One big ‘thing’ in the loyalty world in recent years has been the ability to let members redeem small amounts of points for cash or a cash equivalent.
Historially, a loyalty programme was designed to reward you after you had made a number of transactions – a bit like a coffee shop stamp card.
Today, many schemes will let you cash out small amounts for – importantly – acceptable value. You can now use as few as 5,000 Hilton Honors points to get a cash discount on your next room, or example, or use ‘Part Pay With Avios‘ to spend as few as 1,250 Avios points to get a cash saving on your next flight.
Such deals used to be terrible value and still can be. There are still people redeeming Lufthansa Miles & More miles for a toaster from their WorldShop catalogue at roughly 0.25p per mile of value! This is slowly changing though, and with Hilton Honors you’ll now get the same value per Hilton point whether you redeem 5,000 or 100,000 at once.
Etihad Guest will give you real cash for small amounts of miles
Etihad Guest has one of the most interesting schemes. It has a way of cashing out airline miles – for real cash – via the Etihad Guest Reward Card.
This model is not new. It is run by a company called Loylogic and has been around since 2012. Whilst no other airline has ever signed up, it is an interesting product.
This is how it works. You download a virtual Etihad Guest Reward Card, which is a Visa product, to your smartphone:
You can then transfer your Etihad Guest miles to the card to create a cash balance which can be spent via online shopping.
If you don’t want to use a virtual card, you can also order a plastic card which will allow in-store spending.
What is slightly odd is that, despite it being a virtual Visa card, it still takes 3-4 days to set up (it says seven but is quicker) once you have requested it.
How many £ do I get per Etihad Guest mile?
More than you might think.
Take a look at this screenshot from my account:
13,514 Etihad Guest miles – my entire balance – gets me £74. That works out at 0.55p per mile.
You can convert as few as 1,043 Etihad miles which gets you £5. However, because the 149 miles loading fee is fixed, you get a slightly better deal the more you convert.
0.55p per Etihad Guest point is certainly not outstanding – I would look to get closer to 1p if redeeming for flights. However, you are cleanly exiting your miles. A few years ago I used an Etihad Guest Reward Card to cash out a small number of miles from a Korean Air flight which were credited to Etihad Guest.
You could use this to cash out Membership Rewards points
Let’s go a little off track here.
American Express Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles.
If you decide that travel rewards are no longer your goal, there are already various ways of cashing out Membership Rewards points, either for statement credit, travel products or retail gift cards.
This HfP article looked at the value you get. The most lucrative option is to transfer your points to Avios and then – up to a cap of 50,000 per month – into Nectar. You can spend the Nectar points in Sainsburys, at Argos or at eBay.co.uk amongst other options.
You get 0.8p per Membership Rewards point if you convert them to Avios and then into Nectar. This is based on 1 Amex point = 1 Avios = 1.6 Nectar points and 1 Nectar point being worth 0.5p.
You won’t beat 0.8p per Membership Rewards point with the Etihad Guest Reward Card. However, if you live outside the UK and can’t use Nectar, it isn’t a terrible deal.
1 American Express Membership Rewards = 1 Etihad Guest mile, and via the Etihad Guest Reward Card, 1 Etihad Guest mile is worth 0.55p.
If you are looking to turn Membership Rewards points into cash outside the UK, the Etihad Guest Reward Card may be the best way of doing it. You will get 20% more than if you used them for shopping on Amazon.
Etihad Guest does occasional transfer bonuses from American Express Membership Rewards. If there was a 25% bonus, you would be getting 0.68p per American Express point – it still won’t beat Nectar but that doesn’t matter if you are outside the UK and Nectar isn’t an option for you.
In general, of course, the best deal with loyalty points is almost always to redeem for the proprietary product offered by that loyalty scheme. Use Avios (or Etihad Guest miles) for flights, use Club Eurostar points for trains and use hotel points for rooms. Take advantage of the fact that these companies have unsold spare capacity they are happy to offload.
Cashing out points for cash or a cash equivalent is very rarely worth it but I must admit that the deals are getting better.
You can find out more about the Etihad Guest Reward Card on this page of the Etihad website.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (September 2023)
Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with four free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles.
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 10,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.