Over the past few days I’ve been updating a few introductory articles to miles and points, in recognition of the fact that we get a lot of new readers in January as people start to look at planning their Summer travel.
Today I want to look at the idea of transferable vs non-transferable points.
One of the key ideas I push on Head for Points is that transferable, or convertible, points are better than non-transferable points.
You can transfer 1 American Express Membership Rewards point into 1 Avios. You might think, therefore, that 1 Amex point is worth the same as 1 Avios. IT ISN’T.
1 American Express Membership Rewards points is worth MORE than 1 Avios. This is because, as well as converting to 1 Avios, it will also convert into 1 Virgin mile, 1 Etihad mile, 1 Flying Blue mile, 2 Hilton points, 1.5 Marriott points, 3 Radisson points, 0.5p of shopping vouchers, 0.45p of statement credit etc etc.
As well as giving you more choice, transferable points are also defensive. Even if you intend to convert your Amex points to Avios, it makes sense to keep them with Amex until the last minute. If you move them to Avios and BA moves the goal posts in terms of points needed or availability then you’re stuffed.
Other convertible points currencies include:
- HSBC Premier credit card points (four airline partners plus shopping vouchers)
- Tesco Clubcard points (Avios and Virgin plus many non-travel partners)
- Heathrow Rewards (various airline partners as well as shopping discounts)
You could, arguably, include Marriott Bonvoy points in this list too. It is the only hotel scheme where you get genuine good value if you convert your points to airline miles.
So …. convertible points are worth more than non-convertible points.
That is stage one. There is a second stage however ….. INSTANTLY convertible points are worth more than all other convertible points.
One – sensible – argument against not converting your points until you need them is that the transfer takes time. Even transfers which are quick, such as American Express transfers to Avios, still require you to wait overnight. It is possible that the redemption seat you wanted may have gone when they arrive.
Some American Express Membership Rewards partners have INSTANT transfers, however. The only caveat is that you need to have already linked your accounts.
This is your dream result. You can look for the seat you want and, when you find it, move the points and immediately book without any risk of losing the seat.
There are no HSBC Premier, Tesco Clubcard or Heathrow Rewards miles partners which allow instant transfers. This is a unique Amex feature.
(There is one other Avios partner which allows instant transfers – Capital On Tap, via their Business Rewards Visa card for SMEs. You can learn more about that here.)
Which American Express partners offer INSTANT transfers?
As far as I know, the list of Membership Rewards partners which transfer instantly is:
- Delta SkyMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
The most common reason for me to take advantage of instant transfers is when some new VIP packages for Arsenal appear for redemption on the Emirates website. I accept that this is not for everyone, however!
Transferable points, such as American Express Membership Rewards and HSBC Premier points, are more valuable than non-transferable points such as Avios.
The most valuable transferable points of all are those that transfer instantly.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)