American Express is currently running three different transfer bonuses to convert Membership Rewards points into either Starwood, Hilton or Virgin Atlantic points/miles. I’ll recap each one briefly and give you my opinion whether any of them are worth taking advantage of.
1. 50% Transfer Bonus to Starwood SPG (Targeted) – The biggest transfer bonus on the list at 50% but unfortunately all that means is that you can convert Amex points at a 2:1 ratio instead of the standard 3:1 ratio. Starwood points are more valuable than Amex Membership Rewards points but not double the value in my book. One possible way this promotion could work though is to transfer to an airline that is not a transfer partner of Amex but is a partner of Starwood.
As you might know, if you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to an airline, you automatically get a 5,000 point bonus so if you were to transfer say 40,000 Amex points over to Starwood, you could end up 25,000 airline miles in programs such as Alaska or American, places you cannot transfer to Amex points too normally. By using Starwood as the “middleman”, you can backdoor your way into all of Starwood’s transfer partners here. I don’t have a personal need to do this but this could make sense for some. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.
2. 35% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic – Even though Amex is offering a 35% on transfers to Virgin Atlantic, I’ve discussed how Virgin miles can be difficult to use (though View From the Wing has some great uses of Virgin miles). You can’t depart London without incurring huge fuel surcharges but Virgin Atlantic is a great option to go TO London which is only 13,125 miles + $134 as I’ve written about before here. Another possible use of their points is on Virgin America, especially if you live on the West Coast as it is only 10,000 miles one way on certain routes, such as LA to San Fran. I am going to sit the transfer out as I just applied for the 90,000 Virgin Atlantic Mastercard and I have no pressing needs for more Virgin miles. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.
3. 33% Transfer Bonus to Hilton HHonors (Targeted) – Amex’s hotel partners are historically pretty bad so its not that surprising to see that even with a transfer bonus, this is a bad deal. In this case, a 33% transfer bonus to Hilton means Amex points convert at a ratio of 1:2 instead of the standard 1:1.5. Unfortunately, Hilton gutted their award chart a few years ago and any upscale property is for the most part an unreasonable amount of points. I’m talking 95,000 HHonors points for a single night stay when you used to be able to get a 4 night stay at the same property for 145,000 points (ex. Hilton Bora Bora). I don’t mind plan on taking advantage of this transfer bonus and don’t suggest it either unless you need to top off your account for an award stay. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.