How to Book Flights with American Express Membership Rewards

How to Book Flights with American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards is the granddaddy of programs offering point transfers to major airlines like Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, ANA, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic among others. Having a stockpile of Membership Rewards points gives you the flexibility to book award flights on 17 different airlines without having to accrue miles in all of those programs.

The program also allows you to use points or a mix of points and cash to purchase any airline ticket. That’s a huge bonus since you’ll also accrue additional Membership Rewards points for the cash paid portion of your ticket and that flight will also count toward elite status qualification. While this isn’t the best option in every case, there will be times you’re glad to have access to this redemption method.

When Should You Use American Express Membership Rewards Redemptions?

There are three general situations in which you’ll want to use your Membership Rewards points:

  1. Transfer your Membership Rewards points to an airline’s frequent flyer program in order to redeem a nearly free plane ticket. You may not have any miles in that particular program. For example, say you’d like to visit Hawaii and the best award options are on Hawaiian Airlines. But, you’ve never flown with Hawaiian Airlines, don’t have a co-branded credit card, and have no miles in your Hawaiian Airlines account. American Express Membership Rewards comes to the rescue. Just transfer your points to HawaiianMiles on a one-to-one basis and you’ll be ready to redeem that Hawaiian Airlines award flight.
  2. You have miles in an airline program but not enough to redeem the award that you want. Transfer some Membership Rewards points to miles to top off your balance so you can book the award that you have your heart set on.
  3. You don’t have miles in the airline program that you need and you don’t have enough Membership Rewards to transfer to that airline program in order to make an award redemption. But, you can book the flights you want using a mix of cash and the Membership Rewards points that are currently in your account.

Partner transfers available online:

Partner ProgramTransfer Rate
Aeromexico Club Premier1,000 MR = 1,000 Club Premier Kilometers
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000 MR = 1,000 Aeroplan Miles
Air France Flying Blue1,000 MR = 1,000 Flying Blue Miles
Alitalia MilleMiglia1,000 MR = 1,000 MilleMiglia Miles
ANA Mileage Club1,000 MR = 1,000 Mileage Club Miles
British Airways Executive Club1,000 MR = 1,000 Executive Club Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,000 MR = 1,000 Asia Miles
Delta Skymiles1,000 MR = 1,000 Skymiles
El Al Matmid Club1,000 MR = 1,000 Matmid points
Emirates Skywards1,000 MR = 1,000 Skywards Miles
Frontier EarlyReturns1,000 MR = 1,000 EarlyReturns Miles
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000 MR = 1,000 Hawaiian Miles
Iberia Plus1,000 MR = 1,000 Iberia Plus Avios
JetBlue TrueBlue250 MR = 200 JetBlue Miles
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000 MR = 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles
Virgin America Elevate2 MR = 100 Elevate points
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000 MR = 1,000 Flying Club Miles

Partner transfers available only by phone:

  • None

When to Book by Phone

There is really no reason to call American Express to transfer Membership Rewards points to miles or to book an airline ticket with cash and points. American Express website is pretty robust and allows online transfers and cash and point reservations.

How to Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Partners

Its very easy to transfer Membership Rewards points to the airline of your choice. First, log in to your account and then click on “menu,” “rewards” and “Membership Rewards.”

How to Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Partners

Once you’ve clicked on Membership Rewards, you’ll see a new webpage. Look on the right side of the screen and you’ll see your name. Hover your cursor over your name and click points summary and then “linked travel programs” below it.

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Once you click the “linked travel programs” link, it will expand to show you which frequent flyer programs you are already connected to. If you wish to add another, click the “enroll additional programs” link at the bottom of the box.

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Then, follow the instructions to link to the frequent flyer account of your choosing. Once you’ve established a connection between the two programs, you can initiate a Membership Rewards points-to-miles transfer.

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Go back to the linked travel programs link under the “points summary” tab. Click on the airline you wish to transfer points to miles. A screen, like the one below for British Airways Executive Club, will pop up.

Select how many miles you need and hit calculate. The webpage will then tell you how many Membership Rewards points you’ll need to transfer. Click the transfer this amount button to initiate the transfer and then follow the rest of the prompts to complete the process.

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How to Book Travel Directly Through American Express Membership Rewards

Use Amex’s Pay with Points program to redeem your Membership Rewards points for flights, cruises, and vacation packages through American Express. You can use your points to pay for all or part of your travel. The minimum number of points you can use for redemptions is 5,000.

The Pay with Points option can be a good one because there are no black out dates on flights and you’ll still earn frequent flyer miles for airline tickets booked with Membership Rewards points.

If you pay with points and cash, you’ll also earn double Membership Rewards points for each dollar spend on the purchase.

You must use an American Express card with a corresponding Membership Rewards account in order to take advantage of the Pay with Points program.

Go to AmexTravel.com to use your points for travel bookings.

Important Award Booking Considerations

  • You receive double Membership Rewards points for the cash paid as part of Amex’s Pay with Points (AmexTravel.com) flights, cruises and vacation packages.
  • Once you initiate a Membership Rewards points to miles transfer, you cannot reverse the process. Make sure the award ticket you want is available before transferring your points to miles.