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:
- 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 Skywards ‘taxes and charges’ are getting insane
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.
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.