Thursday, June 9, 2011

Big Transfer Bonuses From Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards is the proprietary rewards program for American Express charge cards (green, gold, platinum). While MR offers many ways to redeem for rewards, perhaps the best way to use these points is by transferring them to any number of participating airline frequent flyer programs. Currently, AMEX has agreements with Delta Skymiles, Continental OnePass, British Airways Executive Club, Air Canada Aeroplan, and many more (most at a 1000:1000 ratio). It's usually a good idea to keep your points in the MR program and only transfer when you actually have a need to book an award flight. And if for some reason you have an urgent need to transfer points, I would always recommend Continental Airlines, since OnePass miles are generally more valuable.

However, there are two great promotions going on right now for transferring MR points into Delta Skymiles and British Airways Executive Club:
  • From now through 9/30/2011, transfer any amount of MR points into the Delta Skymiles program and receive a 50% bonus. Transfer 100,000 points or more and also receive 25,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM) - enough to qualify for Silver Medallion status. MQMs are NOT redeemable for awards and are only used for status qualification. Silver Medallion status will give you bonus redeemable miles, waived baggage fees, seat upgrades and more when traveling on Delta. Note that this is for first-time transfers only!
I must add a word of warning though... because I normally would not recommend either program as a means to accumulate miles unless there is a large promotion like in this case. Delta Skymiles is notoriously stingy about releasing saver awards, especially on international flights. I've done some searches before for fairly popular international routes that Delta flies, and have seen zero saver award availability for an entire year! Domestic routes through their main hubs tend to be slightly better... but still far behind the competition. So even though it is extremely easy to accumulate, you often will end up spending double or even triple the amount of miles you originally thought. Hence the term "Skypesos".

British Airways, on the other hand, actually has fairly
good award seat availability, especially on their own metal. However, they also tack on an obscene amount of fuel surcharge fees to award flights. First class flights going through London can have upwards of $700 in fuel surcharges, in addition to the miles they deduct from your account! They even collect fuel surcharges on partner awards flights such as Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines, whereas American Airlines never does that for award redemptions. Partner award fuel surcharges can run upwards of $400 roundtrip.

If you are interested in Membership Rewards, there is
a thread on Flyertalk right now that details a promotion for 75,000 MR points after completing the spend requirements on an American Express Premiere Rewards Gold Card. I won't go into details about this here because this is not a straightforward application, and you may run into several obstacles trying to get the bonus points. Do read through the entire thread before deciding whether or not it's worth the risk!

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