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Transferring American Express Membership Rewards – Good options?

a plane on the runwayI am canceling my American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card. The fees is due and $175 seems steep, given the recent changes in my card strategy (more on that in a later post). Furthermore, canceling the card makes me (more?) eligible for other sign-up bonuses from American Express, including (fingers crossed) the elusive, by invitation only 100,000 point Platinum card. Don’t get me wrong, the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is an absolutely fabulous card with great features. (The current offer for a new card is 25,000 Membership Rewards Points, after spending $2000 in 3 months – which is really not great, even with the fee waiver. You can find better offers). But, I am focussing on accumulating points rapidly right now for some redemptions I am planning for summer. So, I am looking for large and quick sign up bonuses. Like the Chase Ink Bold® Business Card, which has a bonus of 50,000 points after spending $5,000 in 3 months! And, the points are transferrable to United on a 1:1 ratio, the airline I will redeem the miles from. American Express has no option to transfer to United.

So, my question to my readers – seeking advice. I have just over 7,000 Membership Reward Points on my American Express Membership Rewards account. As I have only one American Express card, I want to redeem/transfer the points before I cancel the card.

Looking at some of the options, I am thinking of transferring the points to Hilton Honors. I already have over 75,000 points on Hilton and American Express is giving a transfer ration of 1.5 Hilton Honors points for each Member Rewards point. My question: Are there any other transfer or redemption offers that you have used (or are aware of), that I should consider before pulling the trigger? Please let me know by leaving a comment below. Even if this is the option I go with (I can readily use the Hilton Points over summer), others will benefit from your comments. Do share and thanks for doing so!

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  1. If you need a short haul flight on American Airlines (650 miles or less), transfer the Amex points to British Airways and redeem @ 4500 avios each way. BA is also a partner of Chase UR, so you can send 2k UR points to BA for a total of 9000 BA avios for a short haul round trip.

  2. I would look into transferring them to choice hotels. Currently there is a sale going on in European properties at 8000/night in some of the most locations.

  3. You picked the wrong day for a Hilton transfer!

    I say you have a drawing and transfer them to one of your loyal readers. 🙂

  4. 7000 points? No disrespect but that won’t go very far. Typo perhaps?
    If that’s yiur general I too would cancel the card unless AMEX gives a decent incentive(fee waiver, 20-25,000 points etc..) to maintain the card.
    You are correct however, it is a pretty good card if Delta is your airline AND(and big AND) you can find low-level(100K) Biz Elite TATL space.

  5. I just cancelled my Amex Gold card yesterday as well. Retention only offered a measly 7,500 points to which, of course, I said ‘no thanks’.

  6. Its too bad there aren’t any bonuses going like the 30, 50 or 50% BA transfer last year. If you’re looking for Hilton points, transfer to Virgin Atlantic, which transfers to HH at 1 for 2.

  7. I transferred to Hilton via Virgin Atlantic last year when they offered a transfer bonus. My 80,000 AMEX rewards points got me 216,000 Hilton points which I used for two 4-night AXON awards in Italy (290k).

    “35% Amex Transfer Bonus To Virgin Atlantic”

  8. I too have the Amex Gold MR card and will have the fee coming up in a few months. Ali has the best suggestion for you and the one I’m using, Gene has the best for the rest of us. I hope you pick Gene’s. lol 🙂

  9. If you call them, they will likely let you upgrade to the Platinum card for an additional 25,000 miles after spending $10,000 in 4 months. Just ask whether they can give you the upgrade offer. This is what I did. You are actually not eligible for the Platinum card for another 12 months after cancelling the Gold card so you’re not really giving up any offers by doing this.

    The annual fee for the Platinum card is $450, but you do get $200 a year airline credit and I’ve had my award ticketing fees for United reimbursed. Also, you can choose an airline every calendar year so you can get the $200 credit this year and next.

    Another option is to transfer your MR points into Aeroplan and then US Airways, though you lose about 15% of the miles this way. Also, ANA is a transfer partners of MR and has recently dropped their fuel surcharges on United and US Airways and has a distance based award chart worth looking into.

  10. Thanks for sharing @themilesprofessor. I am still holing out for the 100,000 MR Platinum card, so I chose not to take the 25,000 MR on the upgrade. They did offer me that on the website when I log-in. I agree it is a great value, even with a $450 fee

  11. I decided to do the same … I know this may not be the best use of points ( embarrassed to say how many …) but I did not need the points in any program they offered and since I have a big remodel project coming I redeemed for home depot gift cards.

  12. If you do go with Hilton (and I don’t necessarily recommend this), do not transfer directly to Hilton! Transfer first to Virgin Atlantic at 1:1 and THEN transfer from Virgin Atlantic to Hilton at 1:2.

  13. I used my MR for $0.01 per point transfer to Home Depot gift card. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a laptop (yes — they actually sell it on their website only!). If you buy laptops on the MR site directly (or any merchandise) you will get much less than $0.01/point.

  14. If you want good value from your awards, i’d probably focus on British Airways, more for their partners than BA themselves (although some intra-european routes are cost effective). There’s no charge to transfer, and BA has some excellent value short-to-mid haul economy redemptions with their partners. For instance, I recently used 25,000 avios for a return from Los Angeles to Kaua’i on American Airlines. Being distance-based you get excellent value for short hops to obscure/expensive airports. However, for long routes, or those with stops, BA tends to be quite expensive. I find avios to be an excellent complement to United miles.

    The 1:2 MR->Virgin Atlantic->Hilton works well, but note that you can only transfer in blocks of 10,000->20,000. However, with the devaluation of Hilton this is no longer particularly cost effective for their best properties. In either case, if you can wait for a transfer bonus, I recommend it.

    But really, it all depends on what you want to do with your points, and where you are based. ANA/Air Canada for Star Alliance? Delta/KLM-AirFrance for SkyTeam? BA for One World?

  15. @The Miles Professor

    Not eligible for the Platinum for 12 months after canceling the Premier Rewards Gold? Are you sure about that? Typically, you only have to wait 90 after canceling a different card from the same family.

  16. Know that Vrgin transfers only in multiples of 5k and there is a 15k minimum
    so the 7k transfer will be useless

  17. Hello all,

    I have four questions regarding Amex cards: 1) am wondering where you find out about the transfer bonuses. I am not aware of that perk. 2 What does “avios” mean? Karl Mitchell mentioned it in his post. 3) If you transfer points into Virgin Atlantic and then into Hilton, is it REALLY cost effective since AMEX charges you a fee to move points into partner accounts. So, before you would be gaining Hilton Points, by going through Virgin Atlantic, you would be spending dollars on transferring points to Virgin Atlantic – from what I heard it could be up to 99 dollars to transfer points. 4) What is the “devalued” Hilton exchange rate at this time? Thanks for anyone’s help!

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