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You've diligently used your American Express card and saved up the Membership Rewards points needed for that trip you want to book. The next step is transferring points to airline and hotel loyalty programs so you can book the trip.
Whether it's your first time transferring points or you're experienced with points and miles, how to transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels may not be a straightforward process. Unlike when transferring other bank points, AmEx requires that you verify card details. You'll also need to link your loyalty accounts in a separate process before initiating the transfer.
But, no need to worry. We've got a comprehensive step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of how to transfer AmEx Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels.
AmEx Membership Rewards points transfer partners and rates
American Express Membership Rewards currently transfer to 20 airline and hotel loyalty programs. Membership Rewards points transfer to 17 of these airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 transfer rate.
Based on user reports and various travel sites, point transfers are often immediate for most of these partners. AmEx itself shares that transfer times can typically take 48 hours, with actual posting to the new account delayed at times. The partners that most often have a one to two (or more) day wait for transfers are AeroMexico, ANA, Asia Miles, Iberia or Singapore.
Tips before transferring Membership Rewards points
Before we show you how to transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels, here's a few tips to consider before transferring points.
Check award availability first
American Express point transfers are one-way and irreversible. And airline and hotel loyalty programs can devalue loyalty programs without notice. So, it's best practice to wait until you're ready to book an award flight or reward stay before transferring points.
Check ahead of the transfer that the flight or hotel stay you want is currently bookable with points. For programs with dynamic pricing, checking award rates will also let you figure out how many points you'll need to transfer.
Since most Membership Rewards point transfers are instant, your points or miles should be ready to go soon after you check availability. If you’re looking to book on a program known for longer transfer times, just make sure to account for that time in your planning.
Figure out which transfer partner is best
If you're planning to book a Delta award flight, you might assume that transferring Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles is your best option. And it might be. However, it's worth checking other options.
You can use Flying Blue miles, Virgin Atlantic points, or even AeroMexico Club Premier points to book Delta award flights. All three of these loyalty programs are also Membership Rewards transfer partners. And you might be able to save points by booking through alternative programs.
For example, for a business class award flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Paris, Delta can charge 310,000 SkyMiles per person. However, you can pay just 50,000 Virgin Atlantic points for the same flight.
How to transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels
Now that we've gone over some dos and don'ts, let's go through the step-by-step process of how to transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels.
First, you'll need to log into your American Express account. As a shortcut, use this link to log into your account and auto-direct to the transfer points page. Or you can log into your AmEx account and then use this link to open the transfer points page.
Next, you'll need to link your Membership Rewards account with your airline or hotel loyalty program account. Once connected, accounts will remain linked unless you manually unlink them. For ease in future transfers, you may want to link all of your loyalty programs at the same time.
Click on the program you want to link to start the linking process. Once selected, you'll find the transfer rate and how many points or miles you can transfer to the hotel or airline partner.
Scroll down and select which card holder's loyalty program you want to link. In addition to linking your own loyalty program accounts, you can also link loyalty program accounts held by an additional card member. However, you'll need to wait at least 90 days after adding the additional card member before you can link their loyalty program accounts — likely to reduce fraudulent transfers.
Note that the cardmember's name must match the name on the airline or hotel account. So, if you've changed your name, double-check that your name matches in both accounts before submitting the link request.
Next, you'll need to verify your AmEx card. You have the option to use any AmEx card that's linked to your account to verify your account. Choose that card from the list and enter both the four-digit code and the three-digit code on the card.
Last but certainly not least, enter your loyalty program account number. Then click "Link account."
If successful, AmEx will display a confirmation page — but only for 15 seconds before it redirects to the transfer points page.
2. Transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels
Now that you have linked your accounts, it's time to transfer points. From the Transfer Points page, click "Transfer points" for the specific airline or hotel to which you want to transfer points.
On the next screen, confirm that you're transferring points to the correct card member. It also can't hurt to double-check that the loyalty program account number is accurate.
Next, enter the number of points you want to transfer or the number of miles you wish to receive. Just note that transfers must be in increments of 1,000 points.
Then, you'll need to verify your AmEx card. Again, you can use any card that's linked to this AmEx account login. Select the card you want to verify from the list, enter the four-digit code on the front and the three-digit code on the back of the card.
For transfers to U.S. airline programs, you'll need to pay an "excise tax offset fee" before you can transfer points. AmEx charges a fee of $0.0006 per point up to a maximum fee of $99. You can use Membership Rewards points to cover this fee. However, you'll only get half a cent per point in value, and there are much more valuable uses of Membership Rewards points.
Finally, read and accept the terms and conditions. Then, click the "confirm & transfer points" button to initiate the transfer.
If you're transferring Membership Rewards points
To transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines and hotels, you will need an American Express card, your loyalty program account number and some patience. The process to link your accounts and then transfer points can take some time, so you may want to set aside some time to link several accounts at once to save the hassle later.
Before you transfer points, ensure that there's award availability for the flight or hotel you want. And a little work checking alternative transfer programs may yield a much cheaper award redemption.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card