It’s no secret: credit card points can be a lot more fun to collect than airline miles or hotel points and with greater flexibility for spending them, there’s even more fun to be had when you cash in for exceptional luxury travel experiences.
The greatest value of credit card points comes via the numerous points transfer partners which allow you to convert your credit card points into airline miles or hotel points in the blink of an eye, whereas earning miles with one airline locks you into just one program with limited opportunities.
Today, we’ll look at 10 absolutely brilliant ways you can use US Amex Membership Rewards Points, by transferring them to a variety of great airline and hotel partners. Most of the advice will still ring true for cardholders elsewhere, with the exception of ANA Mileage Club, which is exclusive to the USA. More on that below…
There are tons of different ways to redeem Amex points for amazing luxury travel, but these ten are absolutely perfect ways to highlight what’s really possible, if you take the time to learn just a little bit about the transfer partners at your disposal. Yes, diving in is totally worth it.
If you need to earn more Membership Rewards points first, you have plenty of options, with juicy welcome bonuses and increased earning rates (Learn More).
ANA First Class Via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Let’s be honest, ANA first class is simply extraordinary.
From Krug champagne to the exclusive first class check-in at Tokyo Narita to the top-notch service throughout your flight, there’s so much to love with ANA First Class. What could make this experience even better?
Well, booking a round-trip ticket for 110,000 – 120,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles from the Europe or the USA to Tokyo is a good start. And you can even open jaw to see Europe, Tokyo and the USA on one ticket.
Carrier-imposed surcharges with ANA are circa $350 round trip, which is a small price to pay for a lot of luxury.
Flying Blue Promo Awards
Every month, Flying Blue, the joint loyalty program of KLM and Air France, releases Promo Awards, which are immediately worth checking, to see if the newest batch offers discounted business class flights between North America and Europe in either direction.
You can often find 25% off standard points prices, but you’ll also find some excellent 50% discounts on occasion, particularly if you’re willing to venture to a semi nearby airport.
Hot tip: If you really want to get the most bang for your buck, don’t just book a non-stop to Paris or Amsterdam. That’s because Flying Blue’s points calculation makes including a connection an even better deal, so other European cities are often the best bets to aim for.
Options like Budapest, Dublin, Munich, Prague, and Tel Aviv can be clever choices, since Tel Aviv adds a lot of extra bang for the buck, thanks to being classified by Flying Blue as “Europe”.
With a 25% discount, you can almost always book a one-way business class award for 39,750 Flying Blue miles, or often as low as 32,000. If you really want next-level, a 50% discount gets that down to only 26,500 miles.
This great opportunity strikes each and every month, and you can find the latest offers here. Surcharges on a one-way are around $200, which makes it a great deal all considered.
Here are some other amazing ways to redeem Flying Blue miles!
Royal Air Maroc Business Class Via Etihad Guest
Royal Air Maroc is often overlooked as people think it’s only good for flying to Morrocco. If you think this, you’re quite simply wrong. Not only do they fly a Dreamliner to/from the U.S., but you can connect to other African countries, Europe, or the Middle East.
Operations are currently scaled down to North America, but this is a great option to keep in the back pocket for the future. Royal Air Maroc only operate flights out of East Coast hubs like New York, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C, and all expansion plans are on hold.
At 44,000 Etihad Guest miles for a one-way business class award, you don’t let this opportunity slip past your radar. The taxes/fees are quite reasonable as well so that shouldn’t be an issue.
Lufthansa First Class Via Avianca LifeMiles
Not everyone can just rock up and get the celebrity treatment like the Private Suite in LAX , but flying Lufthansa first class out of Frankfurt is about as close as it comes, and when you use points, it’s sans price tag.
The toughest part about booking it is that they don’t release space to airline partners like Avianca until 14 days from departure, and in reality, most are only a few days out. Basically: it’s not the easiest thing to pull off, but it’s possible, if you’re a bit flexible.
While you can’t do anything about the availability, you can book your one-way flight to Europe with 87,000 Avianca LifeMiles, making it a great redemption rate with no added surcharges of note. Asiana offers another great route to booking Lufthansa First Class, and those points can be acquired by transferring Marriott Points.
Not trying to turn this into a love letter, it’s hard not to get lost and excited reviewing what the experience includes. We’ll start with the lounge/on the ground:
- First Class Terminal (FCT) access — when a lounge just isn’t enough
- Personal Assistant (PA) at the lounge to ensure a great visit
- A la carte and buffet dining
- Massive selection at the bar
- Champagne list
- Cigar bar
- Showers and bathtubs — plus the famous rubber ducky collectible
- Porsche ride from the FCT and escort to your flight
Once onboard, the fun continues with champagne, caviar, a great meal, and comfortable bedding when you’re ready to take a nap. It really is hard to go wrong with Lufthansa first class.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Marriott Points can bring some incredible value, but for hotel stays, it rarely makes sense to part ways with large quantities of Amex Points, just to convert them into Marriott Points.
One clear exception can be Marriott Bonvoy Moments, which unlock priceless experiences using Marriott’s leverage in food, sports, concerts and more.
Think: 15,000 points for two tickets in a suite to a sold out concert, or 120,000 points for a hotel which would usually cost much more, with Michelin starred dinners, exclusive experiences and other things thrown in.
Just last year, you could even join the Bayern Munich team on their plane to catch a game, and hang out at their hotel before exclusive access at the match.
This can represent fabulous value for your points, when you find the right “moment”, and there are opportunities all over the world. One GSTP fave: attending a private dinner at Daniel with Daniel Boulud.
Star Alliance Around The World Via ANA Mileage Club
We absolutely love the idea of booking a business class adventure around the world on some of the best airlines Star Alliance has to offer. From ANA’s own flights to the ever-impressive EVA Air business class, you’re bound to have some amazing inflight experiences.
The highlights are simple yet amazing. You can include 8 stopovers on your journey and hit up some amazing destinations like Kyoto, Singapore, and Vancouver.
ANA’s Round The World (RTW) award chart is distance-based so the number of miles you fly will dictate the number of miles you need. Make sure you lock that in before transferring Membership Rewards points.
Just remember that ANA Mileage Club will only allow you to book for yourself and family members.
If you want to book one of these, make sure you read GSTP’s complete guide which walks you through all the info you need to know.
Cathay Pacific Business Class Via Asia Miles
When booking award flights on Cathay Pacific, many think of using American miles or Alaska miles and that’s it. However, we don’t think you should overlook using Cathay Pacific’s own Asia Miles program when booking business class.
Cathay uses a distance-based award chart to calculate the points you’ll need, with flights that travel over 7,501 flight miles requiring 85,000 Asia Miles one-way.
Yes, that’s more than other options like American Airlines, (70,000 miles) or Alaska require (50,000 miles), howwever, Amex Membership Rewards points are easier to earn for many people than the other alternatives.
For your trouble, you’ll get a great business class flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific. If you’re flying out of Hong Kong, you can also visit one of several great business class lounges where you can have a nice meal and a refreshing shower.
However, you can do even more with Asia Miles, if you want to!
Rather than simply fly to Hong Kong, you could make it a stopover and continue onto another destination such as Sydney, South Africa, Dubai and many more. All of this can be done for that same 85,000 Asia Miles.
The taxes/fees on this one won’t be too bad either.
SkyTeam Around The World Via Aeromexico Club Premier
Another around the world option, and one you probably haven’t thought about much, is Aeromexico’s SkyTeam option. What makes this particular around the world option so special is that you can include 15 stops during your trip — that’s insane!
When travel returns, or when you finally retire, this is a cool choice to consider.
To book one of these, you’ll need 352,000 Club Premier kilometers. Don’t worry, Amex transfers to Aeromexico at a 1.6:1 ratio so you’ll only need 220,000 Membership Rewards points.
For your effort, you’ll have the chance to fly Aeromexico’s Dreamliner, Korean Air, Air France, KLM, China Airlines, and possibly even the new Delta One Suites.
So, if you have some time off work and are ready for an adventure, look no further than the Aeromexico SkyTeam Go Round The World Award Pass.
It’s a safe bet that surcharges will clear $1,000, but considering that you’ll get 15 stops along the way, it’s quite a deal.
Check out GSTP’s guide to booking an Aeromexico RTW award — complete with an example booking — to make the process easier.
Singapore Airlines Suites Class Via Singapore KrisFlyer
Finding Suites Class seats using points can a challenge, depending where you’re traveling to, or from, but it’s more than worth the effort. It may be the greatest and most complete flying experience in the sky.
Whether enjoying a double bed in the sky with your significant other or traveling solo, you’re bound to have a good time. They offer both Dom Perignon and Krug, and some of the friendliest and most polished service anywhere, so you’d really have to actively try to have a bad flight.
While there are a number of airlines that do catering well and allow you to preorder, Singapore Airlines doesn’t just do it well, it excels. The preorder “Book The Cook” menu is absolutely massive and full of some fan favorite options even include the famous Lobster Thermidor.
To book this experience to/from the U.S., you’ll need 132,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way per person. Other areas like London to Singapore and vice versa are a few less, and you can pay even fewer points on flights within Asia, or between Asia and Pacifici.
It’s a good chunk of miles but it’s hard to fathom anyone who wouldn’t feel wowed by Singapore Airlines First Class Suites, new or old.
Not enough Amex Points? Don’t forget that Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles and Citi Thank You Points all convert into Singapore as well, so there’s lots of ways to get your numbers up.
Delta One Business Class Via Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Whether you’re booking business class on Delta to Europe, Sydney, Johannesburg, Cape town, Tokyo, or somewhere else, don’t forget about the option to book Delta with Flying Club miles.
While the SkyMiles rates can be great during SkyMiles Flash Deals, Virgin Atlantic offers much better rates. Delta offers an incredibly refined business class experience these days, with many seats featuring privacy doors.
As a point of comparison, you can book a one-way award in business class from Los Angeles to Sydney for 75,000 Flying Club miles while Delta would require 100,000 SkyMiles. Yeah, the decision is pretty simple.
Delta flights between the USA and Europe or Asia are often the best value, between 50,000 to 60,000 miles one way, with only $5.60 or so in charges.
Leverage Amex Transfer Bonuses
Who wouldn’t like to use fewer points? American Express regularly runs transfer bonus promotions with its various airline and hotel partners, which can turn one Amex Point into anywhere between 1.2, 1.3, or even 1.5 points, depending on the airline or hotel.
Think: 93,000 Amex Points to book a flight which would typically cost 120,000, like using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles to book ANA First Class, or under 82,000 to book the incredible new ANA business class round trip.
Hopefully, you get the picture. Always keep an eye out for these bonuses.
How To Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points
There are three main reasons Amex points are fantastic on the earning and burning side of the points and miles game.
First, Amex provides multiple cards that earn Membership Rewards points so you have options for all your spending needs, from 5X points on travel to 4X on dining. Here’s an update on Amex application rules.
Second, if you time your application right, you can get a solid welcome bonus to start things off with a bang. Think 60,000 to even 225,000 points!
Third: lots of ways like these to spend em and reap incredible travel rewards.
Amex Points: Final Thoughts
Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to use your Membership Rewards points for a special trip, whenever travel returns to some level of normalcy, or to take advantage of low competition for coveted points seats, while people think about other things.
Whether it’s an around the world adventure or a simple round-trip somewhere close, you’ll undoubtedly have a great time if you book any of these flights. Points make even the wildest travel dreams into reality. If, of course, you want to earn even more points, don’t forget to check out the best offers for new Amex Cards.
CX has a good around the world redemption with Oneworld partners, 7 stopovers
Yeah, the Multi-Carrier chart can let you do some interesting things. It was just disappointing to see them devalue it last year.
This is a great roundup – thanks for posting. The only thing missing that would be super helpful is if you provided a rough range of taxes/fees/surcharges for each of these redemptions (the big ticket item that can really increase the cash outlay is if the award program tacks on fuel surcharges).
Any chance you could add this info to each section?
Thanks, Hoko! Just added notes on each about surcharges.
I took that insane AMEX discount to book ANA F, IAH-NRT for 93k points. Absolutely the best redemption I’ve ever done! Thanks for writing about it.
Awesome! I did the same thing to visit my brother. Such a great experience.
Would love to see this article for the UK market too!
Me too 🙂 We’ll get there. Be patient with me. Lots of these to write!
For those of us who are new, could you include whether it’s one-way or round-trip? Or can we safely assume that it’s one-way of there is no mention of RT? Thanks!
Clarified a couple of them so it should all be very clear now.
I searched Virgin Atlantic from JFK to NRT and cannot find any flights at all. How do you search ANA flights using Virgin Atlantic?
Hey David – Normally, you can search with United, call Virgin, provide the dates, have them hold the award, transfer the points, then call back to complete the booking.
At the moment, United is having issues showing ANA space. You can search Aeroplan until United starts working again. I prefer United since you can look at a calendar of dates.
Outstanding article. Thank you.
Thanks, Laura. So glad you liked it!
Can you suggest the best way to monitor Amex transfer bonuses?
Hey Julie – Other than checking than checking the transfer partners partner page on your account, not really. However, we’ll write about any transfer bonuses that pop up so you won’t miss them!
I wish credit card companies understood how to make it fun to redeem . Simple monthly specials like 7 hotel nights for 5 tines regular points or holiday packages , or a free car rental included,
I find amex points bookings more $$$$ than regular sites as well . Very dissatisfied.
Hey Julius – Sounds like you’re hoping to book through Amex rather than transfer to partners. Have you ever looked at what you might be able to book if you transferred the points to airline partners?
Ten brilliant ways to use your amex points turns out to be an ad for ten other points cards…. . And people post appreciation for that deception.
Thanks for reading. Hope you have a great day!
To be completely honest, people need to make money. This is still a guide to the best redemptions that are possible with Membership Rewards points through transfer to travel partners. I think it adds value.
I’ve personally done the ANA F redemption via VS Flying Club and wouldn’t have known about it without these blogs. I’m thankful that they post this information even if it comes with accompanying marketing copy.
Thanks, Nicholas! Glad you like it.
Wow this is a super useful guide. Thank you so much!! Just one question, is it an instant point transfer from Amex to CX or these other airlines?
So glad you enjoyed it!
Virgin, Flying Blue, Etihad, Avianca, and Aeroplan should be almost instant. ANA can take 2-3 days. Asia Miles often takes a day but could take 3-4. Singapore KrisFlyer is usually 12-24 hours. Aeromexico takes a few days.
Hi Great article. Do you have info on chase points.what is the best way to use them.
Thanks, Raine! I’m going to put a Chase version together this coming week (possibly tomorrow).
Hot off the press — https://www.godsavethepoints.com/2019/02/25/brilliant-ways-to-use-chase-ultimate-rewards-points/
Royal Air Maroc also flies out of Montreal. Syracuse is equidistant between YYZ, YUL & NYC so no big deal for us in the NE to go thru YUL. Also, YUL doesn’t generally get hit by either Noreasters or Lake Effect…and its a nice city to layover at.
Mini-RTW on Aeroplan have been discontinued as of September 1, 2019
Do you have a UK based version of this article?
Hey Debs, not one specifically, but all the advice applies with the exception of ANA Mileage Club. All the other opportunities exist the same. Hope that helps!
More for the Amex list….88K via ANA to Europe in J RT, and 104K via ANA to South Africa RT in J, easy to do totally on LH. Cheers!
I have one million four hundred thousand virgin points I regularly fly to Bangkok how do I book with these points on airlines other than virgin
Leave a comment