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 points from credit cards? – November 2020 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.