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How long do American Express Membership Rewards take to transfer?

March 04, 2021
18 min read
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American Express Membership Rewards points are one of the most useful, flexible loyalty currencies out there. And they're fairly easy to earn if you have cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card in your wallet.

While not your only redemption option, you’ll generally get the most value from your points by transferring them to a travel partner. The program offers 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners, including at least one useful option in each of the major alliances — SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. All but three of the partners have a 1:1 point-to-mile transfer ratio.

Transfer times vary by partner, so the TPG team routinely performs tests for each one. Not leaving yourself enough time to transfer points from your Membership Rewards account to the affected program could leave you high and dry.

Your experiences may vary, but here’s what we found.

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American Express Membership Rewards transfer times

ProgramRatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClub1:1Instant
Aeromexico Club Premier1:1.624 Hours
Air Canada Aeroplan1:1Instant
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1:1Instant
Alitalia MilleMiglia1:1Instant
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club1:148 Hours
Avianca LifeMiles1:1<1 hour
British Airways Executive Club1:1Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:148 Hours
Delta SkyMiles1:1Instant
Emirates Skywards1:1Instant
Etihad Guest1:1Instant
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1:1Instant
Iberia Plus1:148 Hours
JetBlue TrueBlue1.25:1Instant
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1Instant
Singapore KrisFlyer1:1<24 Hours
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1Instant
Choice Privileges1:1Instant
Hilton Honors1:2Instant
Marriott Bonvoy1:1Instant

Note that the times listed above represent our personal experiences and shouldn’t be taken as hard-and-fast rules. However, others have reported a similar timeline when transferring points from Membership Rewards. Your transfers may be faster or slower, but you can use these times as guidelines when planning your trips.

Instant transfers are obviously always preferred, and Amex does a good job of making that happen compared with competitors like Citi ThankYou. If you haven't done so already, link all of your different transfer partner accounts to your Membership Rewards account. This prevents delays in the future when you may need to make a quick transfer.

Related: How long do Citi ThankYou Points take to transfer?

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Before transferring Membership Rewards

The greatest risk when transferring points is that award availability can change while you’re waiting for points to show up in your account. Transfers are irreversible, so in the worst-case scenario, you’ll be stuck with thousands of points in a program you have little use for beyond your originally-intended award ticket or hotel night. Here are a few tips for how to avoid that situation:

1. Put your award reservation on hold before transferring. Very few programs allow you to put award tickets on hold, but those that do make things much easier. For example, Singapore KrisFlyer allows you to hold an award reservation so long as you have 50% of the necessary miles in your account.

2. Choose flights that have more than one available award seat. This is helpful in case someone else books before your miles show up. Use tools like ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG's parent company, Red Ventures) to find out how many award seats are available on a flight. You can also do a single search for three or four passengers — that way, you can determine precisely how many seats are available.

3. Select uncommon routes. You can improve your chances of finding award space by choosing less popular routes or originate from non-hubs. Those often have better award availability. One example is a transatlantic flight from Raleigh-Durham to London on American Airlines. For a transpacific flight, check out ANA’s flight from San Jose to Tokyo-Narita.

4. Let availability determine your destination. If your original itinerary is no longer an option because availability has dried up and you have some flexibility, one solution is to choose your destination based on which awards are still bookable. If you want to fly six people in business to Hawaii for Christmas, I'd keep in mind the difficulty of that task and search for other destinations with availability — perhaps finding a diamond in the rough.

If your original flights have disappeared, don’t panic. Remember that award availability changes frequently and can increase dramatically as you get closer to your departure date. Check regularly and be ready to act quickly when seats do open up.

Related: Current transfer bonuses

Redeem your Amex points for an Upper Class seat on Virgin Atlantic. (Photo by Nicholas Ellis/The Points Guy)

Can you transfer Membership Rewards points to someone else's account?

Unlike Chase and Citi, American Express doesn't allow for transferring Membership Rewards points to other accounts, even for family members living under the same roof. However, there is a workaround for this: add them as authorized users.

Although you won't be able to transfer the points to another Amex account, you can transfer points to someone else's travel loyalty account by adding them as an authorized user. American Express allows authorized users to be added to all of its Membership Rewards-earning cards. You can add practically anyone as an authorized user on your account — even if you don't share the same address — but you will be responsible for their spending.

The Platinum Card® from American Express charges $175 to add authorized users to an account (see rates and fees). In addition to transferring points to their loyalty accounts, authorized users receive all of the card’s benefits, like lounge access and hotel elite status. However, if the benefits don't matter and all you want is the ability to transfer points, you can also add up to 99 Gold Card authorized users (on a Platinum account) for no fee (see rates and fees).

On the American Express® Gold Card, the first five authorized users are free to add, costing $35 for each person after that (see rates and fees). The American Express® Green Card doesn't charge any fees to add authorized users (see rates and fees).

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Everything you need to know about authorized users

Is there a fee for transferring Membership Rewards points?

American Express charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99) when you transfer points to a U.S. airline. For example, if you transfer 30,000 Membership Rewards points to Delta, you’ll need to pay an $18 fee. This is in addition to any taxes and fees you may be charged by the airline when redeeming your miles.

To minimize these fees and maximize your Amex points, transfer your points to foreign frequent flyer programs like Avianca LifeMiles or British Airways Avios.

Amex charges a fee when transferring points to U.S. airlines like Delta. (Photo by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy)

Which cards earn Membership Rewards points?

You have a few strong options for earning Membership Rewards points on a variety of common spending categories. The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express earns 3x points at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 spent annually, along with 2x points at U.S. gas stations and 1 point per dollar on everything else. During each month you make 30 eligible transactions, you receive a 50% point bonus.

The American Express Gold Card earns 4x points at restaurants. On the first $25,000 spent each calendar year at U.S. supermarkets (then 1x) and 3x points on all airfare purchased directly with the airline, in addition to 1 point per dollar on everything else. If you're purchasing flights and want to earn Amex points, however, your best bet is the Platinum Card from American Express, which earns 5x points on airfare purchased directly or through Amex Travel (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).

Related: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards

Here’s a quick glance at the welcome bonus, bonus category structure, annual fee and benefits for some of the most valuable Membership Rewards cards. The points earned with each of the cards below are fully-transferable. You can click on the card names to learn more about the benefits they offer or visit this guide for more information.

CardWelcome OfferBonus CategoriesAnnual FeePerks
The Platinum Card® from American Express80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership, although you may be targeted for up to 125,000 bonus points through the CardMatch Tool (subject to change at any time). Terms apply.5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)

5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Terms apply.

$695 (see rates & fees)Up to $200 annual airline fee credit; up to $200 total in annual Uber credits for U.S. services; a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100); Global Lounge Collection. Enrollment required for select benefits.
American Express® Gold Card60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first six months, although you may be targeted for up to 75,000 bonus points through the CardMatch Tool (subject to change at any time). Terms apply.4 points per dollar at restaurants; 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases (then 1 point per dollar thereafter); 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.$250 (see rates & fees)Up to $120 total in annual dining credit at participating partners; up to $120 total in annual Uber Cash for U.S. services (must add card to Uber account to receive this benefit); no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees) Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express10,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months2 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% thereafter). Terms apply.$0Make 20 or more purchases with your card in a billing period and earn 20% extra points on those purchases, less returns and credits
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months3 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% thereafter); 2 points per dollar at U.S. gas stations. Terms apply.$95Make 30 or more purchases with your card in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits
American Express® Business Gold CardEarn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership.4 points per dollar on two select categories where you spend the most each month, up to $150,000 in combined eligible purchases from these two categories each calendar year (then 1x thereafter). Terms apply.$295 (see rates & fees)25% points back after you book a flight using Pay With Points (up to 250,000 points per calendar year)
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 120,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com; 1.5 points per dollar on eligible U.S. purchases of $5,000 or more and on purchases in key business categories (up to $2 million in purchases per year). Terms apply.$695 (see rates & fees)Up to $200 annual airline fee credit; a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck; Global Lounge Collection; complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and new Marriott Gold Elite status. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening2 points per dollar on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 each calendar year with no category restrictions (1 point per dollar thereafter). Terms apply.$0 (see rates & fees)$0 annual fee for adding employees (see rates & fees)

The information for The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Choosing the best American Express credit card for you

Bottom line

American Express Membership Rewards transfers are instant for the vast majority of partners. Even the laggards only take 48 hours at most to transfer, which is significantly better than some other programs. Just keep in mind that the transfer times listed above are based on what we saw and may vary from one person to another.

With the large variety of Membership Rewards transfer partners, it's tough to pick out just a few of the best options. Some sweet spots include transferring 70,000 Membership Rewards via Singapore KrisFlyer to fly Singapore-Tokyo on the A380 Suite. Transferring to Choice Privileges for award stays in Europe and Etihad Guest to book flights on partners such as American will also get you terrific value. Check out our guide on redeeming Amex points for maximum value for all of the best-value transfers.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.

Featured image by Singapore SQ Suites (Photo by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees