Best uses of American Express Membership Rewards points

The program I get asked about most frequently from readers is the American Express Membership Rewards program, which is not only a great program, but also one of the most undervalued ones, in my opinion. Membership Rewards points can be used for all kinds of stuff, from gift cards to TV’s to airline miles. The best part about the program is that you can transfer Membership Rewards points to other loyalty programs at any time, so the miles can be where you want them when you need them. Once transfers are made they are final, so don’t transfer until you know you for sure you’ll need an award.

My advice below is only intended for those that want to truly maximize the value of each point on a cent per point basis. That means if you have 15,000,000 points, these rules might not apply. You might be perfectly happy cashing in your points for gift cards, and I might not even blame you. Generally speaking, though, the best use of AMEX points is when you transfer them to their partner programs. The other stuff they offer, like gift cards, electronics, etc., works out to around one cent per mile at best, which isn’t particularly good.

So, which loyalty programs should you transfer them to? Well, definitely not the hotel programs. While Hilton, Priority Club, Starwood, etc., are partners, the redemption rates are only about half as good transferring to airline miles. For example, one airline mile is typically equal in value to either two Hilton or Priority Club points. Through Membership Rewards, you’ll get 1,000 Hilton points per 1,000 Membership Rewards points, or 1,300 Priority Club points per 1,000 Membership Rewards points. On the contrary, an SPG point is worth more than an airline mile, although not much more. With Membership Rewards you get 333 SPG points per 1,000 Membership Rewards points, which still isn’t a good deal.

So, what does that leave? Yes, of course the airlines! Now I’m no expert on all 19 of their airline transfer partners, but here are a few you should transfer to and a few you shouldn’t transfer to:

Good for transfers:

Air Canada Aeroplan: They have a fantastic award chart with some really great new rules which allow an extra stopover on certain itineraries and even cool new routing rules. Their fuel surcharges are crazy expensive, but if you book an award with multiple Star Alliance carriers they’re apparently not able to calculate them, which means you just pay taxes. If you’re looking for longer flights this is a good option, since the award chart is zone based and not distance based. View from the Wing has some more information about the program in a recent post.

All Nippon Airways Mileage Plan: Their award chart is distanced based, which can be good or bad depending on where you live. For those of us on the east coast of the US, this is a great thing, especially when redeeming miles for travel to Europe. Another import consideration is their airline partners. This program gives you access to all Star Alliance carriers, and also to Jet Airways, Qatar, and Virgin Atlantic, which are top notch carriers. A few good redemption opportunities include JFK to LHR in Upper Class on Virgin for 63,000 miles, Jet Airways Business Class from EWR to BRU for 68,000 miles, and ORD-FRA in Lufthansa First for 100,000 miles, among many others. Generally speaking their fuel surcharges are reasonable, and best of all you just pay taxes for awards on Virgin.

Iberia Plus: I’m reluctantly putting Iberia in the “good” category, but hear me out. Iberia is the only option for transferring AMEX miles to a OneWorld carrier, which is what makes them potentially interesting. Their award chart is distance based and the rates aren’t nearly as favorable as ANA, for example, but they get the job done. This could be useful if you want to fly JFK to LHR on British Airways, for example. Since you can’t use American Airlines miles for British Airways flights from the US, this isn’t too bad of a value. A roundtrip JFK to LHR award in Club World is around 88,000 miles plus taxes and feed.

Bad for transfers:

Delta Skymiles: Unless you have a specific purpose for transferring to Delta, don’t! Once in a while they have promotions whereby you get bonus miles when transferring from AMEX to Delta (recently 30%), but even then it’s probably not worth it. Delta miles are about as watered down as they get, and expect it to get worse as SkyMiles merges with WorldPerks.

Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer: This is another program that can be useful, but I’d typically avoid. If you want to fly Singapore’s new first or business class product this is the only way to get it, so it might be worthwhile in that case. Other than that, there are few cases in which their award chart works out better than Aeroplan or Mileage Plan as far as Star Alliance airlines go. They also have some archaic rules, and frankly my impression of Singapore Airlines on the ground isn’t nearly as favorable as it is in the air.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Transferring to Virgin Atlantic seems to be a popular redemption, but only for people that don’t know better. While Virgin Atlantic has a reasonable award chart, their “taxes” and fuel surcharges are ridiculous. So what should you do if you want to fly Virgin? Book through ANA! Here’s an example: A JFK to LHR award in Upper Class costs 81,000 miles and around $500 when booked through Virgin Atlantic, while it would be a mere 63,000 miles and $150 when booked through ANA. They have virtually the same award availability, so it’s a no brainer.

Anyway, I hope this was helpful and answers the questions some readers have had. Feel free to post any comments, corrections, or questions, and I’ll do my best to respond to them.

Filed Under: Advice, American Express
  1. Hi, lucky,

    I also posted similar topic on my blog few days ago, ANA allows 4 stopovers enroute and everything can be done online. someone got this trip with 3 stopovers and 2 less 24 hours connections in Asia for 22K miles +161 in taxes.

    TG630 Hong Kong Taipei 20:15 21:40 333 2 Economy 1 01:25
    TG634 Taipei Seoul(Incheon) 12:50 16:15 773 1 Economy 1 02:25
    OZ112 Seoul(Incheon) Osaka(Kansai) 10:00 11:40 333 – Economy 1 01:40
    NH423 Osaka(Itami) Fukuoka 11:15 12:25 76P – Economy 1 01:10
    NH252 Fukuoka Tokyo(Haneda) 12:15 13:55 773 D2 Economy 1 01:40
    OZ103 Tokyo(Narita) Seoul(Incheon) 15:30 18:10 777 1 Economy 02:40
    LH716 Seoul(Incheon) Shenyang 06:30 07:15 343 – Economy 1 01:45

  2. I dunno how different the redemption rates are, but most of this is also useful for conversions from SPG? (at least say AC and NH)

  3. Yes whakojacko, that’s a good point. A few of these are good options for SPG transfers, although SPG has plenty of good airline partners that aren’t part of the AMEX MR program. For example, transferring to AA can be a good idea from SPG, since you’re not only earning miles which are pretty valuable, but also working towards lifetime status (since AA counts all activity towards lifetime status).

  4. Also lucky-another SPG question. Any reason you would ever not just transfer in 20k point increments? Is there a limit of the number of transfers? It seems wasteful not to do it any other way.

  5. You are correct, there’s no reason not to transfer in 20,000 point increments, assuming you want to maximize your mileage. The one exception is if you’re just a few thousand miles short of an award and want to top off an account. There aren’t any limits for the bonus or number of transfers.

  6. Hi Lucky.

    I’m kind of embarassed to say that I’m completely new to Amex MR’s, though I’ve heard a lot about them. Is there a preferred card to get? i.e. one with no annual fee?

  7. hobo13,

    I believe all of the AMEX MR cards have an annual fee. Many have the AMEX Plat, which comes with a hefty annual fee but includes free lounge access for AA, CO, DL, and NW. I believe the cheapest card has an annual fee somewhere around $50, but it might be more.

  8. Lucky, I really enjoyed this post and want to tell hobo13 that he should not get a MR card. They all have annual fees and there are way better cards to get depending on whate of rewards you are looking for. I only participate in MR because I am forced to use my corporate Amex for an annual $50-80K spend and I think it is worth the $75 to cash in for a bunch of giftcards around Christmas (this year I got ~$500 worth).

    On there are tons of threads discussing which rewards cards are the best and hobo13 should go there and do a search. They are particularly active now that the Citi program has devalued theur ‘Thank You’ rewards program and lots of people are looking to switch. Plus, it is the New Year and people are budgeting and many rewards programs are based on a calendar year with minimums to spend, reward earning caps, etc.

  9. We live in DC and my spouse is Canadian. Air Canada has these 15k awards from Toronto and Montreal to all the Northeastern US cities (DC is the furthest south). When we have to get home to Canada on short notice, we check availability at and then transfer the points (the go immediately) and get the award ticket. A few weeks before Xmas I had to head up to YYZ on short notice for a funeral and cashed in 15k miles, and C$103 for the exact nonstop flights I wanted.

  10. American Express Blue does not charge an annual fee and it earns reward points. Unlike other AE cards, it does not have to be paid off every month, though if you are carrying a balance then you should be reading about how to get out of debt not about flying to exotic locations.
    That said, I have just canceled my Blue and applied for a Costco American Express True Value Card. You have to be a Costco member, but there is no annual fee for the card. You earn at least 1% on every dollar you spend anywhere-not just at Costco. At the end of the year, you get a rebate check that you can only use at Costco. Last year I charged over $50,000 on credit cards (paid off every month!) so that would translate into at least a $500 check at year end.
    Frankly, I just got tired of worrying that my airline of choice is going to go out of business. As Lucky has pointed out, there are great airline deals, but I’m just tired of all the hassle. Show me the money!

  11. Very interesting article. I agree, the Delta SKymiles Amex really sucks. I have had the card for a few years. I have gotten maybe 2 or 3 free flights, but it’s extremely difficult to redeem your miles. Such a hassle. They severely restrict the number of people who can redeem miles for a free flight, on each flight….so many times If I wanted to use my miles, I had to change my plans for a vacation. Which is not too bad if you’re flexible, but if you’re set on a specific destination you’re S.O.L.
    Also, just heard I think on Budget that Amex/ Delta is cutting out Double miles. They used to give you double miles for gas stations, home improvement stores, and supermarkets.
    I’m planning to use the last of my miles (if possible), which is about 72K miles, then cancel it.

  12. lucky, thanks for the informative post – you saved me 150,000 miles and it seems like probably $800 on an award redemption US-LHR-South Africa.

    FYI, this page comes up as the #2 hit on Google for Virgin Atlantic Membership Rewards, so good work on the SEO.

  13. Wow, congrats on saving that much, danielb6752; I’m happy I could help. Enjoy your trip, as South Africa is a beautiful country.

  14. Hi Lucky and all

    Does anyone know if the ANA programme offers good value for those like me based in the UK?
    I have lots of points (345,000) and have to transfer them somewhere quick as I cancelled my Amex card nearly 30 days ago.
    Thanks guys

  15. Hey Ronnie,

    Assuming you can transfer the miles to ANA at a 1:1 ratio, absolutely, ANA is a fantastic program! You can fly to basically anywhere in the world on Virgin Atlantic with the ANA miles, or fly a different carrier. For example, Upper Class from London to NY is only 63,000 miles, which is a bargain.

  16. Hi, Lucky and all:

    When my husband and I got married, my mother offered me her AmEx points (between 450,000 and 460,000) for anything we wanted. We wanted to travel, but never had the time. She has kept them for us and now we are in a position to take a week or two off from work and book a trip, but we can’t afford to throw a lot of money at a vacation. We would like to take a trip to Europe or Asia using the points as the primary source of funds. Is this realistic or do we need more points/other funds? I haven’t booked international travel without a travel agent before, so I am a bit green to the experience.

    Thanks for your time!

  17. Hello Kate,

    I’d be happy to help you out, and I’m sure we can get you and your husband on a trip to somewhere exciting in comfort. Before I answer, let me ask 1) what airport are you leaving from and 2) are there any particular cities you want to visit and 3) when do you want to travel?

    If it’s alright I’ll go ahead and make a separate post with your question, because the response will get long.

  18. I have about 150,000 Amex MR and was thinking about flying R/T to Paris in August. Since I can’t transfer to AA and no other flights are direct from JFK, are there any one world alliance partners I can transfer to and if so, how / where do I book the AA flight through (the partner website)?

    Thanks for any help!

  19. Hello BSR,

    While you can’t transfer to AA, you can transfer to Iberia, which has reasonable rates for that route. The award would cost you 88,200 miles in business class, for example. You would probably have to call Iberia to make the reservation after transferring the points.

    Otherwise you could of course transfer from AMEX to CO, DL, or AF, all of which fly nonstop to Paris from NY.

  20. Hi Lucky, can you see us in the right direct .I’m concern about the use of our Amex MR points we have 720,000 points .We wish to to use them on air travel to Europe return Business or Economy return in the months june – Aug 09 How many will we need ?? thanks for your help Stu

  21. Hi Stu,

    In that case you’re probably best off transferring miles to All Nippon Airways (ANA). The cost for the awards varies based on the distance traveled. The award chart for ANA can be found here:

    As you can see, the costs for awards to Europe vary anywhere from 63,000 miles (JFK-LHR) to 85,000 miles (for awards like LAX-LHR), and that’s for business class. That’s a fantastic value, if you ask me!

    Please let me know if you need help planning.

  22. Hi Lucky,

    I was thinking about flying R/T to India (JFK – BOM). How many point will it take if you buy economy tickets and then upgrade to business class or buy the first class tickets using MR points via ANA. Thanks for your help.

  23. Hi Rob,

    Your best option would be a flat out award ticket. The award would be 65,000 miles in coach, 105,000 miles in business class, and 160,000 miles in first class.

  24. Thanks for the quick response. I still cant believe it only takes 105,000 miles for business class while it take 80,000 miles on delta skymiles for COACH. Amex MR is definitely worth it.

  25. I found someone who is willing to pay me $1200 for the use of my 120,000 AMEX rewards points- is this a good deal? does it make sense if I don’t particularly need anything from their catalog of rewards?

    Advice needed- thanks!

  26. Amex. seems to make it easy to buy tickets using points for my trip from Denver to Bangkok. However a friend of a friend said you can use less points going through an airline.

    Since the trip uses multi- airlines is this advisable? Do you agree that there are savings to be had that make it worth the trouble?

  27. @ CJ — It really depends on the program. Sometimes the airlines work out cheaper, and sometimes Amex works out cheaper (although going through Amex is merely transfering to one of their partner airline programs). Both routes will let you use multiple airlines, and there’s not really any trouble either way. If I were you I would use Amex points and transfer to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program for a trip like DEN-BKK due to the distance.

  28. Hi lucky,
    You seem to really know what you’re talking about. Do you know about vacations using Amer Exp Rewards POints? Is there such a thing as paying for an entire horseback riding vacation in Italy using AMEX rewards points? including flight hotel and horseback riding?

  29. I have a wedding to attend in Trani, Italy in June. I have 250,000 amex points. Would this come close to purchasing a trip to Trani, italy for 2? Can you also use for hotels and rental cars?

  30. The best value in this case would be transfering your miles to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, as you can get a first class award ticket to Italy for a mere 100,000 miles per person (or business class for 80,000 or coach for 60,000, but I would go for first class). Redeeming those points for hotels or cars probably wouldn’t be a good value.

  31. Thank you so much! I will give them a call. I looked on the website but the only thing close to Bari is FCO (Rome?). and it was like 405,000 miles. So I will call and see how many points equal how many miles and see if they can fix us up with a reasonable trip! Thanks again!

  32. Our family is trying to fly to Korea. We would like to fly first class (sleeper) if possible. We currently have 400K Membership Rewards points. What would be the most efficient use of our points? And what would the exact process be? Should we book the travel first? Transfer point to miles?

    Thanks for any help. Your site has opened our eyes on how to use our points more effectively.


  33. Hi Victor,

    Before I make any suggestions, how many people are in your family and where do you want to fly from?


  34. Hi Lucky,
    Any idea how long it takes to transfer MR to SQ Krisflyer and ANA?


  35. Hi Jay,

    ANA transfers typically take about 48 hours, while KrisFlyer transfers typically take around 24 hours.

  36. Thank you for sharing this great advice. I wish I had know about booking Virgin through ANA when I moved my Membership Rewards points last year. The taxes for my flight were crazy expensive!

  37. @ Jay — Thanks!

    @ Bobby — Yes, the Virgin taxes are crazy. For coach, an award is often more expensive than a revenue ticket. It’s crazy.

  38. Hi Lucky,

    Thanks for the post! I currently have about 45,000 points and no particular travel plan. Though in about 6 months I plan to travel to west africa, india, south east asia from north east usa… do you have a recommendation on which airline program to transfer my points to?

    thanks again for the help.


  39. Hi,

    My fiancee and I would like to go to Greece & Turkey for our honeymoon in late July. We live in Seatte and I have 86k MR points in my account. Which airline should I transfer my points to? Also, how long doesthis process typically take? Given that it’s mid June, is it too late?


  40. Hi Everyone!

    I came across this forum and was quite impressed with the feedback. I have about 185,000 AMEX pts I need to transfer for a future vacation. I live in Chicago and would like to eventually travel to Europe in the future (1-2 yrs). I’m trying to figure out what airline program would be a best use of my miles. I would prefer a program that doesn’t have a 1 yr expiration date on awards. ANA seems like a solid choice. Any advice is appreciated!

    Thanks for your help!

  41. Sorry for the late responses, folks!

    @ anup — It all depends on what you want to do with your points — upgrade, book an award ticket, or what? It’s probably not enough points as of now for an award ticket, so I would try to keep earning.

    @ Jim — Transfers are anywhere from instant (with Aeroplan and Delta, for example) to a few days (ANA, for example). Where you transfer your points to depends on what you want to do with them. 86,000 points isn’t going to be enough for two award tickets.

    @ Miguel — First of all, I would keep the points in your Membership Rewards account until you’re ready to book the award. Then I would suggest transferring to Aeroplan. It’ll be the best value and you won’t pay fuel surcharges if you stay away from Air Canada. I believe they have a seven year mileage expiration policy as well.

  42. Hello Lucky,

    I have about 300,000 points with Amex, 50,000 with United and 25,000 with delta as well as 3 free domestic tickets with Alaska. I want to plan a trip to Egypt for my family of 5 for next June/July. I’m not sure if my points will cover us, I’m prepared to pay for a at least one ticket. I know my mom, who travels every year uses Luftanza, British Air or KLM, so we will most likely want to take one of those, but I’m open.

    Is there a way where I could transfer all those points to maximize our travel and minimize my cost.


  43. Hi Emad,

    I’m not Lucky, and I hope Lucky won’t mind me butting in with a suggestion before he responds…

    bmi offer USA – Egypt return redemptions in Economy for 40,000 bmi miles + £270GBP + taxes. You can transfer Amex MR to bmi on a 1:1 basis. So for 200,000 Amex MR points + £1350GBP + taxes you’d get five people from anywhere in the US to Egypt. You could have a stopover in each direction if you so desired anywhere in the US or around Egypt.

    bmi redemptions can be used on one or a combination of any of the Star Alliance carriers including United, Lufthansa, US Airways, Air Canada, Egypt Airways etc etc…

    You may well struggle to get five award seats on the same flight though…

    Hope that helps.

    PS – It’s British Airways… not British Air!! Grrr… (rant over)

  44. @ Emad — It would help to know where you’re starting from and what class of service you’re looking for. If you’re looking for all five to be on the same flight, would you be willing to do two in business class and three in coach, or something like that?

    @ Lewis — Thanks for helping and making my life easier! Excellent advice, although AFAIK bmi isn’t a partner of the US AmEx Membership Rewards program. Is there something I’m missing?

  45. Thank you guys, I’m starting from Los Angeles and yes, I’m open to 2 seats in Business class and the other 3 in coach.

    Since this will be my kids and wife’s first oversees, long trip, we would like to stop in one or maybe even two places as the longest trip thus far has been to hawaii which is 5 hours from LA.

    I actually never heard of BMI before, how to they compare with other airlines like the ones I mentioned. I don’t mind paying more for those as my Mom who will be traveling with us knows them well.


  46. Regarding the transfer of MR points to British Airways accts, I just called the MR number in the US and they don’t know anything about it. It appears to be only available in the UK…hopefully coming to the US soon…??? Anyone heard if this is the case?

  47. @ Emad — Sorry about taking so long to get back to you. The challenge with that particular award is that redemption rates to CAI suck with AmEx transfer partners — ANA isn’t practical because the award chart is distance based and Egypt is far away, Aeroplan is way overpriced to Egypt, and Delta isn’t a great deal either, even at their impossible “saver” level. You might be better off flying to somewhere in Europe and then buying a cheap ticket to Egypt, but I guess it all depends on how involved you want to get.

    @ Allison — I believe Lewis was referencing bmi, which is British Midland and not British Airways. Unfortunately neither are US transfer options to the best of my knowledge, so the agent was correct.

  48. Lucky!
    First of all, thanks for all the information!
    I have an AMEX and MR…….I am already booked on ANA for a trip from NYC to Tokyo in 2 weeks on economy. I am almost desperate on upgrading to first class because its such a long flight. What would be the best way for me to do so? How may amex points would i need? Are amex mr points transferable to others?

  49. I have been a MR member for many years, I have a platinum card $395/yr. Charges are always autopay in full each month. I also have an AM EX Blue which I used 11 months ago for home renovations due to the 0% for 12 month option. AM has frozen both accounts eventhough they have not reached max borrowing and all payments required are on time. They have a new policy that you cannot charge more than 1 1/2 times the normal amount of your payments each month on the platinum. Although my July pmt was made in full a few days ago they are requiring an immediate payment of the balance in full that is not due until mid Aug to un-freeze the accts. I believer they are gearing up for the changes in the credit card laws by Congress year end? Anyway I have about 120k miles that I will need to transfer or attempt to attach to another no fee Am Ex as I am so frustrated that I am closing my card. Hard to imagine a perfect customer who pays $395/yr well and my husband so 2 of us that they have managed to completely piss off! Any suggestions on where to move these miles is appreciated. Most of our travel is on AA sadly, but we will likely travel to S.Africa next year. Thanks in advance,

  50. @ Andy — It would be 28,000 ANA miles to upgrade to business class, but you would need to be booked in one of the top fare classes (Y, E, B, M, S) to even be able to do that. Otherwise you’re out of luck, sorry. And yes, you can transfer to someone else’s account.

    @ Holly — Ouch, that sounds pretty bad! There’s no program that would get you to South Africa for 120,000 Membership Rewards points, but if you absolutely have to transfer the points I would consider Aeroplan. 120,000 points will get you a first class ticket to Europe or Asia, for example.

  51. Hi Lucky,

    I am planning on traveling to Amsterdam in September. I have about 100K MR points. What is the best way to redeem my points? As fas as I know, only Delta/KLM offer non-stop service.

  52. One last question (I promise, heh) — You say you have around 100K MR points. Do you have at least 100K MR or slightly less? 100K can be a crucial number in this case…

  53. To be exact I have 86084 available right now. I can also use 15000 points as advance from amex, and I expect to have another 8400 point to be posted soon as they are pending at the moment.

  54. Hi Rob:

    Thanks for the info. In that case you have a few practical options. If you absolutely must fly nonstop, you could transfer your points to Continental and for 80,000 miles you would get an award on KLM in business class, space permitting. I would check availability before transferring points, though.

    If you’re willing to connect and want to fly business class, I would transfer to Aeroplan and for 80,000 miles you could fly Swiss’ new business class through Zurich both ways. Alternatively (and this is what I would do), you could borrow the points and spend 100,000 miles on Swiss’ new first class in one direction to experience their amazing onboard product, and try Lufthansa first class in the other direction to experience the first class terminal.

    If you’re interested in help with the booking process, from transferring the miles to finding availability to making a reservation to selecting the seats, I now offer that along with a partner. You can email me at [email protected] if you’re interested. You can find out more info here:

    I hope that helps. 🙂

  55. Thanks for all your help. I am going to look into flying Swiss one way and Lufthansa for my return flight.

  56. Any suggestions to flying to Manila in Feburary in business class?

    I’ll be flying Feb 11-23rd, 2010 which is close to the Chinese New Year. I have 60K MR and 24K Starwood Points. In addition, I belong to OnePass (2,000 miles left since I used the bulk for 2 free tickets), NWA Worldperks with 9K miles, Alaska Airlines (0 miles).

    In the past I have used my OnePass miles to upgrade on Continental or on NWA. Now I’m wondering should I purchase Starwood or MR points to get a ticket on ANA for example. There seems to be a lot of possibilities and I hope that you can give me other options.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  57. Sorry for not getting back to you earlier, Rich. Assuming you wanted to fly business class, the best value I can think of in this case would be an award via Aeroplan, but it does require a bit of work. Awards to Hong Kong or Japan, for example, are 100,000 miles in business class, while it’s 130,000 miles to Manila. Therefore you’d be better off booking an award to Hong Kong and then buying a cheap ticket to Manila, in my opinion. I realize you’re about 11,000 miles short, but if I were you I’d borrow those points from American Express, which should be possible.

  58. I disagree. ANA is only 105 and gets you to MNL. Sure, you get hit with a YQ, but the YQs aren’t bad right now. This assumes you go JFK-ICN-MNL, which, of course, may not be feasible.

  59. Hi Lucky

    My husband and I would like to transfer our Amex MR points to either Virgin Atlantic or British Airways for round trip first class tickets to Paris this coming Spring because what we’ve read indicates these carriers have some of the best first class service. This post was really helpful and letting us know that we could use Iberia Plus to get to British Airways since it is not yet an AMEX partner in the US. Is one carrier better than the other in terms of cost or convenience in the transfer points process? Do you have another recommendation for a carrier with good first class service that is available through our Amex MR points?


  60. Hi LK:

    I’m happy you asked this question, since it’s a case where I can help someone avoid a HUGE mistake. Virgin Atlantic only has an “Upper Class” product which is equivalent to business class, while British Airways has a decent first class product, although nothing incredibly good. Furthermore, if you transfer to Iberia you would pay a lot more miles and substantial “fuel surcharges.”

    The best product to Europe, hands down, would be Swiss’ new first class product, and it’s available for only 100,000 miles per person through Air Canada’s Aeroplan program, with no fuel surcharges. Not only do you save tens of thousands of miles, but you also save hundreds of dollars, not to mention get a substantially better in-flight product.

    I recently flew Swiss first class, and you can read about my experience here:

    If you’d like help booking the actual award ticket, I have an award consulting business and would be happy to help you out, not only in selecting the best flights, but also in helping you save the most miles throughout the booking process. If you’re interested, I can give you more details if you email me at [email protected]. You can read more about the service here:

    Either way, hope that helped and happy travels!

  61. Hi Lucky,
    Can you help me? I live in L.A. and want to be able to use points to travel to London first or business class. I like the Air Zealand business premiere, Virgin Upper Class, and BA first class. I am looking at the Amex MR cards b/c it seems like there is more flexibility. But they do not include BA or Air NZ in their program. Their Amex Starpoints card does, but I’m not sure if the redemption is one-to-one on the points? What do you recommend?
    Thank you, you really seem to know how to sift through all the information.

  62. @ think ink — There are several options, both through the AMEX SPG card and through an AMEX Membership Rewards card. Your best bet would be to accrue points and transfer them to Aeroplan, where for 80,000 miles you could fly business class on Air New Zealand between Los Angeles and London. With Membership Rewards you could transfer the points at a 1:1 ratio, while with SPG you would receive 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 points you transfer, so you’d basically be receiving 1.25 miles per point transferred. So that’s probably your best bet.

    Hope that helps. 🙂

  63. Hi Lucky, so, I applied for and got an SPG Amex card. I also bookmarked ev rewards, but so far I haven’t seen any “booster” offers for the SPG Amex card (i.e., if you purchase something on, say, via ev rewards, that site will point you to a link where you get 5 points per dollar, etc.). So far, trying various sites I shop on, ev rewards only lists “boosters” for AmEx rewards, Citi Thank You, etc. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks! 🙂

  64. what do think of the PAY WITH POINTS way to go that American Express has? We’re trying to get BOSTON-MUNICH at the end of June. How soon should we be looking. (I’ve been looking NOW!) But Iberia had $729 flight (pay with points) that jacked up to $1,200 in the hour it took me to decide! Could it go down again?.

  65. TO clarify, this is different from the usual Membership rewards, transferred points to airline, etc.. This is offered on the Membership rewards website under PAY WITH POINTS (has no restrictions, one just pays the going rate with points, and that CAN be a good deal sometimes) What do you think? THANKS in advance!

  66. @ think ink — Wish I had a good answer, but I’ve never seen offers like that with the SPG Amex. Sorry!

  67. @ Katie — While I can’t find the information right now (specifically the conversion rate they use), I don’t think that’s ever a good deal. They give you somewhere around one cent of “purchasing power” between Membership Rewards points, so you can typically do much better than that. Heck, you should be able to get a business class ticket to Europe for that many miles. I would look into a straight miles redemption option.

  68. It’s one cent per MR point. So the $729 ticket would cost 72900 MR points. As lucky said, you can almost get a business class ticket for that if you find availability in a program that you can transfer into from MR. But purely based on valuation/math, 1cent isn’t a good reward.

  69. I have 166,000 AMerican Express points. They just offered a 40 Sharp TV 1080p 120 hz for 165,000. I have always felt the point swap for products was far from worth it, but since I need the TV I am tempted. The best rate I can find for the same TV online was about $750-$850. Without Taxes and delivery of course. In a year or so I want to go to Italy with my wife. I live in Ft Lauderdale. Do I buy the TV and enjoy it for a year and pay for the ticket or wait?

  70. No no no. Your points can buy $1,660 in gift cards. That’s actual cash in your pocket — especially for this holiday season. I use the gift cards for all my Christmas shopping — Gap card for the neices, etc. These days, everybody prefers a gift card. You can also get cards to many of your favorite restaurants. For example, the “Chili’s card” is also good at their other chains such as Romano’s Italian grill. Search for gift cards. THEN take the money you just saved (or will save) and use that to buy your TV or airline tickets.

  71. @ Bill — I have a very simple answer for you. 160,000 Membership Rewards points will get you two business class award tickets to Italy. What do you value more, two business class award tickets to Europe (where you’re going anyway), or $850? So definitely use the miles for your flight. That being said, if you were going to do a merchandise redemption, Shelly is right, the one cent per point would be a better value (although in my opinion still not a good redemption).

  72. Thank you both. I thought so, but needed to hear someone say it…LOL. Thanks! I waited this long, so I’ll just accrue more points and buy the tickets or gift cards down the road!

  73. Hello Lucky:
    Thank you so much for all of the information that you share.

    My husband and I want to fly nonstop to Rome, Italy from Philadelphia, PA or Newark NJ next summer – preferably 1st or Business Class. We are USAirways Members and have 178,000 Miles under my Amex Card and 80,000 Miles under his.

    What do you recommend?
    thank you.

  74. @ Sherry — The options out of those two cities nonstop are rather limited. On US you can fly PHL-FCO nonstop or CO EWR-FCO nonstop. Availability can be tough to come by on those airlines nonstop, but frankly I wouldn’t go with them either way. I think you’d have a much better experience making a single connection and flying either Lufthansa or Swiss, both of which offer a superior in-flight product and have incredible first class cabins. If you’d like help with the award booking process (for the best in-flight experience and fewest miles), feel free to email me at [email protected].

  75. Hello

    I have about 230K AMEX points and want to go to New
    Zealand from DC. I cant quite figure out how to do this.

    any ideas?

    Thanks so much.

  76. @ Jean — It would help if you provided some details like what class of service you want to fly (first, business, coach), when you wanted to fly, and if it’s just you or if you’re traveling with someone else. Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] or post here.

  77. Hi Lucky:
    I want to thank you for your response to my question on flying from Philly PA to Rome. I did check out the Lufthansa and Swiss links per your recommendation — Wow! While I’d love to experience their amenities, my husband and I are quite time-limited for this trip — so transfers and driving to other airports are out for now — we’ll be going with the USAir nonstop. Maybe if the fates are with us — another trip……

    I very much appreciate your generousity with your time and info you give on this blog. If the ANA booking exceeds my patience limit, I’ll be emailing you at your award consulting business. I think your fees are extremely reasonable for all that you do and for handling the award navigation and booking work!!!

    Thank you again, Lucky.

  78. Ok, all you high-flyers get to have all of the fun!
    What should a lowly guy like me do with just 50,519 points on an AmX card that I never use and will expire 12/31/09?
    What’s the best use of those “few” miles?
    Or, can one tx miles to another AmX program, like Costco’s?


  79. The S.O. and I are planning a trip to Vail in February and have about 50k in rewards each. We’ve looked into flights, and so far found the best deals with Continental’s OnePass (12.5k each way from San Diego to Eagle. However, I also have a few nights of comped rooms at the Venetian which we would like to use the few days before our trip, but Continental doesn’t have many flights at that price offered from Vegas to Vail/Denver (only one realistic option, to leave at 6 a.m., and even that costs double the miles).

    Are there any tricks I might be able to use to utilize some other airlines, e.g. United Airways or AA? I tried with British Airways but they won’t let me book AA flights.

    Also, it would be easier if we both transfer miles to the same account to ensure we get adjoining seats, is this possible?

  80. @ Phil — Absolutely. Not sure what cabin you want to fly in, but through Aeroplan a business class award would cost 80,000 miles and first class award would cost 100,000 miles. I’d say that’s quite a bargain for a west coast to Europe flight.

  81. @ Alice — I believe they’re technically forfeited, although I’m not positive. It would be best to have the online account access information for that person so that you can just transfer the miles to a frequent flyer program. I wouldn’t let Amex know….

    Hope that’s only a theoretical question!

  82. @ Mike — There’s no cost effective way to transfer the miles to the same account, although there’s really no need to do so. You can select seats next to each other regardless of whether or not you’re on the same record. If you’re using Continental miles you could also fly United or US Airways. It might make sense to give Continental OnePass a call and see if they see anything in their computers that you don’t. But in theory it shouldn’t be tough at all….

  83. I have a Blue Card from Amex. It has 107,000 pints. I wanted to transfer to Virgin Atlantic for buying award tickets from NY to London, which they are giving out on promotion @ 29,500 miles + taxes per ticket. They are also giving 20% bonus miles on transfer. Delta is requiring 90,000 miles per ticket for the same dates. So, Virgin offer looks very good. However, Amex is telling me that since I have a Blue Card, which is free, I cannot transfer my points to Virgin miles. Any solution or comparable alternatives?

  84. Great info here, Lucky!

    Trying to get 3 round trip tickets in Business (or else Premium Economy that recline a lot) from SFO to CDG–ideally with free stopover in London–in August. Have 73.000 Diners Club points plus 67.000 AMEX Memb Rewards points, plus enough Starwood points to make up the difference, plus assorted points in UA and Delta programs. Before I found your website I was going to take advantage of transfer bonuses for BA–both Diners and AMEX have BA promotions. But instead of paying 75,000 times 3 (plus fees of $360 per ticket) for BA Premium Economy seats, it might be worth giving up the bonuses (which would total around 40k points) to get real sleeper seats on another airline –maybe a lower tax/fuel surcharge, too.

    I tried using the ANA search tool and also searched through Aeroplan, but saw mostly just long Air Canada connecting flights via Montreal, etc or UAL flights with connections. Couldn’t figure out how to use the ANA tool to see Virgin, Swiss, or other airlines with nonstop flights.


  85. I am looking to book a trip from Boston to Italy in late June with layovers in both directions to visit friends. The best I found so far is British Airways Business Class for 120k each person plus crazy fuel surcharges! So far we have an itinerary of BOS-LHR (layover), LHR- Rome(FCO), Venice (VCE)-LHR (layover), LHR-BOS. We have the points to cover it, but are there any alternatives to avoid the super high fuel surcharges?

  86. Lucky,

    Would like to take my wife to France at the end of May 2010. I have over 800K miles with AMX Membership Awards. Would be leaving from MIA or FLL. Would like the best first class product out there. Where do I begin?

  87. Just found your blog.
    We are thinking about heading to Italy for a wedding in July of 2010. We have roughly 160,000 miles available through our amex rewards. We would be leaving from Los Angeles via a puddle jumper from Santa Barbara. How does this whole miles thing work? Confusing on the Amex site.


  88. Hi,
    My daughter is living in Tel Aviv, Israel, my husband , her 2 siblings and I in Oakland, CA. Where is the best place to put our miles so that we can flew to see her and vise versa, and possibly do some lay overs is other locations like Egypt, Poland, Greece, Turkey, or in the other directions, like ,Pacific basin or South Africa?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

  89. Hi Lucky,

    My husband and I have been gifted a honeymoon, if we can book it all on points. We have 550,000 AmEx points to work with. 300,000 United points, and a ton of Starwood and Hilton points. We’d like to go somewhere far and warm in December 2010…we’re thinking Hawaii, Tahiti, South Africa, Africa, Australia, New Zealand. Clearly, we’re open-minded. We just don’t want to have to pay for too much! Are any of these places more “point-friendly then the other?” Thank you in advance for your feedback.

  90. Hi, just a quick question on the redemption…should we factor in the $30 additional annual and $55 fees when determining the costs of redemption or is that just a fixed value? Anyone using the new MR rewards card at $175 and it has 2x/3x options so is that a better value?

  91. I have just over 1 million Amex membership miles points. I am attempting to book a trip to Rome from Indianapolis via Philly and then return from Venice back to Indy via Philly for seven people. Advice is needed. On the US Air site I can get 7 coach tkts for $1390 each roundtrip but on Amex site cost for exact flights is $2200 per. Is this usual? Any other ideas? Picked US Air for flight times/connections etc.

  92. I am planning a trip to Italy, and I can either use my amex points to pay for part of the flight or transfer them to starwood and use them to pay part of the hotel.
    What has a better exchange rate?

  93. Lucky – I bid on (and won) 150,000 amex points at a charity auction. I thought I could transfer the points into airline miles, but now I am not sure. Some are saying that the airline miles have to be in the cardholders’ name. Any suggestions on a “good value” for 150,000 points?

    Thank you!

  94. @ Barbara — You can transfer those points to any of their airline partners, even into someone else’s account. Just link the accounts online and make the transfer, which is instant for many partners. Just let me know if you need more details.

  95. I found someone online who was willing to buy my 120k AmEx points for $1600- is that a good deal? It seems better than the gift card rate and I don’t plan to use them for flying. Any thoughts or advice?

    Thanks all!

  96. Lucky – I have 215K amex points and want to travel from the east coast to Australia or New Zealand (2 passengers) in the first quarter of 2011. Any thoughts or suggestions?

  97. Hi Lucky –
    Wow your advise is amazing!
    I just received 50k amex points and have a 2 week window and wanted to fly to Thailand. Ive never been and feel its about time.
    Any advice to maximize converting this to air travel would be so amazing.
    I would be leaving SFO San Francisco and possibly as eary as next week as soon as i can figure this out.
    Your doing a great job thanks!

  98. Good Morning Lucky!

    You are just the person we’ve been looking for!!
    My husband and I are taking a trip to Hong Kong mid-July and would like to use our AmEx points. We would be flying from Miami (connect in SFO/LAX/JFK) to Hong Kong. We have a platinum card and over 300k points, as well as a couple of questions…

    We were thinking of taking advantage of the companion ticket program, do you think it worth it? Or should we just use the points for two coach tickets and save the rest of the points for hotels once we are there?

    Thank you in advance for any advice!!

  99. @ Elizabeth — In your shoes I would flat out use miles for a first or business class award ticket, which would cost 120,000 or 100,000 miles, respectively. The hotel redemptions will never prove to be as good of a value, and the companion tickets aren’t usually a great value since they require full fare tickets.

  100. Hi –
    I have 95,468 Amex Membership Reward points that I need to transfer to a program ASAP as I am closing this account. I live in Los Angeles and travel mostly to Europe – Italy, France, England – and also travel to Hawaii as well as New York. I may be planning a trip later this year to Brazil, as well.

    Which program is recommended to have access to the most flights to these places for the least amount of points/taxes, please? Coach tix are fine although everyone loves BC or FC, of course.

  101. Hi lucky – I am frazzled. I’ve been trying to figure out the best deal and flights from LAX to Italy late july and coming back early August. I have about 450,000 points and have spent a couple of weekends already trying to analyse it and I’m just as confused as when I started.

    Do you have any insights?

  102. I have 80000 amex points and will like to know if they are good for flying to Addis Ababa (ADD) from EWR/JFK or Dulles round trip if not i will consider trip to Bangkok and Bejing. I am flying on buisness and solo.

  103. Hi Lucky,
    What a great site! I am a frequent traveler, but have points in many places. I am trying to book a 1-2 week trip with a +1 sometime in June/July.
    I can fly from IAH or SFO easily. For points, I have: 73,000 AMEX, 72K SPG, 83K Marriott, 16,5K Continental OnePass, 23K United Mileage.

    Is there a smart way to use these toward at least one of the roundtrip flights to South America (Argentina) or New Zealand? (would also consider Europe if that made more sense)

    thanks so much for your advice!

  104. Lucky,
    reading your articles and I have a few questions. I currently have 1,400,000 amex MR POINTS; 1,700,000 Capital one anytime reward points; 250,000 at&t thank you network points and I want to transfer them all ASAP I fly to Panama & columbia frequently and to Europe and Canada once in a while. I also will be taking a trip to Mideast TLV in next 12 months. I see Amex has 25% off for Iberia and it expires in 2 hours…oops. Chances are I won’t hear from you before midnight but I thought I would try anyhow Any advice on what to do? Thank you.


  105. Lucky,
    Here’s a question from a different angle. Do you think the pay with points generates incremental business for a web based national travel agency? I’m having trouble tracking down all aspects of the program. Can you point me in the correct direction?

  106. Want to go from miami florida to milan malpensa in may 2011. what is best use of points and shortest route. What airline

  107. I currently have an AmEx Blue with MR Express. This allows me to book travel using Pay with Points, but does not allow transferring of points to AmEx partners. I’m considering upgrading to a Green or Gold (with the full MR program), but I’m wondering: is there a real value in being able to transfer points as opposed to just using Pay with Points for travel? That would be the main purpose of my upgrade, but I’m just not sure why it’s so much better…

  108. Hello.

    Can you help me?
    I want go FLL or MIA to SLC march 11 7 days.
    I have 60k Delta, 70 k AMerican air, 70 k MRewards, 130 k USAIR
    2 people
    I keep hitting the excess charge for transfers snags


  109. I was also wondering if a parent can us aadv points to buy a ticket for their adult child. thanksagain

  110. @ Jordan — Without a doubt, yes. With the pay with points option, you’re getting a max of a cent per mile in value. If you transfer points and redeem for a mileage partner, you can do much, much better. For example, you can get a first class ticket to Europe for 100,000 miles, business class ticket to Australia for 100,000 miles, first class ticket to Asia for 120,000 miles. All that is MUCH better than what you’ll get with pay with points, in my opinion.

  111. @ bbccpp — Feel free to shoot me an email to discuss. I offer an award consulting business which you can read about on the right side of the blog, through which I can assist you with your reservation. And yep, you can use your miles for anyone’s ticket, even if they’re not related to you.

  112. It looks like I will use Delta and transfer MR points to bring up to 100k.with a 40 k point transfer.

  113. Hi Lucky!

    Congrats! You have a great page here! I am currently in SJU and I have an upcoming trip to PHX in October this year. Having 33K AMEX MR points available, I’m not sure if I should redeem these for the trip or if I’d be better off redeeming them for something else?

    Your advice will be greatly appreciated.

  114. Hi Lucky,
    Great post and I see a lot of people are using this to get advice. My frequent destination is CAI from DC. I usually use AF because their service is the best on that route. I have 81,000 on SkyTeam, 53,000 on AA, roughly 25,000 on Star Alliance. and roughly 50,000 MR points ( i didn’t read your post before redeeming a lot of these points into MR)

    I am getting married in December and looking to at least pay less for one ticket on this busy holiday season (Dec 22 to Jan 2, but dates are flexible). I also would like a better approach to buying tickets to CAI than going to AF page 🙂

    Thanks for all your advice.


  115. I have about 900,000 MR points and would like to travel from New York to Sydney (Business Class) in January. Can you suggest an airline partner I could transfer to so I can utilize my points?

  116. Dear Jennifer, We have app 150,000 american express points. Please tell me the best way to use these miles to get (2) return ticket from Miami to Tel Aviv in the month of October,10. We are open to any airlines, Thanking you in advance, Nancy

  117. “Through Membership Rewards, you’ll get 1,000 Hilton points per 1,000 Membership Rewards points, or 1,300 Priority Club points per 1,000 Membership Rewards points.”

    Hi Lucky

    can you let me know how I can redeem 1300 PC points from 1000 amex points.

    I have accumulated a large quantity of amex points and points in other programs I can transfer to amex mebership reward points. I have been offered 2 c a point, can you think of any better value, say redemption for airline tickets, take a lot of first class flights from NY -Shanghai-NY, NY-Sydney-NY, NY-Europe, and around the world tickets.

    Would I get better value than 2c a point reedeming for airline tickets. Currently I am paying USD 5K for first return tickets between NY-Shanghai-NY.


  118. I found transferring Amex points to airlines to be a hassle so ended up with tons of points idling away doing nothing. A few years ago I decided to try using them for rental cars and found the process very easy and at this point I’ve used probably over 150K points this way.

    You just go to the amex website and they walk you through the process. I use enterprise rental cars so I just go to their site as linked from the Amex webpage and select a car as if I’m going to rent it that minute but I’m really just to seeing how much it will cost to rent. Then go to back to the Amex site and buy certificates for the estimated amount with my points. Amex emails you the certificates in 20 minutes, you go back to the car rental website and make the reservation for real this time, then print out the certificates and bring them with you when you pick up the car. Super easy.

  119. Lucky,

    I have 308,000 Amex Reward Pts and would like to take trip for 5 from JFK to Poland, Poland to Israel, then Israel back to JFK. El Al can do the Pol-Isr and Isr to NY trips, but not JFK to Pol. For the 2 El Al flights, they take 335,250 Am Ex Points. I still need the Jfk to Poland. I don’t know the cheapest way to handle this maximizing my points and keeping my costs down.

    Or, would it be cheaper/easier to do a round trip from ny to Israel,and take a separate round trip to Poland from Israel. Help! Any ideas?

  120. Lucky,

    My business partner and I use an AMEX Business Platinum for our business expenses. We have 5 cards out and generate around $18k per month for the past 8 years. Since these are businsss generated miles how can I justify my 50% to use? Is there legal precidence that these should be property of the company generating points and therefore distributed evenly to the shareholders? Is .01 a fair cash value per point?

  121. I have a bit over 100,000 points from my AmEx Blue that I have never used. I’m planning an upcoming Hawaii trip and if I book through the AmEx travel site and pay with points, I’m only getting about 1/2 cent per point or about $500 (a drop in the bucket). What other options do I have? Do I need to upgrade to a different AmEx card so I can transfer the points to a travel partner? Is Continental a travel partner as they have directly flights to Hawaii from the east coast. Since a different AmEx card would have an annual fee, I’m unsure if it is worth it.

    Using points is really such a pain since everything seems overpriced when redeeming them. I would be satisfied if I can get one cent per point. I shop at amazon a lot and they are offering about 6/10 of a cent per point, which is slightly better than a AmEx Gift Cert.

  122. Hey Lucky,

    Cool site! I have 400,000 Amex MR Points and would like to fly to Madrid from JFK or Newark and Return from Nice, we are 4 travelers and would love business class. Any thoughts?


  123. I am beginning to plan a trip in summer 2011 from SC to Europe for my family of four, probably London and Paris. We can fly out of Charlotte or Atlanta. I have 330,000 points on a corporate AMEX card and around 110,000 on my personal gold card. Used corporate points for flying back in 2005 and I remember I could not link the gold card to the same account. Also it seem that the gold card points were only worth half as much in transfer. What are my best options?

  124. My wife and I are looking to travel from LAX to London, returning from Geneva, I’d love to be able to upgrade our tickets (not purchased yet) from economy to at least business class. Can you tell me what airline or airlines we should be looking at and how many points I might need to use from my business platinum card?

  125. @Synergydmr-

    I would use the ANA mileage plan. The trip would be 68,000 miles per a person in business.

    Use the nonstop flight

    EWR-MAD CO62 for the way there.

    There are no nonstops for NCE-NYC so you need to take a connection. You can fly Lufthansa (connection in MUC or FRA) or Swiss (connection in ZRH).

  126. My wife & I are planning to travel to Maldives from NY in August. I currently have about 250K MR points. What would be the best way to redeem MR points for a business class tickets? Thanks for your help.

  127. We have over 2 million MR points and we would love to take our family of 12 to a nice inclusive or kid friendly cruise using as many points as possible. Any suggestions? We would be leaving from the east coast (Bos, bld, pvd or syr).

  128. Hey Lucky, hope you can help me out,
    Im thinking of going to Europe for the summer and I have 55000 MR points and 25000 Starwood
    Is it possible to do the following:
    Fly NYC -London on ANA carrier roundtrip business during reg season which is under 7k miles or 60000 ANA points and then seperate trip London -Prague ( a roundtrip distance of less than 1300 miles or 15000 ANA points) and make two stops along the way one in amsterdam for a week and another yet to be determined location for another week. Bringing total ANA points needed to 75000 ANA points, which my starwood and MR points would cover?
    If I can do this, how would you approach it, call the airline, find the fight first, etc?
    Your insight would be very helpful

  129. I have not seen Lucky on this blog for a while anyone know if he is still around?
    Hey Lucky,
    I have 275, 000 American Express miles and would like to get 2 round trip tickets in Business class or First from LAX to Tokyo Narita or Haneda. I looked at Singapore and ANA, can you give the thr pros and cons on each of these programs to get to Tokyo, or if you have another suggestion that would be fantastic.
    Thanks for the help

  130. I’m just getting started in trying to learn about using Amex memberships points. I suppose it’s actually quite simple, but I’m quite confused. When I called Amex the other day they told me that the only option I have is to call an airline and transfer the points directly, but then I read somewhere else about Star Alliance and how the airlines have memberships points redeemed through that. I’m not sure where to go for straight answers.

    I live in Tokyo. I was going to fly to Turkey the week after next, but due to a lot of trouble with logistics for the intended mountain walk I had planned for, I’ve decided that, for winter, it would be better to head down to New Zealand. Thing is the air fare is quite expensive when I go through the travel agents here in Tokyo, so I thought it might be a good idea to finally use my 98,000 Amex membership points. How would I go about doing that? Signing up with Air New Zealand or signing up with Star Alliance? Should I book the flight with the travel agent first or go straight to the air lines? Wouldn’t the travel agent be able to offer cheaper flights? And I can’t use the Amex points with the travel agent, right?

  131. Hi,
    Planning a trip JFK to MNL in June. Tried to book a flight using Save 10% on points thru March 31, 2011. Have a total of 140,000 points. Been trying to book it online it- Got thru the choices of Asian airlines & we particularly liked Cathay Pacific. Got thru the flight date & times then it just wouldn’t prompt us to the next & always says system failed. When number was called they suggested to charge the pyt to the card then they will debit the charge towards the points. I don’t know if this is the way around. Pls advise. Still trying to search the mileage from jfk to mnl. Would you know?


  132. Looks like Lucky is Lost!

    Anyway, any advice on LAX to India either Dehli or Bombay…..? I have 400K+ AMEX MR

    Thnx Jahut

  133. Hi I have 170k amex mil id like to book spain madrid to lax flights in aug. anyone know the best way to do that ive never used any of my points to do any type of booking.
    thanks for any help I can get.

  134. I want to use Amex Rewards miles to upgrade on Virgin Atlantic to Upper Class. I saw your info about but dont’ know what ANA is. Please advise. Thanks, Susan

  135. @Susan, AFAIK, the only method to upgrade Virign flights is to have miles in a a Virgin account. Via membership Rewards, one can transfer miles into All Nippon Airways(ANA) and then redeem for Virgin flight awards, but I do not believe you can use ANA miles for Virgin upgrades.

  136. I just traveled to Guatemala on amex points and stayed in some very nice hotels, though now I see that was not the best use of the points. I was really trying to pay for the whole trip in points and came very close.

    I did want to put out a word of warning for anyone who’s budget requires them to use amex points for hotels: AMEX books their rooms through Travelocity (or they did on my vacation) and you can NOT make ANY changes of ANY sort. AMEX cannot help you and Travelocity’s customer is AMEX. We needed to rerout slightly and found it completely impossible, despite the fact that none of the hotels were anywhere close to full. The hotels were willing, but apparently Travelocity will only pay them for the exact date you booked – not one day earlier or later. I found AMEX customer service very unconcerned – just not what I expected from them. Otherwise the trip was great!

  137. Hi
    I have 35000 AMEX reward points and 13000 Virgin miles and a Virgin upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy voucher.
    myself and wife want to go London to San Francisco in Premium Economy in September.
    What is best way to redeem my miles ?

  138. Rather than post on this site detailed questions and expect Lucky to do all the work for you for free, why don’t you just utilize his mileage booking service?
    (or direct site:

    It’s $150 for the first person on the trip, $100 per additional person on that same trip.

    I think its incredibly rude to demand answers (and get annoyed when he doesnt reply) when its obvious the answers are available if actually do read this blog. Lucky offers more than ample advice on his daily blog posts, and has given a lot of time and effort to responding to comments.

    If you have questions about so and so itinerary on so and so day, just use his service. If you have a couple hundred thousand MR points or more, its obvious that you can somewhat afford it. $150 is a very low price to pay considering that Lucky will probably save you tons of time, headaches, and provide expert advice. He has a full-time job as a travel writer/consultant, and its only right to compensate him for the time he spends.

    Thank you Lucky for your blog. You’ve made many of my travels come true!

  139. @ Annabelle — Thanks for the kind words, you made my day/night. I do my best to provide as much “free” information as I can, because at the end of the day it’s my hobby/passion. I spend probably 18 hours a day working on miles/points related stuff. And while I do my best to answer questions regarding this post, the issue is that the question asked is always “which program should I transfer to?” and the only good answer is “it really depends on availability.” I hate to tell someone to transfer points to one program, only for there not to be space on their preferred dates. That’s why I started offering the service I do to begin with.

    So I’ll keep trying to help for free as much as possible, especially when I feel I can actually help. Thanks again for the kind words/nice post.

  140. I am being offered 1.2 cents per MR point. I currently have 500,000 and am being offered $7,500 cash for them. Sounds like a decent deal. I dont think i can get a better ratio anywhere else. If i were able to get a better ration with gas cards or restaurany gift cards i would , but i think this might be the best deal.

    Any opinions ?

  141. Hi Lucky,
    You’re genius is required here!
    I have 220,000 BA miles and about 240,000 Amex points. I need to get from LA to London at the end of August for my brothers wedding and can’t seem to get a business or first seat on BA or upper on Virgin for love nor points! Any suggestions? I’m getting nervous!

  142. Lary, I am a neophyte. How did you get offered cash for your AMEX points? I didn’t think they could be transferred to anyone other than people like family members who have a card linked to your account.

  143. HI Lucky-
    Trying to book a business ticket from LAX to Nice next june fro about 125K Amex miles . Best place to transfer em to?
    Also they just reduced miles needed for a B&W airplay zeppelin speaker to 50K ($600 unit) aways felt that electronics and such with these programs was a chump play but they took off 34K points in a new sale.
    Would be great to get your opinion on these, as that’ll take all of my current miles.

  144. Dear Lucky

    I have about 68292 AMEX points – I am thinking of canceling it given the high fee. Therefore, I want to determine which partner I should transfer points to.

    I fly out of SFO, and go on yearly trip overseas to Taipei and other parts of Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, China). When I do, I tend to use Eva Airline or United (with whom I have 26135 pts with). However, I don’t know when my next trip oversea will be just yet

    I also have 57537 Chase Sapphire points and 83096 Wells Fargo points.

    Any insight you can provide would be great!


  146. can you help me to get from LAX to rome then to vienna with 320,000 amex points and 150,000 points in american airlines frequent flyer miles and am also a life time memeber. my daughter and i want to travel first class up and back can you tell me how to do it the best economical way with my miles and points? i appericate if its possible .

  147. Any chance you’d update this guidance? I know your feelings have changed somewhat w/r/t Delta miles. Look forward to your thoughts.

  148. Hi Lucky

    Trying to get my brother over from Perth to Phoenix AZ, would greatly appreciate your advice on the most cost effective way with points to get him here, business class or better please. I have 200 000 amex points, 90 000 United and 180 000 Delta miles. I have never found a good deal using miles so thats why I still have so many.

  149. I have almost one million Amex MR miles through my company card and now wish to use them to pay for personal travel and hotel expenses. Any thoughts as to the most efficient way to redeem the rewards for this purpose? I have never used any of my reward points due to having clinets around the world and always combining business and personal travel together. I now wish to use them purely for personal pleasure and have no idea where to start. Any good ideas out there for an uneducated rewards rich guy?

  150. My mother would like to give us the use of her 300,000 AmEx points to travel to hawaii roundtrip 1st class from seattle. 3 people in my family. Is this doable or do we need more points?

  151. How many Amex Platinum points I need to get a return First Class seat on Singapore? Thanks.

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