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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 (November 2020)

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, reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, reviewed here).

Comments (64)

  • James says:

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

  • 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?

    • Rob says:

      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…

        • Rob says:

          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.

          • David says:

            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?

  • tangey says:

    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.

  • Eshaq Choudhury says:

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

    • Adam W says:

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

      • Brian says:

        Had a good morning, Adam W?

      • Rob says:

        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.

  • David says:

    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?)

      • Rob says:

        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.

        • Rob says:

          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.

        • Stu says:

          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.

  • Mo-mo says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      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).

      • Gordon says:

        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.

  • BallSack says:

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

  • Mark says:

    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….