5 ways to maximize Amex’s latest set of 12 transfer bonuses
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
About a year ago, American Express launched a record number of transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards to various airline and hotel partners.
Now, Amex has brought back another massive set of transfer bonuses. So, if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or American Express® Gold Card that earns Membership Rewards points, now may be a good time to transfer some points and book a trip.
There are 12 transfer bonuses to Amex's hotel and airline transfer partners. The current transfer bonuses range from 15% to 30%, depending on the transfer partner:
- Avios (Aer Lingus and British Airways): 25% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Aeromexico Club Premier: 20% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 15% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue: 25% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Avianca LifeMiles: 15% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: 20% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Qantas Frequent Flyer: 20% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 30% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Choice Privileges: 25% bonus through Oct. 31.
- Hilton Honors: 30% bonus through Sept. 30.
- Marriott Bonvoy: 20% bonus through Oct. 31.
Utilizing these transfer bonuses can unlock excellent redemption options for flights and, to a lesser extent, hotel stays. However, these transfer bonuses aren't the highest we've ever seen for many of these partners. As such, we don't recommend speculatively transferring your Membership Rewards to airline or hotel partners.
If you're looking to transfer and then book a high-value award, though, these transfer bonuses may be the catalyst you need to get your trip booked. To help inspire you, let's look at some of the best ways to maximize these American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses.
Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.
Cheap domestic flights with Avios and LifeMiles
If you want to book domestic travel, you can leverage these transfer bonuses to fly for fewer points on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines.
On the American and Alaska side, you can use the 25% Avios transfer bonus to book short-haul domestic flights for as little as 6,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. After all, domestic flights up to 651 miles cost 7,500 Avios one-way under British Airways’ distance-based award chart. You can transfer 6,000 Membership Rewards points and get 7,500 Avios during this bonus.
Flights between 651 and 1,151 miles cost 9,000 Avios, or 8,000 Membership Rewards points transferred for 10,000 Avios during this promotion (since you can only transfer Membership Rewards to Avios in increments of 1,000).
Alternatively, you can book United domestic award tickets with Avianca LifeMiles. Awards start at 7,500 LifeMiles — or 7,000 Membership Rewards transferred for 8,050 LifeMiles during this 15% transfer bonus — one-way for an intraregion flight. You may even find cheaper awards than this on some routes.
Longer flights typically cost more miles. For example, you’ll usually pay 12,500 LifeMiles to fly from Los Angeles to New York. This is just 11,000 Membership Rewards points during this transfer bonus.
Play around with your dates and destinations to see which transfer partner is best for your next domestic flight. It could help you save a lot of money for relatively few points.
Business class to Spain for 28,000 points
You can also leverage the 25% transfer bonus to Avios to book an Iberia business-class journey to Spain; it'll cost just 34,000 Iberia Avios on off-peak dates from select hubs on the eastern side of the U.S.
This redemption is typically an incredible deal, but the 25% bonus lowers this to a mere 28,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to British Airways. (You can then transfer Avios from British Aways to Iberia.)
Off-peak dates span most of the year. You can view a list of peak and off-peak dates on Iberia’s website, and the Iberia search engine should show the correct pricing.
Transatlantic Delta One for 39,000 points
Delta One suites are one of my favorite ways to get to Europe. I’ve found that the product is consistently better than what’s offered by other major airlines such as American and United; it also stacks up well against many international business-class products. Better yet, some suites-equipped Delta jets (Airbus A350s and A330-900neos) have sliding doors for extra privacy.
The best way to book Delta One awards to Europe is by leveraging its partnership with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. The program charges just 50,000 Virgin points for a nonstop business-class flight from anywhere in the U.S. to Europe. This drops to just 39,000 Membership Rewards points with the current 30% transfer bonus.
You can book all Delta award tickets right on the Virgin Atlantic website. Search for your flights and transfer points after finding open award space.
Round the world in business class for 184,000 points
Aeromexico Club Premier offers one of the most flexible round-the-world bookings. It charges just 224,000 or 352,000 kilometers for an economy- or business-class round-the-world ticket, respectively.
Aeromexico transfers usually process at a 1:1.6 transfer ratio, but the 20% bonus boosts this to a 1:1.92 ratio. This drops the price of a round-the-world ticket to 117,000 Membership Rewards points in economy and 184,000 in business class. Note that you are, however, responsible for paying taxes and other surcharges.
These tickets can have up to 15 stopovers, must begin and end in the same country and continue east or west for the entire journey. You can use these rules to build out some pretty exceptional itineraries.
That said, booking these tickets isn’t exactly easy. You need to find award space using your favorite SkyTeam award search tool or with ExpertFlyer (which is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures). Then, you have to call Aeromexico to book your itinerary. We’ve heard of readers having mixed results, so we recommend getting the itinerary figured out over the phone before you transfer your points.
Low-cost Hilton award nights
I rarely recommend transferring Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors, but mixing this transfer bonus with the right hotels could yield great value.
Membership Rewards normally transfer to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 transfer ratio, meaning 10,000 Membership Rewards equals 20,000 Hilton Honors points without the transfer bonus. Right now, you can transfer to Hilton with a 30% bonus, meaning you can transfer at a 1:2.6 ratio. So the same 10,000 Membership Rewards transfer yields 26,000 Hilton points through Sept. 30.
This transfer bonus opens the door to a handful of great redemptions. Remember, Hilton prices all award stays dynamically, so prices change by property and the date of your stay. However, if you can find reasonably priced redemptions at high-cost properties, you can snag a good deal.
For example, this five-night stay at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui would cost $5,890 after tax in December. Alternatively, you can book for 480,000 Hilton points on the same dates or 185,000 Membership Rewards points with the 30% bonus. This yields roughly 3.18 cents per point in value — much higher than TPG’s Amex valuation of 2 cents per point.
Do the math and see if it makes sense for you to transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton before your next stay. You probably won’t get outsize value on most redemptions, but it can be a good way to save money on your next vacation.
American Express’ latest round of transfer partner bonuses creates several excellent opportunities to redeem fewer points for more travel. You can achieve this by combining existing sweet spots with the transfer bonus, giving you an even better deal than normal.
Remember: You have to act quickly to take advantage of these promotions. Most bonuses end Sept. 30, while two of the hotel bonuses end Oct. 31.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.