Qatar joining Amex Membership Rewards? … and other Amex MR shenanigans

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(EDIT:  Virgin has now reappeared on the Amex Eurodollar website.  Apparently it was taken down for a few days for technical reasons but normal service is now resumed.)

There are a few ‘things’ ‘going on’ with the airline partners attached to the American Express International Dollar and International Euro cards at the moment.  I thought it was worth a mention as such changes often filter down to the separate national cards eventually.

International Dollar and International Euro Amex cards are available in almost every country in the world, albeit they are run from Brighton!  You can find more details here – that link shows the Platinum version but they come in Gold and Green too.

For the miles and points collector, the attraction is the Membership Rewards tableYou can transfer your UK Membership Rewards points balance to an IDC card and receive a bonus based on the £/$ exchange rate.  The last move I did was at $1.58 to the £1 so I got a 58% bonus on the points.

Most airline transfer rates are adjusted from 1:1 to 3:2 to compensate for this, so there is minimal benefit.  However, the following airline partners let you transfer 1:1 from the IDC Membership Rewards programme into your airline account. This means (because of the 50% uplift when you move your points from the UK to IDC MR programmes) you effectively get a 50% transfer bonus.

  • Alitalia (SkyTeam)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (oneworld)
  • Finnair (oneworld)
  • Malaysia Airlines (oneworld) (not in the UK MR scheme at all)
  • Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)

On the hotel front, Jumeirah Sirius is a transfer partner of the Amex IDC programme whilst it is not a UK partner.  All of our Middle East holidays are funded with points transfers from UK Membership Rewards to IDC Membership Rewards to Jumeirah Sirius.

Amex Green

What has changed?

Amex has made a few changes to the airline partners on the Dollar and Euro cards:

Qatar Privilege Club has joined as a partner.  The transfer rate is 3:2.  This is not a surprising move as Amex has already attracted Etihad and Emirates as Membership Rewards partners.   I’m not sure what benefit this brings at the moment – as a oneworld member, there is nothing you can book via Qatar Privilege Club that you can’t book with Avios.  There may be some fuel surcharge advantages.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles has disappeared as a partner.  This may be temporary as it disappeared from the US Membership Rewards site recently, only to reappear after a few days.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has disappeared as a partner.  This is a bit of a surprise, to be honest.

Note that is NO news at the moment about Qatar Airways joining the UK Membership Rewards programme or Cathay leaving it – although Qatar has clearly become closer to Amex.

There is one other IDC change.  Hilton HHonors has devalued from 2:3 to 4:5.  It was a slightly better deal than the 1:2 offered by the UK scheme but it now a little worse, adjusting for £/$ exchange rate.  Again, to be clear, there are NO public plans to change the UK Amex transfer rate to Hilton.

I wrote about how to get an International Dollar Card American Express here if you want to know more.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Mr Bridge says:

    I wonder if virgin going fropm amex, has anything to do with the ba/amex relationship, in-line with diamond club reducing its ba booking miles.

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      I think there’s some clarification here: It’s not going from Amex, it’s going from being a partner on the Euro and US cards, at least I hope so.

  2. Christian says:

    Cathay Pacific was only temporarily removed from the partner list it would seem. Although Cathay Pacific has disappeared from the list in the travel partners section, if you search for them in the Airline Transfer Partners section, they still appear and in fact, they are listed in the Airline Transfer Partners when checked today. I transferred membership reward points to Cathay last Thursday (5th March 2015), and they hit my account on Wednesday this week.

    The whole American Express Membership Rewards transfer process is terribly flawed though. To undertake an online transfer you have to choose a delivery country, and it would seem that this codes your transfer partner in some way. If it’s the wrong ‘code’, the transfer will fail and American Express will ask you why you chose it! I was originally transferring to Malaysia Airlines and that failed twice (once online – for the reason stated earlier, once by phone because my membership number was missing the ‘MH’ prefix), American Express did not notify me that my transfer had been rejected, and only about 1 in 3 agents appear to be able to get to the bottom of why the transfer failed.

    I decided to move to Cathay Pacific instead as their Oneworld awards are cheaper and Malaysia have just increased their spectacularly good value award to be just as average as other airline schemes (and that is despite the promotional awards they have on some destinations including Perth, Adelaide, Beijing, Osaka and several more). The answer is to phone American Express, the agents are pretty helpful, though their knowledge levels seem to vary considerably, get them to do the transfer and be sure to give them your full airline programme membership number as it appears on your card. I can’t guarantee that this will work, but it should help!

    • Thanks Christian, this is very interesting. I tried to do a Malaysia transfer over Christmas. It failed but the agent had no idea why. Amex did not ring me to say the transfer had failed and did not even recredit my points until I rang a couple of weeks later to ask what was going on. The friend who was going to use the points had by then made alternative arrangements so I did not pursue it.

  3. Phill Ramsay says:

    Any idea when the removal of virgin is happening, I can still see them as an option to transfer my points to when I log into MR. I was counting on 10k from the plat additional card being transferred into my flying club account. Looks like at this rate I will be waiting the full 90 days for the 10k to be credited and then not able to transfer to virgin!

  4. John Gallagher says:

    some advice please>>>>

    I’m not happy flying BA F to Singapore (my preios F experiences on BA have never been good) but only do it when utilising BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher.
    I was thinking of transferring Amex points to BA before 28th April to lock-in my next trip at current Avios rates of 210k return + circa £1,100 for 2 persons.

    If I utilised the Amex International Dollar card ‘trick’ above – how many UK Amex points and how much cash would it be for 2 people in F on SQ to fly LHR-SIN return and how easy is it to get Saver seats on this route?

    Hope this makes sense (I do not currently have a Krisflyer account so cannot check availability or cost)

  5. Matthew says:

    If you were looking to book suites class on the A380, then its 182,750 Krisflyer miles per person LHR-SIN return plus £439.86pp taxes and surcharges. This takes into account the 15% discount in miles needed when booking your award flight online.

    If you went in business class (which is very highly regarded) then you require 136,000 Krisflyer miles pp plus £426.66pp taxes and charges.

    The savvy option is to fly AMS-SIN in business which is 102,000 Krisflyer miles pp plus £261.58pp taxes and charges but not only do you save miles but also UK APD.

    Doing a quick calculation based on 2 people and 1.5 exchange rate you would need the following UK Amex MR points pre conversion:-

    LHR-SIN rtn in Suites for 2 people = 243,667 UK MR
    LHR-SIN rtn in Business for 2 people = 181,334 UK MR
    AMS-SIN rtn in Business for 2 people = 136,000 UK MR

    Availability is definitely better than BA and the further out you book the better chance you have at securing the exact day you want. They also release more than 2 business seats on the A380s. Note all these miles above are based on the ‘saver’ levels.

    Hope that helps!

    • Thanks Matthew.

      I am doing the Singapore B777 business class with my kids and our nanny (don’t ask where my wife will be 🙂 ) in late May so there will be a report on that. Annoyingly, it was cheaper to book First Class Suites than Business Class – as suites were available at Saver level – but as I couldn’t split the party I had to pay the premium rate to get 4 in business.

      • Matthew says:

        No problem! Ouch… Shame you couldn’t split it! I’ve been doing a lot of research lately with an Sq redemption and trying to find more than 2 seats in business is tough. I’ve only ever found more than 2 on the A380. I’m not sure, however, if they release more close in or if that’s it!

    • John Gallagher says:

      Thank you Matthew – most helpful

      another angel – should I be looking at any other premium carriers to get me to Singapore in F which I can transfer my Amex points into and get a better or deal e.g. Etihad?

      • It’s a shame you missed the Etihad 25% Amex transfer bonus which ended last week, although it will be back I’m sure.

        • John Gallagher says:

          I did contemplate transferring ti Etihad when the bonus was live but never got round to it 🙁

          That coupled with the current 25% discount would have been a no-brainer

  6. Matthew says:

    I’ve recently applied for the International Dollar Card and my application is being processed. However, I received a call today saying that my first year will not be free as I currently hold another Amex charge card. I thought they didn’t count the UK one for that?

    Anyone else had the same experience?

  7. Apparently the Virgin Partner option has been disabled temporarily for “technical reasons” and will be reinstated shortly.

  8. CAPECAM says:

    I need to do a tier points run with BA /QR ideally to Manila where i have some business to do – I know Copenhagen and Stockholm were offering some great value QR business class fares, but these seem to have expired. Are there any routes ffrom any European cities that currently offer good value for QR to Asia -a R/T in business will sort out my gold list card for 2015/2016 !

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