Just today the US American Express Membership Rewards has added Etihad Guest as a transfer partner. This means points earned on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, and American Express® Gold Card can now be transferred to Etihad at a 1:1 ratio, in thousand point increments.
Etihad Guest is the 16th airline partner of the US American Express Membership Rewards program. My other favorites include Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France/KLM FlyingBlue, ANA Mileage Club, Delta SkyMiles, and Singapore KrisFlyer.
American Express is the second transferable US points currency to partner with Etihad Guest (the other being Citi ThankYou). Those points, earned with cards like the Citi Premier® Card (review) or Citi Prestige® Card, can also be transferred to Etihad at a 1:1 ratio.
Etihad is of course a great airline, with the incredible First Class Apartments on their Airbus A380 aircraft.
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment
Etihad A340 First Class
However, as any savvy mileage redeemer knows, the best way to redeem miles for the airlines you most want to fly often isn’t directly through their own program, but rather through a partner program.
Etihad doesn’t publish a single award chart, but rather has a mileage calculator on their website (access it by clicking the “GuestSeats” tab and then clicking the “By destination” heading), which shows how many miles you need to travel between various city pairs. The award chart is roughly distance based, though not exactly.
Just to give a few examples of one-way mileage requirements:
- New York to Abu Dhabi — 88,391 miles in business class, 117,560 miles in first class
- London to Abu Dhabi — 65,964 miles in business class, 87,732 miles in first class
- Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi — 108,076 miles in business class, 143,741 miles in first class
Etihad Airways A340-500 in Abu Dhabi
So the rates are definitely on the high side, and I’d still prefer to redeem through the devalued American AAdvantage award chart, since they partner with Etihad. For one-way travel between the US and Middle East, American AAdvantage charges 70,000 miles in business class or 115,000 miles in first class, and that includes connecting flights.
That being said, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card can earn 1.5x points on everyday spend (and up to 4.5x points on US supermarkets and 3x points on US gas stations), while the American Express® Gold Card earns 4x points at restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 each calendar year), and 3x points on airfare purchased directly from the airline or at amextravel.com. In other words, you can earn points at a really fast pace.
If we ever see a transfer bonus (which we sometimes see from Membership Rewards to partners), then I could see this being a very good transfer option.
Dinner in Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment
Ultimately more transfer partners are always a good thing. Now that we’ve seen devaluations across so many airlines, the gap in redemption rates between various programs is narrowing. If you’re looking to fly Etihad, Amex points transfers to Etihad Guest could indeed be the best option, especially if you’re earning points at an accelerated rate through your credit card, and if there’s a transfer bonus.
Do you see yourself transferring Membership Rewards points to Etihad Guest?