Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Two little known Amex Membership Rewards features

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When I wrote my piece on Friday about getting family and partners to apply for American Express cards so that you could both benefit from referral bonuses, I forgot to mention one additional benefit of the UK Membership Rewards programme that hardly anyone knows about.

It is possible to transfer Membership Rewards points from one UK Amex cardholder to another, on payment of a flat £15 fee.  You need to do the transfer by telephone, and both receiver and giver need to be on the line at the same time.  Apart from that, there are no restrictions – you don’t need to share the same address or surname.

This has three obvious applications if you can persuade a friend to apply for the Preferred Rewards Gold or Platinum card with their big referral bonuses:

  1. By transferring their referral bonus to you, they empty their Membership Rewards account immediately and so can cancel the card more quickly – which means a bigger fee refund.  (If you cancel an Amex card whilst you have unredeemed MR points, they will be lost after a grace period.)
  2. Whilst you can usually transfer MR points to an airline or hotel account in anyones name, this is not always 100% possible.  (I once had a transfer to a third persons mileage account rejected – forgotten which partner! – although the majority have worked as I said on Friday.)  If you have the MR points in your account, there is clearly no risk of a transfer to your Avios (or whatever programme you choose) account failing.
  3. Amex runs occasional transfer bonuses to Avios points, often 30%-40%.  Transferring their sign-up bonus to you means that you can hold the MR points and wait for the next transfer promotion with no worries.  For the person you refer, the longer they keep their MR account open waiting for a transfer bonus, the smaller the fee refund they will eventually get – on the Platinum card, that is costing them £37.50 in fees per month whilst they wait.

There is another general benefit of this transfer deal.  If a targetted Amex transfer bonus comes along and only one of you receives it, you can pool your points in the account of the one who was targetted.

The same page on the Amex website lists a second little-known feature.  You can buy up to 10,000 Membership Rewards points per 12-month period, for 1.5p each.  Again, you need to call to do this. 

This is especially useful during a transfer bonus – when Avios offered a 100% bonus on MR transfers a couple of years ago, I jumped in and topped up my MR account by 10,000 points, since I was effectively paying just 0.75p per Avios.  Even without a transfer bonus, buying MR points at 1.5p each is cheaper than buying Avios from BA at full rate.

I will try not to write about Amex Membership Rewards again for a while ….. I think that is three posts in a week!


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

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