Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 10: South America

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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline partners when you’re ready to book.

Folks in the miles & points hobby know earning transferable points, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, are the best way to get Big Travel.  

The AMEX Membership Rewards program has 17 direct airline partners.  Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners as well, which gives you several choices for flights to South America!

Or you can save time and points by using AMEX Pay With Points to book coach or Business Class flights through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

AMEX Membership Rewards Points Can Get You to Brazil and Many Other Destinations in South America!

I’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for flights to South America!

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:

AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to South America

Link:   Which Miles & Points Should You Collect for Award Flights?

There are several AMEX direct airline transfer partners that are great for flights to South America.

And from the direct partners, you also get access to fly other airlines within the 3 major alliances:

  • oneworld (includes American Airlines and LATAM)
  • SkyTeam (includes Aerolineas Argentinas and Delta)
  • Star Alliance (includes Avianca and United Airlines)

But before you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to an airline partner consider:

  • Available award seats
  • Destination you’d like to visit
  • Which airlines fly from your home airport
  • Your airline & alliance preferences

Also keep in mind several airlines include prices for First Class award flights.  But not every airline has a First Class cabin on flights to South America.

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to book your own award tickets, you can consider using an award booking service.

1.   Air Canada

Link:   Air Canada Award Chart

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

Air Canada is a direct AMEX airline transfer partner and is also part of the part of the Star Alliance.  This means you can redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles for award flights to South America on partner airlines like:

  • Air Canada
  • Avianca
  • COPA Airlines
  • United Airlines
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Book a Winter Escape Using Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for an Award Flight to South America on Star Alliance Partner United Airlines

The Air Canada award chart separates South America into 2 regions.

From the US to Northern South America, one-way award flights cost:

  • 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 32,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
  • 37,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 52,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

The Northern South America region includes:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Guyana
  • Venezuela

I found a sample one-way coach award flight from Houston (IAH) to the Galapagos Islands using Air Canada Aeroplan miles to fly on Avianca.  You’ll pay 25,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and ~$44 in taxes and fees.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Visit the Galapagos Islands for Just ~$44 Out of Pocket When You Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for an Award Flight!

And from the US to destinations in Southern South America, one-way award flights cost:

  • 30,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 40,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
  • 55,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 70,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

Destinations in this region include:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Uruguay

Keep in mind, you’ll pay fuel surcharges when you redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on certain airlines.  These charges can range from ~$50 up to several hundred dollars.

But there are no fuel surcharges on United Airlines flights.  For example, I found a one-way coach award flight from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires, which costs 30,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

You Don’t Pay Any Fuel Surcharges Using Air Canada Aeroplan Miles on United Airlines Award Flights!

Besides fuel surcharges, one thing to watch out for using the Air Canada frequent flyer program is long flight itineraries.  For example, some award flights include travel from the US to Canada.  Then, a flight from Canada to South America.

2.   ANA

Link:   ANA Award Chart

Similar to Air Canada, ANA is part of the Star Alliance.  So you can book award flights on partner airlines to South America.  But you can NOT book one-way award flights using ANA miles.

Although ANA adds significant fuel surcharges to award flights to many regions, you won’t pay fuel surcharges on most award flights to South America.

For a round-trip award flight to South America, you’ll pay:

  • 55,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 88,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 165,000 ANA miles in First Class

As an example flight, I found a round-trip Business Class award flight from Miami to Bogota, which requires 88,000 ANA miles and ~$111 in taxes and fees.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to ANA to Book Business Class Award Flights on Star Alliance Partner Airlines to Anywhere in South America!

A great aspect of using ANA miles is you’ll use the same number of miles, regardless of your US departure city and your destination in South America.

3.   British Airways Avios Points

Link:   How to Fly to South America With British Airways Avios Points 

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Although the transfer ratio to British Airways is less favorable (5:4), the frequent flyer program gives you lots of award flight options to South America.  You can use British Airways Avios points to fly non-stop to South America on airline partners American Airlines and LATAM.

British Airways has a distance-based award chart.  So the amount you’ll pay depends on the length of your flight.  This means the closer your departure city to your destination, the fewer miles you’ll pay.

For example, one-way coach award flights cost:

  • 7,500 British Airways Avios points for flights under 1,151 miles
  • 10,000 British Airways Avios points for flights between 1,152 and 2,000 miles
  • 12,500 British Airways Avios points for flights between 2,001 and 3,000 miles

Award flights in Business Class require 3X the number of points.

To check how many points you’ll need for a specific flight, you can use the British Airways award flight calculator.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Use the British Airways Award Flight Calculator to See How Many Points You’ll Need to Get to South America

If you’re departing from Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, you’ll find many good deals on non-stop coach award flights using British Airways Avios points. 

From Dallas, you can book a one-way, non-stop award flight to:

  • Bogota, Colombia – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Lima, Peru – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Quito, Ecuador – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Santiago, Chile – 25,000 British Airways Avios points

For example, I found a one-way, non-stop award flight from Dallas to Quito in April 2017 for 12,500 British Airways Avios points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to British Airways to Book an American Airlines Award Flight From Dallas to Quito

From Los Angeles, you can find one-way award flights to:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 30,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Lima, Peru – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 30,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Santiago, Chile – 30,000 British Airways Avios points

From Miami, you can travel non-stop to:

  • Asuncion, Paraguay – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Belo Horizonte, Brazil – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Bogota, Colombia – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Brasilia, Brazil – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Cali, Colombia – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Caracas, Venezuela – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Curitaba, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Guayaquil, Ecuador – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • La Paz, Bolivia – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Lima, Peru – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Manaus, Brazil – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Maracaibo, Venezuela – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Medellin, Colombia – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Montevideo, Uruguay – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Quito, Ecuador – 10,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Recife, Brazil – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Rio de Janiero, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Salvador, Brazil – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Santa Cruz, Bolivia – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Santiago, Chile – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Travel to Argentina’s Capital Using British Airways Avios Points

And from New York, you can book non-stop award flights to these destinations:

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Caracas, Venezuela – 12,500 British Airways Avios points
  • Lima, Peru – 20,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil – 25,000 British Airways Avios points
  • Santiago, Chile – 25,000 British Airways Avios points

To find available award seats to South America on American Airlines or other partner airlines, I recommend searching the American Airlines website for low-level “SAAver” seats.  These are the only type of award seats you can book with British Airways Avios points.

For example, I searched the American Airlines award calendar for flights from Miami to Santiago, Chile.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Find “MileSAAver” Available Award Seats, Which Means You’ll Be Able to Redeem British Airways Avios Points

You can then book the award flight on the British Airways website.  For example, I found coach and Business Class award seats available from Miami to Santiago on the British Airways website.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Log-In to British Airways to Book Your Award Flight to South America

4.   Etihad

Link:   Etihad Award Chart for American Airlines Redemptions    

Link:   Save Miles!  Book American Airlines Awards With Etihad Miles

Similar to British Airways, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad and then book American Airlines award flights.  But the transfer ratio to Etihad is better at 1:1.

Etihad has 2 zones for award flights to South America.  To Zone 1, a one-way award flight costs:

  • 17,500 Etihad miles in coach
  • 30,000 Etihad miles in Business Class
  • 40,000 Etihad miles in First Class

Zone 1 includes these countries in Central America and South America:

  • Belize
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Use Etihad Miles to Book an American Airlines Award Flight to South America and Visit Machu Picchu!

One-way award flights to South America Zone 2 cost:

  • 20,000 Etihad miles in coach (off-peak)
  • 30,000 Etihad miles in coach (peak)
  • 50,000 Etihad miles in Business Class
  • 62,500 Etihad miles in First Class

Off peak dates are March 1 to May 31 and August 16 to November 30.

Zone 2 countries include:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile (excluding Easter Island)
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

To find award seats eligible for using Etihad miles, you can search on the American Airlines website or call Etihad.

The trick is to find award seats with eligible booking codes, which means you’ll be able to use Etihad miles.  The eligible codes are:

  • Booking code “T” for coach
  • Booking code “U” for Business Class
  • Booking code “Z” for First Class

Using Etihad miles for American Airlines award flights can sometimes save you miles instead of booking directly with the airline.  But it can be very difficult to find available award seats.

For example, I found an American Airlines award flight from Dallas to Lima, which is eligible to book using Etihad miles.  But this was the only eligible flight I found in a 3 month timeframe.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Use American Airlines Website to Find Eligible Award Flight Booking Codes to Use Etihad Miles

To book your award flight, you’ll have to call Etihad at 877-690-0767.

Note:   You can not use Etihad miles to book award flights on American Airlines partner airlines.

5.   Alitalia

Link:   Alitalia Award Chart

Alitalia is part of the SkyTeam alliance.  So you can use Alitalia miles to book award flights to South America on partner airlines like Delta.

Similar to Etihad, Alitalia separates South America into 2 regions.  One-way award flights to zone 1 cost:

  • 20,000 Alitalia miles in coach
  • 40,000 Alitalia miles in Business Class

And you can visit:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • French Guyana
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Venezuela

For example, I found a one-way coach award flight from Atlanta to Quito on Delta in April 2017 for 20,000 Alitalia miles.  Using Alitalia miles for this flight is actually 2,500 miles cheaper than booking directly through Delta.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Alitalia to Book Award Flights to South America on SkyTeam Partner Airlines Like Delta

And one-way award flights to zone 2 in South America cost:

  • 40,000 Alitalia miles in coach
  • 80,000 Alitalia miles in Business Class

Destinations in zone 2 include:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Uruguay

Keep in mind, you’ll have to search specific travel dates on the Alitalia website to find available award seats.  This can take patience, but it might save you miles as shown in the earlier example.

And transferring points to Alitalia for a Delta award flight can save you money instead of transferring directly to Delta.  Because you won’t have to pay an excise fee on transfers to Alitalia.

6.   Delta

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta to book award flights to South America directly on the airline or on SkyTeam partners like Aerolineas Argentinas.

Remember you’ll pay an excise fee when you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta.

And unfortunately, Delta does not publish an award chart.  So you’ll need to search specific award flights to find prices.

The cheapest one-way award flights I found to South America cost:

  • 22,500 Delta miles in coach
  • 40,000 Delta miles in Business Class

But the price for most coach award flights to South America cost 30,000 Delta miles.  And there’s a wide range for the cost of Business Class award flights depending on your destination.

The good news it’s easy to search the Delta award calendar and compare prices for different dates.

For example, I quickly found a non-stop, round-trip coach award flight from Miami to Buenos Aires for 60,000 Delta miles.  This flight is on partner airline Aerolineas Argentinas.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Book a Non-Stop, Round-Trip Award Flight From Miami to Buenos Aires Using 60,000 Delta Miles

The same flight can cost $1,000+ if you paid cash.  So transferring points to Delta can be a great way to save money!

7.   JetBlue

Link:   JetBlue Flight Map

Folks traveling to Bogota, Cartagena, Medellin, and Quito can do well transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to JetBlue.

Because JetBlue offers non-stop flights from the US to these South American cities.

The AMEX transfer ratio to JetBlue is 5:4.  But the cost of a JetBlue award flight is based on the cash price of the flight.  This means the cheaper the flight, the fewer points you’ll have to redeem.

For example, I found a round-trip flight from Fort Lauderdale to Quito in April 2017 that costs 11,600 JetBlue points and ~$84 in taxes and fees.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

You Can Find Great Deals By Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points to JetBlue for Award Flights to South America

So with the 5:4 transfer ratio, you’d need to transfer 13,200 AMEX Membership Rewards points to JetBlue to have enough points to book the flight.  That’s a great deal!

And you don’t have to worry about blackout dates because you can use points for any JetBlue flight as long as there’s a seat for sale.

8.   Aeromexico

Link:   Aeromexico Award Chart

Aeromexico is a direct AMEX transfer partner and is part of the SkyTeam alliance.

And it’s the only AMEX airline transfer partner with a transfer ratio always better than 1:1.  You get 1.6 Aeromexico Premier points for every 1 AMEX Membership Reward point you transfer.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Aeromexico Is the Only AMEX Airline Partner That Consistently Gets You More Than 1 Airline Point for Every AMEX Membership Reward Point You Transfer

You can book award flights from the US to South America on Aeromexico if you connect through Mexico City.  Or redeem points for an award flight on a partner airline like Delta.

From Mexico City, Aeromexico offers non-stop flights to:

  • Bogota
  • Buenos Aires
  • Caracas
  • Lima
  • Medellin
  • Quito
  • Santiago
  • Sao Paulo

Aeromexico’s award chart divides South America into 2 regions.

From the US to Northern South America, you’ll pay:

  • 35,000 Aeromexico Premier points in coach
  • 70,000 Aeromexico Premier points in Business Class

Northern South America includes these destinations:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela

And from the US to Southern South America, you’ll pay:

  • 45,000 Aeromexico Premier points in coach
  • 90,000 Aeromexico Premier points in Business Class

These are destinations included in this zone:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

You can search for award flights online (in Spanish) on the AeroMexico website.

For example, I found a one-way Business Class award flight from New York to Buenos Aires for 90,000 Aeromexico Premier points.

Because of the favorable transfer ratio, you only need to transfer ~57,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to book this award flight (90,000 / 1.6).

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Because of the Transfer Ratio (1:1.6), You Can Book a One-Way Business Class Award Flight From New York to Buenos Aires Using 57,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points

Folks in the US have to call Aeromexico at 855-412-2650 to book award flights.

Save Points With This Business Platinum Perk

Link:   AMEX Pay With Points 

Link:   Now Get 50% of Your Points Back With AMEX Business Platinum

Instead of transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to airline partners, you can redeem points for airfare using Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

When you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points towards air travel, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket.  And folks with the AMEX Business Platinum card can effectively get 2 cents per point using the Pay With Points perk to get 50% of points back.

Redeeming points through the AMEX travel portal can potentially save you points for cheap coach or Business Class airfare instead of transferring directly to an airline partner.

For example, I found a round-trip Business Class flight from Miami to Bogota in April 2017.  This flight costs ~$750 or ~75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To South America

Folks With the Business Platinum Can Use Less Points Booking Cheap Business Class Airfare!

And folks with the Business Platinum can use the Pay With Points perk to get 50% of the points back on ANY Business Class or First Class ticket.

So in the end you could end up using only ~37,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points for this sample Business Class flight to Bogota.

This perk also works for coach airfare on your selected airline.

Bottom Line

Using AMEX Membership Rewards points, you’ll have lots of great options for flights to South America.

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards directly to partners like Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alitalia, ANA, British Airways, Delta, Etihad, and JetBlue.  

And direct transfer partners open up award flights on other partner airlines.  For example, you can transfer points to British Airways and book award flights on American Airlines and LATAM.

Each AMEX airline partner uses a different method to price award flights to South America.  Certain partners use distance based award charts.  Others designate zones in South America to price award flights to different regions.

You can also use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book cheap coach or Business Class airfare.  This can be an amazing deal for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum booking a coach flight on their selected airline or any Business Class or First Class ticket.

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6 responses to “Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 10: South America

  1. The 1:1.6 transfer ratio is just because it is based in Kilometers instead of miles.

    once you convert it to miles is same as most.

  2. Thomas Hastings

    This is a great series! Are you going to do one on Asia?

  3. I really appreciate the scope and breadth of your “ultimate guide” to AMEX Membership Rewards. However, I have a really basic question that doesn’t appear to be covered or perhaps I missed it. Do the awards you describe accrue as well to AMEX-related card holders (e.g. Delta Skymiles Platinum AMEX) or just to cards acquired directly from AMEX?

    Thanks!

  4. Pingback: American Express Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Canada | Million Mile Secrets