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Amex cutting KrisFlyer transfer rate to 3:2 – will others follow?

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American Express has just announced that the transfer rate from Membership Rewards points to the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme will change from 1st April.

It will drop from the current 1:1 to 3:2.

In itself, this is not a major disaster. What is potentially a problem is that someone has now broken ranks. Where one partner goes, others may choose to follow.

Your chance to fly the new Singapore Airlines A380 First Class, which we toured here, may now be gone:

As a reminder, here are the current American Express Membership Rewards airline partners in the UK.

1 Membership Rewards point gets you:

  • 1 Avios (into BA or Iberia)
  • 1 Alitalia mile (SkyTeam)
  • 1 Asia Mile (oneworld)
  • 1 Delta mile (SkyTeam)
  • 1 Etihad mile (no alliance)
  • 1 Emirates mile (no alliance)
  • 1 Finnair mile (oneworld)
  • 1 Flying Blue mile (SkyTeam)
  • 1 Qantas Point (oneworld)
  • 1 SAS mile (Star Alliance)
  • 1 Singapore Airlines mile (Star Alliance)
  • 1 Virgin Point (no alliance)

You can see the pattern here ….. it’s 1:1 for everyone.

Clearly, American Express does not pay the same price per mile to all of these airlines. However, the desire by Amex to present an easy to understand reward chart and the desire by the airlines to be on par with the competition means that 1:1 has survived for MANY years.

Airlines which don’t want to play at 1:1 simply didn’t sign. This is potentially why Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Privilege Club are International Dollar Card partners but are not in the UK scheme.

1:1 is not normal if you look at Amex globally. If you look at the reward chart of the International Dollar Card, which I hold, it is a mix of 3:2 and 1:1. 3:2 makes sense with the International Dollar Card because 1 point per $1 is easier to earn than 1 point per £1. Ironically, KrisFlyer is one of the handful of airlines at 1:1 on that card.

Singapore Airlines Membership Rewards devaluation

Singapore Airlines transfers are good value

Whilst we don’t cover KrisFlyer much on Head for Points, it does have some sweet spots.

This article looks at the best deals with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles.

It is, for example, the cheapest way to get from the UK to the Middle East in Business Class using Amex points. You pay just 58,000 miles RETURN in Business Class.

Remember that British Airways wants up to 120,000 Avios on a peak day for a return Club World flight to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc.  You can use just 58,000 KrisFlyer miles, most likely routed on Lufthansa via Frankfurt or SWISS via Zurich, instead.  Other fun routings include Turkish via Istanbul and Egyptair via Cairo!

Other good options include:

  • Europe to South East Asia, at 92,000 miles one-way in Business.  You can fly direct to Singapore on Singapore Airlines for 90,000 miles, but if you can’t find seats on your dates (not unlikely) then you should get something on Thai, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish etc for just 2,000 additional miles
  • Europe to South Africa for 52,000 miles one-way in Business.   Your primary choices would be South African, Lufthansa, SWISS, Ethiopian and Turkish.
  • Europe to the Maldives is 54,500 miles one-way in Business.   Turkish is your likely airline.  Sri Lanka and India are in the same pricing zone.
  • Domestic USA / Canada flights.  Whilst not as cheap as Avios for short hops, 12,500 miles one-way in Economy or 23,000 miles one-way in Business (domestic First in the USA is priced as Business) can work out well.

And if you are prepared to start your trip in Turkey ….

  • Istanbul to Singapore is astonishingly cheap at 49,000 miles one-way in Business. Taxes are also exceptionally low – just US$55 last time I checked.

This move by Amex could be bad news …..

…. if other airlines now decide to break ranks too. For some it makes no sense. However, British Airways could make its own American Express cards more attractive by moving to a 3:2 rate from Membership Rewards.

At present, it makes more sense to get the Amex Rewards Credit Card than the free BA Amex card. The Amex Rewards Credit Card is free for life, like the BA Amex, and indirectly earns 1 Avios per £1, like the free BA Amex. You also get the flexibility to convert to all of the other Amex partners, however, removing any risk of an Avios devaluation.

This move by Amex could be good news ….

…. if it encourages other airlines into the fold. I’m sure that some airlines refused to come in because they couldn’t make 1:1 stack up financially, and you really needed to be at 1:1 because everyone else was. Could we now see hold-outs such as Lufthansa or Turkish become UK Amex partners?

Conclusion

I doubt many HfP readers ever transferred Membership Rewards points to KrisFlyer, but it did have some bargains.

It is interesting to note that the Singapore Airlines UK & Ireland country manager, Sheldon Hee, left his role on Friday. It is possible that this is part of a changing of the guard in the UK office.

This is a real headache for Star Alliance flyers in the UK. The only other Amex partner in Star Alliance is SAS, and their redemption rates are terrible if you don’t fly on SAS themselves.

There are no Star Alliance airlines with their own UK payment card at the moment. We are hoping that a new Lufthansa card appears in the Summer but it isn’t 100% guaranteed.

Let’s see if this is a one-off move or the start of an unwelcome trend. You can move your Membership Rewards points to KrisFlyer at the current 1:1 rate until the end of March.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – July 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our July 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

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BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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 offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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 card

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

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (58)

  • Alan says:

    Damn, this is a pretty major devaluation – I’ve used SQ a lot, availability to Oz/NZ was always decent in Biz/Suites, cheaper taxes than BA and massively better product too. Did a decent transfer during the December bonus, the hard expiry is really annoying but will transfer enough for an Oz return. Really hope HSBC and other airline MR partners don’t follow suit!

  • Matt B says:

    Glad I managed to get my stash of AMEX miles from £ card to the IDC$ card and pick up a 36% bonus, and then to SQ, with a 15% bonus on top of that over christmas!

    Made my 159K miles into 248K!

  • HB13 says:

    Hi Rob,
    I recall you wrote about a way to actually transfer to SQ Kris Flyer and get more points using the Amex International Currency Card. Is this still a viable method to get a better than 1:1 at the moment and in the immediate future?

    • Rob says:

      It is still viable, indeed gets more attractive every day as the £ to $ rate improves (so you get a 40% bonus at present). We don’t know if the 1:1 is going away but, of course, even if it moved to 3:2 it would be 40% better than getting 3:2 via the UK scheme.

  • Sam G says:

    Maldives on *A is very difficult so I wouldn’t advise transferring speculatively for that sweet spot. South Africa is easier as there are lots of different route options – note that Turkish is currently pretty tight on LHR seats so you might need to search from LGW

  • John says:

    Surely AMEX don’t want to push everyone onto the BA card where AMEX only earn the EU interchange cap – is that 0.3 percent? If the BA 1:1 rate changes what really is the incentive of keeping the MR card alternative?

    The non branded AMEX cards I thought generated about 3 percent for AMEX on interchange fees.

    • Rob says:

      I’m not sure who drives this, to be honest. Can the airline fix the transfer rate or does it only fix the price?

      • Track says:

        It must be AMEX. Airline is more of a consenting party. They are ones paying for points, and I think it was a good idea to keep it 1:1. The airline which requires 3:2 will be looking bad compared to others.

        We can infer that Krisflyer points became expensive — eg SQ asked for more money/point from AMEX. Makes sense if they want to keep the chart/no surcharges approach.

        It did become difficult to find availability on SQ though.

  • Dubious says:

    Krisflyer just published a 50% off redemptions sale for LHR departures to
    Malé, Colombo, Phuket, Bangkok:

    https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/gb/plan-travel/local-promotions/gb-singapore-airlines-krisflyer-offers/?

    • Dubious says:

      Book by the 8th March 2021 for travel between 2nd March and 31st October 2021.

    • Marcelo says:

      Have booked a flight to the Maldives using this offer today – tks for sharing!

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