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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? – April 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our April 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

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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:

Amex American Express Business Gold card

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

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.

Comments (58)

  • Youngtraveller says:

    I used it on a flight back from Singapore to London once. It was at 1/2 price so instead of 38,000 was 19,000 for economy but not sure how often they have those deals.

  • Neil says:

    Shocking devaluation considering everyone is sitting on a ton of miles at the moment! I’ll be very interested to see if HSBC announce the same

  • C says:

    Hopefully ICC rate will not change. KrisFlyer is the only favourable transfer I’ve found from ICC MR!

    • Rob says:

      Hard to believe it won’t, given that those cards are even more generous given 1 point per $/€

      • kitten says:

        speaking of which…£1 is just about kissing $1.40 today. so juuuust about $12 on ICC gets you 12 MR’s there so 8 Krisflyer now? whereas $12 (£8) on UK card gets 8 MR’s….so same spend on UK card gets 5 and a bit Krisflyer.

      • Track says:

        But, Rob if USA Amex keep 1:1 rate… There was no announcement there.

  • Andrew says:

    Let’s hope the MR to Avios to Nectar route doesn’t play a part in any change to BA’s rate here too.

  • Trevor Gardiner says:

    So are we saying that for me, who only really use Amex points for BAEC, that we should consider getting them out of Amex? I’m sitting on 50k so…..

    • Andrew says:

      I would imagine that, like with SQ here, you will have a month’s notice so hopefully not an overnight change, giving you time to get out.

    • kitten says:

      Keeping them in Amex should mean you have other choices.

      But someone posted today BA appears to have snuck another £100 onto the so-called ‘taxes’ on a J longhaul trip today so it looks like the devaluations are just starting.

      If anyone has a route mind and a date they’re pretty sure they would fly it they want to use avios to book or upgrade I’d advisr you to book it sooner than later.

      If you voluntarily change date later you would be caught by a BA taxes or price increase and would have to pay the re-price. If BA cancelled, you would pay nothing more on a re-route to a later date even if BA’s prices or taxes have gone up meanwhile.

      Booking on avios now the most you are losing is the cancellation fee if you decide to cancel and it locks in the price.

      • G1712 says:

        Where can I find the discussion on the £100 increase in ‘taxes’? Just done a dummy search and it appears to be the case!

  • Phillip says:

    Big shame as I transferred a lot to Krisflyer. They have excellent availability and in addition to the above options, redemptions to Australia and NZ are also very reasonable. Hopefully they are considering “bonus” transfers again… now at a 1:1 rate! Seeing as they were the only airline to try and push a 15% bonus on transfers in a very long time back in December, I thought the risk of devaluation was small for now. Wrong!

    • Chris says:

      Sorry if I am missing something here but the actual mileage required isn’t being devalued, right? I have had my eyes on the UK-GCC redemptions for a while, more so now that i’m moving to Dubai. Guessing i’ll transfer a slug of MR’s across now.

      • Phillip says:

        I was referring to devaluation of the transfer rate as opposed to an overall chart devaluation. You are right, no change to the redemption chart.

  • BuildBackBetter says:

    Krisflyer rapidly going down my list of preferred programs.
    1. Rarely release more than 2 seats in business class for redemption
    2. Hard 3 year rule expiry of miles
    3. Zero availability on Virgin Atlantic
    4. Poor availability on star alliance metal
    Their extension of miles during COVID has been confusing at best.

    • Matt B says:

      5. Cant pool points with family…..

      • kitten says:

        6. on some routes like SIN-AKL they would only release award seats on cr*p really old planes (ie 77x vs A380). Not sure if they stopped that.

  • Russ says:

    Let’s hope this isn’t the thin end of the wedge….

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