Planning to spend Emirates Skywards or Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles on your next adventure? If you’re sitting on a balance of American Express Membership Rewards points, take note. This is your very last chance to convert those Amex points across before Amex’s new KrisFlyer and Skywards conversion rates take effect.

Here’s a reminder of what’s coming up – and also, a heads-up about HawaiianMiles.

Last opportunity to transfer Amex MR points to KrisFlyer and Skywards before the rates change

If you’re wanting to exchange your Amex Membership Rewards points for miles with KrisFlyer or Skywards, act fast. The outgoing conversion rate (2:1) shifts to 3:1 from 4 October 2023. This means Tuesday, 3 October is the last day to make any transfers before the new rate takes effect.

It’s fair to say, these are steep changes. Once the new rates come into play, you’ll need 50% more Amex MR points compared to before, to book the same flights. Even if you’re unsure, take a moment to think about your upcoming travel plans. Could a balance of miles in those accounts be beneficial, versus the flexibility of being able to send your Amex points elsewhere, if you weren’t to convert them right now?

You might be planning a trip to Europe, for instance. KrisFlyer is regarded for having very good reward seat availability in premium cabins on Singapore Airlines. And add to that, no carrier charges on Singapore Airlines reward bookings.

As for Skywards, Emirates now levies some of the highest carrier charges in the industry. For instance, almost $3,500 per person for one return First Class ticket between Sydney and Paris – on top of the miles required. But at the same time, Skywards miles are still great for upgrading paid tickets on Emirates flights. They can also be useful when booking on partner airlines, such as Japan Airlines and Korean Air.

Ultimately, it’s your decision. But don’t forget, both KrisFlyer and Skywards have an unfortunate ‘hard expiry‘ policy when it comes to miles. Even if you continue to earn and spend miles, each mile in your account expires roughly three years after it was earned. That’s very different to a rolling or ‘soft’ expiry, as with the likes of Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer.

An exception applies for Singapore Airlines PPS Club members (and above), along with Skywards Platinum members (and above). Miles don’t expire for members at these tiers, for as long as they remain at or above these levels.

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Transfers from Amex to HawaiianMiles are now online

When announcing the changes to KrisFlyer and Skywards a few months back, Amex had two pieces of good news to reveal as well. One was the ability to convert points from Amex MR directly to Qatar Airways Privilege Club – and that went live quite quickly. The other was an additional new transfer partner: HawaiianMiles.

HawaiianMiles is the frequent flyer program of Hawaiian Airlines. And now, transfers to HawaiianMiles are up and running. Amex has opted for a 2:1 conversion rate on these transfers. There’s no bonus offer to mark the launch, but still, 2:1 sure beats the incoming 3:1 rate with KrisFlyer and Skywards.

It’s an interesting addition for Amex – especially given that Hawaiian Airlines flights have long been bookable using Velocity Points. But compared to Velocity, HawaiianMiles does have some advantages.

For one thing, HawaiianMiles members can search and book reward flights online with Hawaiian Airlines. With Velocity, Hawaiian Airlines reward bookings can only be made over the phone. For that matter, HawaiianMiles members have access to greater reward seat availability on Hawaiian Airlines. Although with greater flexibility comes higher reward rates.

On Hawaiian’s sole Australian route, Sydney-Honolulu, a one-way Business Class ticket can cost as little as 65,000 HawaiianMiles. When reward seats are available at that rate, it’s common to find availability with Velocity too. But booking the same flight through Velocity costs 78,000 Velocity Points. For those earning stacks of frequent flyer points via American Express, it’s a nice saving to note.

But it’s worth pointing out, Business Class reward seats on Hawaiian’s Sydney-Honolulu flights are quite scarce for Velocity members. And equally, so is the availability to book them for 65,000 HawaiianMiles. Instead, many flights only have more flexible HawaiianMiles rewards available, which cost 130,000 HawaiianMiles – per person, one way.

For those with plenty of points to burn, that greater reward seat availability could mean the difference between flying flat on points and forking out for a full-fare ticket. And in that sense, it’s always nice when flexible points – such as those from Amex Membership Rewards – get even more flexible.

Summing up

It’s always a shame when rewards programs go through devaluations. At least though, when Amex makes changes to Membership Rewards, Card Members usually learn about those changes three months in advance. In this instance, it means being able to transfer points that have already been earned at the older, better conversion rate.

These changes also bring Amex Membership Rewards into line with most other Australian credit card rewards programs. ANZ Rewards, CommBank Awards, NAB Rewards and Westpac Altitude Rewards all use a 3:1 conversion rate with KrisFlyer, for instance.

On the Skywards front, the change is a little more opportunistic from Amex. There are very few other ways to earn Skywards miles on everyday transactions in Australia. In fact, Skywards’ only other Australian transfer partner is CommBank – and even then, CBA uses a 4:1 conversion rate, meaning Amex still has the best Skywards rate in the market.

Membership Rewards is also the only Australian credit card program with direct points transfers to HawaiianMiles. Even though similar flights can be booked using Velocity Points, there are still advantages to be had by using HawaiianMiles directly.

Also read: Under the hood of the Emirates Skywards program

Feature image courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

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Amex: last chance to convert points to KrisFlyer and Skywards at a 2:1 rate; HawaiianMiles comes online was last modified: October 4th, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin