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American Express Membership Rewards are a flexible currency many award travelers can’t get enough of—the points can be redeemed in many different ways and are therefore crazy valuable.

Using Membership Rewards points to book travel, such as flights or hotels, via the Amex Travel portal is one way to redeem them, but it’s not one of the best ways. You’ll extract 0.7 to 1 cent in value out of every point, which is on the low end. Transferring American Express points to travel partners is your best bet to increase their value.

So, without wasting time, let’s go over how to transfer Amex Membership Rewards to travel partners, how long these transfers take and some of the best transfer programs to use.

Cards That Earn American Express Membership Rewards

Not all American Express cards available on the market earn Membership Rewards points. Amex issues many co-branded credit cards, partnered with Delta Air Lines and Hilton, for example, which earn rewards in those particular programs.

The following Amex cards earn Membership Rewards:

The points are awarded based on the card you hold and the spending category.

For example, you’ll earn 4X Membership Rewards points by using the American Express Gold Card to pay at restaurants and for purchases made at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter). You’ll also earn 3X points per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly with airlines or from American Express travel.

With the American Express Green Card, you earn 3X points at restaurants, on public transit and on travel. And if you’re a business owner, you’ll earn 2X points on all purchases made with the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express (on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter).

Some of these cards don’t charge annual fees, which means that you can get access to Membership Rewards and their transfer partners without having to pay yearly dues.

How to Combine Membership Rewards Points From Multiple American Express Cards

Membership Rewards points aren’t exactly tied to your credit card account, but rather your American Express member number. If you hold multiple Membership Rewards-earning cards, the points automatically pool into one Amex account. You don’t have to do any manual point transfers to combine your rewards.

How to Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Travel Partners

As long as you hold one of the American Express cards on the list above, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to the following airline and hotel partners at the following rates.

AirlinesTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000 : 1,000
Aeroméxico Club Premier1,000 : 1,600
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000 : 1,000
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,000 : 1,000
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000 : 1,000
ANA Mileage Club1,000 : 1,000
Avianca LifeMiles1,000 : 1,000
British Airways Executive Club1,000 : 1,000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000 : 1,000
Delta SkyMiles1,000 : 1,000
Emirates Skywards1,000 : 1,000
Etihad Guest1,000 : 1,000
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000 : 1,000
Iberia Plus1,000 : 1,000
JetBlue TrueBlue250 : 200
Qantas Frequent Flyer500 : 500
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000 : 1,000
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000 : 1,000
HotelsTransfer Ratio
Choice Privileges1,000 : 1,000
Hilton Honors1,000 : 2,000
Marriott Bonvoy1,000 : 1,000

To initiate a points transfer, log in to your American Express Membership Rewards account. To access your Membership Rewards points, you can click on “Rewards” in the top menu or click the “Explore Rewards” button located below your point balance.

How to Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Travel Partners

From there, click on the “Earn and Redeem” dropdown menu and select “Transfer Points.”

How to Transfer Amex points

Alternatively, feel free to just click on the “Transfer Points” button below. You’ll see a couple of transfer partners right off the bat. Click the “View All” button for the rest of the partner programs to appear.

How to Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Travel Partners

Select the program where you’d like to send your Membership Rewards points and enter the number of points you’d like to transfer. If a bonus-points promotion is active during the transfer process, the bonus will reflect on the transfer page.

transfer membership rewards points

You’ll have to verify your card by entering the four-digit code on the front of the card and the three-digit code on the back to confirm that you’re the one requesting the point transfer.

Keep in mind that before you can begin transferring points to one of the airline or hotel programs, you must link your American Express account to a loyalty program first. To do so, click on the program of choice. If you hold multiple Membership Rewards-earning Amex cards, pick the one you’d like to use, verify it by entering its security codes (front and back), add the membership number associated with that travel partner and click the “Link Account” button at the bottom.

transfer points amex membership rewards

Once your accounts are linked, you’re ready to transfer points.

Can I Transfer Membership Rewards to Someone Else?

Although the official answer is you can transfer Membership Rewards points to your own loyalty accounts only, in practice, it’s possible to send Amex points to your authorized user’s frequent-flyer accounts as well.

The authorized user must be added to your account at least 90 days prior for the transfers to be possible. If you think that you’ll utilize this option in the future, it’s best to add an authorized user sooner than later and be ready to go when you need to make a point transfer to someone else’s account.

Of course, adding a spouse or a sibling as an authorized user to your American Express account will be reported to credit bureaus and can affect their 5/24 status with Chase. Consider whether it would hinder their ability to apply for new Chase cards before you add an authorized user to your personal Amex card.

How Long Does It Take for Amex Points to be Transferred?

The flexibility of Membership Rewards points is their major benefit. You can transfer them to nearly two dozen loyalty programs to book your flight or hotel stay.

If you’re in a hurry and need to book something quickly, instant point transfers are your friend. However, keep in mind that some transfers take a bit longer, such as those to ANA Mileage Club or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, and you have to wait for a transfer to complete before you can redeem the points.

So, every time you send your points to a program that doesn’t process transfers instantly, you have to accept a certain level of risk. The award space can be gone while the points are in limbo, and there’s nothing you can do.

Here’s what you can expect from transferring Amex points to airline and hotel partners.

AirlinesTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClubInstant
Aeroméxico Club PremierUp to 14 days
Air Canada AeroplanInstant
Air France/KLM Flying BlueInstant
Alitalia MilleMigliaInstant
ANA Mileage ClubUp to four days
Avianca LifeMilesInstant
British Airways Executive ClubInstant
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesInstant
Delta SkyMilesInstant
Emirates SkywardsInstant
Etihad GuestInstant
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesInstant
Iberia PlusUp to seven days
JetBlue TrueBlueInstant
Qantas Frequent FlyerInstant
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerUp to three days
Virgin Atlantic Flying ClubInstant
HotelsTransfer Time
Choice PrivilegesInstant
Hilton HonorsInstant
Marriott BonvoyInstant

Leveraging American Express Transfer Bonuses

From time to time, American Express offers bonus rewards on point conversions made during promotional periods. These offers are indicated right on the transfer page.

Transfer Bonuses amex membership rewards

For example, at the time of writing, Amex was offering a 15% bonus on Membership Rewards points transferred to Avianca LifeMiles, a 20% bonus on points transferred to Air Canada Aeroplan, a 25% bonus on points transferred to Air France-KLM Flying Blue and a 40% bonus on points transferred to British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus.

transfer bonus amex membership rewards

Click on a program, and the terms of the promo will state the size of the bonus and the offer’s expiration date. This is a nice way of booking award flights or hotel rooms at a reduced rate in points.

Are Amex Point Transfers Reversible?

No. Once you transfer your Membership Rewards points to a loyalty program, the transfer is irreversible.

However, take that with a grain of salt. In the past, I’ve been able to reverse a point transfer to Iberia Plus. Four years ago, I made a double-booking on two different airlines thinking that one of my international flights had been canceled, when, in fact, it hadn’t been. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have transferred the points in the first place. (I only found out at the airport that my first reservation was still valid.)

I later needed Membership Rewards back in my account for a different booking, so I decided to press my luck and see whether a point reversal would be possible.

It took a couple of Amex representatives some time to perform a miracle, but they were successful in the end. I’ve only done this once, and I’d say it was an exception rather than the norm and likely isn’t going to work most times. So, transfer your Amex points with the expectation that the process can’t be reversed.

Key Amex Airline Transfer Partners and Rewards

Because each loyalty program has its strengths and weaknesses, there’s not a be-all-end-all answer to this question. It depends on where you want to travel, when and how far your destination is.

It’ll take you a bit of time and multiple practice runs to figure out the best use for your Amex points, but here are a few of the sweet spots of Membership Rewards.

Short-Haul Flights on American Airlines

British Airways and Iberia Avios are a perfect currency for booking short-haul American Airlines flights. The airlines are Oneworld partners, which means you can redeem Avios to book American Airlines flights.

Because both British Airways and Iberia apply a distance-based method to price out award flights, you’re better off booking short-distance flights. Let’s take a look at how this works in practice.

Here’s a flight from Miami to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. American Airlines charges 13,500 AAdvantage miles for this nonstop flight. Not horrible, but we can do better.

Best American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

By using the short distance of 911 miles between the departure point and the destination to your advantage, you can book the same flight for 9,000 Avios.

best american express membership rewards transfer partners1

For a couple traveling together, it’s a savings of 9,000 miles per direction.

Use the same method to book short-haul flights (up to 1,150 miles in distance) within the United States.

First Class to Japan on All Nippon Airways

Perhaps this is one of the best sweet spots of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program. You can use your Flying Club miles to book first-class flights to Tokyo for 55,000 Miles if you depart from West Coast airports, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle, or 60,000 miles if you depart from East Coast airports, such as New York or Washington.

best american express transfer partners

In the past, you had to book a round-trip flight on ANA, which not only doubled your redemption rate for this trip but also made it harder to find two flights with availability. However, it’s now possible to book one-way flights in either direction.

To book these awards, you must call Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-365-9500 because they’re not bookable online.

Economy Flights to Europe on Air France-KLM

The Air France-KLM Flying Blue loyalty program is one of the most useful programs to use to book economy flights from the United States to Europe. You can find one-way flights for 21,500 to 29,000 Flying Blue miles per direction.

best amex membership rewards transfer partners

The program uses a dynamic pricing approach, which means that the ultimate redemption rate depends on your city combination and the dates you fly. However, you can easily find out what a flight should cost by using the Miles Price Estimator. Plug in your desired route into the empty fields, and the estimator will let you know the lowest possible rate you can find for that particular route.

miles price estimator

If you’re flexible with travel dates, plus or minus a week in either direction on the calendar, you should be able to find a flight priced at the lowest redemption level.

Should I Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Hotel Loyalty Programs?

Ehhh, this one isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Although transferring flexible points to airline loyalty programs is one of the most lucrative ways to use them, it’s not the case for hotel programs.

American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred to three hotel programs: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. Typically, Amex points are worth a lot more than hotel points, and using them this way will only decrease their value.

However, in rare circumstances, you might want to consider transferring your Membership Rewards to hotel programs.

Normally, American Express points transfer to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio, meaning you’ll end up with 2,000 Hilton points for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred. However, you can snag a better conversion rate during one of the transfer promos.

Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Hotel Loyalty Programs

Let’s see an example of when it could make sense to transfer your Amex points to Hilton to book an award stay.

Many rooms at the Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort in Egypt are going for 20,000 Hilton Honors points or about $175 per night at a flexible rate for Hilton program members with free cancelation up to one day before arrival.

Transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Hotel Loyalty Programs

By using the transfer bonus to your advantage, you can book a night at this hotel for just 8,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to Hilton. This yields a value of 2.18 cents per point. If your goal is to save money on your trip, using Amex points to cover the cost of your hotel will do just that and still provide good value for your rewards.

transfer membership rewards points

Of course, this strategy isn’t 100% perfect, and it’s best to crunch the numbers before you make a points transfer to a hotel loyalty program.

If you’re short a few thousand miles for a multi-night redemption that gets you a lot of value, such as booking four nights and getting the fifth night free with Marriott Bonvoy, topping off your hotel account is another acceptable reason to transfer those valuable Membership Rewards points.

Final Thoughts

Because of the poor value you get out of your Membership Rewards points through the Amex Travel portal, transferring them to its many travel programs and booking heavily discounted travel is the best way to redeem them.

As always, compare the cash rates across multiple programs to the cost in points and do a little math to make sure you come out on top.