25% bonus on American Express points transfers to Etihad Guest – a good deal?

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Next week I will publish the review of my recent First Class and Business Class flights to Abu Dhabi on Etihad.  It won’t be giving much away to say that I was very impressed.

I ‘paid’ for that flight using American Express Membership Rewards points transferred to Etihad Guest during a 20% bonus promotion last Autumn.   The promotion is now back and it is even more generous.

You can find full details on the Etihad website here.

Etihad First Class suite

For every Membership Rewards transfer you make to Etihad Guest before 11th March, you will receive a 25% bonus.

This is not just a UK deal.  The participating American Express cardholder countries are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Bahrain, Great Britain, Korea, Saudi Arabia, ICC/IDC and India.

I have just one note of caution.  The rules say that “Business Connect Admin are not elegible [sic] for this promotion”.  If, like me, you signed up to Business Connect when Etihad offered 10,000 miles as an incentive last year, this may disqualify you from getting the bonus.  If you are concerned, try a small transfer from Amex first and see if the bonus is applied or not.

Given that First Class seats from the UK are roughly 55,000 miles each-way, this promotion would mean you would only need roughly 44,000 Amex points.  Business Class seats, usually 44,000 miles each way, would require roughly 35,000 points to be transferred.  Remember that Etihad redemptions also include a free chauffeur service to your destination airport (100 mile radius from Heathrow, varies elsewhere) and to anywhere in Abu Dhabi or Dubai at the other end.

Taxes are minimal compared to British Airways at around £200 return.  90% of that relates to the outbound.  Tickets from Abu Dhabi to the UK are virtually tax free (£15 or so).

One downside is that Etihad tends to restrict First and Business Class redemptions seats to two per flight so this is NOT an option for a family.

Remember that Etihad has PointsPay. You can transfer your miles to a ‘virtual’ (or indeed physical) Visa card at the rate of 0.41p per mile. With the 25% bonus, this effectively means you are getting 0.5p per Etihad mile at the original conversion rate. This is still unlikely to be a great deal, of course.

To build up a big Etihad balance, you may be able to combine this with the sign-up bonus on the free Etihad UK credit card.  This is currently 5,000 miles but occasionally jumps to 15,000 miles during promotions.

You can find out more on the Etihad website here.

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  1. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    Im sure its a 100 mile driven limit and not 70 mile radius.

    • You are correct. However, you should be able to find at least two further factual errors in the post.

      • Had a good morning, Adam W?

      • Rarely difficult with HFP articles which are not about BA!

        In my defence, I was confused between the Etihad chauffeur service (100 miles) and the Emirates chauffeur service (70 miles).

        I don’t think there are any other factual errors in that article, though 🙂 The comment on only 2J and 2F being released in prefaced by the word ‘tends’. The redemption rates and taxes are definitely correct because I flew one two weeks ago! The promo rules are a cut and paste from the website. Technically the Etihad chauffeur on arrival will take you anywhere in the UAE and not just Dubai and AUH but what I wrote is not actually incorrect. The PointsPay exchange rate will have moved away from the 0.41p I got last year because it is based of the £/$ rate but as my Etihad account is empty at the moment I cannot check the exact number.

  2. Etihad’s particularly useful for Australia, by the way. I’ve seen economy returns from Manchester to Perth for around 90,000 points plus the relative pittance in tax. They also codeshare on Virgin Australia flights, so the points can be used for these too (although it’s probably better to use Avios for Qantas domestic flights as they fall in the bargain distance bands).

    The combo of chauffeur service and Manchester/ Edinburgh departures is mighty handy for anyone living in the north, too.

    • smaberly says:

      That long haul price is pretty good then. 120K in C for a return to Australia from London (as opposed to 200k avios) is about as good as anyone these days (at least that is what was on the American Airlines redemption chart through Etihad Guest link above, is that right?)

      • I think (could be wrong) that AA doesn’t let you hub via the Middle East so it would two awards (Europe to Middle East, Middle East to Australasia) added together using the AA chart.

        The number of miles Etihad Guest wants – which can be booked as one award – bears no relation to what the AA chart wants.

        • In that case, ignore my comments – whatever rules AA has when redeeming its own miles should not apply if you ask Etihad Guest to redeem for you. However, how were you planning to fly this? AA does not fly to Australia does it?

          • smaberly says:

            Curiously AA’s route map shows that it doesn’t fly anywhere in the south pacific. Hadn’t thought of that (though had been lured into thinking about it cause it was on their chart). Thanks for the clarification.

        • This is correct Rob. I found out to my cost this last week when booking MAN-KUL assuming it would be 52.5k Aadvantage points, turned out to be 2 x 30k.

  3. Hi Raffles,

    I am looking to fly to dubai in May with my wife and have a large amount of avios (150k). I also have enough etihad points for one way business class return Abu Dhabi to LHR for 2 people.

    What is the better option?
    a) To book LHR to TXL (Berlin) return, reward flight saver economy on BA and then TXL to AUH business return on Air Berlin. This would cost £170 plus 118,000 avios.

    b) the alternative is outbound LHR to TXL and then business TXL to AUH. Then on return, business on etihad from AUH to LHR. This would cost 59000 avios + £102 on the outbound and approximately 90k etihad miles + £15 on the inbound. So in total 59k avios and 90k etihad miles for net cost of £117.

    • Eshaq Choudhury says:

      Options B is similar to what I’m doing later this year. For me its MAN instead of LHR. Would’ve gone with LHR on the A380 First apartment but no availability for my dates.

    • I think the key is what alternative use you have for the Etihad miles

      The airberlin price will go up 50% after April 28th so, arguably, it makes sense to use as many Avios as you can before they devalue.

      However, would you have another use for the Etihad miles? If you make regular Middle East trips then OK but remember they expire after 2 years if you have no status and cannot be extended.

      Would you use them in time? If not, perhaps you should use them for this trip. You would empty your Etihad pile (fewer other uses) and retain Avios (far more potential alternative uses).

      • Can you not extend the miles beyond 2 years by making a booking before they expire for a flight up to 11 months or so in the future. This gives you nearly three years. I previously made a date change on etihad which may allow you to extend even further

    • BallSack says:

      Burn the Avios. Keep the Etihad guest miles.

  4. BallSack says:

    Shame they’re not offering this with Avios points to Etihad Guest points !!

  5. I was wondering that. Am I reading it right that anywhere in the US including Hawaii from Europe is 50,000 in business?

    How does that compare to using AA miles?

    If I decide to transfer some now it could be a useful plan B in the event that we decide against another trip to the UAE in the next 2 years….

  6. For the record, I feel a bit of an idiot posting this, but I’m a complete Etihad noob,

    According to the routemap, the only destination from MAN and London on Etihad is Abu Dhabi?


    That’s not right… right?

  7. thesaver79 says:

    Just so you know (it could save you 1,000 MR), the points transfer is enough to activate the free 1,000 miles you receive with a newly opened account. The 1,000 free miles showed up together the bonus ones, one day after I received the original transfer.

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