Reader Email Sunday: American Express Membership Reward Dilemma

Jun 26, 2011

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This morning I am introducing a new feature to my blog; Reader Email Sunday. Basically, about every week or so I will select a couple questions from my inbox and answer them online so that everyone can view my response and offer their own comments. As always, feel free to contact me here if you have your own question and you may end up on the front page of!
“Hi, I have had an  an Amex card for many years and have never used the
points. I have now accumulated over 1 million points and am planning to
use them for travel. I notice Continental Airlines is dropping out of
the Amex redemption program and presumably all of their Star Alliance
partners[?]. I am considering moving 400,000 or 500,000 points into my
Continental account before end September as Continental goes to a lot
of the places I wish to visit. If I do so will I be able to transfer
points from Continental to other Star Alliance partners after Sep.30?
Does it make sense to put all these points into my existing
Continental account [where presumably they will continue to not
expire?]. Any thoughts are welcome. Thanks, Steve H.”
TPG: First off, congratulations on accruing over a million points to one of
the best programs out there. I’m a big fan of Membership Rewards
points and they can be extremely valuable if used correctly.

As far as Star Alliance transfer partners are concerned, they are not
all leaving the program. In fact, you’ll still be able to instantly
transfer points to Air Canada Aeroplan. You can also transfer to ANA
(All Nippon Airways) and Singapore Airlines – both of those transfers
take about 48 hours. Each of the three have different award charts,
which means there is no one best program for all awards. Check out
this post on the Star Alliance transfer partners and expect more posts
on the topic leading up to Continental’s departure from Membership

As far as moving points to Continental, that’s not a bad idea
necessarily, but I’d wait as long as possible unless you need to book
awards before September 30. I do not believe Amex will run a transfer
bonus to Continental, but crazier things have happened and there’s no
reason to jump the gun and transfer before you have to. And since Continental
probably won’t have a transfer bonus you should consider taking advantage
of one of Amex’s current 50% transfer bonuses to Delta (registration required)
or British Airways. At 50% there is a huge value to be had if you use those miles

Overall though, I do think Continental/United has a solid frequent
flyer program so transferring isn’t a bad idea. has a
pretty good award engine (which they will use once merged) and they
allow one-way awards – even on Star Alliance partners, at relatively
low rates. So to sum it up, I think transferring is a decent choice
(though you should leave a good amount in Membership Rewards so you can
redeem in Skyteam and Oneworld as well).

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.