is home to the legendary Singapore Suites, often considered some of the most premium cabins available. Here’s some more reasons we consider Singapore Airlines to be an excellent choice for redeeming your MR points:

  • 1:1 transfer ratio; miles transfer within 24 hours
  • Member of Star Alliance, which includes 28 airlines (United, Lufthansa, ANA, Air Canada, and more)
  • Excellent fare rates on premium class travel, both domestically and internationally
  • Often offers award tickets on partner airlines for reduced mileage rates
  • Offers access to the ultra-luxurious Singapore Suites
  • Reduced rate Business/First class domestic travel on United & other partners
  • Reduced rate economy class routes to Europe (27,500 miles each way)
  • Also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points if you don’t have enough Membership Rewards for your entire journey

Honorable Mentions

There are a LOT of transfer partners, and many of them offer some pretty great value. Some runners-up for best AMEX transfer partner include:

JetBlue

JetBlue also offers some tremendous value on both short-haul and long-haul domestic fares. Mileage redemption rates are tied to the price of the cash fare, which means if specific routes go on sale, you can score some excellent values. The airline typically offers the most value in economy class, which is actually pretty decent in terms of comfort. The transfer ratio is generally 250:200, but there’s currently a transfer bonus which makes it 250:250.

British Airways

British Airways uses a distance-based award rate, which makes for some killer sweet-spot fares for short-haul flights. Unfortunately, BA has some pretty high fuel surcharges for their own flights, which can be a significant downside. You will generally want to avoid booking flights on British Airways with their own miles. Also, the transfer ratio from MR is 250:200. There are sometimes transfer bonuses, but there is not currently one.

Final Thoughts

Finally, keep in mind that naming the “best” transfer partner is subjective – it all depends on your travel goals, your home airport, and whether you prefer to fly economy or premium class. We recommend setting clear goals, and having specific redemptions in mind (that have availability) before you transfer any points. Since most MR transfer partners offer quick or even instant transfer times, there’s no need to transfer points before you are pretty much ready to book. Lastly, if you find you’re running low on those sweet, sweet Membership Rewards points, check out the current sign-up bonuses that are available from American Express.

Have a question for Frugal Travel Guy? Let us know in the comments!

Caroline Lupini

In 2011, with a four-week trip around Europe, Caroline became a true road warrior. Caroline likes to mix roughing it and luxury on her travels, sometimes staying in five-star hotels and other times in hostels. Her mantra: splurge…
All Articles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee:
    $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees:
    No
  • Card Type: Bank

Apply Now
Add to Favorites

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Annual Fee:
    $95 fee waived for the first year
  • Foreign Fees:
    No
  • Card Type: Bank


Apply Now
Add to Favorites
FTG Review Reward Breakdown Points Breakdown
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Breakdown

Earn (pt.)

Spend


First 3 months

50,000

$4,000


Travel Purchases

2.00

$1


Restaurants Purchases

2.00

$1


Coffee Shops Purchases

2.00

$1


Fast Food Purchases

2.00

$1


Alcohol & Bars Purchases

2.00

$1


All Purchases

1.00

$1


Apply Now

Powered by WPeMatico

eBay