Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why the only thing better than transferable points is INSTANTLY transferable points

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One of the key ideas I push on Head for Points is that transferable, or convertible, points are better than non-transferable points.

The best way to explain this is via American Express Membership Rewards points, earned from Amex Gold, Amex Platinum and the Amex Rewards Credit Card.

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.

American Express Amex Platinum card

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 Point, 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 (Virgin Points 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.  This article looks at the 41 Marriott Bonvoy airline partners.

I do NOT include Nectar on this list, because transfers between Nectar and Avios are 2-way.  It doesn’t matter where your points sit, because you can move them in either direction.

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 UK Avios partner which allows instant transfers – Capital On Tap, via their Business Rewards Visa card for SMEs.  You can learn more about Capital On Tap’s Avios earning credit card hereThere is a bonus worth 10,500 Avios for signing up.

Instant transfers from Membership Rewards to Delta SkyMiles

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
  • Marriott Bonvoy

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 Skywards 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? – October 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 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

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 (19)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris Heyes says:

    OOOooo Rob I’m so very sorry I didn’t realise the agony you must be going through
    Plus I Don’t think there is a cure for it, not yet anyhow ?
    Hope you haven’t inflicted it on your kids ?
    There are lots of teams to support out there, such as Bognor Regis Town ?
    Who would really want to support “Arsenal”
    Sorry again lol

  • KBuffett says:

    Thanks Rob.

    Does Heathrow Rewards still exist? Can one transfer out ? If so, I may clear out my account.

  • Ben says:

    Transferred some Amex rewards to Marriott bonvoy last week – appeared to transfer instantly.
    Used them at the Grand Universe Lucca – can thoroughly recommend for anyone looking for a Tuscany city break now travel has opened up (if Italy relaxes their isolation restrictions). Cat 4 so was 25,000 points vs. 300 euro room rate, seemed like a decent deal.

    • Rob says:

      A reader has offered to review this for us, hopefully coming soon.

      • Harry T says:

        Don’t do it, Rob, look what happened to the Langley categories after HFP reviewed it 😂

    • Harry T says:

      Yeah, if you’ve transferred to Bonvoy before it now seems to be instant.

  • Mouse says:

    Can I just be the first person to ostentatiously use the word pluripotent

  • Lawro says:

    @Rob – Marriott transfers now appear to be almost instant based on 5/6 transfers done over the last couple of months.

  • DavidB says:

    Aeroplan is a MR partner for North American cardholders and transfers are instant. However I question the value of hotel points. For 50K Bonvoy points I can get one $500 night while the same number of Delta miles I can get a $2500+ business class ticket across the Atlantic or Pacific. So the value proposition always favours transfer to airline programs.

    • Doug M says:

      Agreed. But I find it generally much harder to earn hotel points (IHG aside) than airline ones.

    • QFFlyer says:

      Same with Virgin Australia for Aussie cardholders. Transfers from Amex Australia to hotel programmes is horrible value, so airlines win hands down, but there’s no hotel credit cards here any more and limited other opportunities to earn them (Commbank and Citi Prestige, I think), so I assume some people might make use of them.

  • Waribai says:

    How long do Marriott Transfers take the first time?

    • Waribai says:

      So, I registered and transferred the points this morning and they are already there…

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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