American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points are one of the most valuable points currencies that we can earn in Canada. While they can be used for statement credits (cash back), redeemed for travel through the American Express Travel Portal, or gift cards and merchandise, we can unlock the most value when we transfer MR points to American Express’s Transfer Partners.
Let’s talk about these Transfer Partners and how we can use them to maximize the value of our hard-earned Membership Rewards points!
What Are American Express Canada Transfer Partners?
American Express Transfer Partners are points and miles loyalty programs where we can exchange our Membership Rewards points for their respective currencies at various rates. Essentially, this allows us to use our MR points to redeem flights or hotels directly with loyalty programs, rather than being restricted to the American Express Travel Portal.
More importantly, this gives us the potential to break the fixed value of 1 cent per point that American Express limits on their points when we use it directly with them, making every Membership Rewards point go further than before.
However, not all American Express credit cards have access to these transfer partners – only cards that earn Membership Rewards points have this ability. American Express’s consumer portfolio of MR earning credit cards includes the American Express Green card, the American Express Cobalt card, the American Express Gold card, and the American Express Platinum card.
On the other hand, American Express’s business portfolio of MR earning credit cards includes the American Express Business Platinum card, American Express Business Gold card, and the American Express Business Edge card.
American Express Canada currently has 6 airline and 2 hotel transfer partners, all of which transfer Membership Rewards points at slightly different ratios. We’ll go over each of them and show you which ones offer the best bang for your buck (or more accurately, your point!).
All American Express Transfer Partners
Let’s go over all of American Express Canada’s Transfer Partners. However, if you’re ever in a rush to check what Transfer Partners are available for American Express Canada, or any other transferable points currencies, check out our new Miles & Points Transfer Partner Tool, where we outline all points transfer ratios and up-to-date transfer bonuses!
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air Canada Aeroplan is one of the most valuable points currency in the game and consistently ranks as one of our top transfer partners for Membership Rewards points. Points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, meaning 1 MR point will yield 1 Aeroplan point.
Air Canada has the most flights to and from all major Canadian airports and has destinations all around the world. They are also part of the Star Alliance – this means that your Aeroplan points can be used to book flights from Air Canada’s partner airlines. Sure, you can book Air Canada Signature Class, but you can also fly several other renowned products, such as Lufthansa First Class.
Additionally, with the abundant number of Aeroplan co-branded credit cards that unlock additional travel benefits when booking with Aeroplan points, it’s easy to see why we love transferring our Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan for amazing travel experiences!
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue is the loyalty program of both Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Points transfer at a ratio of 4:3 – in more simple math, 1 MR point will transfer to 0.75 Flying Blue miles.
The most attractive part of the Flying Blue loyalty program is their Flying Blue Promo Rewards. These promotions are offered monthly and offer up to 50% discounts on their award tickets redeemed directly with Flying Blue miles. If a monthly promotion catches your eye, it may make sense to take advantage and transfer some Membership Rewards points over to Flying Blue!
As a note, some routes have moderate fuel surcharge fees, so be sure to double-check the complete cost, both miles and dollars, before transferring your MR points!
British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios is another one of our favorites here at Frugal Flyer. Points transfer at a ratio of 1:1, meaning that 1 MR point will turn into 1 Avios point.
Since British Airways is part of the OneWorld alliance, there are many carriers that you can book redemption flights on. While carrier surcharge fees are quite high when redeeming for flights operated by British Airways, our favorite use for transferring Membership Rewards points to Avios miles is to book Qatar Airways QSuites, either by booking through British Airways, or by transferring to Qatar Airways Avios.
If you are looking to travel with a partner via British Airways, you can also take advantage of the British Airways Household Account to earn towards your next redemption even quicker.
If you are booking with British Airways, you can also redeem Avios on US-originating flights with American Airlines to avoid pesky fuel surcharge fees.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific is the flag carrier of Hong Kong, and as such, mainly serves destinations in Asia. Points transfer at a ratio of 4:3, meaning that 1 MR point will give you 0.75 Asia Miles.
As a personal anecdote, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is my parent’s favorite loyalty program because they take advantage of their fixed flight award chart (rare these days!) to fly to and from their home city of Hong Kong for 38,000 Asia Miles.
While the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program is great for getting you to Asia (pun intended), Membership Rewards points are not the strongest transfer partner to the program. Instead, consider using RBC Avion Points, typically earned from the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card, to transfer to Asia Miles, as they offer a more favorable 1:1 transfer ratio.
Delta SkyMiles are less popular in Canada but still have some unique value propositions if used correctly. Points transfer at a ratio of 4:3, meaning 1 MR point will get you 0.75 SkyMiles.
While international flights with Delta offer less-than-ideal prices, SkyMiles shines when flying within North America. Specifically, flights within the US have great value. For example, going from New York to Chicago costs only 6,000 points and $6 USD in fees!
This makes Delta a great choice to visit multiple destinations in the US when visiting our neighbor to the South.
How about getting to the US? Well, SkyMiles also has a good answer for that. To get from Vancouver to Los Angeles, it only costs us 11,500 SkyMiles, which isn’t bad at all.
Delta is a partner airline to WestJet, which offers many domestic Canadian flights and transborder routes to and from Canada and the US. If you don’t collect WestJet Rewards from the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard or RBC Avion Points, SkyMiles can unlock some of WestJets destinations to and from Canadian airports.
Etihad Airways is the flagship carrier of the United Arab Emirates. It isn’t a very popular loyalty program in Canada, as it is hard to earn points with and only operates flights out of Toronto-Pearson International Airport. Points transfer at a ratio of 4:3 – 1 MR point yields 0.75 Etihad Guest points.
Unfortunately, it’s going to be quite difficult to extract value from Etihad Guest in Canada (or the US, as it only serves Boston, Chicago, New York, and Washington). With much better partners available, Etihad Guest ranks low on our list of Transfer Partners.
While not as big of a footprint as Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Hotels, and its Hilton Honors loyalty program are a close second and have hotels everywhere around the world. Points transfer at a ratio of 1:1 from Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors points, but again, we generally do not recommend transferring MR points to hotel programs.
If you’re looking to earn Hilton Honors points, consider starting your US credit card journey with one of the American Express US Hilton Honors credit cards! That’s how I booked a recent stay in Chicago at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel – the birthplace of the brownie!
Odds are that you have stayed, or will stay, in a Marriott Bonvoy hotel in your lifetime, as it is the largest hotel chain in the world. One of American Express Canada’s two hotel transfer partners, transferring 5 Membership Rewards points will yield 6 Marriott Bonvoy points.
As a general rule of thumb, we do not recommend that you transfer MR points to any hotel loyalty program unless it is to do a small top-up of your points for an upcoming stay. Instead, check out the American Express Marriott Bonvoy card or American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business card to earn a great welcome bonus plus Marriott Bonvoy points on all purchases.
Additionally, both of these cards earn an annual Marriott free night certificate each year worth 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points adding even more value.
Why Should We Use Transfer Partners?
When you first applied for your American Express MR-earning credit card, you’ve probably seen a tagline along the lines of “Earn up to 30,000 points, worth up to $300.” That gives us a valuation of 1 cent per point. However, if you’ve read our guide to the American Express Membership Rewards loyalty program, you’ll notice that we value Membership Rewards points at 2.2 cents per point.
You might be asking, “How are these two valuations so different?”
Using Transfer Partners allows us to unlock the full potential of Membership Rewards points and exceed the default 1 cent per point valuation that American Express gives us. Here’s an example of how I got over 11 cents per point by transferring my MR points to Aeroplan:
My partner and I have always wanted to go to Greece and luckily, we both were able to get some time off at the end of October and beginning of November. This being our first overseas trip together in quite some time, we wanted to travel in style in business class, but as you can imagine, pigs would have to fly before we paid over $9,000 CAD per ticket! Luckily, being the Frugal Flyer that I am, I decided to look at redeeming a flight using Aeroplan points.
A flexible reward ticket from Toronto to Athens turned out to be 81,100 Aeroplan points – $9550 cash fare, divided by 81,100 points, gives us an over 11 cents per point valuation!
However, we didn’t have enough Aeroplan points in our accounts when we were looking to book two tickets. Luckily, American Express Membership Rewards points transfer 1:1 to Aeroplan points, so without hesitation, we transferred points and once they appeared almost instantly we booked our flights!
Disclaimer: you won’t always get over 11 cents per point. I would say that we were pretty lucky getting such a high cent per point value for our MR/Aeroplan points. However, we believe that you will routinely get over 2 cents if you decide to transfer Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan.
Which American Express Canada Transfer Partners Are Best?
When determining the best transfer partners, we have 2 guidelines:
- American Express Membership Reward points must transfer at least 1:1 to the respective loyalty program for the best value.
- Hotel loyalty programs are generally not recommended.
This leaves us with a few main options for where you should consider transferring your Membership Rewards points.
The Best: Air Canada Aeroplan
In our opinion, Air Canada Aeroplan is the strongest American Express Canada Transfer Partner. As Canadians, this is a no-brainer – Air Canada has the most flights from all major Canadian airports to destinations all across the world.
Aeroplan is also one of the strongest loyalty programs in the points and miles game and offers great redemptions with Air Canada and its partner airlines. My trip later this year to Greece is evidence of how powerful transferring MR points to Aeroplan can be!
Another Good Option: British Airways Avios
British Airways Avios also has the potential to be one of the better transfer partners. If you can avoid the fuel surcharge fees, transferring Membership Rewards points to Avios can unlock great redemptions. Additionally, by linking your British Airways Prestige Club and Qatar Airways Prestige Club Accounts, your British Airways Avios can transfer 1:1 to Qatar Airways Avios to book the prestigious QSuites product.
Keep in mind that RBC Avion points also transfer to British Airways Avios, and you can earn points with spending with the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite card. Thus, we recommend that you channel your points earned with RBC to Avios points while reserving American Express Membership Rewards points for partners that are not available anywhere else.
An Unlikely Contender: Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Lastly, an argument can be made for Air France/KLM Flying Blue to be one of the stronger transfer partners, even though it has a 1 MR point to 0.75 Flying Blue miles transfer rate. If you are able to take advantage of the Flying Blue Monthly Promos and get a 25-50% discount on reward redemptions, this brings the effective transfer ratio from 1:1-1.25.
However, on flights outside of these monthly promos, Flying Blue can fall short and we do not recommend transferring your Membership Rewards points.
American Express Canada Transfer Partners are the best way to get the most value out of your hard-earned Membership Rewards points. You can regularly get value over the 1 cent per point valuation that American Express gives it by default, and use them to book amazing flights for a fraction of the price! Be sure to check out our Miles & Points Transfer Partner tool before you transfer any points to get up-to-date information about transfer rates and any transfer bonuses!
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