How to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines Award Tickets

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Did you know you can use American Express Membership Rewards points for flights on United Airlines?

That’s because American Express has 3 transfer partners that also partner with United Airlines.  And transferring your American Express Membership Rewards points to these airlines can be a better deal than using United Airlines miles!

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

You Don’t Need United Airlines Miles to Get Where You’re Going on United Airlines!

I’ll show you how to use your American Express Membership Rewards points for United Airlines flights!

Use AMEX Points for United Airlines Flights With Star Alliance Partners

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to lots of different partner airlines.  But United Airlines is NOT one of them.

While you can use your American Express Membership Rewards points to buy United Airlines tickets through the AMEX Travel Portal, this isn’t a great use of your points.  Because you’ll only get a value of 1 cent per point.

It’s better to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to one of United Airlines’ Star Alliance partners, like Air Canada, ANA, or Singapore Airlines.  Then use that airline’s miles to book a United Airlines award ticket.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Singapore Airlines Miles Can Take You to More Places Than You Might Think

Note:   If you have The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, you’ll get 50% of your points back (equivalent to 2 cents per point) when you use Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline through the AMEX Travel Portal.  And 2 cents per point for Business Class and First Class tickets on ANY airline booked through the AMEX Travel Portal.

So you may save points by booking with this method.  Do the math!

Use Singapore Airlines for Travel Within the US (Including Hawaii)

Singapore Airlines charges the same number of miles for domestic coach tickets as United Airlines.  But there are fantastic deals if you’re booking other classes and routes!

Depending on the class you fly, it can be an even BETTER deal than using United Airlines miles in certain areas.  For example:

  • US to Europe in coach – 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip (5,000 miles less than United Airlines!)
  • Domestic US Business Class – 40,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip (10,000 miles less than United Airlines!)
  • US to Hawaii in Business Class – 60,000 Singapore Airlines miles round-trip (20,000 miles less than United Airlines!)
AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Get to Hawaii for 20,000 Fewer Miles Than United Airlines When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Singapore Airlines

Take a look at the Singapore Airlines award chart to find the best deals.

Here’s how to use AMEX Membership Rewards points for United Airlines flights with Singapore Airlines miles!

Step 1.   Enter Your Travel Details Into United Airlines

You can NOT search for award seats on partner airlines on the Singapore Airlines website.  So you’ll have to look on the United Airlines website instead.

Enter your travel information, and click “Search“.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 1 – Type Your Travel Details

You do not need to log-in to search for award flights with United Airlines.

Step 2.   Find “Saver Award” Seats

You can only book “Saver” level awards when you book flights on partner airlines using Singapore Airlines miles.  If you find those, you should be able to book them with Singapore Airlines!

Write down the travel information on these “Saver Award” flights.  You’ll need it for the next step!

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 2 – Locate “Saver Award” Seats

Step 3.   Call Singapore Airlines

Once you find flights that fit with your travel plans, call Singapore Airlines at 800-742-3333 Tell them the flights you want to book, and make sure the agent can see them!

Once you transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to an airline, you can NOT transfer them back.  So you want to make sure the Singapore Airlines agent can book the flight you want before you transfer your points.

Transfer your points, and once they deposit to your Singapore Airlines account, call back and book your seat!

Note:   It can take up to 7 days for your American Express Membership Rewards points to post to your account.  Though it usually takes less than 24 hours.  There is some risk that your award seat may be gone by the time your points transfer!

Singapore Airlines does have fuel surcharges.  But NOT when you book seats on United Airlines!  You can expect to pay the same taxes and fees as an award flight booked directly with United Airlines.

Use ANA for International Travel

You should only transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to ANA if you’re planning to book a round-trip ticket.  Because ANA does NOT allow you to book one-ways.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

You Might Not Think ANA Miles Jive With Your Travel Goals – But It Could Actually Be the Perfect Fit!

However, ANA does allow 1 free stopover and 2 open-jaws on each round-trip ticket.

You can book incredible deals with ANA miles!  For example:

  • US to Southern South America in coach – 55,000 ANA miles round-trip (5,000 miles less than United Airlines!)
  • US to ANYWHERE in Africa in coach – 65,000 ANA miles round-trip (15,000 miles less than United Airlines!)
  • US to Europe in . Class – 88,000 ANA miles round-trip (27,000 miles less than United Airlines!)

You can look at ANA’s award chart here.

Here’s how to book United Airlines seats with ANA miles!

Step 1.   Log-In to ANA

Navigate to the ANA website and sign-in to your ANA account (or create an account if you haven’t yet.  It’s free to join!)

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 1 – Sign-In to ANA

Step 2.   Enter Your Travel Information

Input your travel details.  Check “Compare Seat Availability +/- 3 Days” to see more dates at once.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 2 – Tell ANA Where You Want to Go

If you want to take advantage of the free stopover or open-jaws, you’ll want to click “Multiple Cities/Mixed Classes

Step 3.   Find Available Dates

Choose the dates you want.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 3 – Select Dates

Step 4.   Choose Your Flights

Choose a United Airlines operated (or any other) flight.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 4 – Pick the Flights That Suit You

When you find what you want, you’re ready to transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to ANA and book your flight!

ANA DOES pass along fuel surcharges, depending on the airline partner you fly with.  Fortunately, when you use ANA miles to fly United Airlines, they do NOT charge you.

Use Air Canada for Free Stopovers

Air Canada Aeroplan doesn’t really have sweet-spot deals on its award chart like Singapore Airlines and ANA.

But it does give you 1 free stopover and 1 open jaw on each round-trip ticket!  This makes this an incredibly valuable transfer partner!

That means you can have 3 destinations for the price of 1 award ticket!

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Fly to London and Back – Or Stop in Barbados for a While! It Costs the Same Amount of Air Canada Miles

You can look at the Air Canada partner award chart here.

Here’s how to book United Airlines seats with Air Canada!

Step 1.   Log-In to Air Canada Aeroplan

Sign-in to your Air Canada Aeroplan account (or register if you haven’t already.  It’s free to join!).

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 1 – Sign-In to Air Canada Aeroplan

Step 2.   Click “Travel”

Under the “Use Your Miles” menu, select “Travel“.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 2 – Select “Travel”

Step 3.   Enter Your Travel Information

Enter your travel details, and check the “My Dates Are Flexible” box to see more dates.

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 3 – Tell Air Canada Where You Want to Go

Step 4.   Choose Your Flights

Find United Airlines flights and select the ones you want!

AMEX Points For United Airlines Flights

Step 4 – Choose the Flights You Want

That’s it!  If you see flights you’d like, transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan, and book your flights.

Air Canada DOES charge fuel surcharges for long-haul flights on their own planes.  But when you use your Air Canada miles to fly United Airlines, there are none!

Which Credit Cards Earn Points That Transfer to These United Airlines Partners?

Here are the credit cards which earn American Express Membership Rewards points!

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Mercedes-Benz PlatinumThe Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.

Bottom Line

United Airlines is NOT a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.  But you can still use AMEX Membership Rewards points for seats on United Airlines!

You can transfer your points to 3 other Star Alliance airlines:

  • Singapore Airlines
  • ANA
  • Air Canada

You can then book an award seat on partner United Airlines.  Sometimes you’ll even get more value from your awards by booking United Airlines flights with partner airline miles instead of United Airlines miles!

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18 responses to “How to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines Award Tickets

  1. Fabulous Article .. can save a ton of miles and I finally know what to do with
    these A/E points!
    Thank you!

  2. Super helpful. Thanks for posting!

  3. D & E, very thorough article. I think this is why a lot of people read your blog. It’s full of useful information and not political nonsense like some “Points Guy”s are becoming. Keep up the good work and happy holidays!

  4. This is amazing…so am I understanding this correctly….theoretically, through ANA, I could book United business class from SFO to BOS, have a stopover (for how long), then fly to Madrid, take train or whatever to Lisbon, and then fly from Lisbon back to SFO, all for 88,000 miles? That’s one stopover and one open jaw, correct? So I could even work in one more open jaw somehow?

    • That’s absolutely correct! Just remember, ANA passes along fuel surcharges. So it’s important to choose United Airlines planes for as many segments as possible during your trip. Flying across the ocean on a partner airline might cost you hundreds in fees.

  5. Can this same strategy be used to book a Delta flight to Australia thru other reward portals? I have a lot of ultimate reward points, am ex points, Citi thank u points I would
    Like to book biz class flights from Honolulu to Sydney.

    Any info u have about Jetstar Airlines, would be appreciated. Cheap flights, they fly dreamliners, etc. great fares between Honolulu & Australia. Does biz class have lie down seats?

    • You can’t transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Citi ThankYou points to Delta. You’d have to book the ticket through each program’s travel portal, which I do NOT recommend (costs too many points!). You CAN transfer your AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta to book a Business Class seat, but it’s extremely difficult to find Business Class seats to Australia.

      Your best best might be to use United Airlines miles to book a (non-Delta) award flight for 50,000 miles one-way. But Business Class will still be slim pickins! 🙂

  6. Thank you – this was great info! Just for fun, I joined ANA and played around. Chicago to SGN and BKK to Chicago was only 60K points!!

  7. Is UA the best to get from U.S. to Asia?

  8. Incredibly well written and informative article that presents the easy-to-understand approach to maximizing AMEX points on United Airlines points.

  9. Thank you for such an informative and useful article! It has been tough going since AmEx discontinued its “partnership” with United and several other airlines. Quick but important question — what is the best way to book a ONE-WAY flight on United Airlines from Shanghai, China to SFO? You suggest ANA for round trip fares, but for the one way, would Air Canada/aeroplan be the best place to transfer my Amex membership rewards points, and book the United flight? Thanks so much for your help.

  10. I tried booking through Singapore Airlines, however, even though the flight is available through United Airlines, they said they were not able to book LAX to ITO. They only have international routes. So I don’t see how it’s possible to use Amex Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines.

  11. Michelle Brown

    Quick question if you don’t mind, I am on the ANA website and have chosen United flights but it is still showing up with a fee. It is showing a CAD 394.28 for a fee. I don’t want to transfer my Amex points to ANA until I am certain that we will use the flights. But you absolutely can’t beat Houston to Frankfurt for 55,000 miles roundtrip. Thank you