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How I'm using Amex's transfer bonuses to book 3 premium trips

Sept. 12, 2021
7 min read
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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

Zemi Beach Resort, LXR Hotels (Photo courtesy of Zemi Beach House)

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

(Screenshot courtesy of americanexpress.com)

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.

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American Airlines plane landing at SXM (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

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.

(Photo by Christian Kramer / The Points Guy)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

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.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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:

Related: Credit card transfer bonuses currently available

Bottom line

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.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Zemi Beach House
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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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023