Amex Membership Rewards vs Chase Ultimate Rewards

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No one wants to waste time collecting miles or points you’ll never be able to use. And most people want to avoid as much hassle as possible when it comes to earning and redeeming travel rewards. 

That’s why the MMS team loves transferable points like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards — the top two types of flexible points out there. With transferable rewards, you’ve got options. And more options means more flexibility and ease of use. 

So we’re taking a deep dive into a comparison of both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. In this guide, we’ll review each program’s transfer partners, points values and the best credit cards for earning these kinds of travel rewards.

We’ll help you weigh the benefits of each program. In reality, it’s hard to go wrong with either! (Photo by Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock)

Transfer partners

American Express Membership Rewards

With Amex’s Membership Rewards airline transfer partners, you can book award seats on the major airline alliances, including:

  • One World
  • SkyTeam
  • Star Alliance

That said, not all Amex airline transfer partners are equal. Because the transfer ratios vary, you want to make sure you’re using a partner that will get you the highest Amex points value. Amex also offers targeted transfer bonuses from time to time, so it’s worth checking your account for those, too. Thankfully, most Amex transfers are instant. 

Amex Membership Rewards points airline transfer partners include:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Matmid
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer

And the Amex hotel transfer partners include:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Most of the time you’ll get a better deal redeeming your Amex Membership Rewards points with airline partners. However, it could make sense to transfer them to a hotel partner like Marriott. Because you can transfer Marriott points to a number of other great airline partners (Alaska Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Japan Airlines) and you get a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. It’s a roundabout way to convert your Amex points to these kinds of airline miles. 

For a detailed review of each of these airline and hotel partners,, be sure to check out our guide to Amex Transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Ultimate Rewards points airline transfer partners included:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Iberia Plus

And hotel transfer partners include:

  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Transfers to partners are always in 1,000-point increments. So regardless of how many points you need to transfer, you’ll have to do so in increments of 1,000 points. 

Be sure to check out our guide to Chase transfer partners

Value of your points

The value of your rewards depends on how you use them. Like with most any rewards program, there are a variety of ways to both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. But we’ll give you a baseline value to work from — to help you better determine whether it makes sense to use points at any given time.

And don’t forget, sometimes it makes sense to use your rewards regardless of the value you’re getting from them. Free is free!! And if it means you’ll be able to connect with a friend or loved one, it’s absolutely worth it. 

American Express Membership Rewards

On average, you’ll get a value of 2 cents per Amex point. So if you’re getting less than that for a particular redemption, it may behoove you to pay cash and save your rewards for a later date.

With a little extra effort, you can maximize the value of your Amex points. For example, you could transfer 85,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to ANA for a round-trip business class flight between New York (JFK) and Tokyo. A flight like this can easily go for $7,000+, meaning you’d be getting a value of over 8 cents per point  ($7,000 cash price of the ticket / 85,000 points). That’s eight times the value that you’d get if redeeming your points for cash back — an incredible deal!

There are also opportunities to use Amex points for discounts at Amazon. Earlier this year Amex was offering 20% off Amazon orders when using just a single Amex point. You could save $100 off $500 with one of these deals, meaning just 1 Amex point was worth $100 — wow!

Check out our guide to Amex points value for more details and examples.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are generally worth one to five cents each. But on average, you’ll get about 2 cents a piece for your Ultimate Rewards. And it’s possible to get even more value when you transfer them to a Chase travel partner.

For example, you could transfer 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for a free night at The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica. Rooms here sometimes cost upwards of $1,000. Which means you’d be getting a value of 5 cents per point for an award night here — more than double the average value. 

Here’s our guide to Ultimate Rewards points value.

Best credit cards for earning rewards

American Express Membership Rewards

There are a number of different Amex Membership Rewards cards to choose from. The one that’s right for you depends mainly on your spending habits, travel goals, and whether you’re looking for a personal card or a small business card. 

All the ways to earn Amex Membership Rewards points.

And don’t forget, you can earn even more rewards for registering your eligible Amex card for Amex Offers!

Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Like with Amex cards, there are plenty of fantastic Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning cards to choose from.

As you can see, you’ve got options, whether you’re looking for a personal card or a business card. 

Guide to earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points

How to choose the best rewards program for you

When deciding between rewards programs, it’s vitally important to have a clear understanding of your spending habits and travel goals. Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards have flexible points programs, so it comes down to figuring out which travel partners you’ll likely get the most use out of.

If you fly a lot on Delta, for example, then you’ll want to focus on Amex Membership Rewards. Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta miles, while Ultimate Rewards do not. But if you’re a United loyalist or happen to live near a United hub, Chase Ultimate Rewards would be the better choice — you can’t transfer Membership Rewards points to United. 

Again, take a look at the list of partners to guide you in your decision. Then, select a card (or cards!) that will allow you to maximize your regular spending. 

Here’s our guide to determining what type of travel rewards you should be earning, which will help you narrow down your travel card options.

Bottom line

Both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are fantastic flexible points programs. Either program can serve you well if flexibility is the most important factor in your miles & points strategy. Just remember, you don’t have to choose between the two. You can earn both types of points for even more options when it comes to earning and redeeming your travel rewards.

Featured image by icemanphotos/Shutterstock.

Deborah Atchison is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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