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The Amex Membership Rewards program isn't the same around the globe – here's what you're missing

June 25, 2020
10 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information and card offers.

American Express is a truly global brand, issuing credit cards in over 40 countries. Although some products, such as the iconic Platinum card, may look similar around the world, their perks and fees vary greatly from country-to-country. One of the biggest differences is the value of Membership Rewards points.

If you've ever come across advertisements for foreign versions of The Platinum Card® from American Express, you may have raised an eyebrow when seeing the welcome bonus — or lack thereof. For instance, while The Platinum Card is currently offering a 100,000-point welcome offer in the U.S. (after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership), it's offering a 480,000-point bonus in Hong Kong and 30,000 bonus points in the U.K.

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It's not that American Express is more generous in one country or another, but rather that the value of the points vary wildly between countries. In the U.S., TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, but every country has a different set of transfer partners and transfer ratios for you to take advantage of.

Today, we'll discuss exactly how much the value of Membership Rewards points varies based on which country's program you're participating in We’ll learn how the nearly 500,000 bonus points offered by the Hong Kong version of the card isn't as massive as it seems – especially considering the card carries a HK$7,800 (~$1,000 USD) annual fee.

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(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Amex transfer partners and ratios in the U.S.

Let’s start with the current Membership Rewards transfer partners and ratios for U.S.-based cardmembers. Most transfers are instant and at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub1:1
Aeromexico Club Premier1:1.6
Air Canada Aeroplan1:1
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia1:1
All Nippon Airways Mileage Club1:1
Avianca LifeMiles1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1
Delta SkyMiles1:1
El Al Matmid50:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Guest1:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1:1
Iberia Plus1:1
JetBlue TrueBlue1.25:1
Singapore KrisFlyer1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1
Choice Privileges1:1
Hilton Honors1:2
Marriott Bonvoy1:1

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Amex transfer partners and ratios in Hong Kong

As you can see, there's a massive difference in transfer ratios with the Hong Kong program. Most U.S. Membership Rewards partners have a 1:1 ratio, while Hong Kong’s program comes in at 15:1. That makes the Hong Kong card's nearly 500,000-point welcome bonus equivalent to roughly 33,333 American Membership Rewards points — disappointing considering our initial excitement about the offer.

As previously mentioned, at over $1,000 the Hong Kong card has a much higher annual fee than the $695 (see rates & fees) U.S. card. It also lacks some key benefits, like up to $200 annual airline fee statement credit, up to $200 annual Uber Cash (for U.S. services) and up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue annual statement credit. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Here are the Hong Kong Membership Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners and ratios:

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
British Airways Executive Club15:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles15:1
China Airlines Dynasty Flyer15:1
Emirates Skywards15:1
Eva Air Infinity MileageLands15:1
Finnair Plus15:1
Singapore KrisFlyer15:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club15:1
Hilton8,000:1,250
Marriott Bonvoy9:1

Amex transfer partners and ratios in Australia

The Australian Membership Rewards program offers 2:1 transfer ratios to many useful programs. While that ratio might not sound too exciting, it's pretty solid considering the Australian version of The Platinum Card earns 2.25 points per $1 spent on most purchases.

Oddly enough, Qantas is not a transfer partner, though there are multiple cards — both Amex and otherwise — that earn Qantas points directly. The Australian Platinum Card offers 80,000 points after $3,000 spent within the first 3 months. At $1,450 AUD (or $966 USD), the annual fee is much higher than the U.S. version

Bonus categories on this card are also not as plentiful.

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
 Air New Zealand200:1
 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles2:1
Emirates Skywards2:1
Etihad Guest2:1
Malaysia Airlines2:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club2:1
Virgin Australia Velocity2:1
Hilton Honors2:1
Marriott Bonvoy3:2

Amex transfer partners and ratios in Canada

Many Canadians are just as points and miles-crazy as us Americans, and they are often distraught with the above chart compared to the American program. Not even being allowed to transfer to Delta, Cathay Pacific or Etihad at a 1:1 ratio is tough to swallow, and card bonuses are not as high nor as plentiful as here in the U.S. You do have our sympathy, neighbors to the North.

Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio
 Air Canada Aeroplan1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000:750
British Airways Executive Club1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000:750
Delta SkyMiles1,000:750
Etihad Guest1,000:750
Hilton Honors1:1
Marriott Bonvoy5:6

Related: Can I apply for the same credit card in two different countries?

Amex transfer partners and ratios in India

There isn't anything particularly great in India’s Membership Rewards program, except that given the current exchange rate, you earn 2.5 points for every 100 rupees spent. That works out to about one point, rather than one dollar, for every 53 cents you spend. Cardholders also earn 3x points on all purchases made abroad.

While the predominantly 2:1 transfer ratio makes sense given the earning rates, it's hard to swallow given the very low welcome bonuses and the lack of bonus categories on the available cards. Plus, transactions like fuel, insurance and utilities are specifically excluded from earning points on the American Express® Gold Card in India.

Transfer PartnerTransfer Rate
 British Airways Executive Club2:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles2:1
Club Vistara3:1
Emirates Skywards2:1
Etihad Guest2:1
Finnair Plus2:1
InterMiles2:1
Qatar Privilege Club2:1
Singapore KrisFlyer2:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club2:1
Hilton Honors10:9
Marriott Bonvoy1:1

Amex transfer partners and ratios in the U.K.

With very reasonable transfer ratios, unique partners like Radisson Rewards and SAS, and a 2:3 Marriott Bonvoy transfer ratio, in certain circumstances the U.K. Membership Rewards program could be called more advantageous than the U.S. version.

The difficulty lies in earning U.K. Membership Rewards points. Welcome bonuses for cards are not nearly as high as in the U.S. and most personal cards don't have great bonus categories. Still, if you have access to the U.K. Membership Rewards program and spend a lot, there's plenty of potential value in your stash of points.

Transfer PartnerTransfer Rate
Air France-KLM Flying Blue1:1
Alitalia MilleMiglia1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1:1
Delta SkyMiles1:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Guest1:1
Finnair Plus1:1
Iberia Plus1:1
SAS EuroBonus1:1
Singapore KrisFlyer1:1
Qantas Frequent Flyer1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1
Hilton Honors1:2
Marriott Bonvoy2:3
Radisson Rewards1:3

Related: The ultimate guide to U.K. Amex Membership Rewards

The U.K. Membership Rewards program has some unique partners like SAS. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Can I apply for the same Amex card in two different countries?

Over the years, we’ve gotten this question from readers who moved to other countries. Amex has strict application restrictions for U.S.-issued cards, which generally only allow you to earn the welcome bonus on a card if you haven’t had that specific card before.

Fortunately, that only applies to cards issued in the same country, so holding an Amex Platinum card issued in the U.K., for example, won’t count against you if you want to apply for one issued in the U.S. To learn more about applying for the same credit card in two different countries, visit this guide.

Bottom line

Those in the U.S. have an incredible advantage when it comes to travel rewards cards and redeeming their Membership Rewards points. The lower value of rewards outside of the U.S. can be tied back to lower credit card interchange rates and fees charged by other countries. The card-issuing banks elsewhere make less money and therefore do not offer huge rewards to incentivize customers to use their cards.

It would be fine if some of the other countries had either big welcome bonuses or large bonus spending categories to make up for the poor transfer ratios compared to the U.S. program. Because they don't, the U.S. version of Membership Rewards is much more valuable than anywhere else in the world.

For rates & fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

Additional reporting by Richard Kerr.

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/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.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5X points
5XEarn 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.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points
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.

Annual Fee

$695

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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • 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.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5XEarn 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.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    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.

    Earn 100,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • 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.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees