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The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the very best in the business. I personally have 6 American Express cards and the best part of the program, in my opinion, is the fact that you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards into 22 different partner programs. Why? These programs have their own sweet spots. It’s utilizing points for sweet spot redemptions that make your instagram or TikTok seem like your bank account has an extra comma 🙂
Here’s a look at all the wonderful partners of American Express Membership Rewards
Incredible use of American Express Membership Rewards #1:
US to Europe or South America for 63k in business or 87k for First Class
Odds are, unless you’re a Points and Miles geek like me, you may not realize that this South American airline has an incredible award chart. In late 2018, Avianca was added to Amex’s partner list and it has proved to be a great addition. Better yet, Avianca updated their website to make online redemptions easier, and while it isn’t fool proof, it’s much improved.
Pro tip: If you are seeing Star Alliance partner award space populate on United, but not on Avianca, you can email Avianca to manually pull the space. I’ve had to do this in the past and typically it’s resolved within 24-48 hours. Don’t forget that Avianca periodically has point sales, so if you’re short on Amex points, you may have the opportunity to fly
Not a bad way to fly for 63k points in business class
And of course Lufthansa First Class for 87k points
Another great use of Avianca miles is to simply fly within the United States on United in economy. You can fly within the US for just 8750 miles. That is amazing. You can fly transcontinental business class for just 25k miles – keep an eye out for the 787-10 which features this business class
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #2 :
Yes, Virgin offers an amazingly cool ways to fly, but did you know that some of the very best ways to use their points aren’t even on their own airline?! Virgin Atlantic has an incredible sweet spot when you use their points to redeem for ANA business and First Class roundtrip. What’s even better is that ANA released brand new first and business class cabins on their 777s.
This is the Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for ANA redemptions.
- Business Class from the US to Japan ranges 90k to 95k ROUNDTRIP
- First Class from US to Japan ranges 110k to 120k
ANA stunned the world with their new 777-3ooER “The Room” Business Class and you can see why. It’s massive
Not to be outdone…let’s take a gander at “The Suite” – their new First Class offering
Virgin Atlantic can be a great way to fly on Air France
The Virgin Atlantic redemption rates for flights on Air France are broken into zones that are priced at off-peak and peak rates, which you can read about here. There are a lot of great redemptions, but a couple that I’d like to feature. First, East Coast to Europe, off-peak, is just 48,500 miles. Personally, I’d make use of this when flying West Bound and re-patriot at JFK, BOS, or IAD. The second is into Israel. You can fly from the East Coast US to Israel for just 66,500 Virgin Altantic Miles off-peak. That is a helluva deal.
There are many Air France products, but this is one of my faves – you can read the full review here.
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #3:
Aeroplan just recently updated their award chart, and while devaluations occurred, they weren’t nearly as bad as some expected and much value was retained. You’ll be able to fly from the US to Europe for 70k miles in business class, and 100k in first class. A big thing that they added was the ability to incorporate a stopover for 5k miles and eliminated the surcharges that dissuaded many from using the program over say Avianca. A great redemption would be throwing 70k Amex points over to Aeroplan to ride in Swiss Business Class…especially if you get a throne. You could add in 5k miles to stop in Zurich for a while before heading on to Greece to complete your holiday.
Aeroplan also announced that they were partnering up with Etihad.
Yes, I know that their A380s are currently grounded, but I’d guess at some point they will be back in the air. When that happens, I’d highly suggest searching for award space so you can experience the Etihad Apartments from JFK to Australia for 140k. You could add in a stopover in Abu Dhabi for another 5k and experience some real Middle East luxury to break up the trip. It’s too good to even begin to describe.
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #4: Emirates
One little “suite” spot of the Emirates chart is flying from Milan to New York on their A380 for 85k points. Now, before you jump for joy, the route isn’t currently being operated; however, I think once things normalize it’ll be up and running again. Emirates First Class should be more exclusive since they yanked award space from partners. To make matters better for those redeeming Emirates points, they also eliminated most of the fees as well. Those used to clock in at $500+ each way and now usually are less than $100.
One thing to also note…Emirates prices Europe to Dubai flights at 85k each way as well. So if you’re in Europe and looking for an amazing experience…it’d be a great redemption.
You’ll enjoy a suite with doors that close, top shelf champers, pjs, a vanity, and if your heart desires…a shower at 7 miles in the sky.
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #5:
Using Amex points to experience one of the best first classes is just plain redonks. Make sure you utilize Singapore Airlines “Book the Cook” feature and try out the lobster Thermidor. Better yet…Singapore eliminated taxes and fees on their own metal a year or two ago which makes redemptions even better.
I will note…Singapore is retrofitting their 12 A380s with the new first class and they aren’t currently bookable at the time of publishing. But, I would guess sometimes in 2021 they will be up and running and you and your partner can look forward to redeeming just 53k Singapore miles to fly within Asia on this bad boy.
If Singapore puts the A380 back on the JFK to FRA route, you could nab this insane experience for just 86k
Another hidden gem in the Singapore Airlines route map has always been Houston to Manchester. A great way to get to Europe…again we’ll see how this evolves post Covid, but assuming they reinstate this route, you could fly it for just 72k miles. A great hop across the pond
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #6 –
ANA is a great transfer partner of Amex when you don’t mind paying some crazy taxes and fees to save points. While there are quite a few honorable mention redemptions, I’d like to focus on two in particular.
Example: Roundtrip US to Europe in business class for just 88k miles.
You could fly in Lufthansa Business Class over and Ethiopian Business Class back and pay just 88k miles. You could also pay $500+ each way…so is it worth it?
Fancy a trip around the world?
You could fly in business class ALL THE WAY around by redeeming ANA miles. You could do an amazing trip on some of the best Star Alliance airlines in the world for 170k in business class. Just make sure you keep an eye on those taxes and fees.
I would highly recommend incorporating EVA if you can. Their business class is pretty much a first class experience.
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #7:
Asia Miles are the award currency of one of the best airlines in the world: Cathay Pacific. Like many airlines, they reserve a certain amount of award inventory for their own loyalists and this is where you could score seats before everyone else.
Get better access to Cathay Pacific First and business class
These rates are the lowest you’ll find for flights on Cathay’s own planes and they’re really pretty competitive.
You can have access to more award space and lock in business class to Asia from Anywhere in America for 85k miles. If you’re sites are set on Hong Kong and you live west coast…you’ll need just 70k. That’s an amazing price for one of the best rides in business
One of the absolute best first class products in the sky is Cathay Pacific First Class. Unless you’re 10 months out, it’s very rare to find award space outside of 14 days from departure if booking with a partner currency. Using Asia Miles will give you greater access, but you’ll end up spending more miles than you would on Alaska Airlines for example. However, 110k miles to fly an outstanding first class for more than 14 hours from LAX to HKG is worth 110k miles in my opinion
One of the coolest redemptions you can do with Asia miles involves a TON of flying for only 135k miles. Check out the link above if you want to read all the ins and outs, but when you use their multi-partner award chart, which requires you building an itinerary with 2 non Cathay Pacific airlines, or 3 airlines if you include Cathay Pacific. If you flew
Incredible Use of American Express Membership Rewards #8:
Marriott at super expensive resorts
Usually I would never advocate transferring Amex points to any of their hotel partners, but for every rule there are exceptions. When you look at properties like the St Regis Bora Bora it’s hard to argue against transferring Amex points to Marriott…especially when there is a transfer bonus – currently you can get a 30% bonus.
This is the cheapest you can find the resort – 70k a night with a 5th night free. You could turn 216k Amex Points into just over 280k Marriott Bonvoy Points. The resort charges over $1k a night for this room, meaning you’re getting nearly $5k of value out of 216k points. That’s hard to argue against, but again…I wouldn’t be looking to Marriott for most of your Amex redemptions.
Many, many more
This is just scratching the surface of amazing uses of American Express Membership Rewards, but hopefully you can see how the use of transfer partners can really increase the value of your points.
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