This is the 8th post in my intro series to travel hacking. For a list of other posts, check out my post on how to travel hack your way around the world.
American Express’s Membership Rewards has a ton of transfer partners 14 vs. Chase’s 8. Unlike Chase, however, the transfer rates vary. While most transfer at a 1:1 ratio, some partners transfer at a rate as low as 3:1, while others transfer as high as 1:1.5.
Whereas Chase usually caps their sign-up bonuses at 50,000 points, American Express tends to run bonuses upwards of 75,000 to 100,000 MR several times a year. They can also be extremely generous with point transfer promotions, such as the 50% bonus to British Airways back in January, or the 35% transfer bonus to Flying Blue last September.
American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at the following rates:
- Airline Partners
Aeromexico – 1000:1000
Air Canada – 1000:1000
Alitalia – 1000:1000
ANA – 1000:1000
British Airways – 1000:1000
Delta – 1000:1000
El Al – 1000:20
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) – 1000:1000
Frontier – 1000:1000
Hawaiian – 1000:1000
Jetblue – 250:200
Singapore – 1000:1000
Virgin America – 200:100
Virgin Atlantic – 1000:1000
- Hotel Partners
Choice Hotels – 1000:1000
Hilton – 1000:1500
Priority Club – 1000:1000
Starwood – 1000:333
Transferring Membership Reward Points
Membership Rewards points are non-transferable in the United States and Canada. However, US citizens can transfer points into a family member’s frequent flyer account. This flyertalk thread reports that you can transfer miles into almost anyone’s account, but it’s definitely easier if that person is an authorized user on your AmEx account.
Unfortunately, things seem much stricter north of the border, so if you live in Canada you’re out of luck, I’m afraid.
American Express Cards With Good Sign-up Bonuses
Unlike Chase, American Express deals seem to come and go frequently. The American Express Gold Card (personal & business) can have sign up bonuses that range from 25,000 – 75,000, while the American Express Platinum Card sign up bonus ranges from 25,000 to a whopping 100,000 points. If you’re just getting started, the Gold Card is definitely a better way to go since the Platinum card has a $450 annual fee.
Current offers include:
American Express Gold Card – 50,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $1000 in 3 months. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio into most partners, but American Express offers bonus rates very frequently. 3x on airfare, 2x at gas stations and supermarkets. Annual fee of $175 is waived for the first year.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card – 75,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $5000 in 3 months. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio into most partners, but American Express offers bonus rates very frequently. 3x on airfare, 2x at gas stations and supermarkets. Annual fee of $175 is waived for the first year.