American Express Membership Rewards® is arguably one of the best points programs in Australia. Not only is it easy to earn points on just about anything, but it’s also one of the most flexible programs when it comes to using those points.
Fancy a stay at a five-star resort? Consider it done. Rather fly Business or First Class abroad? With at least nine major airline partners at your fingertips, you’ve got a wealth of choices when it comes to using those points.
This guide is brought to you with support from American Express, a Point Hacks commercial partner. Please note that while American Express provided the factual information required for this article, all opinions expressed are solely those of Point Hacks.
Choose from many travel partners
One major perk of American Express Membership Rewards (MR) is that it’s a flexible points program. That means you keep your MR points safely tucked away until you need them. And when it’s time to book travel, you can transfer the points you require to the airline or hotel program of your choice. It’s that simple.
The eleven airlines and two hotel chains available (as of October 2023) for the Membership Rewards Ascent program in Australia are:
- Air New Zealand Airpoints
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Thai Royal Orchid Plus
- Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Hilton Honors
- Marriott Bonvoy
Most partners transfer at a 2:1 rate, and some at 3:1, Air New Zealand is on its own at 200:1 and Marriott Bonvoy is 3:2.
In addition, American Express Platinum (and Centurion) Card Members also get access to Qantas Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner, as part of the Ascent Premium program.
Flexibility to the max
With so many partners to choose from, you don’t have to transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points until you’re ready to book. Many partners also transfer near-instantaneously, so you can search for reward seat availability and then transfer the points to book soon after.
Partners that usually transfer within one business day (often instantly) include Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Qantas Frequent Flyer.
Case study: why flexible points matter
Let’s say you have 300,000 Membership Rewards points. You want to fly from Sydney to London in Business Class, and you normally like to fly Singapore Airlines which costs 116,000 KrisFlyer miles in Saver (requires 348,000 MR points as of October 2023).
But in this instance, you can’t find availability on your preferred date. You check Asia Miles instead and find a Qatar Airways Business Class redemption for 90,000 Asia Miles (180,000 MR points).
Because your points are flexible, you can transfer them to Asia Miles instead of KrisFlyer, and make the booking soon after. Best of all, you also save a lot of Membership Rewards points in the process, because Asia Miles requires less mileage for the same route. Picking the right program for the right time – that’s the power of having flexible points.
Access more value-packed flight rewards
American Express’s selection of flight partners makes it easier to book on routes and carriers you wouldn’t normally expect to, and some at an amazing rate. For example, you could indulge in Japanese airline ANA’s amazing First Class experience from Tokyo to New York – a journey of almost 13 hours.
The cost? Just 60,000 miles through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which you can earn by transferring 120,000 Membership Rewards points over from American Express. What a deal.
Redeem online with no fuss
It’s easy to transfer your points from Membership Rewards to a partner airline. Just visit the ‘Travel’ page and log in to get started. You might need to do a one-time setup to pair your frequent flyer account to Membership Rewards, but transferring points is a cinch after that.
Most airline partners also support easy online redemptions for flight rewards. Once you have the points or miles in your Account, you’re good to go.
Other uses of points for travel
Membership Rewards certainly don’t limit you to transferring points to airlines, though that’s generally what we think the best use of them is. But you’re also able to use those points to book travel on Helloword or American Express Travel, or perhaps swap them for a hotel or Webjet gift card. It’s all up to you.
Membership Rewards is the ultimate travel program in Australia. Earn points through everyday spending and bonuses, and then spend those hard-earned points how you like. There are plenty of airline and hotel partners to choose from, so you can sit back and transfer the points when you’re ready to lock in a reward seat.
American Express is a Point Hacks commercial partner. The earning and redemption of Membership Rewards points is subject to the terms and conditions of the American Express Membership Rewards program. To transfer Membership Rewards points into an airline rewards or frequent guest partner program you must be a member of the partner program. Membership of the partner program is the Card Member’s responsibility and is subject to the Terms and Conditions of the applicable program. A joining fee may apply.