American Express Membership Rewards has added Airtran as a points transfer partner.
This new partnership makes sense as Airtran already has a meaningful partnership with American Express, offering bonus frequent flyer credits for tickets purchased using an American Express card.
It’s interesting in another way, though. Juniper Bank issues the Airtran Visa. Juniper’s partnership with USAirways is forcing the USAirways Dividend Miles program out of American Express Membership Rewards and Diners Club Club Rewards. But I guess their contract with Airtran isn’t so restrictive!
The transfer ratio is 1500 American Express points to 1 Airtran credit, which means that 24,000 Membership Rewards points buys a capacity controlled domestic reward ticket. Sounds about right. But the best use of these points isn’t going to be transferring that many for a free ticket. The way to use the partnership is to top off an Airtran account. Say you have 13 or 14 Airtran credits, transfer 2 or 3 and claim your award rather than letting the points expire. Airtran credits expire after a year.
As a simple yet obvious reminder, don’t transfer points into your Airtran account until you need them. First, because Airtran points expire. Second, because points from the current Wendys promotion may wind up overwhelming award availability.