American Express cardholders can now transfer their American Express Membership Rewards points to Australian carrier Qantas Airways, with a minimum transfer of 500 points. This new partnership gives AmEx customers the option to convert their points to a whopping 19 different airline loyalty programs, in addition to the three hotel loyalty programs.
Here’s what you should know if you have a credit card that earns Membership Rewards points.
1. There’s a lower point minimum to transfer
Unlike most of the other transfer partners, you can transfer points to Qantas in increments of 500, instead of 1,000. This lower threshold gives you greater flexibility; it's especially helpful if you just need a few more points to top off your account for a reward flight.
2. For a limited time, get an even better value
The typical transfer rate is 1:1, meaning you'd get 500 Qantas points for every 500 AmEx points you transfer. But until June 30, 2019, you get a 20% bonus, which turns those 500 AmEx points into 600 Qantas points.
3. Qantas points can be redeemed on many different airlines
Because Qantas is part of the Oneworld airline alliance and maintains other airline partnerships, you can use your Qantas points for travel on other international airlines. (Note that several of these airlines are also AmEx transfer partners, so depending on your travel goals, it may be more advantageous to transfer your AmEx points to one those programs instead.)
Here’s the full list of Qantas partners:
Aer Lingus — also an AmEx transfer partner.
British Airways — also an AmEx transfer partner.
Cathay Pacific Airways.
El Al — also an AmEx transfer partner.
Emirates — also an AmEx transfer partner.
Iberia — also an AmEx transfer partner.
The big takeaway here is that converting your AmEx points to Qantas points might be a good way to get flights to some uncommon destinations, like Papua New Guinea, which is served by Air Niugini.
Even if you're traveling within Australia and New Zealand, where Qantas has a big presence, it can pay to think outside the box. Partner carrier Jetstar serves many of the same destinations, but Jetstar flights start at just 6,400 Qantas points, compared to the minimum 8,000 Qantas points you’ll need for a Qantas flight.
4. Check the award charts
Before you transfer your hard-earned points to Qantas, make sure you know how many points you’ll need for the flight you want. Qantas still has fixed award charts (unlike Delta and United Airlines), so redemption rates should stay fairly stable, as long as you can find award availability.
Before you transfer points, look for your desired flights online or call Qantas to make sure you’ll be able to redeem your points for your desired trip.
5. Earn more with an AmEx credit card
Need more points to transfer to Qantas? Make sure you’ve signed up for the card that’ll give you the most earning power. The American Express® Gold Card is a popular option because you’ll earn 4 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on restaurants and purchases at U.S. supermarkets, 3 points per $1 on flights booked directly with the airline and through AmEx Travel and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express also gives frequent travelers a lot of opportunities to earn points, with 5 points per $1 on flights booked directly with the airline and through AmEx Travel, 5 points per $1 on hotels booked on AmEx Travel and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. Terms apply.
Keep in mind if you use a co-branded AmEx hotel or airline card or one of their cash-back cards, you will not earn American Express Membership Rewards points, so you cannot take advantage of the AmEx transfer partnerships.
The bottom line
The addition of Qantas as an AmEx airline transfer partner gives cardholders more access to reward flights across Australia and the rest of the world. The 1:1 transfer rate and 500-point minimum make the transfer favorable to consumers, but with so many airline transfer partners and the ability to book flights through the AmEx travel portal, now the trick is combing through all of your award travel options to find the best way to redeem your points.
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