Get 15,000 Etihad Guest miles & £50 via their credit card – and a 20% bonus on partner conversions

MBNA has launched its first enhanced credit card sign-up bonus of 2016 – and it is only October!  (I am excluding the Virgin cards here, which tend to move around to match the British Airway Amex bonus.)

This is good news.  The introduction of interchange fee capping seemed to signal the death of additional bonuses for signing up, as the cards already look unsustainable in their current form.  The rewards on offer can no longer be funded by a capped 0.3% cut on transactions.

The excellent news is that MBNA has launched special deals on the Etihad card (covered today) and the Lufthansa card (see HFP tomorrow).

Etihad launched their UK credit card back in May 2013. Even accounting for the fact that the card was free, the sign-up bonus was a little underwhelming – 5,000 Etihad Guest miles.

Since then they have run various temporary promotions which saw the bonus pitched at 12,000, 17,000 and 20,000 miles.  Just before the interchange cap came in last Winter, they launched the most generous mileage offer on a free UK credit card since American Airlines offered 35,000 miles back in April 2013 – 25,000 Etihad Guest miles.

I doubt we will be seeing 25,000 Etihad Guest miles again.  However, the new bonus of 15,000 Etihad Guest miles – for a FREE credit card – is excellent.

There is also a second carrot.  Applicants will receive a £50 voucher towards a hotel booking with  There is no small print – no minimum spend, no minimum number of nights.

Full details are on the Etihad website here.  The deadline to apply is November 30th.

The card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable.  The interest rate was ‘just’ 18.9% until the interchange fee cap came in.  You should NOT be getting this card – or any loyalty credit card, to be frank – if you are likely to run a balance.

Etihad card

Here are the key facts:

The cards are a double pack of American Express and Visa

There is no annual fee

You earn 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.75 miles per £1 on the Visa

The issuer is MBNA, so no churning – it is likely you won’t be able to get another bonus in the future on this card if you apply now

And the rules for this promotion:

You receive the standard 5,000 miles for spending £250 within 30 days

You receive an additional 10,000 miles for spending £2,000 within 90 days

All in all, the targets are very reasonable, especially as spend on the both the Amex and Visa cards count towards the target.

That’s the good news – now for the bad

Etihad Guest underwent a major devaluation in July 2015.

You can find full details in my article here.   These are the new prices for a redemption (return) between London and Abu Dhabi:

Before 8th July:

  • Economy:  62,044 miles
  • Business:  87,952 miles
  • First:  110,452 miles

After 8th July:

  • Economy:  62,044 miles plus $100 fuel surcharge
  • Business:  131,928 miles plus $200 fuel surcharge
  • First:  175,465 miles plus $300 fuel surcharge

If you want to check the pricing on other routes, the online Mileage Calculator is here.

These were big increases.  There is no disguising it.  An increase of 50% in the miles required for a business class redemption – plus introducing a surcharge – was having a laugh.  The Avios devaluation only resulted in a 25% increase in Club World pricing if you flew off-peak.

Of course, you should look at these numbers in the context of Avios.  Given a choice between using 120,000 Avios + £500 of charges to fly Club World to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, versus 132,000 Etihad Guest miles + around £350 of charges to fly the A380 or Boeing 787 Business Class Studio it is still no contest. Etihad Guest also gives you free chauffeur transfers in Business Class and First Class at both ends as well.


What can you now do with your 15,000 sign up miles?

There is no point in earning these miles unless you have a plan to spend them.  Etihad has a number of airline partners you can redeem on but most are impractical for a UK resident.

If you thought that you could put through enough spend to reach a total of 66,000 miles, you would be able to redeem for a one-way Business Class Studio flight to Abu Dhabi on the A380.  I genuinely believe that this is the best business class experience currently available.  I recommend reading my review of the Business Studio on the new A380 aircraft.

A 20% bonus on partner miles conversions

Etihad is currently offering a 20% bonus if you convert miles from selected third parties into Etihad Guest.

The list of partners offering a 20% bonus is here.

The downside is that American Express in the UK is NOT included.  Etihad partners with American Express Membership Rewards and you can top up your account via them at 1:1 but you will not get a bonus.

You WOULD get a 20% bonus on transfers from Heathrow Rewards and the major hotel schemes.  Even Starwood Preferred Guest is included, so you get the standard 5,000 bonus miles for moving 20,000 Starwood points and then a further 20% on top.

HSBC Premier is also a partner although not included in the 20% deal.  You can get 20,000 Etihad Guest miles by signing up for the £195 HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard and a further 20,000 miles after a year if you managed to spend £12,000.  You must be a HSBC Premier current account customer to apply for this.

Is it worth pushing spend into Etihad Guest?

If you are starting from scratch, this promotion is probably best if you are a solo traveller and have access to some Amex Membership Rewards points to top up your account.

Some other points to think about:

Remember that Business Class and First Class redemptions come with free chauffeur transfers in Abu Dhabi (they will take you to Dubai if you want) and at 25 of their other outstations, including London.

You can use American Airlines miles to book Etihad flights. If you got enough miles via this promotion for one ticket, you could potentially use any AA miles you have for a second person or to come back.

Etihad has PointsPay. If you can’t redeem for a flight, you can transfer them to a ‘virtual’ (or indeed physical) Visa card at the rate of 0.41p per mile. Not great, but you are effectively trading them for cash, making the sign-up bonus worth £60.

The miles will expire after two years – this will happen even if you have further activity on your account.

If you decide to apply, I recommend you join Etihad Guest first via this link and put your number on the application form. If you don’t, Etihad will open an account for you and it may take you a lot of telephone calls to find out the number and PIN.

The application page is here.  My full review of the Etihad credit card – which has been updated to reflect this offer – is here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker even though MBNA does not pay me a penny!  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. And don’t forget you only need 75% of the miles required for a redemption as you can buy the rest at checkout for a very reasonable 0.59p per mile IIRC.

  2. Could my OH and I both apply and pool our points for a solo redemption?

    • You can set up a household account and all the miles go to the lead account :)
      I have done this with mine and Mrs Yuff’s accounts.
      F ow LHR-AUH is 65,800 miles at 75%. We have some flights next week, 2 F and 2J worked out at 460k, return, and just over £2k in miles and taxes 😉
      Chauffeur has to be taken within 12hrs of departing flight, and on arrival, which meant as we are staying in AUH, on arrival, we couldn’t use the chauffeur to Dubai.

  3. Can you transfer AirBerlin TopBonus points into Etihad Guest miles ? With the 20% bonus ?

    If one already holds a different MBNA card, will this 15,000 miles bonus be received ?

    As an aside, AirBerlin recently launched a promo offering up to (IIRC) 12,000 points for supplying them with 12 email addresses of ‘friends’. This was supposed to run until the end of the year but they stopped it after only a couple of weeks.


  4. Seems to suggest reward tickets are not eligible for chauffeur service, or is there a workaround? From August, not available for AA redemptions I think….

    • That’s not how I read it. The terms state:-
      The Etihad chauffeur service IS available to the following guests:-
      2. Etihad Guest members redeeming their miles to travel on First or Business Class.

      Note business saver fares are not eligible as these are promo cash tickets.

      • The bit that says you are not entitled to a chauffeur:-
        For guests who are waitlisted or travelling on a reward ticket on an Etihad Airways flight.

        This refers to those who book using a non Etihad reward scheme. For example partner frequent flyer schemes such as AA. If you book using Etihad Guest mikes in Business or First then you will get the free chauffeur.

  5. I had the Etihad Guest card and cancelled it last December – am I likely to get the bonus if I order the free card? Is there a way to check whether the bonus is payable?

    • Not very likely, MBNA does not like churn. After a couple of years you should be ok.

  6. Am surprised with the MBNA ‘No Churning’ thing you mentioned above. I have managed to successfully churn on the Virgin Black card. After 2 yrs of having the card, I cancelled it in March when the anniversary was coming up. While cancelling it I spoke to the agent who confirmed that if I reapply and am successful, I will get the bonus. He said that I could reapply the same day after cancelling my current card. Sure enough, I reapplied a month later and got the bonus.

  7. I had some Etihad Guest miles expiring earlier this year so used the shopping portal and converted them into a Michelin Starred tasting menu at Club Gascon at Smithfields. It was 20k miles for two people and I think the list price was somewhere around £120. It was actually a lovely experience and a really nice restaurant.

    20k should be easily achievable with the sign up bonus and a little more spend.

  8. Is the SPG credit card effectively offering 30,000 Marriott points for £75?

    With the £:$ exchange rate so poor, I need to plan carefully for next years summer holidays!

    Those 30,000 points seem to be worth around $300 in some Marriott hotels…

  9. rata

  10. OT wasn’t there some talk of HSBC points 50% bonus for converting? Can’t see it anywhere

  11. Axel heyst says:

    The major benefit of this card – Etihad Silver after one flight – was unfortunately altered so it no longer allows fast track and lounge access from Jan 17.

  12. It’s not much but still better than a poke in the eye… if you join Etihad Guest between 4-20 Oct there’s a 500 mile welcome bonus

  13. JamesLHR says:

    Got this yesterday by email too, an extra 500 miles if you sign up to Etihad Guest:

    We’ve made joining
    Etihad Guest even more rewarding by aligning
    tier benefits across all Etihad Airways
    Partners – Etihad Airways, airberlin, Alitalia,
    Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional,
    Jet Airways and NIKI.

    That’s a total of eight airlines flying to over
    400 destinations worldwide, enabling you to:

    Collect Etihad Guest Miles
    wherever you fly
    Spend miles on free flights, cabin class
    upgrades, or luxury gift items from
    our Reward Shop.

    Enjoy seamless benefits
    with each airline
    Whether it’s priority boarding in Paris,
    lounge access at Abu Dhabi Airport
    or extra luggage
    allowance from Berlin to Bangkok – your
    privileges are the same.*

    Join Etihad Guest today – and we’ll
    welcome you with 500 bonus miles.**

  14. OT: Am I allowed to transfer my wife’s Amex MR points to my BAEC account?

    • Not sure. If you have the same surname, however, you can transfer to your Iberia account.

  15. ” You should NOT be getting this card – or any loyalty credit card, to be frank – if you are likely to run a balance.”

    Don’t agree with this – some cards have 0% interest on purchases. E.g. Lloyds Avios has 0% on purchases for 24 months which is very valuable, especially if you get a decent credit limit. Disclaimer: this is not financial advice!

  16. Your comment “The issuer is MBNA, so no churning – it is likely you won’t be able to get another bonus in the future on this card if you apply now” has rung alarm bells for me.

    I recently took out the Virgin Atlantic White card offer, having cancelled a previous account 7 months ago. I was hoping to get the 10000 bonus, am I being niaive?

    • No, the Virgin card has different rules it seems. Or, more precisely, the ‘no churning’ wording mysteriously disappeared a few months ago on that card ….

  17. We combine my account, my wife’s and daughter’s so that helps offset my paying for 3 x business tickets (just a little :)) but it does sort of tie you to Etihad, which is more expensive on redemptions as Rob pointed out.

    However, redemption mileages are not set in stone and change in relation to the cash fare. For instance, I expect the redemption mileage to be heavily reduced with the 20% off sale announced today for trips up to mid December.

  18. morning rob….

    where is the review of the lufthy credit card as promised! :-)

    • Looks like tomorrow now … although now I’ve painted myself into a corner because I am lacking a killed ‘lead’ story for Friday having front-loaded the good stuff this week!

  19. captain_sloth says:

    I haven’t had an MBNA card for a years (I’m currently living in Australia and solely focussed on SQ redemptions). If I was thinking about amassing Etihad guest points which MBNA card is better – the AAdvantage or the Etihad guest?