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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express
To celebrate the addition of Emirates as the newest airline transfer partner of Membership Rewards, the points program of cards like the Premier Rewards Gold, Business Gold Rewards, Platinum and Business Platinum cards, American Express just launched a limited-time 25% transfer bonus from now through November 21, 2013. Amex points normally transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Emirates Skywards miles, but with this bonus, they now transfer at a ratio of 1:1.25. That means if you transfer 1,000 points you’ll end up with 1,250 miles. The offer is hard-coded into the transfer page, so you don’t have to register or do anything else when setting up a transfer.
While this isn’t the highest transfer bonus we’ve seen from Amex, it’s still worth keeping in mind if you were considering a points transfer to Emirates anytime soon – you might as well get more miles for your points.
To take a couple quick examples, if you wanted to fly on an award ticket from New York (or anywhere in North America East – Newark, JFK, Boston, Washington Dulles or Toronto), you would need the following amount of miles:
Economy: 72,500 miles
Business: 145,000 miles
First: 217,500 miles
So with the current transfer bonus, here are the amounts of points you’d need for each redemption:
Economy: 58,000 points
Business: 116,000 points
First: 174,000 points
Suddenly those redemptions look just a little bit more reasonable. The one thing to look out for is that taxes and fuel surcharges on Emirates can be quite high, even on economy awards.
So that’s a big consideration – and if flying Emirates is a goal of yours in certain circumstances you might be better off using Alaska miles to do so since Alaska doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on Emirates awards and roundtrip you’re looking at under $50 in fees:
You’ll still be using more miles – 85,000 roundtrip in Economy, 145,000 in Business and 200,000 in First – but you’ll be saving over $1,000 in some cases. Just note that Alaska is only a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest so your transfer options are limited, but still something to keep in mind.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as long as you’re going to be paying these hefty fuel surcharges and fees anyway, you might consider transferring to one of Amex’s other airline partners instead such as ANA since that airline’s award chart is distance-based and there are some amazing values there like just 43,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 68,000 miles in business from the east coast to Europe even though you’re paying up to $1,000 in surcharges on business class awards. If getting to the Middle East is your goal, though, ANA is partners with both Etihad and Qatar Airways, and will only charge you 60,000/90,000/140,000 to fly economy/business/first from the east coast to the airlines’ respective hubs in Abu Dhabi and Doha, with fuel surcharges that are comparable to Emirates, so ANA might still be a better option for you.
For more information, check out my ANA Award series.
Also note that Amex is currently offering transfer bonuses to both British Airways (20%) and Virgin Atlantic (30%), so those might be better options for you depending on where you hope to travel as well. You can find out more here.
For more information, check out the posts in our Emirates Series: