Amex is waiving transfer fees: Should you transfer points even if you’re not planning travel?

Jun 17, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The CARES Act is turning up some unexpected benefits, such as private-jet operators offering lower prices. In addition, it’s making credit card point transfers cheaper.

American Express is temporarily waiving all excise taxes on Membership Rewards point transfers to U.S. airlines, citing the CARES Act. As first spotted by Travel with Grant, this applies to all domestic airline transfers made through Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, Amex is retroactively refunding fees for previous transfers made this year.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The following message appears on Amex’s website when requesting to transfer points to a U.S. airline:

“As a result of COVID-19 and the subsequent CARES Act passed in the United States on Mar. 28, 2020, we are temporarily waiving all excise tax offset fees on point transfers to [airline’s name] through Dec. 31, 2020.”

(Photo by American Express)
(Photo by American Express)

American Express typically charges an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (capped at $99 for any single transfer) when you transfer points earned with a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express to a U.S. airline. Amex’s U.S. airline partners include Delta, JetBlue, and Hawaiian.

That usual fee may seem insignificant but equates to $60 on a 100,000 point transfer. This is in addition to any taxes and fees you may be charged by the airline when redeeming your miles.

Related: How long do American Express Membership Rewards transfers take?

Bottom line

It’s nice to see that Amex is passing on some of its savings from the bailout to consumers. We typically recommend only transferring miles when you have a specific redemption in mind, as transfers are irreversible. However, this tax holiday can save you a decent amount of cash. Depending on your redemption patterns or goals, it might make sense to transfer the points anyway.

The waiver will be available through the end of the year, so you could also wait in hopes that a transfer bonus will be offered.

Remember that you’ll never pay any fees when transferring your Amex points to foreign frequent flyer programs like Avianca LifeMiles or British Airways Avios. Additionally, you’re never charged any fees when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points to any airlines.

Featured image by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.