The Flying Blue program is a great transfer option for travelers looking to stretch their miles as far as possible by flying Economy Class. By taking advantage of Promo Awards and sweet spots such as flying from the US to Central America or the Caribbean on Delta, you can stretch your points as far as they’ll go by transferring to Flying Blue.
Avianca is American Express’ newest transfer partner, and a welcome addition to its existing lineup. Avianca’s claim to fame is its incredibly reasonable First Class award prices on its fellow Star Alliance partners coupled with the fact that it never charges surcharges. This in addition to their extremely cheap award prices for domestic travel in the US on United Airlines makes Avianca an incredibly high value Membership Rewards transfer partner.
British Airways is unlike most airlines in that it uses a distance based award chart rather than a region based chart. This means that if you are flying on a nonstop, short-haul flight, you will often get great value by booking with British Airways Avios over most other programs.
One excellent use of Cathay Pacific miles is booking a trip with loads of stopovers. Cathay Pacific allows up to 5 stopovers on one itinerary and also uses a distance based chart. This means that the number of points that a ticket costs is determined by the aggregate number of miles of each segment of your journey. So as long as you don’t go too far out of the way for your stopovers, you can get up to 5 flights for the price of 1.
The Skymiles program has been devalued heavily in recent years, but there are still some redemption options that make it a worthwhile transfer option for American Express points. They are still a great option for flying from the US to Europe without fuel surcharges, and if you are searching during off-peak dates, you can often find extremely cheap award rates thanks to their variable award chart.
Etihad can be a valuable transfer partner simply because they do not belong to any alliance and therefore they have some unconventional partners that are otherwise hard to access. However, the most common usage of Etihad Guest miles for US based travelers is for award travel on American Airlines. This is because Etihad still charges the same number of points for most routes that American charged before their massive devaluation in 2016. In most cases this represents about a 30% discount over what American Airlines would charge on the same route, such as 20,000 miles to Europe or Southern South America.
Iberia Plus uses a distance based award chart just like British Airways does, however, they combine your total distance traveled when calculating an award price while British Airways calculates an award price for each segment. This means that if you are flying on a shorter route, but not non-stop, Iberia will often provide better value than British Airways.
Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance carrier that has very competitive and often even industry leading award prices on many routes. So if you are looking to make use of one of these sweet spots such as flying Singapore Suites or flying from the US to Hawaii, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a great option for transferring your American Express Membership Rewards points.
Air Canada is another Star Alliance carrier who charges fairly similar award rates to what most Star Alliance partners such as United Airlines would charge. There are some routes that are a few thousand miles cheaper than what United would charge and others that are more expensive, but Air Canada does impose surcharges on many flights. Overall this makes United safer than Air Canada, but you can still get good value if you are willing to find specific routes that are cheaper than United and don’t come with surcharges.
Unfortunately, ANA does impose surcharges on all Star Alliance partners’ flights, which is why is falls in the average redemption category. However, there are still a few amazing redemption opportunities to find if you are willing to jump through a few hoops. For example, flying to Japan off-peak on ANA metal for only 40,000 miles roundtrip in Economy.
JetBlue charges award prices based on the cash price of the ticket. This means that however you choose to redeem JetBlue miles, you will always get about 1.4 cents/mile. The catch with JetBlue is that Amex does not offer a 1:1 transfer ratio but rather a 250:200 ratio. This means that your point value is even lower than 1.4 once you factor in the transfer. If you are dead set on transferring points to redeem on JetBlue, you will get better value from transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead; but neither option represents great value.
In general, Qantas’ award rates tend to be on the higher side which makes it a bad place to store your points long term. However, there are a few niche opportunities that can provide some value if you are willing to work for them. For example, Qantas has some unique partner airlines that are otherwise hard to access like Air Vanuatu and Air Niugini. Cash prices on these airlines tend to be very high, so the ability to redeem Qantas miles instead could be useful. Since Qantas has a distance based chart, you will usually get the best value when redeeming for shorter flights.
Unfortunately, most Virgin Atlantic redemptions usually come with astronomical surcharges which often make the redemption not worth it. This is why it is in the average section. However, the program does have a few sweet spots without surcharges such as flying First Class from the US to Japan on ANA. If you want to take advantage of one of these opportunities, you can still get phenomenal value from transferring Membership Rewards Points.
Aeromexico’s award prices are simply way too high to be competitive even when you factor in the 1:1.6 transfer ratio from American Express. The most competitive price is for award tickets from the US to Mexico, but even that comes out to about industry standard after the transfer bonus. You will be better served by using another SkyTeam program.
Alitalia charges astronomical fuel charges on almost all routes and their miles are constantly and severely devalued. This along with the constant threat of the entire airline going bankrupt means it is not a good transfer option.
The transfer ratio from American Express to El Al is 1000:20, and El Al’s award prices are higher than average to begin with. There is no reason to transfer to this program.
Emirates uses a different award chart for each one of its partner airlines. In general award prices tend to be quite high, but there one or two minor sweet spots to find if you are willing to do your research. They are however very specific and very difficult to redeem, so usually not worth it.
In general Hawaiian’s award prices are too high to be of much use; but in very specific cases such as flying First class from Hawaii to the South Pacific you can still find some value.
If you can find award availability, you can sometimes get pretty good value for redeeming at Choice properties where the cash rate would be quite high. However, it is extremely difficult to find any award availability at all.
Even with the 1:1.5 transfer ratio from Membership Rewards points, redemptions with Hilton points tend to cost so many points that it’s still not a great deal. The one exception would be category 1 Hilton properties; but the cash rate at these properties is often low enough that your cent per point ratio would still be under 2 cents/point.