If you have an Amex credit card, you’re probably earning Amex Membership Rewards points. These points can be transferred to a variety of airline or other loyalty programs. But which is the best program to transfer points into to ensure maximum returns?

Amex Membership Rewards points can be transferred to numerous airline loyalty programs, mostly at a generous rate of 1:1. Partner programs include Virgin Australia Velocity, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Emirates Skywards, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Etihad Guest, among others.

While there are plentiful transfer partners to choose from, these are not the only options. One of the most lucrative strategies is to transfer your Amex points across to the Starwood Preferred Guest program, or SPG. Of course, these points can then be used on hotel stays, but there is an added advantage. A little-known trick is that SPG points can then be converted to American Airlines AAdvantage miles. AAdvantage miles are particularly valuable for Australian flyers as they can be used to travel on Qantas and other oneworld airlines for significantly fewer miles, and no fuel surcharges. This potentially result in savings of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in extra costs when redeeming a free flight.

As a sweetener, SPG offers 5,000 bonus SPG points for every 20,000 transferred across to programs like American AAdvantage. (This offer is also available when transferring points to any of SPG’s other airline transfer partners – and there are more than 30 including United, British Airways, Air Berlin and many others.) But until the end of August, American Airlines will even offer a further bonus of 20% on miles transferred across from SPG!

Those of you with AMEX points its effectively 40k MR = 20k SPG = 30k AA

This would appear to be a very good deal if you’re able to take advantage of it.

I bought 20K SPG points several weeks ago, cost AUD$680 …. if I opted for the transfer to AA, $680 / 30K AA … that’s AU2.26 cents per point, converting that back to USD, it would be approx US 1.7cents per point, and this is probably as good as a 100% bonus. So to me, this would be a very good offer.

American Airlines miles can be very valuable for an Australian flyer. Another little known trick is that American Airlines miles can be used to fly business class around Australia and New Zealand for significantly less than an equivalent redemption using Qantas points. Using American miles, you can fly Qantas business class from anywhere within Australia and New Zealand to anywhere else in the same region for just 17,500 miles. This is especially lucrative on longer journeys where an equivalent redemption could cost as many as 60,000 Qantas points, plus taxes.

An honourable mention also goes out to British Airways’ program. Where American Airlines offers great value on longer flights, BA’s program is great for shorter flights. Short hops such as Sydney-Brisbane or Melbourne-Canberra cost just 4,500 British Airways miles, almost half of Qantas’ asking price. SPG points can also be transferred to British Airways.

If you hold a Diner’s Club credit card, you too can benefit from this strategy. Diner’s Club rewards points can also be transferred to the SPG program.

Join the discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]