The Best AmEx Transfer Partners — and Those to Avoid

Some American Express transfer partners offer a better value than others.
May 21, 2021

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American Express Membership Rewards has a total of 21 different transfer partners — 18 airlines and three hotel chains. But some of these transfers prove to be a better value than others.

We've analyzed all 21 partnerships so that you can spend less time evaluating, and more time redeeming. Here are the five best American Express transfer partners, followed by some okay redemptions and which transfer partners to avoid whenever possible.

Top American Express transfer partners

1. Singapore KrisFlyer

If you’re looking for great redemptions using Singapore KrisFlyer miles, you’ll want to check out our post on the best Singapore Airlines sweet spots, including booking premium cabin travel like Singapore Suites or flying from the U.S. West Coast to Hawaii for 12,000 KrisFlyer miles. Singapore KrisFlyer is the best AmEx airline partner.

2. Air France/KLM Flying Blue

The best use of FlyingBlue miles is booking monthly Promo Rewards. These Promo Rewards are for a limited time, but while they’re available, you can get up to 50% off award flights.

3. British Airways Executive Club

The current distance-based award chart of British Airways Executive Club allows you to redeem as few as 9,000 Avios one-way for flight distances under 1,151 flown miles within North America.

4. Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca is a Star Alliance member, meaning that you can use your LifeMiles to book travel on United, Lufthansa and other Star Alliance carriers. Avianca has sweet spot awards to Southeast Asia.

5. Delta SkyMiles

With Delta’s great route network within the United States and their frequent promo sales on award flights, transferring Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles can be a great option. Depending on the route, you can sometimes find cheaper awards on Delta by using Virgin Atlantic miles (see below), so make sure to check that out before transferring to Delta. Delta also has some sweet spots, particularly for short-haul domestic flights.

Nerdy tip: One unique feature of the American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner program is that it charges an excise tax fee of 0.06 cent per point transferred if you transfer Membership Rewards to any U.S.-based airline partner (Delta, JetBlue or Hawaiian).

Other decent transfers for AmEx rewards

The next set of American Express transfer partners is not quite as lucrative, but you can still find some pretty good situational value here:

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Virgin Atlantic is a Delta partner, which means it’s sometimes possible to find the same Delta flights for fewer miles through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club than using Delta SkyMiles. Using Flying Club miles to fly ANA premium cabins can also be a great value.

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: You can definitely find value with the Asia Miles award chart, but it takes a bit of work. This is because Cathay has a strange award chart that depends in part on whether you’re flying only Cathay or including additional Oneworld partners. Look for redemptions of 7,500 Asia Miles for intra-Asia flights under distances of 750 miles.

  • Emirates Skywards: If you’re looking for how to best use Emirates Skywards miles, check out our post on Emirates Skywards sweet spots.

  • Etihad Guest: Etihad has different award charts for all of its different travel partners, and you can find value on Brussels Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Royal Air Maroc and (interestingly enough) American Airlines flights.

  • Choice Privileges: American Express has three hotel transfer partners, but Choice Hotels is the only one we recommend for most people. In the U.S., people often think of their low-budget brands like Rodeway Inn, Comfort Suites or Quality Inn, but internationally Choice has some great options like award nights costing as low as 8,000 points.

  • Qantas Frequent Flyer: The Australian flag carrier airline has a distance-based award chart where flights up to 600 flown miles cost only 8,000 points to book.

  • Iberia Plus: Similarly to British Airways, Iberia uses the Avios program as its award currency. There are times when Iberia can provide exceptional value. In 2021 Iberia overhauled its American Airlines award chart, eliminating some sweet spots. However, some nonstop awards are now cheaper.

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Aeroplan’s value lies in its sweet spots. An example of a strong redemption is a one way business class award ticket between the U.S. and Europe for only 55,000-57,500 Aeroplan points.

  • ANA Mileage Club: Although ANA has brought back excessive fuel surcharges, which makes using its miles significantly less attractive, you can still find good value on awards between Europe and North America for only 88,000 miles round trip in business class, which also include an open jaw.

The worst American Express transfer partners

And finally, we come to the bottom of the barrel: The eight AmEx transfer partners that we would not recommend under any but the most extreme circumstances, as they're not a good value.

  • Aer Lingus AerClub: Because AerLingus is now owned by the same company as British Airways and Iberia (also AmEx transfer partners), you’ll almost always be better off with one of those other programs.

  • JetBlue TrueBlue: TrueBlue is a revenue-based mileage program, so it’s usually best to pay for your flights through the AmEx travel portal as outlined above.

  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: No award chart sweet spots here.

  • AeroMexico Club Premier: No award chart sweet spots.

  • Alitalia MilleMiglia : No award chart sweet spots to speak of.

  • Marriott Bonvoy: Unlike Choice Hotels, there will almost never be a reason to transfer your AmEx Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy. Between the inflated award chart and peak/off-peak pricing structure, you’ll almost always be better off paying cash.

  • Hilton Honors: Similar situation to Marriott, but Hilton has an even more inflated award chart.

Ways to earn American Express Membership Rewards points

You can earn American Express Membership Rewards through credit card welcome offers and spending with the following cards:

Personal AmEx cards

Business AmEx

If you want to redeem AmEx rewards wisely ...

One of the best parts of collecting a transferable points currency like AmEx Membership Rewards is the chance to earn and redeem points with a variety of travel operators; however, not all of these relationships have equal weight. Knowing which are the best AmEx transfer partners will help you get outsized value per point — a smart move for all of the points optimizers among us.

All information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and American Express® Green Card are no longer available through NerdWallet.

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:

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