American Express Membership Rewards (Temporarily) Loses a Transfer Partner

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Update 5/2/2020: Thankfully, it seems this was just a temporary issue. Flying Blue has been re-added to the list of Membership Rewards partners on Saturday morning. I was able to successfully make a transfer of 1,000 Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue. As AwardWallet has tracked in past transfers, the points immediately posted to my Flying Blue account.

American Express Membership Rewards is regarded as one of the most-valuable transferrable currencies. This is due to a combination of having over 20 transfer partners and offering occasional transfer bonuses. However, there's been a negative change, but hopefully it's just temporary.

On Friday afternoon, American Express updated the list of Memberships Rewards transfer partners. But unfortunately, this wasn't to add another transfer partner or a lucrative transfer bonus. Instead, Amex removed Flying Blue as a transfer partner.

The good news is that this is may just be a temporary loss. An American Express chat agent told AwardWallet Editor-in-Chief Erik Paquet that this loss “is not permanent”:

Meanwhile, I called American Express to request a transfer of Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue. The agent I was connected with was confident that Flying Blue was still a transfer partner. However, when he attempted to transfer 1,000 points from my Membership Rewards account to my Flying Blue account, he received an error that led him to believe that Flying Blue was no longer a transfer partner.

This could certainly be a short-term technical problem. But it's also possible that Flying Blue is gone for good, and Amex hasn't yet communicated the change to customer service agents. AwardWallet has reached out to an American Express spokesperson to clarify, but no response has been received by the time of publishing. We will update this post when we receive an official statement.

Flying Blue Overview

Flying Blue is best known as the mileage program of Air France and KLM, but it also serves as the mileage program for Aircalin, Kenya Airways, Transavia, and TAROM.

The program has seen some dramatic changes in the past few years. However, it's appreciated by award collectors for being one of a few programs that are a transfer partner of all five major transferrable currencies. And while it's not a broadly-valuable program, Flying Blue has its sweet spots.

Thankfully, you still have plenty of options to accumulate Flying Blue miles. As of publishing, Flying Blue is still showing as an active transfer partner of Citi ThankYouChase Ultimate RewardsCapital One Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. That means you can still take advantage of Flying Blue sweet spots and Promo Rewards—once the program is restarted after a COVID-19 hiatus.

Even if this is a permanent loss, Membership Rewards still has 21 transfer partners: 18 airlines and 3 hotel programs:

Membership Rewards Transfer PartnersMinimum Points to TransferTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClub1,0001,000 : 1,000 AviosUnknown
Aeromexico Club Premier1,0001,000 : 1,600 Premier Points1-2 days
Air Canada Aeroplan1,0001,000 : 1,000 Aeroplan MilesInstant
Air France/KLM Flying Blue1,0001,000 : 1,000 Flying Blue Miles Instant
Alitalia MilleMiglia 1,0001,000 : 1,000 Alitalia Miles1 day
ANA Airlines Mileage Club1,0001,000 : 1,000 ANA Miles1-2 days
Avianca LifeMiles1,0001,000 : 1,000 LifeMilesInstant
British Airways Avios250250 : 250 British Airways AviosInstant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1,0001,000 : 1,000 Asia Miles1-2 days
Delta SkyMiles1,0001,000 : 1,000 SkyMilesInstant
El Al Matmid Club1,0001,000 : 20 Matmid PointsInstant
Emirates Skywards1,0001,000 : 1,000 Skywards MilesInstant
Etihad Guest1,0001,000 : 1,000 Etihad Guest MilesInstant
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles1,0001,000 : 1,000 Hawaiian MilesInstant
Iberia Plus250250 : 250 Iberia AviosInstant
JetBlue TrueBlue250250 : 200 TrueBlue PointsInstant
Qantas Frequent Flyer5001,000 : 1,000 Qantas PointsUnknown
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1,0001,000 : 1,000 KrisFlyer Miles1 day
Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub1,0001,000 : 1,000 Flying Club Miles1 day
Choice Privileges Rewards (Hotel)1,0001,000 : 1,000 Choice Privileges PointsInstant
Hilton Honors (Hotel)1,0001,000 : 2,000 Hilton Honors PointsInstant
Marriott Rewards (Hotel)1,0001,000 : 1,000 Marriott RewardsUnknown

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    I think what happened was contract negotiations.

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    In case anyone has read all the way down here and missed it somehow, I just wanted to share the good news that this loss was indeed very temporary. Flying Blue, thankfully, was back with AmEx the next day.

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      JT Genter says:

      Indeed it was! And we updated the top of the post the next day to reflect this. Glad that it was such a temporary issue.

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    I hope they do bring Flying Blue back. I like their promo specials.

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    I wonder if they were testing something? It could have been just an error but it makes you think. They are one of the reasons for me to have MR. I am sure I could probably use one other their other partners but I wouldn’t be happy.

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    It is good to know that Flying Blue will be back with MR. I wonder though how the flying would be different in post-COVID world?
    Thank you for keeping us up to date.

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    Hope it is not permanent…

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    I guess that it’s a bummer to see Flying Blue go, but personally I have never used them. If they come back to Amex, that’s fine as well.

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    Florencia says:

    It is curious that in this context, in which nobody can fly, they make such a decision. At this time it does not change anything; Hopefully these changes are not permanent and after the pandemic miles can be transferred with all partners.

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    Oh. As you said, not a major loss. Thanks though as this included a link to the sweet spots (CSR user… for now).

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    Glad to hear the loss is not permanent.

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    Harvey Kwan says:

    Shame, I do enjoy transferring amex points for flying blue

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    I wonder if it’s a glitch as they’re updating their systems with other changes or something more than that? Given the bargain prices we’re seeing these days, and all the travel restrictions, I don’t need to transfer any points, just curious.

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      JT Genter says:

      Seems that must have been the case! Flying Blue was restored as a transfer partner and I was successfully able to transfer points this morning.

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    Why have transfer partners if you can’t fly!!!!

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    Barton Fiske says:

    Was AAL or UAL ever part of MR and if not, is it that they’re just too big and don’t see a reason/benefit?

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      Well, UA has a partnership with Chase. That’s not necessarily a deal breaker in itself but Chase holds the cobranded cards so it definitely depends on what’s in that contract. You don’t see other players like Capital one getting any major domestic carriers so I wonder if there are agreements in place.

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    Thanks for the update. Disappointing, but not the end of the world as I do have plenty of Delta miles that I could use, if needed.