Your Detailed Guide: How to Use American Express Points

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Your Detailed Guide: How to Use American Express Points

Meghan HunterYour Detailed Guide: How to Use American Express PointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The wonderful thing about American Express points is the flexibility they afford.  If you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline and hotel partners when the time comes.

Earning flexible rewards, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, is one of the best strategies for success in the miles and points hobby.  “Success” can mean anything from a First Class adventure around the world, a family trip to Europe, or even a trip to the Amazon rainforest!  Even better, AMEX Membership Rewards points are easy to earn from many of the best American Express cards.

The AMEX Membership Rewards points program has many direct airline and hotel partners.  Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners too!  And you can also use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to book directly through the AMEX travel portal.  So you’ve got lots of options.

We’ll show you how to use American Express points, including how quick and easy it is to link your loyalty accounts to AMEX and transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to travel partners.  And how simple booking through the AMEX travel portal can be!

You Can Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Take You Nearly Anywhere In the World, Including to the Breathtaking Coast of the Algarve Region in Portugal

How to Use American Express Points

Cards That Earn Transferable AMEX Membership Rewards Points

You can earn AMEX points with the following cards:

There are 2 main avenues for redeeming your AMEX Membership Rewards points.

The first is to transfer your points to one of AMEX’s airline and hotel transfer partners.  The other is to use your Membership Rewards points for travel through AMEX’s travel portal.

Here’s a detailed explanation of how to take advantage of both of these options.

Transfer and Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points Through AMEX Travel Partners

Link Airline and Hotel Loyalty Accounts

Before you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to your loyalty accounts, you’ll need to link your airline or hotel account.

This only takes a few minutes.  We recommend linking all of your airline and hotel loyalty accounts, even if you don’t have immediate plans to transfer points.

Because sometimes it can take a day or 2 to verify your accounts.  So by linking your accounts sooner rather than later, you’ll be ready to transfer points when the time comes.

Here’s how you can link your accounts!

Step 1.   Log-In to Your AMEX Account

First, log-in to your AMEX account.  On the account summary page of any of your AMEX Membership Rewards cards, you’ll see your total points.

Underneath the points balance, click “Explore Rewards”.

Log-In to Your AMEX Account and Click “Explore Rewards” to Begin Linking Loyalty Accounts

One the next screen, click “Transfer Points” and then “View All”

To Link Your Loyalty Accounts, Click “Transfer Points” and “View All”

Step 2.   Select Program to Link

Next, you can select from any of AMEX’s airline and hotel transfer partners.  As you can see, I’ve already linked my British Airways account.

Select an Airline or Hotel Loyalty Program You’d Like to Link to Your AMEX Membership Rewards Account

Here’s a look at the transfer ratios and estimated transfer times for each of the airline partners.

 American Express Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
AirlineTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Aer Lingus1:1Instant
AeroMexico1:1.624 Hours
Air Canada1:1Instant
ANA1:148 Hours
Asia Miles1:148 Hours
British Airways1:1Instant
Delta 1:1Instant
El Al1000:20Instant
Emirates 1:1Instant
Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)1:1Instant
Iberia1:1~1 to 3 days
Hawaiian Airlines1:1Instant
Singapore Airlines1:1~1 to 2 days
Virgin Atlantic1:1Instant

And this table references the estimated transfer times for each hotel partner.

 American Express Membership Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
HotelTransfer RatioEstimated Transfer Time
Choice Hotels1:1Instant

Step 3.   Enter Loyalty Account Information

The next step is to verify your AMEX account by entering your credit card information.  If you have multiple AMEX cards, you can just choose one and enter the required details.  You can link loyalty accounts in your name or in the name of an authorized cardholder.

At this step, you’ll also enter your airline or hotel loyalty number.  This will let AMEX know where to transfer the points!

Verify Your AMEX Card Information and Enter Your Loyalty Account Number

Note:   If you don’t have a frequent flyer number, there’s an option at the top of the screen to create a loyalty account with the airline or hotel.

Step 5.   Confirm Account Is Linked

You’re ready to begin transferring points!  You’ll see a confirmation indicating your airline or hotel account is now linked to your AMEX Membership Rewards account.

Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points

After your account is linked and verified, you can begin transferring points.

Here’s how to do it!

Step 1.   Select Airline or Hotel to Transfer Points

On the AMEX Membership Rewards page, you can see linked loyalty programs under “Your loyalty programs.”

You Can View Your Linked Loyalty Accounts Under “Your Loyalty Programs” – From There, Click “Transfer Points” Underneath the Desired Airline or Hotel Program

To transfer points, you can click at the bottom of the linked loyalty account.

Step 2.   Enter Number of Points

The next step is to enter the number of points you’d like to transfer to the airline or hotel partner.

As an example, I entered 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, which will transfer to 1,000 Singapore Airlines miles.

Similar to before, you’ll also have to enter your credit card information to verify it’s you.

Keep in mind, after you click “Confirm & Transfer Points“, your points will be debited from your AMEX Membership Rewards balance.  You will NOT be able to get them back to your AMEX Membership Rewards account.

Enter the Number of Points You’d Like to Transfer

You may have to verify your AMEX account by entering your card’s security information.  And remember, if you’re transferring points to a US airline, you’ll have to pay an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99.

Step 3.   Confirm Your Transfer

You’ll get a confirmation message that your points are being transferred to the airline or hotel partner.

Remember, the time it takes to transfer to each partner can vary.  In this case, AMEX transfers to Hilton are instant.  You’re ready to book a free hotel stay!

Use AMEX Membership Rewards Through the AMEX Travel Portal

Redeeming your AMEX Membership Rewards points for travel through AMEX’s travel site is very straightforward.

Step 1.   Log-In to Your AMEX Account

Of course, you’ll first need to log-in to your AMEX account.  Similarly to the above process, you’ll start by clicking “Explore Rewards” on the account summary page.

Log-In to Your AMEX Account and Click “Explore Rewards”

Step 2.   Go to the American Express Travel Site

From there, select the “Book Travel” tab and click the “Explore Amex Travel” button.

Click “Book Travel” to Begin the Process of Using Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Travel

After that, you’ll be redirected to the AMEX Travel page.

After Clicking the “Start Booking” Button You’ll Be Able to Enter Your Travel Details

Once you’re there, click the “Start Booking” button.

Step 3.   Search for Travel

Once you’ve started the booking process you’ll enter your travel details.  AMEX’s travel portal works like many other travel search engines.  You’ll need to enter information like your desired destination, travel dates, number of travelers, etc.

In this particular example, I’m searching for a flight between Seattle and New York.  Once you’ve entered your travel details, click “Search Flights.”

AMEX’s Travel Site Works Similarly to Other Travel Search Engines, Like Google Flights, Expedia, and Orbitz

Step 4.   Select Your Desired Itinerary

AMEX’s travel portal will populate with a number of different options and will display the cash price and the number of AMEX Membership Rewards points you’d need for the flight.

From there, you’ll be able to select the flight you want.

Just Click the “Select” Button to Pick the Flight You Want

Step 5.   Complete the Booking Process

After selecting the flights you want, you’ll be taken through the process of confirming your booking.

You’ll be asked to review your flights, enter your personal information, and decide whether or not you want to use your points to purchase the ticket.

When you opt to use AMEX Membership Rewards points to purchase travel, you’ll be asked to confirm your AMEX card by entering the 4 numbers on the front and 3 numbers from the signature panel on the back.  This is just for added security.  You wouldn’t want anyone stealing those hard-earned rewards!

AMEX Will Show You the Cash Price and Points Price of Your Ticket, so You Can Decide Whether Using Your Points Is Worth It!

Again, the process is pretty straightforward.  And just like with bookings made directly through the airlines, you’ll have 24 hours to cancel your booking for a full refund.

Bottom Line

You have 2 main options to redeem your American Express points.  You can either transfer them to an AMEX travel partner, or book travel through the AMEX Travel Portal.

To transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to any of their airline and hotel partners, you’ll first need to link your accounts.  I recommend linking all of your loyalty accounts to AMEX so you can save time when you decide to transfer points in the future.

After your accounts are linked, you can transfer points in 3 quick steps.  Just remember, all transfers are final.  So after your points are moved to an airline or hotel partner, you will NOT be able to get them back to your AMEX account.

Booking travel through AMEX’s travel site is even more straightforward and can be done in just 5 simple steps.  It works much like other travel booking engines and at the final step, you’ll be able to choose whether you want to pay cash or use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to offset the cost of the booking.

If you’re looking to earn more AMEX Membership Rewards points, check out our post about the best American Express cards.

And check out these posts for more details on AMEX Membership Rewards points:


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Shouldn’t pay with points be part of your list?

Come on El Al… 1000:20?

Are we allergic to 50:1?

Hi Sean – I know, I know! It bugs me mathematically too, but…

It’s because AMEX requires you transfer to El Al in 1,000-point increments.

Same goes for JetBlue with the 250:200 ratio (ie 5:4) – transfers must be made in 250-point increments.