Amex hotel partners: What to know before you transfer your hard-earned Membership Rewards points
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Flexible points like American Express Membership Rewards are some of the best tools in the miles-and-points hobby because you can make your points work around your travel plans, instead of your points dictating your travel plans. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points from cards like the American Express®️ Green Card and the The Platinum Card® from American Express to more than 15 airlines and three hotel partners to book award flights or nights for nearly free.
You’ll almost always get a better value by moving your points to airlines, but there are some situations where transferring points to Amex hotel partners offers a nice savings over paying cash. Let’s have a look at each of the Amex hotel partners and when it’s a good idea to transfer points.
Free hotel stays with Amex hotel partners
Amex has three hotel partners to which you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points:
This may not sound like a lot but each of these hotel chains encompasses many different brands (currently a total of around 60 brands and nearly 20,000 properties). There’s no shortage of options anywhere in the world, whether you prefer luxury stays or more budget-friendly accommodations.
Often overlooked, Choice Hotels is actually one of the largest chains in the world. Even in the smallest towns, there is often a location nearby of one of Choice Hotels’ 12 brands. Here are examples of brands you might recognize:
- Comfort Inn
- Comfort Suites
- MainStay Suites
- Quality Inn
- Sleep Inn
These hotels may not always offer the most exciting or memorable stays of your life, but Choice Hotels offer a really great ratio of value and comfort. Plus, they offer free breakfast in most of their hotels (with the exception of the upscale brands and the extended stays).
You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Choice Hotels at a 1:1 ratio.
In general, the value of these points is pretty low, especially because many Choice locations are inexpensive. But there are diamonds in the rough. Each hotel sets its own award prices, so the value offered can vary significantly from location to location. You can view the award cost under each hotel’s individual location page on the Choice website.
The award prices can vary by season, but many locations maintain the same award price year round.
You’ll find most hotels get a value of between 0.5 and 1 cent per Choice Hotels point, which isn’t a great use of your Amex Membership Rewards points. However, don’t assume anything with this program — check each hotel individually. You never know when you’ll find a good deal.
Is it worth transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Choice Hotels?
With point values being set by each hotel, there are opportunities for good value (and many bad deals too). Check each individual hotel and only transfer the points you need to cover that stay. Folks often get excellent value in typically expensive locations like Europe, particularly Scandinavia.
Otherwise, Choice Hotels are usually inexpensive (under $100 per night) and I recommend just paying for these rooms instead of burning points on award nights here.
With beautiful hotels all over the world, there are plenty of great ways to use points at Hilton. I particularly love the the upscale Hilton hotel brands, like Waldorf Astoria, because they absorb the local culture of each location and share it with their guests.
Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. Terms apply.
Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. There are occasional transfer bonuses that give you an even better transfer rate.
Hilton points value typically sits around 0.5 cents each, so even earning “double” the Hilton points for your single Amex Membership Rewards point still doesn’t take you as far as you would hope.
Hilton does offer a fifth-night-free award perk for anyone with Hilton status of Silver Elite or higher. You can instantly earn Silver Elite status or higher just by holding one of these cards:
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
Is it worth transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton?
Despite the higher transfer ratio, it can be tricky to get outsized value by transferring Amex points to Hilton. For the most part, Hilton’s award pricing seems to be closely tied to their cash price. It is possible to get tons of value for your points, but you must be flexible with your travel destinations and vacation dates.
Another reason not to transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton is that Hilton points are so easy to earn, from staying at Hilton hotels to double-points promotions to opening and spending with their credit cards. Maybe better to use your Amex points for other valuable programs that have harder-to-collect miles and points.
The Marriott Bonvoy portfolio is massive. It now has 7,200 properties in every corner of the globe and is the largest hotel chain in the world by number of rooms (over 1.2 million worldwide).
Many of the Marriott hotel brands include high-end hotels, so these can be fun points to collect. For example, you can redeem Marriott points for luxury stays at fancy Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis locations and save hundreds of dollars.
The transfer ratio from Amex Membership Rewards to Marriott is 1:1.
As fantastic and gigantic as the Marriott program is, a lot of the value of Amex points gets lost while transferring from American Express to Marriott.
On average, the value of Marriott points is a little less than 1 cent each — so converting a single Amex Membership Reward point directly into a Marriott point is usually a drop in value. You’ll do better earning Marriott points directly from cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, which earns 6 Marriott points per dollar at most Marriott hotels, and 2 Marriott points per dollar spent on everything else.
I do like the the Marriott award chart and category system for their award bookings. This makes it much easier to plan award travel, though you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the peak and off-peak dates of your desired hotel. The best way to use Marriott points is booking an off-peak steal at a high-end hotel.
Like Hilton, Marriott offers a free award night when you book five or more award nights during a single stay. You do not need to have Marriott Bonvoy elite status to use this perk. This is a good way to earn incredible value from an award stay, especially with high-end hotel brands.
Is it worth transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott?
Booking many of the off-peak hotel prices can make this an OK deal. There are sweet spots within the new chart that offer nuggets of value. If you intend to book a single stay with five award nights, this could be a decent transfer option. Just note that there are plenty of other ways to earn Marriott points with cards such as:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card
There is a way to transfer Amex Membership Reward points IHG indirectly. You won’t see it as a transfer option in your account portal — you must first transfer to another American Express partner and then transfer from that partner to the hotel chain.
For example, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio and then transfer Virgin Atlantic miles to IHG at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll effectively receive a 1:1 ratio between Membership Rewards points and IHG points. Both transfers are instant, so it’s a pretty painless process. You must transfer at least 10,000 miles. After that, you can transfer in increments of 5,000 (10,000, 15,000, 20,000, etc.).
IHG points value is about the same as Hilton, so it’s not a very good transfer option. Nevertheless, if you need to top off your account for an award stay, it’s good information to have.
Is it worth transferring points to Amex hotel partners?
As you read each of these hotel transfer options you might have noticed that none are an astoundingly good deal. Generally, you’ll get better value for your Amex Membership Reward points when you transfer them to certain partner airlines.
For example, you can receive a value of more than 6 cents per point by transferring Membership Rewards to Air Canada for an international business-class flights.
That is why most of us on the MMS team exclusively transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to airline partners — it’s the best way to use Amex points because it offers a far better value.
There are times, however, when transferring to a hotel might make sense for you. One good example is if a hotel is running an award sale that you want to jump on. You might not have enough award points with that hotel, so transferring Amex points to cover the difference might make sense.
American Express also runs limited-time promotions throughout the year that allow you to transfer Membership Rewards to certain partners at a better ratio. We write about all of these deals (transfer bonuses, award sales and more) whenever they happen, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the know.
Only you will be able to judge whether it makes sense to transfer points to a hotel. Everyone’s trip plans and point strategies are unique.
Earn more Amex Membership Rewards points
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|American Express® Gold Card||The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||American Express® Business Gold Card|
|American Express®️ Green Card||The Business Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card|
In addition to the many Amex airline partners, you can transfer your Amex points to three hotel partners directly:
- Choice Hotels (1:1 ratio)
- Hilton (1:2 ratio)
- Marriott (1:1 ratio)
You can also transfer your points to IHG indirectly.
None of these hotel transfers are an outstanding deal and you’ll typically get much more value transferring your Amex Membership Rewards points to certain airline partners instead. But there are situations where it can make sense, such as to top off your account for an award stay or if there’s an award sale or transfer bonus going on.
Both Hilton (elite status required) and Marriott offer a fifth-night-free perk, which is very useful in getting the best value from your award stays. This can turn an average value award stay into an amazing one.
Do you ever transfer points to Amex hotel partners, or do you stick with airlines? Let me know! And subscribe to our newsletter for more miles and points know-how like this.
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