What are the best uses of Membership Rewards points in the U.K.?
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If you hold an American Express card, you may be earning Membership Rewards points with it. For those not familiar, Membership Rewards points are American Express’ own points currency. Membership Rewards points can be enormously valuable, as they are what we call a ‘transferrable currency’, meaning that you can transfer these points into other points.
This gives you huge flexibility in how you can use them, which we think is very valuable, and this is why TPG values Membership Rewards points at around 1.4p each, which is higher than a standard Avios or Flying Club point/mile.
So, where should you transfer your Membership Rewards points to get the best value?
TPG U.K. thinks airline transfers are the best use of Membership Rewards points. They can be transferred at a rate of 1:1 to the following programmes:
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia MilleMiglia
- British Airways Avios
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Delta SkyMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Finnair Plus
- Iberia Plus
- SAS EuroBonus
- Singapore Airlines Krisflyer
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
There is a minimum transfer amount of 1,000 Membership Rewards per transfer for all programmes except MilleMiglia, where you can transfer as few as 200 Membership Rewards points each time, and Flying Blue, which has a 500-point minimum.
For those not familiar, 1:1 means that if you transfer 3,000 Membership Rewards to Avios, they will become 3,000 Avios.
So, which programme should you transfer Membership Rewards points to in order to get the best value? That depends mostly on what your travel goals are, where, when and how you wish to travel. There are hundreds of different ways to use them in each programme.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll get the best value from airline miles by redeeming them for premium cabin, long-haul flights.
We will be delving deeply into several of these programmes listed above as well as the best uses of points/miles within those programmes, but as a general rule, based on TPG’s monthly points valuations, British Airways or Iberia Avios and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club are a good bet because of their huge U.K. route networks, as well as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer because of its excellent products and Star Alliance membership. Click on the links above to read some useful guides to these programmes for U.K. fliers.
Some of the very best uses of U.K. Membership Rewards points include:
- 4,000 British Airways Avios for a Reward Fare Saver one-way flight on British Airways from London to Munich.
- 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles one-way in Delta One business class from Europe to the USA.
- 125,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles one-way in A380 new suites first class from London to Singapore.
- 42,000 Iberia Plus Avios one-way in Iberia business class from Madrid to Miami.
- 110,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles return in ANA first class from London to Japan.
- 54,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles return in Air France economy from the UK to South Africa.
- 21,000 Iberia Plus Avios to upgrade from economy to business class one-way from Madrid to San Francisco.
Keep an eye on Air France-KLM Flying Blue promos which regularly provide excellent discounted redemptions to select destinations like 53,000 miles return in business class to North America!
Rather stay in a luxury hotel than jump on a plane? You also have the option to transfer your Membership Rewards points to major hotel loyalty programmes instead. The transfer rates are not as straightforward as the 1:1 airline deal, though:
- 1 Membership Rewards point = 2 Hilton Honors points; 200-point minimum transfer
- 2 Membership Rewards points = 3 Marriott Bonvoy points; 400-point minimum transfer
- 1 Membership Rewards point = 3 Radisson Rewards points; 3-point minimum transfer
So, this would be a better option than airline transfers because I’ll end up with more points, right? Well, not exactly. These hotel points are generally worth a lot less than airline miles, hence the more generous transfer rates.
For example, I would much rather have 1 KrisFlyer mile than 2 Hilton points, as I know I can get a lot more value from the KrisFlyer mile. TPG values a Hilton point around 0.4p each, whereas a KrisFlyer mile is valued at 1.1p each, so your 1 Membership Rewards point would have more value as 1 KrisFlyer mile than 2 Hilton points.
There’s plenty of information about the best uses of:
Other transfer partners
You can also transfer your Membership Rewards to Club Eurostar, where 1,500 points would become 100 Club Eurostar points. Or, you could transfer MR points to Nectar, where 1 point would become 1 Nectar point. Both these options will give you less value than airline or hotel transfers, so we would not recommend using your Membership Rewards points in this way.
There are plenty of other ways to redeem your Membership Rewards points for things like gift vouchers for iTunes and Costco, or to pay with points with retailers like Ticketmaster. However, the redemption rates are usually 0.5p per Membership Rewards point or less, which is a much lower value than transferring to airline programmes or even hotel programmes.
For this reason, we don’t recommend this as a good use of Membership Rewards points. What this can be handy for is clearing a small balance of points that may not be enough for a meaningful redemption within an airline or hotel programme.
Featured photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy
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