How long do American Express Membership Rewards take to transfer?
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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.
American Express Membership Rewards transfer times
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1:1||Instant|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1:1.6||24 Hours|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1:1||Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1:1||Instant|
|All Nippon Airways Mileage Club||1:1||48 Hours|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1:1||<1 hour|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1:1||48 Hours|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1:1||Instant|
|Iberia Plus||1:1||48 Hours|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore KrisFlyer||1:1||<24 Hours|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||Instant|
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
|Card||Welcome Offer||Bonus Categories||Annual Fee||Perks|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 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.||5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)
5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
|$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 Card||60,000 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.||4x points at restaurants; 4x at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases (then 1x thereafter); 3x 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 Express||10,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months||2x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% thereafter). Terms apply.||$0||Make 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 Express||15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months||3x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1% thereafter); 2x at US gas stations. Terms apply.||$95||Make 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 Card||Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership.||4x points 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 Express||Earn 120,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.||5x points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com; 1.5x 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.||$595 ($695 if application is received on or after 1/13/2022)(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 Express||Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening||2x points on everyday business purchases, up to $50,000 each calendar year with no category restrictions (1x 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.
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 of Singapore Suites by Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.) (Enrollment required for select benefits)
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
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- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees