This article is part of an introductory series which we’ve been running this week whilst we wait for the January newsflow to pick-up.
One of the key ideas I push on Head for Points is that transferable, or convertible, points are better than non-transferable points.
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.
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 British Airways 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 (12 airline and hotel partners)
- 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 40 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, albeit with a slight loss of value.
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.
What you want is an instantaneous transfer. 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.
Where can you find instant transfers? Here are your options:
- you CAN do it with Heathrow Rewards to Emirates (according to reader reports – I have not done this myself)
- you CAN do it with NatWest Rewards points to Emirates
- you can’t do it with Heathrow Rewards or hotel points transfers to other airlines, as far as I know, or with NatWest Rewards transfers to Avios
- you CAN do it with Tesco Clubcard transfers to Virgin Atlantic (anyone signed up to auto-conversion can request a transfer of their current points balance, if it is 150+, at any time and the transfer is instant)
- HSBC Premier (instant for all partners, we think)
- American Express (some partners)
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 here. There is an exclusive sign-up bonus for HfP readers of 10,500 Avios.
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
- Qantas (based on reader feedback)
- Marriott Bonvoy
Note that first-time Amex transfers to a new partner may not be instant due to security checks. It makes sense to link your accounts in advance by doing a dummy transfer on the Membership Rewards website.
Which HSBC Premier credit card partners offer INSTANT transfers?
We think that all HSBC Premier card partners are now instant. We have tested a few and all were. Please let us know if you have found any that are not. Let me repeat – we do not guarantee that all of the partners are instant but we haven’t found any yet which are not.
- Asia Miles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Flying Blue (Air France KLM)
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- TAP Miles&Go
- IHG One Rewards
- Wyndham Rewards
Remember that HSBC points have a hard three year expiry. They expire irrespective of your activity. You can’t keep them mounting up for decades and you will have to move them at some point. Amex points are better if you are taking a very long term view.
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? – February 2024 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:
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.
Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.
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
40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 bonus points 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:
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
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) 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.