Back to Basics: How To Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points
Category : Uncategorized
- Cards that Earn Membership Rewards
- Transfer Partners
- How to Link Programs & Transfer
- Transfer Rates, Bonuses & Times
- Most Valuable Transfer Partners
Cards that Earn Membership Rewards
Membership Rewards (MR) are the points currency of American Express which transfer to airline and hotel partners.
The cards which earn MR:
- EveryDay Preferred
- Personal Green
- Business Green
- Premier Rewards Gold
- Business Rewards Gold
- Personal Platinum
- Mercedes-Benz Platinum
- Business Platinum
As you can see, once you ‘link’ a program, that specific partner tile moves from ‘Select a loyalty program to link’ to ‘Your loyalty programs’.
How to Link Programs & Transfer
Step 1: Create a frequent flyer account.
Though you can enroll in any of these programs on the Membership Rewards page, I find it easier – and less confusing – to do it on the airlines own frequent flyer page.
Step 2: Link Accounts
Once you’re logged into your American Express account, your Membership Rewards earning cards will show your points balance. Below that you’ll have an option to ‘Use Points’.
You’ll be presented with four options:
- Your Charges
- Gift Cards
Select ‘Travel’, and you’ll then be presented with two more options for using your points for travel:
I’ve noticed that those two options switch positions sometimes, but either way, you want to select ‘Transfer Points‘. That will bring you to the partner programs page (see above).
Once you’ve selected your partner to link, you’ll be asked for the following information:
- Card holder to link
- Which Membership Rewards earning card you’re using to verify:
- The 4 digits on the front of that Membership Rewards earning card;
- The 3 digits on the back of that Membership Rewards earning card.
- Frequent flyer program number
‘Card Holder to Link’ – If you have an authorized user on your account, that user can be linked to your Membership Rewards account. This will allow you to transfer points to that authorized users frequent flyer account. In any event, the linked partner program must match the name on the card – even if it’s an authorized user.
‘Which Membership Rewards earning card…’ – You can use any Membership Reward earning AMEX card you have to verify with the front 4 digits and back 3 digits.
‘Frequent flyer…’ – If you’re linking an authorized users frequent flyer account, that information must match the first step (‘Card Holder to Link’). The name on the account and card must match.
Step 3: Transfer Points
After successfully linking programs, you’ll be prompted to ‘Transfer Points’, or you’ll be redirected about 10 seconds to the transfer page.
Transferring points is extremely straightforward. You’ll be prompted to enter the about of Membership Rewards you’d like to transfer and then AMEX will tell you how many points that equals in the partner program.
If you add a partner now, and wish to transfer later, follow the steps above and your program will be part of ‘Your Linked Programs’ section.
Transfer Rates, Bonuses & Times
Not all partner programs are 1000:1000 and not all are instant.
The following partners are not 1000:1000:
- British Airways Avios, 250 MR = 200 Avios
- Aeromexico Club Premier, 1000 MR = 1,600 Club Premier miles
- El Al Matmid Miles, 1000 MR = 20 Matmid miles
- Iberia Plus Avios, 250 MR = 200 Iberia Plus Avios
- Jetblue TrueBlue, 250 MR = 200 TrueBlue points
- Virgin America Elevate, 200 MR = 100 Elevate miles
- Hilton Honors, 1000 MR = 1500 Honors points
- Starwood Preferred Guest, 1000 MR = 333 SPG points
Occasionally AMEX has transfer bonuses of 25% – 50%. You can view a historical record of transfer bonuses here. Most commonly, British Airways Avios has a transfer bonus (as high as 50%) which brings the 250 Membership Rewards : 200 Avios to a more respectable parity.
|Aeromexico Club Premier||Within 24 Hours|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Instant|
|Air France/KLM FlyingBlue||Instant|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||Within 24 Hours|
|All Nippon Airways Mileage Club||1 – 2 Days|
|Britsh Airways Executive Club (Avios)||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||24 Hours|
|El Al Matmid||Instant|
|Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles||Instant|
|Singapore KrisFlyer||Within 24 Hours|
|Virgin America Elevate||Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Instant|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||Instant|
In some cases these may take longer, or less tiem, but a majority of them are instant or within 24 hours. Transfer times are important to keep in mind when dealing with rare award space.
Most Valuable Transfer Partners
The Membership Rewards program has a lot of solid partners, though not all are equally as good. Some have specifically great uses, while others are very solid across the board. Here’s a sample of some with quick transfer times, easy to redeem and good value when redeeming awards.
- Air Canada Aeroplan – Air Canada’s Aeroplan is a member of the Star Alliance. Though they pass on fuel surcharges on certain airlines, they don’t on: Air China, Brussels, United, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, EVA Air, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swiss and a few others. This makes Aeroplan miles valuable for getting to most destinations around the world, particularly Europe. For Europe they charge 55,000 one-way in business class – one of the cheapest, without fuel surcharges.
- Air France / KLM FlyingBlue – one of the best uses of Air France/ KLM’s frequent flyer program FlyingBlue, is that Israel is considered part of Europe. That means one-way coach tickets are 25,000 or 62,500 miles in business class. That’s before the frequent promotions they have where award tickets can be 25 – 50% off.
- All Nippon Airways Mileage Club – Though they do pass on fuel surcharges and require all tickets to be booked roundtrip, ANA, also a member of the Star Alliance only charges 65,000 miles roundtrip form the U.S. to Israel.
- Delta Skymiles – Yes, Delta does have constant devaluations, but usually have solid award space in business (and coach) from the U.S. to Europe for 70,000 Skymiles each way. Add your Membership Rewards to the often lucrative Delta Skymiles credit cards (also from AMEX).
Depending on your destination and travel preferences, each program has something unique to offer.
Exicse Tax Offset Fee
American Express charges an excise offset tax when transferring Membership Rewards to domestic airline partners:
- Delta Skymiles
- Hawaiian Airlines Hawaiian Miles
- Jetblue TrueBlue
- Virgin America Elevate
The fee is $0.0006 per point. For example, if you transfer 50,000 Delta Skymiles from Membership Rewards, you’ll pay an additional $30. This can be offset with more Membership Rewards, or by charging the fee to your card of choice.
The max for this charge is $99.