Ready, Set, Transfer! (Your Amex Points)

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On Friday I posted about trying to decide if now was the time to transfer my American Express Membership Rewards points to Continental.  The pros were: the deadline to do so is coming up in two months anyway, I need them to book an upcoming trip on Continental, and there are currently no taxes to make the transfer.  The cons were: there is no guarantee that Continental will have award seat availability for my dates/destination, and on the off-chance that there is a last minute transfer bonus to Continental, I would be sitting on the sidelines missing out on all the transfer bonus fun.

The consensus in the comments (which I love, please keep them coming) was to wait.  There is only a little to be gained by transferring now and taking advantage of the tax savings, and the risk of losing out on a possible transfer bonus wasn’t large enough to off-set that savings.  Also, there are other airlines with great transfer bonuses right now (British Airways and Delta) that made Continental not necessarily the best airline choice out there for many families since you can stretch your miles further using transfer bonuses on other airlines.

Along those lines, today is the deadline to transfer Membership Rewards points to British Airways for a 50% bonus – act now if you want in on that great deal!!  We have taken advantage of this a couple times in order to book American Airlines domestic flights via British Airways.  With this bonus, the effective cost of a round-trip domestic flight on American Airlines is just under 17,000 miles (instead of the regular 25,000 miles).   That is a great value for traveling families – especially when you need several seats!

In the end, I decided to go ahead and transfer my Membership Rewards points.  We are going to be traveling next year from Houston to Montreal.  There is only one airline that has a direct flight, Air Canada.  Since Air Canada is a partner of Continental, we can book the flight using Continental miles.  The travel time on a direct flight is about 3 1/2 hours, as opposed to anywhere from 5-7 hours using an airline that requires connections.  Since C is still a young traveler, we would rather get the flight done in one straight shot than have to deal with the hassle that comes with a connection.  Given that there is only one airline we are willing to use for this flight, the transfer bonuses going on right now unfortunately didn’t really help us for this trip.  On the off-chance that there is a last minute transfer special to Continental, I can just advance myself some Membership Rewards points (up to 60,000 for Platinum card holders) to get in on the action.  Saving 40-50 bucks on taxes may not make a big difference for some travelers, but every little bit helps for this traveling family, so we decided to pull the trigger and make the transfer.

Little C had a small balance of Onepass miles in her account from a previous flight on Continental, so I took this opportunity to transfer enough miles into her account to bring her balance high enough to book one of the tickets using her miles.  I put the rest into my account.  This was a great way to make use of the miles that she did have, as it would be a VERY long time until she naturally accumulated enough miles in her account to warrant a reward ticket otherwise.  Especially since we usually travel on reward tickets that don’t earn miles.  The miles appeared in our Onepass accounts almost instantaneously – not bad!  In case you are not familiar with how to transfer Amex points, here are the steps that I took:

1.  Log-on to your American Express account home page.  Click the “View Points Summary” for your  Membership Rewards account that is on the right-hand side of your screen.

2.  From here you can see your points summary and the “linked” frequent flyer programs that you have already registered with your Membership Rewards account.  If you need to link a new account, you can select “Link Additional Programs” from the bottom of the screen.  Otherwise, just click on the linked program that you would like to transfer points into.

3.  Select how many miles/points you would like to add into the selected frequent flyer program.  In my case, I wanted to move 24,000 points into Little C’s Continental Onepass account.  Continental transfers on a 1:1 ratio, so I need 24,000 Membership Rewards point to convert to 24,000 Onepass miles.  After you have entered the correct amount of your transfer, select “Transfer this Amount”.

4.  Sometimes (though not always) it will then ask for the four digit security ID on the front of your American Express card for verification purposes, so have your card handy just in case.

5.  If you are transferring into a US airlines account (Delta, Continental, etc…) you will be asked how you would like to pay the tax on your miles transfer.  It is .0006 cents per mile transferred, with a maximum charge of $99 per transfer.  You can pay using points of dollars.  Normally I would recommend paying with dollars, however right now due to the US Government’s tardiness there are no taxes being collected!  This is why I went ahead and did the transfer now.

6.  You are then asked to verify that you indeed want to transfer x number of miles into x account. In this case, we want to move 24,000 miles into Little C’s Onepass Account.  If you have multiple accounts with the same carrier (as we do for Mommy Points, The Man, and Little C) you definitely want to pay close attention that you are moving the correct number of miles into the correct account.  All transfers are permanent once you press transfer on this screen.

Congrats, you transferred your points successfully!  Our miles posted in Little C’s Onepass account just about instantly after this transfer.  It really is a pretty quick and painless process.  Let me know if you have any questions.  We are now just counting down the days until the window opens up to book seats for our next trip with our newly transferred miles!


If you don’t yet have an American Express card, you can apply for the Premier Rewards Gold Card here.  It comes with 15,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $1000 on the card within the first three months and the annual fee waived the first year.  I posted about my mom being able to “bump the bonus” on her Amex Gold card here.  Many are still having success doing this using similar offers.

You can also apply for the American Express Platinum card here.  This card comes with a whole host of benefits that I will get into detail about in a later post.  It comes with a hefty $450 annual fee that is not waived the first year, but if you are a relatively frequent traveler it may be worth it.  This is a card that my family has.  It comes with 25,000 Membership Rewards if you spend $1000 within the first three months.  Many are still having success bumping that bonus to 100,000 points.  Read more here. 



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