top of page
  • Writer's pictureAdam Garrett

Final Call for 12 Transfer Bonuses from Amex Today!

I'd like to share about the

1. 12 transfer bonus options from Amex going right now

2. How to determine which options to transfer to

3. Example of how I've determined which ones to transfer to

4. Ways to maximize the transfers

5. A word on "speculative transfers" during promo periods

For everything below I'm assuming an origin within the US states excluding Alaska & Hawaii.

1. 12 transfer bonus options from Amex going right now

After stopping transfer bonuses for a time during the start of Covid-19 and slowly getting them back out Amex is back at it in full swing, this time with 12 transfer bonuses at the same time, some of which we haven't seen from any points currency in over 2 years! Today, 9/30, is the last day.

All together that's:

40%: Avios (Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia)

30%: Virgin Atlantic, Hilton, Marriott

25%: Air France KLM, Aeromexico (1:2), Hawaiian

20%: Air Canada, Qantas

15%: LifeMiles

Among those all are typically 1:1 transfer ratios except Aeromexico which is 1:1.6 but points are typically worth less than others for those based in the US.

2. How to determine which options to transfer to

Which options to transfer to will depend in part on

1. What credit card points (bank) transfer options you have

2. Your ability to acquire new points with those options & other options like points purchases

3. The number of points from the banks you have

4. The points from the hotels/airlines you have

5. The value that you personally might get from the hotels/airlines in your unique situation

6. One of the biggest factors involved for me is past transfer bonuses from banks whether you have options with the bank now or have plans in the future. For instance, currently I have the Citi Dividend, Citi Double Cash, & Citi AA Business card but plan to acquire the Citi Premier, Citi Custom Cash, & Citi Rewards+. In the meantime, I'm spending on the Doublecash with $930 in cashback from the Double Cash just waiting to get the Premier & Rewards+ so I can transfer it to 93k ThankYou Rewards (or 102k if I wait until I have the Rewards+). In my opinion, Frequent Miler has the best list of promo transfers. While it only goes back so far, and you can find even more transfers elsewhere such as on TPG which has a list going back to 2013, I think Frequent Miler's has the best in part due to the searchability of it & since it's more updated than TPG's list.

3. Example of how I've determined which ones to transfer to

Here's the ones I'm transferring to

1. 40% to Avios (the 3 40% transfer airlines are interchangeable post-transfer). It was June 2019 when we last had a 40% bonus from any points currency & I've really missed this one!

2. 30% to Virgin Atlantic. It was December 2019 when we last had a transfer bonus of any kind to Virgin Atlantic, which was also for 30%.

3. 20% to Aeroplan - highest ever publicly available transfer bonus in recent memory

Here's a rundown (pictured below & linked) of what I believe are the best options for me and why (the adjusted values are based on TPG valuations except for an MTM average for Qantas & AeroMexico):

You'll notice that items in green are reasons to transfer, items in yellow are items of caution towards a transfer, items in orange are items of greater caution, and items in red are big reasons not to transfer for me.

Absent from most valuations are valuations for AeroMexico Club Premier & Qantas. An Australian writer, PointsHacks, values Qantas miles above any other carrier at 1.9 cents per point, but his valuation must in part be based on the fact that he's writing from Australia where there are a lot more options on Qantas since Qantas is based there. MTM had a Qantas value in economy at 1.1 & in business class at 2.3 cents per point, & I averaged them for the 1.7 cents above even though I think 1.7 is a bit high from the US.

Considered bonus transfer options are from Brex, Capital One Miles, Citi Thank You Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Amex Membership Rewards. I'm not including transfers from hotel partners here.

The ones I'll pass on are:

Avianca Lifemiles (due mostly to higher recent transfer bonus options from other partners) Hawaiian (due to low-value proposition even with transfer bonus)

Marriott (due to low-value proposition even with transfer bonus & ability to acquire more effectively with other Marriott cards I have)

The one I'll do a small transfer on to reset the expiration clock but not do a major transfer include:

Aeromexico Club Premier (I have plenty of these from previous promos and have never used any)

Hilton (I have plenty of these and the value proposition at their lower end hotels are nothing compared to category 1 & 2 Hyatts typically)

Qantas (the toughest decision for me - I have a decent number of these between accounts I manage & want to wait for at least a 25% promo to transfer as has occurred in the past)

The one's I'm going to acquire include:

Air Canada Aeroplan

Avios (British Airways/Iberia/Aer Lingus)

Virgin Atlantic

Aeroplan - I made the mistake of not jumping on the ability to purchase Aeroplan miles at 1 cents per mile (for those who were able to right at the time it became available since the 1 cent level sold out so quickly), & I currently have no Aeroplan miles in part because of the lack of transfer bonus opportunities in recent history until now. That's a gap in my miles options.

4. Ways to maximize the transfers

Last minute flights and flights around holidays (often booked far in advance for more availability) can be some of the highest values booked. When pricing isn't by segment, getting to obscure locations can also increase the value per point, though availability is harder to find. International business & 1st class options can be some of the best value per point, though it's important to compare your options to other Amex transfer partners when considering those.

Keep in mind that often the links for the "Best Ways to Redeem" points don't discuss alternative options for the same itineraries. Because of that, some of the "best ways" aren't ways I would recommend, though it's still a lot more material than I have available here if you're looking for more ways to maximize. If you have status or a credit card with extra perks whenever flying (i.e. free bags, upgrades in some cases like Delta Reserve, etc.), taking advantage of those perks can also add big savings. A transcontinental Delta flight where you get freely bumped from economy to business class on an empty enough flight for you get to get the upgrade (since you'd be prioritized below those with status) just for holding a Delta Reserve credit card would be an example.

The optimal partner (that doesn't get transfer bonuses but still beats out a lot of competition even when they have transfer bonuses) to compare to on more international business itineraries than any other carrier (assuming you have options to fly United) is ANA miles for round trip travel when flying business, with business round trip routes (i.e. [on partners - often less if on ANA only in low season] such as:

Continental US to

Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, or Southern South America for 88k

95k to China, the Philippines, South Korea & Guam

85k-90k to Japan

With ANA miles you can fly ANA &/or partners like Star Alliance carriers including but not limited to United. ANA has superior pricing to many options even without a transfer promo compared to options on other airlines with transfer promos (with many exceptions like the Virgin Atlantic promo pricing better than ANA when flying direct from the US to Japan on ANA in business or 1st). For segment based & distance based options like Virgin Atlantic & British Airways, obviously, direct flights that are close to the highest threshold for the zone are going to be some of the best options. One advantage of ANA over other high value carriers like Alaskan Air, Korean Air, Japan Airlines, & Asiana is that ANA miles are the easiest to get by far since Amex is a transfer partner. Hopefully it stays that way. Chase ended their relationship with Korean Air with short enough notice for me to not know until after it happened in 2018.

A. Aeroplan

Distance Based within large regions

United Air domestic partner

One solid value option with Aeroplan is multi-leg international itineraries from the US flying United under 500 miles total.

For instance, with Aeroplan I can go from Richmond in SE VA (RIC) to Toronto (YYZ) Canada on a multileg flight for a mere 6k Aeroplan miles +$47 Canadian Dollars ($37.25 USD).

That's because on the Aeroplan chart it's broken down into large regions with a 6k starting price on single or multi-leg itineraries up to 500 miles.

(images courtesy

From Richmond, VA, here's what that looks like (for direct flights at least):

It would take me 12500 Avianca Lifemiles, and availability on the website with Avianca Lifemiles is much more limited (94 options on Aeroplan at various mileage costs vs 5 fixed cost options on Lifemiles). The United website has plenty of availability but again it's 12,500 miles for economy. You can't beat 5k Amex MR 1 way from Richmond to Toronto with any other points currency I'm aware of unless maybe you bundle it with a flight+hotel option and factor in the savings for the hotel, catch a flash low-cost sale using pay with points or something where paying with cash would likely be better, using the Centurion card for 2 cents per point on unusually cheap Delta flights, or something like the flat 2 cents per mile that Delta ran in 2019 for a Delta Vacations package promo.

If I upgraded to a mixed cabin business class option where 79% of travel would be in business class by paying 15k instead of 6k with the same fees, I'd get 2 free checked bags (instead of 0, priority check in, & access to the Maple Leaf lounge, with multiple options (only 1 at the moment but multiples if you include ones temporarily closed for Covid-19) rated better than any other option for me at YYZ at the moment on Loungebuddy (3/4 stars at Maple Leaf instead of 1/4-2/4 stars or unrated).

B. British Airways Avios

Segment based

AA & Alaska partners

BA has a segment & distance based rewards chart starting at 7500 Avios 1 way if you're flying in the US, with AA and Alaskan Airlines as options domestically & plenty of AA options internationally. It's a solid option for 10714-15714k Amex MR RT when flying under 2k miles each way. Even 2k-3k miles it's 18571 Amex MR RT. That kind of range can get you to many Central American, Caribbean, and even some South American destinations in some cases. CLT to Quito, Equador RT is possible for 18.6k Amex MR, for instance, and CLT to Aruba for 15714k Amex MR RT.

If you go through the UK stopovers are free and it's the 1 exception to the segment based rules. For instance, a flight from DC to Paris via the UK would price as 1 segment. That said, UK taxes & fees tend to be higher than almost anywhere else. The BA multi-carrier award chart is different than their single carrier award chart.

One solid option is Qatar QSuites business class from DC to Doha for 77k Amex MR 1 way, and while Qatar QSuites are excellently rated, keep in mind that ANA can do 104k Amex MR to Africa & the Middle East round trip.

Direct flights to Tokyo flying Japan Airlines are another solid option with BA, though they can't top the Virgin Atlantic options flying ANA to Tokyo after a 30% transfer bonus, and recently along with Cathay Pacific (which also has some good options with BA to Hong Kong) received a worse award chart than AA.

C. Virgin Atlantic

Segment & Distance Based

Delta Domestic Partner

Because they're priced by segment of course direct flights are going to be ideal.

The best option here is the 30 cents per Amex MR you can get at times after a 30% bonus then flying ANA first class direct to Tokyo that doesn't require a round trip.

VA's options on Delta are simple enough domestically, with pricing based per segment on the chart below:

(image courtesy Virgin Atlantic)

When getting to Europe the chart isn't always abided by, in a very good way. That said, fees are typically higher than on Air France, though Air France will typically run more miles unless during a promo.

D. Qantas

Distance based

AA domestic partner

Qantas has decent domestic & even better international multi-leg short haul options when flying AA under 600 miles, especially 501 miles to 600 miles where it prices better than Aeroplan (16k RT on Qantas flying AA vs 20k round trip on Aeroplan on partners like United) & where United isn't available in as good of a timeline for an itinerary or not available at all. They're also a solid option if trying to get around Australia (though getting to/from Australia I'd prefer ANA again).

E. Avianca Lifemiles

Zone based within US & zones between US & other countries

United Air domestic partner

Mixed cabin itineraries are priced per segment, not by the highest level segment

Lifemiles has excellent options during generous promos to Central & South America flying on Avianca as long as you can fly without wifi. In some cases their promos expand to Star Alliance, meaning their United fares are even less than normal.

Even without the promos, domestically on United Avianca is a solid option between 501-1500 miles at times. Typically somewhere between flying 1200-1500 miles the pricing shifts (depending on the itinerary since it's regionally based) where it gets to 25k miles round trip in economy for flights outside the region. At that point, you'd be much better off with Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles (A solid Citi partner) with its far superior 15k miles round trip in economy or 25k in business for 2 leg flights. Under 500 miles, you're better off flying cheaper with Aeroplan's 20% promo from a cheaper base cost.

Lifemiles has solid options to Europe flying Star Alliance like United & Lufthansa, especially their low fee East Coast based 40k round trip economy options to Russia & Northern European nations like the UK, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark & more. For business & 1st class to Europe, unless you're flying 1 way (especially 1 way mixed cabin), you're better off with ANA typically if you can eat the ANA extra fees & book round trip.

If flying 1 way on a mixed cabin itinerary, here's an example from a smaller local airport, where 27560 Lifemiles +$12.91 could get you $1486 in value. With the 15% bonus factored in, that's ($1486-$12.91)/(27560/1.15)=$.061/Amex MR

(image courtesy

(image courtesy

F. Air France

Zone based

Delta domestic partner

AF can be a good option for Delta multi-leg itineraries that can be cheaper than Delta's own miles, especially when factoring in the transfer promo.

If flying on Air France/KLM, their promos can be solid, as much as 50% off travel to Europe.

Their definition of Europe also includes some locations that some partners don't consider part of Europe, though sadly they recently moved Israel from Europe to the Middle East. Before then, I saw 13000 miles 1 way from Boston to Tel Aviv during one of their promos.

(Images courtesy

G. Aeromexico

Country based award chart

Delta domestic partner

Solid promos, i.e. 50% off points itineraries at times such as from the US to Mexico. Also if you cross the border by car, you can fly to the other side of Mexico for cheap.

Fantastic option for epic round the world options on Sky Team, especially if you have status.

H. Iberia

Segment & Distance Based Award Chart

AA domestic partner

transfer 1:1 to British Air & Aer Lingus

Good for low season flights to Madrid on Iberia.

Lower pricing than British Air on shortest flights.

Terrible cancellation policy & often unusable website for AA tickets with lackluster options to call in (i.e. I can't understand some of their recorded prompts due to the heavy accent)

I. Aer Lingus

Segment & Distance Based award chart

No domestic partners

Transfer 1:1 to British Air & Iberia

Solid direct options to Ireland flying Aer Lingus & options from there to elsewhere in Europe that are nearby are also worth looking at.

While you might want to price out and check availability using Aer Lingus, it's sometimes better to call in and book these with British Airways to fly Aer Lingus to avoid some taxes & fees.

J. Hilton

Status is easy to come by with multiple cards, more so than any option on this list. You can pay your way there via spending on some cards and get status just by holding other cards. You can maximize some by using the rewards at places where your status would get you the most extra value. For instance, if you hold the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, where you get Diamond status automatically, then go somewhere that the card gets you lounge access, there's a lot of potential value in rewards. Thankfully with Hilton, there's an option to filter by executive lounge properties in the "Hotel Features" category of filters.

Pricing is typically within a range that varies based on the $ price for standard rooms. 5 night stays (or stays in multiples of 5) are ideal since for every 5 points night stays, the 5th night is free for even low tier elites who have status with no annual fee credit cards. Premium rooms typically are not priced well. It can be good during peak periods, i.e. NYE in times square. It also has some solid aspirational bookings, i.e. Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi (standard rooms, not premium). I still suggest waiting on a 50% transfer promo though... With that factored in I've seen 10 cents per Amex MR on that property.

Low end domestic properties are few and far between, so don't expect to find practically any options in the US at 15k or below (very different story with Hyatt at the number of 5k points/night properties) but internationally that's not the case.

K. Marriott

I typically don't recommend making this transfer unless for a last minute booking of high value per point where you don't have better alternatives to Marriott Rewards (i.e. Hilton or even better, Hyatt). If you want Marriott Rewards and don't have any of their credit cards (especially historic high sign up bonus cards like the ones offered at the moment & the Amex Business version for its multipliers), I suggest purchasing during one of their best promos (i.e. .781 cents per point) rather than transferring with a 50% bonus. This option becomes more viable if you have platinum status or above with Marriott (which is easier to come by than most airline status) & stay in places where you get high level perks like places with lounges. While locating Marriotts with lounges can be a lot of work (no lounge filter like what's available with Hilton), the exception is their M Club lounges which are together on a dedicated website.

If you did want to make a transfer like this one, all hope isn't lost since there are still some cases where you can get good value per Marriott Reward. Keep in mind that every 5th night is free with Marriott Rewards Points stays.

While they are few and far between in the US, such as no options in VA, (though finding them is easy since you can search throughout the US and filter by category 1 properties in a single search on their website), category 1 off peak properties for 5k/night can be some great deals, and 4k if at a Points Saver rate. Even at category 1, these are still Marriott portfolio hotels and typically well rated. If you were to look at category 1 Wyndham hotels (7500 pts/night), it's a completely different story, with most in the US (though far more numerous) below 4/5 on TripAdvisor for ratings. Be sure to check Points + $ booking rates as well, especially when the hotel is already a good value per point at points only rates. For instance, I've seen $.077/pt for off peak night $+points at a $171/night (including taxes in example) cat 1 off peak 2 queen room at Fairfield Inn & Suites Chickasha rated 4.6/5 using only 1500 points +$55 for 1 night. With a 50% bonus like this one that turns Amex MR value per point to 11.6 cents. While not as lucrative, the straight points options can be great as well at the category 1 level, such as the below option where 5k points get a $217.36 night at a hotel. If you used the 50% bonus, and got the same value on a 5 night stay, that would mean ($217.36*5)/(5000*4/1.5)=$.08151, so 8 cents per point.

(Images courtesy

L. Hawaiian

Unless you find something that makes sense more than alternatives, I don't suggest this transfer unless you're based in Hawaii possibly & wanting to fly Hawaiian Airlines. If doing so, while technically you could book some options using Virgin Atlantic miles flying Hawaiian (i.e. 7500 miles 1 way interisland with both Hawaiian Airlines & Virgin Atlantic, with 25% transfer promo vs 30%), availability is more limited & you need to call in (& time is money).

5. In Defense of "Speculative Transfers" during Promo Periods

There are many who warn against "speculative" points transfers during promo periods without a specific redemption in mind. Personally, I don't feel that way unless by that you mean to say that prior to doing a bonus transfer you have specific options or categories of options that you've explored that will be good value, even if you have no nearby date in sight. I say that with the full knowledge that there is risk involved since devaluations can occur at any time where that option might not be available in the future and where it could cost higher without notice. That said, devaluations are typically not by 20% or more, and while devaluations are possible, it's also possible for points to increase in value, so if you can use the points in the next few years you can be better off making the transfers.

26 views0 comments
bottom of page