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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.
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.
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.
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.