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TPG reader Randy tweeted me to ask about points transfers:
@thepointsguy– “How easy is it to convert American Express Membership Rewards points to American Airlines miles?”
I think the American Airlines AAdvantage program has some of the most valuable frequent flyer miles out there. American has fairly low redemption thresholds (especially in first class to places like Asia), and is a member of the Oneworld alliance, so you can redeem on great partners like JAL or Cathay Pacific.
I often get asked if you can convert Amex Membership Rewards to AAdvantage miles, and unfortunately you can’t transfer directly. You can, however, convert from Amex to SPG at an awful ratio of 3:1, then from SPG to American Airlines at 1:1 (or 1:1.25 if you transfer 20,000 points). For example, 60,000 Amex points would transfer to 20,000 Starpoints and then 25,000 AAdvantage miles. You’d be losing over half of your overall value, so I don’t recommend this option unless you’re desperate.
If you want AAdvantage miles, you have a few alternatives. You could get the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, which offers a good sign-up bonus and some useful benefits:
- Earn 30,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation*
- Enjoy Group 1 Boarding on American Airlines flights*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases.1
- Receive 25% savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card on American Airlines flights*
- Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
- Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back — up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*
For the best day-to-day earning rate, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card American Express earns one Starpoint per dollar spent, and you can then transfer to American Airlines as described above (20,000 points becomes 25,000 miles). That means with this card you’re effectively earning 1.25 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent, which is better than most of the American Airlines co-branded credit cards.
Transfers from Starwood aren’t always instantaneous, so you do need to plan ahead. I think the lesson to learn here is to always check out the transfer partners before you really commit to a certain loyalty currency or travel rewards card. Membership Rewards points can be really valuable, but they’re not a great fit for transferring to AAdvantage!
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||15.49%-19.49% Variable||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.||0%||Excellent Credit|