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What Program Is Best To Transfer Amex Points If You’re Going to Close Your Account?

by on February 23, 2014 · 21 comments

in American Express, ANA, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post, Virgin Atlantic

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TPG reader TGauthier tweeted me this week wondering what his options were for transferring American Express Membership Reward points for future travel before he closes his account:

@thepointsguy Brian where is the best place to transfer Amex points for future  travel prior to closing the account?”

First off, you never want to move Amex, Chase or Starwood points to partners until you absolutely need them. This way you have maximum flexibility for choosing what to use them for and can redeem them at the moment you need them. However, if you plan on closing down an account, you should definitely transfer them to partners before doing so, or you will lose your points when you close the account.

Membership Rewards

Where you transfer the points to really depends on what you plan on using them for. For example, flying across the Atlantic versus on a short-haul flight within the US would require you to transfer them to different programs if you want to get the best value and options.

You could transfer to them to Avios and fly British Airways.

You could transfer to them to Avios and fly British Airways.

I would say one of the best programs to look at is British Airways. They usually run promotions or transfer bonuses every few months – if you can hold off until the offer a transfer bonus (I don’t know of any at this time but you never know when they might pop up) that would allow to get more value out of the points. British Airways is good for short-haul flights, as well as flying overseas to certain destinations. For example, Boston to Dublin roundtrip in business class is only 50,000 Avios!

Another program you could consider is Aeroplan. Even though they’ve just raised their rates on awards, they are a Star Alliance member  and you might be able to get some good value there. ANA and Singapore Airlines are also transfer partners you might want to look into.

Once you decide where you would like to go, take a look at the award flight charts of the aforementioned airlines/programs, and choose the best option. Another idea is to diversify, and transfer some to British Airways, some to ANA and some to Aeroplan for now, depending on how many points you may have. Just be aware that some of these airlines have hefty fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Fuel surcharge

What I definitely do not recommend is liquidating you Amex points for statement credits or gift cards, as you will get less than 1 cent per point. Hotel transfers really aren’t that great either. Virgin Atlantic is also another transfer partner option but beware as they also have extremely high fuel surcharges and fly to fewer destinations, so keep that in mind.

I hope this answers your question, as there is no “right” answer, but at least you have some possible options.  See the below links for more information that may help.

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfers

American Express Transfer Bonuses To British Airways and Virgin Atlantic – Maximizing Partner Redemptions

Maximize Monday: Virgin Atlantic Awards – Should You Transfer Amex Points To Virgin or Other Partners?

Analyzing Membership Rewards Star Alliance Partners

ANA Award Series Overview

Top 10 Lesser Known Amex Transfer Partners You Might Not Have Considered

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on FacebookTweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • IndieproducerNYC71

    What about SHOP AMEX with points? They have 40% of right now through the end of MARCH. Also, I agree with you on Virgin Atlantic, I just booked it through my CHASE POINTS SAFFIRE and it was $486 round trip to London in June.

  • Gary

    How about opening an Amex Blue card (not Blue Sky, not Blue Cash just regular Blue)? This card carries no annual fee but accrues Membership Rewards points and having it will preserve any MR points you’ve earned on charge cards even if you need to cancel those charge cards. While you cannot transfer MR points to partners with Blue, upon re-opening a Green/Gold/Plat card you regain ability to transfer. I’ve found this to be an effective option for preserving MR points when you don’t have an immediate need to transfer them to an airline but want to close your annual fee cards. Additionally if you have a different Amex credit card (not charge card) you can downgrade that card to the Blue and avoid a credit pull. Thoughts?

  • Sherm

    are you going to do an SPG transfer partner series? I think the taxes and fees information and also the ease of booking partner awards are the most useful information.

  • rob black

    When my wife’s Amex Gold was closing I put the points into ANA. When I close my Amex Gold can I transfer the points into her ANA acct?

  • Andy F.

    Great! So comparing to Chase cards, Blue is like Freedom/Sapphire and Gold/Plat is like Sapphire Preferred/Ink?

  • Gary

    Andy, I think comparing American Express Blue to Chase Freedom or Sapphire (non-preferred) is an apt comparison in that Blue preserves points without allowing you to transfer to partners much like the Freedom & Sapphire do. While I haven’t seen many, if any, bloggers recommending using Amex Blue to preserve points, this method has worked for both my wife and me over the past couple years allowing me to cancel Amex charge cards whenever I need to without worrying about losing my accrued points.

  • thepointsguy

    That is an option, but this scenario was that the person wanted to close all accounts (perhaps moving abroad or something?”. But yes, having one eligible points card open will keep the points active, though in the case of Amex Blue, they won’t be transferable.

  • thepointsguy

    Yes- just attach her ANA to your MR account and transfer

  • thepointsguy
  • palkiss
  • Sherm

    Thanks! Maybe you can update the transfer time chart now (hopefully you have received all of them).

  • Peter

    I tend to disagree with this statement,

    “First off, you never want to move Amex, Chase or Starwood points to partners until you absolutely need them”

    Although I understand the logic and agree partially, i had 270,000 chase UR points combined in my wife’s and my account and all of a sudden, Chase closed ALL OUR ACCOUNTS (11 credit cards) and took all the points. Adding insult to injury, we were in Hawaii when this happened and I went to buy food with my Chase card, and it was declined? WHY? Because after applying for some new cards a month earlier and Chase granting me 15k credit line on one card and 13k on another card, they saw me as HIGH RISK. Go figure.

    I know Chase has closed down many people’s accounts without notice and they lose all their points as well (there’s a message board somewhere on that specifically) I fortunately after 1 month of fighting and speaking to a VP, got them all reinstated as well as all my cards back. I transferred them out all out to Hyatt and United RIGHT AWAY. Now, when I get points, I transfer them out right away, and I only keep about 20k max between both of our accounts, in case I need to top of an account and I lower all my credit lines to around 5k…

  • Lurker

    I find great value in transferring my Amex points to Jetblue.

  • Preacher

    Hands down transferring to Aeroplan wins, right now! Why? Because the
    points.com transfer option to US Airways is now back! You can transfer
    up to 100K Aeroplan points/year to Dividend Miles! When they merge with
    AA, those DM become AAdvantage miles. Bingo! Sure, it’s a 16% hit on
    the points.com transfer, but big deal: AA miles are hands down the best
    ultra-luxury miles out there! No fuel surcharges (except on BA), and
    you can fly up front on Etihad, Qatar, Cathay Pacific and more. Take
    advantage of this while you can! And no, I don’t work for points.com
    But I did fly round trip AUH to IAD in First last week on Etihad, and
    tomorrow I fly ORD to DOH on Qatar in Biz. Trust me, those flights will
    make you glad you made the exchange: 3 legs of those flights literally
    cost me just over $100…

  • Tony G

    Gary,Thanks for all the HELP. I transferred 300,000 to my Best Western with the 150,000 BONUS= 450,000 total. Now I will use the Southwest transfer Option to complete my wife’s companion pass. 450,000 went to my BA Avios where I had existing 113,000 so I can use them to get the kids to Ireland thru the Boston-Dublin suggestion. THANK YOU ALL Tony G.

  • hc

    If I close an airline credit card will I lose all of my miles?

  • doodler

    if you transfer to Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin Atlantic, you can then transfer those points to Hilton at greater than 1:1 ratios. Virgin used to be 2:1, but i think it’s 3:2 now.

  • simona

    I’m in the same boat – wanting to close my Amex that’s coming up for the $175 renewal, and not really using it much. I have just over 100K reward points. My question is about Delta – you don’t mention this is a good option?
    I know Delta points don’t expire. Is the the same for points transferred in? I can’t find an answer on their site regarding this.
    I have no immediate travel plans to target these points to, but could always find Delta flights to burn them on, especially without the pressure of expiration date.
    Thanks for your great blog!

  • Piyush Bansal

    ANA is my new favorite. I was able to book a round trip between New Delhi and JFK in Business class using only 105,000 Amex points and $450 USD on Etihad Airways. I think it is a great deal considering transferring to to Virgin America or Singapore Airlines would have cost me 180,000 to 195,000 miles.

    I’m originally a United Mileage Plus Member and I was very happy with their program after having redeemed only 80,000 miles (and minimal fee) towards my recent Trip to Peru with my wife. However, after the devaluation a trip to India on United does not make sense. First, the non-stop flight United operates between EWR and DEL, while a great option is never available for Saver award redemption (you can check, it is not available even 11 months in advance). On top of that, this flight is not availble to any of United’s partners for award redemption. The standard United award is the only way to book this flight through miles and that costs, lo and behold, 350,000 Round Trip after the devaluation. What a waste! I could still spend 160,000 miles to travel on on Lufthansa (JFK-DEL-JFK) but I’d rather travel on Etihad.

    105,000 Amex/ANA Miles +$450 on Etihad Vs 160,000 United Miles + $190 on Lufthansa?
    What would you choose? I chose Etihad for its far better in service and the fact that I could put my Amex points to good use with ANA. As an additional bonus, the ANA call center is extremely helpful. I was on call with them for 50 minutes.

  • Max

    Did Amex Membership Rewards remove the option to transfer points to United Mileage Plus? I can’t see United as an option in the Amex transfer webpage?

  • TK

    You can now get the Amex EveryDay Credit Card, which has no annual fee, and will allow you to keep your membership rewards points still be able to transfer to airline programs.

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