American Express has long been known for its generous rewards program. With many suppliers taking Amex as payment, it often does not take long to amass a good haul. Having got those points, a common question is often asked, how best to spend them?
I have approx 600k of American Express points and next April (2015) I need to fly to Turkey with my wife then return 2 weeks later. I have really no idea of what I should do to get the most out of my points. Do I have enough points for 2 business class tickets or should I buy 2 standard tickets and upgrade them?
With the centenary of Gallipoli being commemorated next year in April traffic will be at its peak. If those points were on a direct earn card crediting to Qantas, finding seats is going to be a tough task. However, just because you’re in Australia, doesn’t mean you cannot use a program that’s overseas. Luckily for our member, Amex will allow points to be transferred to 6 airline partners, and a key hotel partner as well, Starwood Preferred Guest.
Amex actually transfer to SPG (Starwood preferred guest hotel loyalty program) at 2:1 so your 600k will become 300k SPG points. From SPG points you can transfer them to American Airlines or US Air Dividend Miles at 1:1 plus an extra 5k per 20k transferred.
With so many airline programs now on offer, it’s often a matter of searching for available seats. Most programs are free to join. Once signed up, you will get access to their award booking engine. While it may take a little time, you will soon have a good idea as to what can be booked. Importantly, you will also be able to work out how much those surcharges are going to be. Sometimes those surcharges can cost more than an airfare with a competing airline. Luckily, our member did their research and found an option with hardly any fees or surcharges.
I checked availability with the 6 carriers that I can move Amex Points to and by far the best option was Etihad. I rang the Guest Services and found 6 seats over 3 flights on the days I needed. I then moved 242k points from Amex to my Etihad Guest Account. Rang Etihad the next day and booked the 2 Guest Business Class Seats on the day I wanted and paid the $161 for each flight taxes one way SYD to Istanbul. So all way round a good result.
Frequent Flyer points are valuable. Knowing how best to spend them often means looking outside the box. The best solution might well be with a program you’re not overly familiar with. If you would like to know more about some of the better overseas options, why not join our UPCOMING WEBINAR. In the meantime, why not join the conversation, and stop that spinning head HERE.