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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.

Earning Flying Blue miles from credit cards

How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (May 2021)

Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cardsThese are:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).

Comments (64)

  • Eshaq Choudhury says:

    I just moved 25000 points the other day! 🙁

  • jason says:

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


    • Rob says:

      Yes, definitely – I did it last year for someone.

      Not sure about cancellation or changes because I’ve never had to amend an Etihad redemption.

      • Jason says:

        Hi Raffkes,
        Is it 2 redemptions in first and 2 in business per flight?

        • Rob says:

          From London it is 2 business. First can be none, 1 or 2 – as they bring in the new aircraft the numbers are moving around. I was told that some European routes, eg Munich to Abu Dhabi, have 4 business class but I have never looked into this.

  • Mycity says:

    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

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • My city says:

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

      • joe says:

        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

  • oyster says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Elena-MuslimTravelGirl says:

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

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Paul says:

    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.?


    • Louie says:

      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.

    • RIccati says:

      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.

      • RIccati says:

        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:

  • Wade says:

    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!

    • Rob says:

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

      • Mark C says:

        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?

        • Rob says:

          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.

          • David says:

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

          • Rob says:

            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.

        • Jason says:

          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.

          • Rob says:

            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.

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