Fly EL AL? You can book it via Qantas Frequent Flyer using Amex Membership Rewards points
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Back in 2020 – so it went under the radar during the pandemic – Qantas Frequent Flyer became a partner of American Express Membership Rewards in the UK.
As Qantas is a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, there is – at first glance – no good reason to move your Amex points to Qantas when you could otherwise be topping up your Avios account.
This isn’t strictly true however. Qantas Frequent Flyer has a few unique partners – in particular, Israeli airline EL AL. It is also an option for Emirates flights.
How to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer points from UK credit cards
You earn 1 Membership Rewards point, convertible into 1 Qantas Frequent Flyer point, for every £1 you spend on American Express Gold, Platinum and Amex Rewards Credit Card cards, plus their Business equivalents.
You also get generous sign-up bonuses if you qualify:
- 20,000 points for getting American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (no fee in year 1, our Amex Gold review is here)
- 30,000 points for getting The Platinum Card (£575 fee, our Amex Platinum review is here)
- 10,000 points for getting the American Express Rewards Credit Card (free for life, our Amex Rewards Credit Card review is here)
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that Qantas Frequent Flyer is not the most competitive frequent flyer programme out there.
Unless you already have some Qantas miles, most people won’t see any value in transferring points across compared to using British Airways Executive Club. As both Qantas and British Airways are members of the oneworld alliance, they can generally access the same reward seats.
There are exceptions though ….
How much are Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions?
Full details of Qantas Frequent Flyer reward pricing can be found on this page of their website. Here are the key charts you need:
This is the chart for redemptions on Qantas, Jetstar, Fiji Airways, Air Vanuatu and American Airlines:
More relevant, this is the chart for redemptions on Air France, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern, EL AL, Emirates, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, SriLankan Airlines and WestJet.
These charts are for one-way flights. A return is priced as two x one-way flights. You do NOT double the mileage and use the price based on the mileage for a return flight.
This pricing is in line with what you would pay via British Airways Executive Club. Once you factor in the ability to also earn Avios via other partners, and of the course the 2-4-1 voucher from the British Airways American Express credit card, there is little point considering Qantas Frequent Flyer as a transfer partner for booking a British Airways flight.
Here are the airlines on the list above which CAN’T be booked using Avios via British Airways:
- Air France
- Bangkok Airways
- China Airlines
- China Eastern
- EL AL
- LATAM (can be booked on Avios via Iberia Plus)
I will focus on EL AL and Emirates in this article, as Air France / KLM flights can be booked via Virgin Flying Club or their own Flying Blue scheme, both of which are already Amex transfer partners. Apart from WestJet – and I don’t know how this works in terms of availability – the other partners are not relevant for most readers.
Using Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book EL AL flights
EL AL is not big on partnerships, to put it mildly. According to wheretocredit.com, it only works with:
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Alaska Airlines
It recently launched a partnership with Etihad but this has not – so far – extended to allowing reciprocal mileage redemptions.
This means that Qantas Frequent Flyer is the ONLY easy way to redeem miles for EL AL flights via UK credit card spend.
London Heathrow to Tel Aviv is 2,233 miles according to gcmap.com. From Manchester it is 2,355 miles. This means that both fit into the same Qantas Frequent Flyer pricing zone:
- Economy: 20,000 miles each way
- Business: 43,800 miles each way
For comparison, Avios would charge 12,500 Avios one-way in Economy and 37,500 Avios one-way in Club World, based on peak dates (these are the old mid-range Avios rates – you can choose to use more or fewer Avios if you wish).
Virgin Flying Club would charge 11,000 miles one-way in Economy and 33,000 miles one-way in Upper Class, based on peak dates. You are guaranteed a long haul aircraft with flat bed seats on Virgin Atlantic.
Qantas does have low surcharges when you redeem on EL AL. For Business Class, you save £170 compared to booking British Airways return flight using Avios (roughly £230 vs £400 for the 75,000 Avios mid-range price option).
What IS a good deal is just booking a flight TO the UK on EL AL. The taxes and charges for Tel Aviv to London in Business Class, one way, are just £28.
EL AL is also a great deal on taxes if you book from outside the UK and use Qantas Points. Here is an example:
- Dublin to Tel Aviv (one-way) – €16 in Business
- Tel Aviv to Dublin (one-way) – £28 in Business
One option would therefore be to fly out from Dublin, to benefit from the lack of Air Passenger Duty, whilst flying back directly to the UK.
Use Qantas Frequent Flyer points to book Emirates flights
I also wanted to quickly touch on Emirates.
American Express Membership Rewards is a 1:1 partner with Emirates Skywards anyway. In general, unless there is some big discrepancy in pricing on a particular route, it would make more sense to convert Amex points to Emirates Skywards and redeem with them directly. Amex transfers to Emirates are instantaneous.
London Heathrow to Dubai is 3,421 miles. This means you are looking at the following number of Qantas Frequent Flyer miles:
- 24,500 miles one-way (49,000 miles return) in Economy
- 61,200 miles one-way (122,400 miles return) in Business
- 89,800 miles one-way (179,600 miles return) in First
Qantas reward pricing increases at 3,600 miles but it seems that all UK Emirates departure points make it (Edinburgh to Dubai is 3,594 miles) EXCEPT Glasgow.
Let’s compare with Emirates Skywards. Emirates redemptions require fewer miles when booked as a return so I have quoted return prices from London Heathrow below:
- Economy return: 45,000 Skywards miles
- Business return: 108,000 Skywards miles
- First return: 204,000 Skywards miles
Since Emirates started to hike up its mileage requirements, Qantas Frequent Flyer is more competitive. The real issue is taxes – although both Emirates and Qantas seem to charge similar, ludicrously high, amounts – and availability, which seems better if you book via Emirates.
Whilst it is always good to see new Membership Rewards partners, in truth Qantas Frequent Flyer didn’t add much for a UK traveller who isn’t simply after a small top up to an existing account.
The Amex / Qantas partnership is good news for anyone who wants to redeem miles on EL AL. It also benefits anyone who flies EL AL for cash, as they could credit the miles to Qantas and top them up via Amex Membership Rewards points, potentially for a British Airways redemption.
There are other ways of earning Qantas Points apart from via American Express if you live in the UK – take a look at our guide.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2023 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 Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 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 & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) 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 bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.