Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits and pieces: Amex capping airline MR transfers, Emirates crazy surcharges, Jumeirah via Amex MR

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I was putting together our Easter holiday in Dubai for 2015 yesterday.  (We have family there which is why we go often, it is not a failure of imagination on our part!)

Three interesting things popped up whilst I was doing the necessary transfers:

American Express is imposing caps on Membership Rewards transfers into certain airline schemes from January

The Membership Rewards website is now saying that the UK scheme will cap transfers into the following airlines at 1 million points per calendar year:

  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Asia Miles

Oddly, transfers to Delta will not be capped – even though Delta is imposing a 1 million point cap in the US from January.

This will obviously only impact a very small number of people.  That said, if it will only impact a few people, why bother imposing a cap at all?  And whose idea was it, Amex or the airline?  It also sets a nasty precedent if the caps are reduced downwards in future years.

Emirates A380

Emirates Skywards ‘taxes and charges’ are getting insane

If you thought British Airways Executive Club had gone overboard with taxes and spurious charges, it has nothing on Emirates Skywards.

The tax per person for a business class redemption to Dubai is now £658.

It makes the BA figure of £517 look reasonable.

To put this in comparison though, I just booked an Etihad redemption to Abu Dhabi and the tax was just over £200 in business class.  Almost all of this was UK Air Passenger Duty.

The snag is that Etihad only ever makes TWO business class seats per flight open for redemption.  This means that, for our family holiday purposes, it is a non-starter.

Jumeirah beach

The Jumeirah hotel group remains an Amex International Currency Card partner

Jumeirah pulled out of the UK Membership Rewards programme last year.  This was a blow as, if you are heading to Dubai, Jumeirah operates three of the best beach resorts (five of the best if you treat Madinat Jumeirah as three hotels and not one).

Jumeirah remains a partner of the Amex International Currency Card Membership Rewards scheme.  I explained in this article how you can open an International Currency Card and transfer your Membership Rewards points from the UK scheme to the ICC scheme.

Jumeirah redemptions are an excellent use of MR points.  I just booked two nights in Abu Dhabi for 2,000 Jumeirah Sirius points.  This would require (20:1 conversion) 40,000 Membership Rewards points from the ICC Amex.

If you converted these points from the UK scheme at a $1.60 to £1 exchange rate, it would require (40,000 / 1.6) 25,000 UK Membership Rewards points.  My room would have cost £355 for cash for two nights, so I am getting almost 1.5p per UK Membership Rewards point – an excellent result.

Comments (26)

  • squills says:

    Not sure you should all get Dubai hungry. Fair enough, Raffles has family out there. And it’s not so far.

    Personally, I hate the place (having lived there 6 months) plus all of the ME – but mostly on value terms. (OK also because the locals are mostly pretty patronising & unpleasant.)

    For a few quid more you could go to so many far better destinations for Winter sunshine, eg Thailand.

    At least the people there are lovely & welcoming, ‘our’ kind of people and the food is excellent.

    • Jason says:

      Squills
      I hear what you say about Dubai and tbh most of the tourists are pretty rude as well, from certain countries, in Dubai.
      But when you are travelling during school holidays in apr and oct, the far East is too far and the time difference too much, for young children, when they are straight back to school when you return.
      However, as you point out, I do not get how the hotels can charge so much, but they are always fully booked when we go!!!!!