How I'm using Amex's transfer bonuses to book 3 premium trips
The best ways to maximize your points and miles are to leverage airline and hotel transfer partners and to do so when there are solid transfer bonuses. And right now, American Express Membership Rewards is offering a record number of transfer bonuses. Specifically, you can currently get up to a 40% bonus when transferring points to a whopping 12 partners, including Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and British Airways Executive Club. This means that many of the best Membership Rewards redemptions can be booked for fewer points than usual.
We normally discourage speculative transfers since your points will become stuck with the program once completed and will lose the flexibility of being transferrable to other partners. However, there are a couple of potential redemptions I have in mind that seem too good to pass up.
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Luxurious getaway to Anguilla
Ever since the Zemi Beach House in Anguilla was brought into the Honors program in 2019, I've had my eyes set on a trip there. It's one of just a handful of properties part of Hilton's luxury collection brand LXR. It sits right on the water on Anguilla’s tranquil Shoal Bay East and has just 76 rooms and suites, which will be a nice change of pace from some other Caribbean resorts that have hundreds, if not thousands, of rooms.
Standard award nights here typically cost 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night. We normally don't advise transferring Amex points to Hilton, since the standard ratio is 1:2 and TPG values Amex points at 2 cents apiece and Hilton Honors points at just 0.6 cents apiece. However, it could make sense with the current 30% transfer bonus.
With the 30% bonus, you'll get 2,600 Hilton Honors points for every 1,000 Amex points you transfer. That translates to about 37,000 Amex points per night, which is worth $740 based on TPG valuations — not bad considering the cash rate is often around $900 per night. But it gets even better. As a Hilton Honors Diamond member, I get a fifth night free on award stays. So, my nightly rate will effectively be 30,000 Amex points per night ($600 based on TPG valuations). Plus, I still have an up to $250 resort credit from my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card to burn on incidentals.
The information for the Hilton Aspire 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: 3 Caribbean island getaways to book with points — and 2 you might skip
To get there, I'll book American Airlines' nonstop flight from New York-JFK to Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) — which is slated to resume later this year — via British Airways Executive Club. BA charges 22,000 Avios each way in business class for this route. However, with the 40% bonus currently available, that price drops to just 16,000 Amex points each way. That's worth about $320 based on TPG valuations, which is great considering the cash rate is usually around $800.
Related: 5 ways you can maximize the current transfer bonuses to Avios
Delta One to Europe
Next, I'd like to plan a trip to Frankfurt, Germany to reconnect with family members I haven’t seen since the start of the pandemic. I could take advantage of the transfer bonuses to Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles to book Lufthansa first class, but those flights will come out to at least 150,000 Amex points round-trip. While that's a pretty good deal, I need to be a bit more conservative with my points. Instead, I'll book Delta One business class through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for well under 100,000 points round-trip.
Virgin recently transitioned to a distance-based award chart for most Delta redemptions. However, nonstop flights from the U.S. to Europe (non-U.K.) still cost a flat 50,000 points each way in Delta One, plus minimal taxes and fees. That’s a good deal by itself, but the rate drops to an even more attractive 39,000 Amex points when factoring in the 30% transfer bonus, which is terrific. It's a bummer that Delta doesn't fly its new Delta One suites to Germany, but I'll still take it.
Related: How to save thousands of miles on Delta One awards to Europe
Cross-country flights in United Polaris
After catching up with family in Germany, I'll need to visit my relatives in Los Angeles. There are lots of ways to fly from the New York City area to L.A., but if I want to get the most value out of my points, I'm going to need to book United business class through Air Canada Aeroplan.
Air Canada charges just 25,000 miles each way for transcontinental business class awards. That equates to just 21,000 Amex points when factoring in the 20% transfer bonus — worth $420 based on TPG valuations. To maximize my experience, I'm going to be strategic and pick a flight operated by one of United's 787s or 767s with the true Polaris business class pods. United is a bit stingy with releasing saver award availability on the Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) route, but I've had good luck booking these awards close-in. Aeroplan is also one of the few programs I wouldn't mind "parking" some of my points with since it offers plenty of other great redemption options and historically hasn't devalued miles unannounced.
How to earn Amex Membership Rewards points
If you want to take advantage of transfer bonus offers with American Express like these, you’ll need Membership Rewards points. Here are a couple of Amex cards that could help you earn these points:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 on your new card in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Terms apply.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Terms apply.
Related: Credit card transfer bonuses currently available
Amex's current round of transfer bonuses is the perfect opportunity to stretch the points I've racked up over the last year-and-a-half and make up for lost time. Although I normally wouldn't transfer points without a specific use, there are some loyalty programs, such as Air Canada Aeroplan, I'm tempted to break that rule for. If you're thinking about taking advantage of the current bonus opportunities, keep in mind that the airline transfer bonuses are slated to run through Sept. 30, while the hotel ones are through Oct. 31, 2021.