Amex Stopped Charging Taxes to Transfer Points to Miles

An interesting side effect of the failure of Congress to re-authorize the FAA, in addition to airlines not charging federal taxes on ticket sales, is that the American Express Membership Rewards program is not charging their fee (which ostensibly recoups taxes) on transfers to U.S. frequent flyer mile programs.

Normally Amex charges $0.0006 per point (capped at $60 per 100,000 miles transferred) when moving points to U.S. airline mileage programs. The fee isn’t charged when transferring to hotel programs or to non-U.S. programs like British Airways and Singapore Krisflyer.

That means if you’re considering a transfer to a U.S. program like Delta or Continental (before the Amex-Continental relationship ends September 30), this is a good time to do it – save yourself up to $60.

To me the transfer fees are annoying, but the lack of fees aren’t a reason to transfer now — unless you were already going to move points over to Continental before their relationship ends, and this just accomplishes that goal for less money. I’d rather pay the fee later and retain the flexibility of having points in Amex than transfer now and lock in where my miles are while not knowing who is going to have the award availabilty when I need to book.

In other words, for most this won’t influence behavior a whole lot. But I’m glad to see Amex not ‘recouping taxes’ that they aren’t being charged.

Presumably mileage purchases with airlines directly shouldn’t incur a fee either, but I haven’t checked whether the airlines have removed taxes from these transactions or not.

(HT: SFOCanuck)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I had planned to move mine over to CO. Took advantage of the tax-free transfer and did it today. They were even nice enough to accelerate availability of pending points for me.

  2. Thanks for the heads up! My wife and I transferred over 100,000 points today tax free.

  3. Thanks Gary – I lietrally almost pressed click on a transfer to CO last night – but fell asleep…then I saw your post today = you saved me $166 🙂

  4. thanks Gary.
    I have been reading about this, but nice to know it is actually happening.
    I did not know that the transfer to BA has no taxes anyway.
    Reading your blog everyday is sooooo helpfull. Thanks again.

  5. They are also not charging the fee for transfers to non-US airline mileage programs (i.e. BA), so I was able to save $$ and get the 50% bonus on BA xfers before 7/31.

  6. @Karl Marks it’ll almost certainly be re-instanted

    @CoGO there isn’t a fee for transfers to non-US airline prorgams to begin with. 🙂

  7. UA and CO also stopped charging the 7.5% excise tax for miles purchased from UA and CO.

  8. Hey Gary –

    Just a data point for you and others: On 7/22 I transferred 100K+ MR points over to CO for an award on hold an was charged the $99 on 7/23. I just call the Plat AmEx line and explained the situation to the CSR – who prompted credited my account.

    As you always say: It can’t hurt to ask! Thanks again for bringing this to my attention!

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