Best Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points for U.S. Domestic Flights Best Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points for U.S. Domestic Flights

Best Ways to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards Points for U.S. Domestic Flights

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American Express Membership Rewards are a notoriously powerful transferable points currency. But even Amex fans may not realize just how far Amex points can take them. With familiar Amex airline transfer partners such as Delta SkyMiles and JetBlue TrueBlue, it's easy not to dive deeper. But, you can potentially stretch your Amex points even further by booking award flights through less well-known partners like Virgin Flying Club, British Airways Executive Club, or Air Canada Aeroplan.

Let's show you the best ways to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for domestic flights.

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

Before we dive into the sweet spots, here's an overview of all 18 Amex Membership Rewards airline transfer partners, their transfer times, and which U.S. airlines each partners with. Amex points transfer to most partners at a 1:1 ratio. The two exceptions are Aeromexico (1:1.6) and JetBlue (5:4):

Membership Rewards Transfer PartnerTransfer Ratio...which you can use to book award flights on:Transfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClub1,000 : 1,000 Aviosn/a (for Avios redemptions)Instant
Aeromexico Rewards1,000 : 1,600 PointsDeltaInstant
Air Canada Aeroplan1,000 : 1,000 Aeroplan PointsUnitedInstant
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,000 : 1,000 Flying Blue MilesDeltaInstant
ANA Mileage Club1,000 : 1,000 ANA MilesUnited1-2 days
Avianca LifeMiles1,000 : 1,000 LifeMilesUnitedInstant
British Airways Avios1,000 : 1,000 AviosAmerican, AlaskaInstant
Cathay Pacific1,000 : 1,000 Asia MilesAmerican, Alaska9 hours
Delta SkyMiles1,000 : 1,000 SkyMilesDeltaInstant
Emirates Skywards1,000 : 1,000 Skywards MilesUnitedInstant
Etihad Guest1,000 : 1,000 Etihad Guest MilesAmericanInstant
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,000 : 1,000 HawaiianMilesHawaiian, JetBlueInstant
Iberia Plus1,000 : 1,000 Iberia AviosAmerican and Alaska1 day
JetBlue TrueBlue250 : 200 TrueBlue PointsJetBlueInstant
Qantas Frequent Flyer500 : 500 Qantas PointsAmerican and AlaskaInstant
Qatar Privilege Club1,000 : 1,000 Qatar AviosAmerican, AlaskaInstant
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,000 : 1,000 KrisFlyer MilesUnited and Alaska3 hours
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1,000 : 1,000 Virgin PointsDeltaInstant

Current Amex Card Welcome Offers

Quite a few cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points. Here are some of the top Amex welcome offers:

That Amex Green Card offer is particularly appealing as the current welcome bonus offers a solid 40,000-point bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Even better, the Amex Green Card charges a reasonable $150 annual fee .

American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
Annual Fee$150
Welcome Offer Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • 3x Membership Rewards® on travel
  • 3x Membership Rewards® at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 3x Membership Rewards® on transit including trains, buses, ferries, subway, and more
  • 1x Membership Rewards® on other purchases

Delta Award Flights From 3,400 Amex Points

You can book Delta award flights through four Membership Rewards transfer partners: Delta SkyMiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, and Aeromexico Rewards. Of these, the best options are generally Delta SkyMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Book Delta award flights from 3,400 Delta SkyMiles

Thanks to Delta's dynamic award pricing, the cheapest domestic awards you can book with Amex Membership Rewards are through the SkyMiles program. On certain routes and certain dates, you can book domestic flights for as few as 4,000 miles one-way. That price drops as low as 3,400 SkyMiles after the Delta cardmember discount.

Screenshot of Delta award results from Seattle to Phoenix showing award pricing starting at 4,000 SkyMiles

Just keep in mind that this pricing typically only applies to basic economy awards — with all of the restrictions that come along with that.

Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. However, you'll need to transfer in increments of 1,000 points. Plus, you'll have to pay a small excise tax to transfer your Amex points to Delta — a fee not charged when you transfer Amex points to non-U.S. airline partners:

Screenshot showing fees on a transfer of 4,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles

Book Delta award flights from 7,500 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points

If you're flying on a route under 500 miles and Delta is charging 7,500 SkyMiles or more, check if an award flight is available through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Nonstop Delta award flights under 500 miles cost just 7,500 Virgin points.

Although 500 miles may not sound very far, hundreds of Delta routes fall in this distance band. When we dug into this sweet spot, we at AwardWallet found 382 Delta routes bookable for 7,500 Virgin points — including a couple of routes over 500 miles in distance:

Screenshot showing Virgin Atlantic award search results from Detroit to New York Kennedy

If your dates are flexible, use the Virgin Atlantic Reward Seat Calendar to find which dates have Delta award availability:

Screenshot showing the Virgin Atlantic Reward Seat Calendar for Delta award flights between Atlanta and Los Angeles in August 2023

JetBlue Award Flights From 4,750 Amex Points

Like Delta SkyMiles, the JetBlue TrueBlue program uses dynamic award pricing. If you're flexible, you can score domestic U.S. flights for as cheap as 3,800 TrueBlue points:

Screenshot showing JetBlue TrueBlue award search results showing 3,800-point award from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale

However, one downside of redeeming Amex points via JetBlue TrueBlue is that the transfer ratio is 5:4. That means you'll only receive 200 TrueBlue points for every 250 Amex points transferred. Make sure to factor this math — and the annoying excise tax — into your redemption planning.

Screenshot showing fees on a transfer of 4,750 Amex Membership Rewards points to JetBlue TrueBlue

Booking JetBlue flights with Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles

It's almost certainly never going to be your best option, but you can alternatively redeem 10,000 HawaiianMiles — another Amex transfer partner — to redeem for JetBlue flights costing up to $99.

Screenshot showing HawaiianMiles award chart for JetBlue flights

United Award Flights From 6,000 Amex Points

American Express Membership Rewards cardmembers have two great options for redeeming Amex points for short United flights: Air Canada Aeroplan and Avianca LifeMiles. Plus, Singapore Airlines' fixed-rate award pricing can be useful in niche situations.

Book United award flights from 6,000 Air Canada Aeroplan points

Aeroplan is the cheapest option, charging just 6,000 points for one-way awards up to 500 miles in distance. Flights don't have to be nonstop, but the total flight distance must be under 500 miles to qualify. Longer flights falling in the next distance band (501-1,500 miles) can be reasonable at 10,000 Aeroplan points.

Screenshot showing Aeroplan award search results between Newark and Toronto for 6,000 Aeroplan points

Book United award flights from 6,500 LifeMiles

Based on the LifeMiles award chart, domestic U.S. award flights should start at 7,500 LifeMiles. However, AwardWallet has found that you can book certain United routes for 6,500 LifeMiles. The similarity: The distance between the origin and destination has to be under 500 miles — even if a connection makes you take a longer route. That can be useful even on routes where United has a nonstop flight, but the nonstop flight doesn't have award availability.

Screenshot of Avianca LifeMiles award search results showing 6500-mile booking from San Francisco to Denver

Book United award flights for 14,000 Singapore KrisFlyer

Don't want to mess worry about how long your flight is? You can book domestic United flights for 14,000 Singapore KrisFlyer — no matter the distance. Just keep in mind that Aeroplan and LifeMiles will often be cheaper options.


American Airlines Award Flights From 7,000 Amex Points

While American Airlines isn't an Amex transfer partner, Membership Rewards points collectors can book American award flights through six programs (all of which are 1:1 transfer partners). Each of these can be useful in some situations — as you can see in the chart below.

Hint: Type “nonstop” or “connecting” in the search field to limit the results by the type of booking.

Distance bandBest ProgramMileage Rate
1-500 miles (nonstop or connecting)Etihad Guest6,000
501-650 miles (nonstop)British/Iberia/Qatar7,500
501-600 miles (connecting)Qantas Frequent Flyer8,000
651-1,150 miles (nonstop)British/Iberia/Qatar9,000
601-750 miles (connecting)Cathay Asia Miles10,000
1,151-2,000 miles (nonstop)British/Iberia/Qatar11,000
751-1,200 miles (connecting)Qantas Frequent Flyer12,000
2,001-3,000 miles (nonstop)British/Iberia/Qatar13,000
1,201-2,750 miles (connecting)Cathay Asia Miles15,000

Book American award flights from 7,000 Etihad Guest miles

In March 2023, Etihad Guest unveiled a new award chart. This change was almost entirely bad news, devaluing many former American Airlines sweet spots bookable through Etihad. The sole improvement: Etihad dropped the price of American Airlines award flights under 500 miles to just 6,000 Etihad Guest miles in economy or 10,000 miles in first class.

That can be useful on dozens of routes where it would be a bit far to drive — such as from Chicago to Memphis:

Screenshot showing Etihad Guest award search results from Chicago to Memphis

Etihad Guest award rates increase quickly on longer flights:

  • 501-1,000 miles: 12,000 Etihad Guest miles
  • 1,001-1,500 miles: 15,000 Etihad Guest miles
  • 1,501-2,000 miles: 23,000 Etihad Guest miles

Book American award flights from 7,500 Avios

Need to fly a bit further than 500 miles? British Airways, Iberia, and Qatar all price nonstop American Airlines award flights up to 650 miles in distance at 7,500 Avios. That's true even if you're flying on short-haul international flights — such as to the Bahamas or Mexico.


Longer flights can also be a good deal using Avios — as long as you're able to find a nonstop option:

  • 651-1,150 miles: 9,000 Avios
  • 1,151-2,000 miles: 11,000 Avios
  • 2,001-3,000 miles: 13,000 Avios

Related: How To Book American Airlines Flights Using British Airways Avios

Book American award flights from 8,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer miles

If you need to connect to get where you want to go, check out Qantas Frequent Flyer. American Airlines flights up to 600 miles in distance cost 8,000 Frequent Flyer miles one-way:

Qantas Frequent Flyer award, a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, for domestic AA flights

Qantas is also the best option for connecting American Airlines award flights between 751 and 1,200 miles in distance. These routes cost a reasonable 12,000 miles each way.

Book American award flights from 10,000 Cathay Asia Miles

Lastly, you can transfer Membership Rewards to Asia Miles to book American Airlines award flights. The starting price isn't great: 10,000 miles for flights up to 750 miles in distance. But don't write off this option quite yet.

Asia Miles lets you book connecting flights, making it the best option for connecting American Airlines itineraries between 651-750 miles in total distance. Plus, you'll only pay 15,000 Asia Miles for itineraries up to 2,750 miles in distance. And that price can drop even lower when there's an Amex transfer bonus to Asia Miles.

The downside? American Airlines awards can't be booked on Cathay's website. Instead, you'll need to submit a form online to request the booking. That may be too much of a hassle for some travelers.

Alaska Airlines Award Flights From 7,500 Amex Points

Although they are part of the same Oneworld alliance as American, the options for booking Alaska Airlines award flights are slightly different. You can't use Etihad Guest miles to book Alaska award flights — but you can use Singapore KrisFlyer miles.

Book Alaska award flights from 7,500 Avios

The cheapest option for booking Alaska domestic flights is through Avios programs. You'll only have to pay 7,500 Avios for nonstop flights under 650 miles.

Screenshot showing British Airways Executive Club search results on Alaska from Seattle to Sacramento for 7,500 Avios

Longer routes can also be a good deal — as long as there's a nonstop flight:

  • 651-1,150 miles: 9,000 Avios
  • 1,151-2,000 miles: 11,000 Avios
  • 2,001-3,000 miles: 13,000 Avios

Book Alaska award flights from 8,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles

Singapore KrisFlyer kept its mileage partnership with Alaska, even as Alaska joined Oneworld. Even after a recent KrisFlyer award chart devaluation, Alaska Airlines awards start at 8,500 KrisFlyer miles. However, Singapore's zone-based award chart for Alaska awards can be quite confusing to understand:

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer award chart for Alaska award flights

To find 8,500-mile awards, you'll need to fly within or between the following states/countries: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah, and Canada. You can also book awards between Zone 3 and 4 for the same 8,500-mile rate. That can open some rather unique opportunities.

Book Alaska award flights from 10,000 Cathay Asia Miles

Like with American Airlines, you can book Alaska award flights with as few as 10,000 Cathay Asia Miles. Even better, Alaska award flights can be booked on the Cathay Pacific website. For example, fly from San Francisco to Jackson Hole during ski season for 10,000 Asia Miles:

Screenshot showing Cathay Asia Miles award search results from San Francisco to Jackson Hole for 10,000 Asia Miles

The longer distance band (751-2,750 miles) can be useful on Alaska's routes to Alaska or Mexico. For example, escape from the heat of Las Vegas to Anchorage, Alaska for just 15,000 Asia Miles:

Screenshot showing Cathay Asia Miles award search results from Las Vegas to Anchorage for 15,000 Asia Miles

Book Alaska award flights from 10,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer miles

Qantas Frequent Flyer charges a higher award rate for award flights on Alaska than American Airlines. You'll need to pay 10,000 miles for routes up to 600 miles — instead of just 8,000 miles. That puts Qantas in the back of the pack. Longer flights cost even more:

  • 601-1,200 miles: 14,000 miles
  • 1,201-2,400 miles: 20,000 miles
  • 2,401-3,600 miles: 24,500 miles

Hawaiian Airlines Award Flights From 7,500 Amex Points

Amex cardholders have a few options for booking flights within the state of Hawaii for just 7,500 Membership Rewards points. Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club both charge 7,500 miles/points for intra-Hawaii flights.

Screenshot showing Hawaiian Airlines search results from Honolulu to Hilo for 7,500 miles

JetBlue charges just 6,000 TrueBlue points for Hawaiian Airlines flights within Hawaii. However, after factoring in the 5:4 transfer rate, you'll still have to transfer 7,500 Membership Rewards points to book this option. Plus, you'll need to call JetBlue to book this option.

Final Thoughts

It may take a bit more effort than merely redeeming Membership Rewards for flights in the Amex Travel portal, but your points will go much further by transferring them to Amex’s travel partners. It’s a fantastic way to save Amex points and leverage them for valuable award redemptions.

Even though Amex may not directly partner with airlines like United or American, by taking advantage of airline alliances you can still use Amex points to fly on them. Keep this in mind the next time you need to travel domestically in the US.

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