You have 100,000 or more American Express Membership Rewards Points from various offers but when you go to membershiprewards.com there are seemingly 100 transfer options! Let me help narrow down the right transfer option for you.
First, in my opinion, there are no transfer options as valuable as almost any of the airline options. But I’m going to assume that this is understood and the debate is between which airline and which hotel. Still, I’m going to say the hotel options are not good either – not even before Hilton gave up on their rewards program. So let’s narrow it down further to a few airlines with decent programs.
- British Airways’ Avios (miles)
- Air Canada’s Aeroplan Miles
- Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer Miles
- ANA’s Mileage Club Miles
To be honest, none of these options are as obvious as United or AA, but there are some gems. I’ve written a lot about British Airways and the Best Uses of Avios and how to use stopovers to save Avios, but I’m well aware of the weaknesses too. However, the 50% bonus transfer they continually run makes it a no-brainer, despite the fact that it’s a distance based program. I’m going to argue that this 50% bonus makes Avios the best option most simply because you can afford to reposition. It is the most underrated program since their [admitted] devaluation.
Let me break this down further… Most of the time, transfers are at a 1:1 ratio, but sometimes an airline will run a promotion during which time a transfer from Amex to that airline gets you a bonus. Both British Airways and Delta have been known to run 50% bonuses with Amex. So a transfer of 100,000 Amex MR points would be 150,000 Avios during one of these promos!
Perhaps it helps to see the reward charts back to back.
Perhaps a distance based chart doesn’t mean as much without comparing to a [greater circles] distance mapper. But these prices are actually pretty comparable to most zone based charts. The losers are those that have to take multiple segments as they charge per segments. But given the opportunity to transfer with a 50% bonus, it’s a good redemption or great even.
Note: Prices are roundtrip. AC use to be awesome.
I read a post a while ago about using Amex transfers and the most commonly recommended airline was Air Canada. I mean… I get it… but I don’t. Why the heck would you fly to Australia for 80,000 and $1,000+ in fuel in fees?! Seriously? Obviously that’s just nuts plus, Star Alliance availability sucks to Australia in premium cabin (or at all). Why would a blogger not mention Avios? You could fly to the same place via Hawaii for less Avios (LAX – HNL – SYD = 37,500 Avios) and for less cash. Plus we’re talking Membership Reward Points! So a roundtrip to Australia 80,000 MR Points on AC or 50,000 MR Points with 50% bonus Avios. Before you point out that this price is from the west cost, note that a domestic flight across the country is at most 12,500 Avios (8,250 MR points during a 50% bonus).
I’ve never transferred to Singapore but now that they’ve opened up their Suite Class to Saver Awards, this is a very tempting option to Asia. So for two people to fly to Singapore in Suites, it would cost 215,000 KrisFlyer Miles and thus 215,000 Amex Membership Rewards Points. Even with a 50% bonus to BA, this could be a better option to Asia, but most definitely in first class! Also, Singapore Airlines allows a stopover on roundtrips, so this could be an awesome option if you have the points!
ANA Reward Chart
ANA’s award chart is so interesting as it’s also distance based but nothing like BA’s Avios. BA prices per segment but ANA prices the total distance flown. This is made better as their rules are really generous.
- Your entire itinerary may have no more than 4 stopovers (a stay exceeding 24 hours).
- Itinerary is valid for up to 12 sectors(4 in Japanese domestic sectors).
- Awards cannot be issued for one-way travel.
This could be a really interesting way to see more with less. Truthfully, it’s slightly over priced but it gives you options as AMEX seems to have the B team of airline transfer options. But they all have their benefits. 4 stopovers could be a huge benefit. So your other option for Star Alliance for most places is Air Canada, and they’re overpriced too.
The real reason Delta is actually an option on my list is because of the 50% bonus. It’s being fair I guess. The reason I never promote Delta on here is because it’s everything that is frustrating about frequent flyer programs. I don’t want readers signing up for a Delta card, getting the miles, then never being able to find seats with the miles and or finding a seat with jacked up prices. Even if I posted the award chart, it doesn’t mean anything as there are 3 prices for 1 economy seat. The first is what they advertise, the second is bad and the worst one is the only price available it seems. What do the “Low”, “Medium”, and “High” award prices mean anyways? What’s the difference? Well, Low is a decent price. Medium isn’t. And High is to let you know you’re being ripped off. Yes, other airlines have two prices for economy as well… but I’ve never had to book the higher one. No Delta flyer can say that. Sorry.
However, their chart is zone based, so you may find that simpler than ANA and BA. Plus, you can always use their search tool to find your ticket before transferring . Heck, you could probably call and hold it, then transfer the points, call back and book. However, that process makes me less prone to jump on a 50% bonus while it lasts.
In conclusion, none of these are incredible options as they just aren’t consistent. However, British Airways has the most potential for consistent value (except for Singapore Suites Class). Plus I think many people value ease of booking. Am I wrong? I think most people want to log on and book and not call (not that I haven’t put a lot of thought into using Avios well). Air Canada might be the best search engine but possibly the worst option for fuel surcharges on some routes.