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

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.

2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin miles for £60 Tesco Wine spend
Hats off to IAG as Iberia returns to profit - and why you may be flying it more often
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Eshaq Choudhury says:

    I just moved 25000 points the other day! 🙁

  2. anyone know if you can book a seat for a 3rd party? what is cancellation policy like?


  3. Raffles, slightly o/t but want to re-apply for my Amex gold can the get the 25% bonus. Do you know if the six month rule to apply after cancelation is calendar months, or say 13th canned re-apply on the 12th six months later. Thanks

    • I have always assumed it was down to the exact day.

      However, is your card cancelled on the day you ring? Almost certainly not. They would wait a while to see what transactions are coming down the pipe and would also send you a final statement at the end of the month. What date do they count from? I always recommend adding on at least one extra month so you are definitely OK.

      • Thanks Rob, will take your advice, was going to wait but the 25% made me rethink

      • I’ve asked Amex to send me a letter with the cancellation date in the past. Nothing to do with churning, but they were happy to do it

  4. Rob, not sure if there’s a recent post, but wonder if one day you could do something on all the various options to get most value out of Amex MR points. Airline, hotel and other partners.
    Especially as some of us will soon receive a big stash from the supplementary card offer.

    • It isn’t that simple, unfortunately, because it is driven by where you want to go, what miles balance you may already have in the scheme, what miles you have in other schemes if you only want to use MR for a one-way, availability with individual programmes, their fuel surcharges etc. The hotel schemes are easier to compare because you effectively have Starwood, Hilton and Carlson hotels in the same city, charging similar prices, and so it is easy to see which is the better MR transfer to get a free room.

  5. Elena-MuslimTravelGirl says:

    Perfect timing I was waiting for one of those to transfer points! 🙂 Couldn’t have been better.

  6. John Gallagher says:

    I’ve been sitting on 300k + Amex points waiting for a BA transfer for over 2 years.
    But with BAEC’s recent devaluation and their F service seeming to get worse and worse, I’m wondering if transferring points to BAEC to use with an Amex 2-4-1 is not the best planning now – any thoughts on a better plan to get from London to Bangkok / Singapore in F?


    • Eshaq Choudhury says:

      You might as well give Etihad a try. You’ll save hard cash in terms of taxes/fees and plus you can try out the new Etihad First Apartments. With this 25% bonus, it should offset the opportunity cost from not using the 2for1 BA voucher.

    • If you’ve got the 241 and the Avios then you might as well use it. The new ‘guaranteed availability’ should mean you can get 2 Club World seats with little bother although F may be trickier.

  7. Anyone know if there is a maximum number of MBNA cards you can have? I already have the AA and Lufthansa ones. Would be interested in this card if the sign up bonus was increased.
    Plus, does anyone know the rules on Etihad miles expiring.?


    • I’ve got Diamond Club (Amex and MasterCard separately), plus the AA, Virgin and Etihad Amex + MasterCard packages, so I think you should be fine.

      Etihad miles expire two years after you earn them regardless of activity, so that’s a negative point for their scheme.

    • The answer is five cards.

      Etihad miles expire in 3 years (36 months) from the time credited. Nothing extends them. Hard expiry.

      Do not rush into Etihad card, without bonus. Plus, there are perks like double miles if you buy Business Class tickets within 90 days after opening, so one has to plan.

      • More detail on Etihad miles expiry,

        Etihad Guest Miles will have a validity period of 2 years for Etihad Guest members, 2.5 years for Etihad Guest Silver members and 3 years for Etihad Guest Gold and Etihad Guest Gold Elite members. Unused Etihad Guest Miles will expire on the last date of the month in which they were earned. Please refer to 6.1.16 here: http://bit.ly/1d4XORf

  8. I’ve visited Dubai and wasn’t particularly impressed – but, Raffles, I blame you for the fact I want to use this promotion just to fly there and back in First class!

    • You need to stay in a good quality beach resort. It is a bit pointless otherwise from a tourism viewpoint in my view.

      • What are prices like for food and drink etc? I’m toying with the idea of a trip to Dubai with my wife and 6 month old baby but I don’t want to get there and be stuck in a hotel paying silly money to be fed and watered. Are there a wide range of bars and restaurants to eat at – are they reasonably priced and are they in walking distance of jumeirah beach etc?

        • Depends where you go. The shopping malls are UK prices, hotel prices generally seem in line with what you pay for a similar-star level of hotel in the UK. Starbucks etc is UK priced. The issue is that if you are on the Palm or one of the Jumeirah hotels then there is nowhere within walking distance outside the hotels because the resorts are huge and its too far to walk. That said, taxis are effectively free in Dubai so its not a major strain to drive somewhere. If you down by the Marina then everything is more compact.

          Try to get breakfast included in your rate because it is almost certainly cheaper than buying in the hotel. You also don’t want to be leaving your hotel for breakfast, frankly. Brekky was £35 in Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago, for example, but that is the best hotel in the city, it was a ludicrously eye-popping spread and I didn’t pay because I have a Jumeirah Silver card. If I had to pay, I would have gone to the café in the shopping centre in the basement and paid £5.

        • Why are taxis effectively free? Or are they just very cheap?

        • Very cheap. 20 minute ride from Emirates Towers to Madinat Jumeirah is £7 for example. Madinat Jumeirah to Mall of the Emirates is £2.

          They have Uber too if you have the Uber app on your phone.

        • I know raffles likes Jumeirah hotels because of points etc. not having as many points as raffles we like the Atlantis on the Palm, which has a great water park for entertainment for kids, albeit not for a 6 month old, but in a few years it will work well.
          They also have a fantastic kids club( included free for imperial club rooms), but I believe the one and only has the best kids club, on the palm.
          If you go for an imperial room, out of school holidays, you can pick up a room for around £250 a night, some travel agents can do HB as well, plenty of restaurants to choose from as well as shops.

        • One&Only on The Palm is struggling a bit because of location. It is literally the furthest point from the mainland. When we stayed next door two years ago it took 13 minutes in a taxi to get onto the mainland (then you add on the journey time to where you want to go). Traffic on the Palm has got even worse since then.

          Fantastic hotel by all accounts but you need to go there with no real intention of leaving it during your stay. Same with Jumeirah Zabeel Saray next door where we were.

  9. Perfect timing… IF the 10k MR points per supplementary card ever post!

  10. thesaver79 says:

    The MR website doesn’t seem to mention the promotional bonus. Should I call Amex to make the transfer or will it just go through if I make it online?

    Also, is my understanding correct that, if you fly into Abu Dhabi with Etihad or AirBerlin, you could get the chaffeur service to transfer you to and from Dubai?

    • It isn’t an Amex promotion, that’s why. Amex probably doesn’t even condone it! However, they can’t stop Etihad from offering this if they want – and thus making Amex pay them a large amount of money!

      Yes, the chauffeur goes to Dubai. It isn’t very far, only about 45 minutes. If you staying near the Palm or Marina in Dubai, flying to Abu Dhabi is just as quick once you factor in the extra 15 minutes (at least) you will need for the monster walk and queueing to clear immigration at Dubai vs Abu Dhabi.

      • thesaver79 says:

        There are just so many “cheap” luxury options for hotels in Abu Dhabi…

        • True. If you want pure leisure, Emirates Palace still seems the way to go unless you stay out on Saadiyat at the Park Hyatt, St Regis etc.

        • thesaver79 says:

          I quite like the Sofitel too, based on what I’ve seen.

        • thesaver79 says:

          46000 MR transferred yesterday, which I’ll use too book First back from Abu Dhabi. Thinking of getting there from TXL with AirBerlin. Nice to try a different product and spend fewer Avios.

          I’m pretty certain I’ll chose the Sofitel. It looks lovely and far cheaper than other luxury hotels. For about £160 I’ll probably get an upgrade, breakfast and access to the lounge. They’re also very close to the beach and they offer a shuttle bus.

        • I was out in Abu Dhabi in September/ November, researching hotels for an article. The Emirates Palace pools and rooms are extraordinary, but the place feels *too* big. You spend most of the time walking through cavernous empty corridors.

          The St Regis Saadiyat felt a little cold too. Jumeirah Etihad Towers was probably my favourite of the top end ones. In the lower price brackets, the Yas Viceroy is unexpectedly hip and in the middle of the Formula One track (great for theme and water parks and nearer airport if just doing a stopover), a little too detached from anything else. The Hilton and Beach Rotana are surprisingly good, affordable resorts for the money. On the cheap, the Hala Arjaan is probably the best bet.

        • thesaver79 says:

          I take you haven’t been at the Sofitel then?

  11. Note that you can also use Etihad miles to book air berlin, air seychelles, amongst others.

    I’m a bit surprised that you can’t book AA flights, given that you can book Etihad flights using AA miles.

  12. Update…actually, you can redeem Etihad miles for AA flights, it just doesn’t appear in the same section as the rest of the partner airlines. The redemption rates are here:-


    • 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….

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

        • smaberly says:

          Apologies if I wasn’t clear. The chart I was looking at is the Etihad Guest chart that relates to redemptions on American Airlines as linked here (from above):


          On this chart there is a Europe sub-chart that then shows ‘south pacific’ as 60k one way in C. Is this then simply a case of Etihad not being able to deliver an award flight that is on their chart at that cost (because of a special restriction AA would place on them when they go to book it on your behalf)?

        • 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.

  15. 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.

  16. BallSack says:

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

  17. 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?

  18. 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.