American Express has slowly been adding Emirates to its roster of points transfer partners in the Membership Rewards program around the world, with the first hook up with the Amex USA around 6 weeks back, the UK around a month ago, and the Australian program a couple of weeks ago – I’m a couple of weeks late with the news.
Skywards is a great addition to Membership Rewards given Emirates route network and reach, and their lack of partnership with most other frequent flyer programs and airlines for redemption.
Until this year it was very hard to earn and redeem points of any kind for travel on Emirates unless you earned Skywards miles through travel on Emirates or via the Citibank Skywards card, but now with first the Qantas hook-up, and then joining forces with American Express, your A380 shower in the sky (if you travel in First Class) is much more attainable.
It’s not all great news – I’m all for new options and partners, but the transfer rate is a slightly mean 0.75 Skywards miles for 1 Membership Reward point for standard Amex holders; for the super expensive Centurion card it’s 1:1. This slightly rules it out for me unless you have loads of Membership Rewards points going spare – as I outlined in my recent post, Skywards isn’t the best value for redemptions out there and the 4 MR :3 Skywards miles transfer ratio makes it less appealing still.
It’s also a little galling that the transfer rates in the UK and the US are 1:1 – while I understand we can accrue Membership Rewards points in Australia a little faster through spend than in the UK, we’re not far off parity to the US so that feels a bit mean too.
If you’re planning on making a Skywards redemption using your Amex points, I’d be interested to know about it, so do leave a comment and let us know what you’re planning.
Also, have a read of my summary from last month of whether you should choose Qantas Frequent Flyer or Skywards – spoiler, it’s going to be Qantas for those in Australia most of the time.