When you’re deciding which points to earn through credit card spending, one of the best options to consider is a transferable points currency. Rather than being tied to a single program, the beauty in transferable points is that you can redeem them with a variety of partners.
In Canada, American Express Membership Rewards is the most flexible points currency, since it provides access to six airline loyalty programs and two hotel programs. Throw in some of the best earning rates around and hefty welcome bonuses, and there’s no question that Amex MR points are worth their weight in gold.
Something to keep in mind is that the time it takes for MR points to reach your airline or hotel loyalty account differs by each program. In some cases, it’s instant, while in others, it can take a few days to complete.
When it comes to flexible points currencies in Canada, the benchmark is American Express Membership Rewards, otherwise known as Amex MR. The main reason MR points are so powerful and sought after is due to their suite of transfer partners, which gives you access to six airlines and two hotel loyalty programs.
In Canada, there are seven cards that earn MR points: the American Express Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card from American Express, the American Express Gold Rewards Card, the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card, the American Express Cobalt Card, the American Express Green Card, and the American Express Business Edge Card.
With such a diverse portfolio of cards, there’s bound to be one that suits every type of traveller.
|Credit Card||Best Offer||Value|
100,000 MR points
$499 annual fee
|100,000 MR points||$1,976||
70,000 MR points
$250 annual fee
|70,000 MR points||$1,654||
90,000 MR points
$699 annual fee
|90,000 MR points||$1,646||
75,000 MR points
$199 annual fee
|75,000 MR points||$1,561||
Up to 77,000 MR points
$99 annual fee
|Up to 77,000 MR points||$1,419||
30,000 MR points
$156 annual fee
|30,000 MR points||$636||
10,000 MR points
$0 annual fee
|10,000 MR points||$220||
Generally speaking, it’s best to only transfer your MR points when you have a specific redemption in mind. This way, they remain flexible, and you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak.
In all cases, you’ll need to make an account with the loyalty program first. Then, head to your Amex MR account, select “Transfer” under “Use my points”, and then select the program to which you’d like to transfer your points. Simply enter in the requested information, and then proceed with completing the transfer.
The below chart summarizes the estimated transfer time, the realistic transfer time, the minimum transfer amount, and the transfer ratio for Amex MR points. Further down, we’ll go into a bit more detail for each program.
Minimum Number of Points to Transfer
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
It’s worth noting that a transfer could be delayed if the information doesn’t match between your accounts, or if there is a technical glitch along the way. These transfer times should be used as a general guideline for the average time it takes to complete a points transfer.
Keep in mind that transfers are one-way only. Once they leave your American Express MR account and arrive in the loyalty program, they can’t come back.
Aeroplan is by far the most popular Amex transfer partner in Canada. With almost 50 different airlines available, Aeroplan is widely regarded as one of the best loyalty programs in the world.
The transfer time from Amex MR to Aeroplan is advertised as up to 30 minutes; however, it’s generally known to be instantaneous. This efficiency is one of the many pros of the Aeroplan program, and it gives you the ability to act on award space without delay.
Other important factors to note are that the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 MR points, and the transfer ratio is 1:1 to Aeroplan.
Keep in mind that while the majority of transfers will take less than 30 minutes, issues have arisen in the past where transfers took longer than expected.
If you’re on the phone with Aeroplan and planning out a custom itinerary, you can wait until the agent has the ticket priced out and ready to book before transferring your points. Since it generally happens instantly, you can be sure that the itinerary is all lined up before making the one-way transfer.
Otherwise, the best practice is to find award availability with Aeroplan first, confirm that it’s not phantom award space, transfer points in, and then complete the booking right away.
The newest transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards is Air France/KLM Flying Blue, which joined forces in August 2021. This program gives you access to SkyTeam-member airlines, and has become very popular in the recent past.
Transfers from Amex MR to Flying Blue are quoted to take three days, but again, in practice it’s generally much quicker, with points hitting your Flying Blue account almost instantly. The minimum transfer amount is 1,000 MR points, and the transfer ratio is 1:0.75 Flying Blue miles.
One of the best uses of Flying Blue miles is taking advantage of the monthly Promo Rewards, which are monthly discounts on a variety of Air France and KLM routes in various classes of service.
In the past, we’ve seen discounts of up to 50% on business class flights between North America and Europe, which is an absolutely stellar deal.
Luckily, Flying Blue allows award holds, so you can reserve your seat over the phone and have plenty of time to transfer points into your account. If you’ve found award space but need to transfer points in, call Flying Blue and ask them to place a hold for up to 72 hours.
Just be sure to factor in the suboptimal 1:0.75 transfer ratio when planning out your flights.
Another popular transfer partner of Amex MR points is British Airways Avios, which is one of the best loyalty programs for accessing flights with Oneworld airlines.
The listed transfer time is up to five business days; however, the points typically land in your account in around one or two days.
The minimum transfer amount stays the same at 1,000 MR points, the transfer ratio is 1:1.
However, keep in mind that there are fairly regular transfer bonuses of up to 50% put on by Amex. If you time your transfer accordingly, it’s an easy way to boost your Avios balance and squeeze outsized value out of your MR points.
There are plenty of outstanding redemption opportunities with British Airways Avios, including accessing Qatar Airways Qsuites, transferring Avios to different flavours, the multi-carrier award chart, and short-haul flights in Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Another Oneworld-airline partner of Amex MR is Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, which gives you preferential access to Cathay Pacific flights and other Oneworld airlines.
The listed transfer time is five business days, but as per usual, the points generally post much faster. If everything goes smoothly, you should see the points arrive within a few days, but it could also take up to a week if the information on your accounts doesn’t match up.
The minimum transfer limit is on par with the other airlines at 1,000 MR points, and the transfer ratio is 1:0.75.
Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses from Amex MR to Asia Miles, which have been up to 15%. It’s worth noting that these events are far less frequent than bonuses to British Airways Avios.
One of the biggest draws of collecting Asia Miles is having significantly more award availability for Cathay Pacific flights in business class and First Class, which tends to be difficult to come by in other programs.
It’s worth noting that of all the transfer partners of Amex MR, Asia Miles tends to have the most issues if the information on both sides isn’t 100% aligned. You’ll want to ensure that your name, address, and all other information is accurate, otherwise you may face considerable delays.
Delta SkyMiles provides access to SkyTeam flights, although it’s worth mentioning that Flying Blue is generally a better choice. The program has seen a number of devaluations in the past, and it’s relatively difficult to find value in compared to other programs.
Transferring from Amex MR to Delta SkyMiles is similar to Aeroplan, in that it’s advertised as up to 30 minutes, but in reality it’s pretty much instantaneous. The minimum transfer amount is 1,000 MR points, and the ratio is 1:0.75 to Delta.
Using SkyMiles effectively is quite a bit more challenging than, say, Aeroplan or Flying Blue. The redemption values for SkyMiles on international flights aren’t great, and the search engine can be clunky.
Furthermore, all of Delta’s own flights are subject to dynamic pricing, whereas partner flights are based on a hidden award chart. This means that it’s difficult to ascertain how much a flight is supposed to cost and what a good deal is. However, if you have a good use in mind for Delta SkyMiles, at least they’ll transfer quickly.
Etihad Guest is one of the lesser-used transfer partners from American Express MR. The program recently underwent an overhaul, which unfortunately resulted in an erosion of its former sweet spots.
Transferring to Etihad Guest from Amex MR is advertised to take three business days; however, as with some other transfer partners, the process is usually instant.
There’s a minimum transfer requirement of 1,000 MR points, and the transfer ratio is 1:0.75.
Etihad Guest miles are certainly less popular than Aeroplan and Flying Blue, and for good reason.
As mentioned above, Etihad Guest’s award charts underwent an unfortunate revamp in March 2023, which saw the sweet spots and unique redemptions all but vanish.
You can also book flights with Etihad Airlines with Aeroplan at competitive rates; therefore, there isn’t much point in transferring MR Points to Etihad Guest if your goal is to fly in Etihad Airlines business class.
Moreover, in order to make any Etihad Guest redemptions with partner airlines other than Virgin Australia or American Airlines, you need to call Etihad in order to make the booking, which is indeed quite cumbersome and unnecessary in this day and age.
Marriott Bonvoy is the largest hotel chain in the world, and has the most sizeable loyalty program as well. Of the three main hotels programs, which also include Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt, Bonvoy points are the easiest points currency to accrue due to its transfer relationship with Amex MR.
The listed transfer time is up to 48 hours; however, you can typically expect the points to arrive instantly.
The minimum transfer amount is 1,000 MR points, and the transfer ratio is 1:1.2, which is favourable.
Marriott Bonvoy points can be used at a wide range of hotels throughout the world. On the more aspirational side are brands such as St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton, while the program also has budget brands like Moxy.
One downside to the program is that it uses dynamic pricing, which means that award prices can mirror cash prices. Nevertheless, by utilizing points, you can still take advantage by booking award nights with a smaller cash outlay.
The world’s second-largest hotel chain is Hilton Honors, which is also a transfer partner of Amex MR points. As a major brand, you can find Hilton properties across the world.
The listed transfer time from Amex MR to Hilton Honors is five business days; however, you can expect them to hit your account within a few days.
The minimum transfer amount is 1,000 points, and the transfer ratio is 1:1.
You can redeem Hilton Honors points for some excellent luxury brands, such as Waldorf Astoria or Conrad Hotels, as well as more modest properties, such as the Hilton Garden Inn.
If you’re a Hilton loyalist, you may get good use out of transferring Amex MR points to Hilton Honors. Just be sure to check for award availability before initiating the transfer and hope that it’s still available at the same price when it comes time to book.
American Express Membership Rewards is arguably the best transferable points currency in Canada. With access to six airline and two hotel loyalty programs, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding a great use for your points.
The transfer time to each program is a bit different, and there are also some nuances to be aware of with each program. The transfer time to many partners is instant, which makes redeeming points particularly seamless.
Luckily, the estimated transfer time is often not aligned with the actual transfer time, and your points tend to arrive faster than expected.
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