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American Express adds Qantas as a redemption partner

You can now convert your American Express Membership Rewards points to Qantas Frequent Flyer points

American Express has added Qantas to its fold of frequent flyer programmes partners, the fourth Oneworld programme to be added. This latest addition will allow both its charge card and credit card members to convert their Membership Points into Qantas points.

The details

Cardholders with Membership Rewards (MR) points will be able to convert 450 MR points to 250 Qantas points. This conversion rate is similar to what Amex offers for other FFPs, including Krisflyer, Asia Miles and Emirates Skywards.

For Amex Centurion or Platinum Charge cardmembers, the conversion rate is a preferential 400 points to 250 airline miles.

Second widest range of conversion partners

This brings the total number of transfer partners for Amex to nine partners, tied in the second spot with Standard Chartered. Citibank remains at top spot with the most number of redemption options for your credit card points.

The full list of airline frequent flyer programme conversion partners for Amex is as follow:

  • British Airways Avios (Oneworld)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (Oneworld)
  • China Airlines Dynasty Flyer (Skyteam)
  • Eva Air Infinity Mileagelands (Star Alliance)
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Malaysia Enrich (Oneworld)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer (Oneworld)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (Star Alliance)
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus (Star Alliance)

But… should you convert your points to Qantas?

The short answer: no.

And the reason for that is not because Qantas has a bad programme inherently, but because of the way Qantas points are valued.

Qantas structures its frequent flyer programme rather differently, so the value of a Qantas point is not within the same range as what you’d value a mile from most other programmes.

I have long argued that the value of Qantas points should not be equated to other frequent flyer programmes for two reasons: first, the redemption award charts are always significantly higher than what other programmes charge for a similar trip; secondly, Qantas typically awards significantly more points for a flight segment than many other carriers would for a similar trip.

Award chart

Qantas uses a distance-based chart for flight awards, which is similar to many Oneworld programme, and you can refer to the full chart here. For simplicity sake, this is what Qantas and other Oneworld airlines charge for a one-way journey on Qantas from Singapore to Sydney:

EconomyBusinessFirst
Qantas Frequent Flyer25,20068,400102,600
British Airways Executive Club20,75062,00082,500
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles27,00061,00087,000
Award rates for one-way ticket from Singapore to Sydney

As you can see, Qantas comes up being the most expensive in the premium cabins across all carriers, requiring up to 25% more points than what the partners will charge. To add salt to the wound, Qantas slaps on a hefty charge for award tickets, further diminishing the value of the award. Fancy shelling out $350 in fees for an award ticket from Singapore to Sydney?

Earn rate

Now, to paint you another perspective, this is how many miles you will earn on the operating airline’s frequent flyer programme for a one-way flight from Singapore to Sydney.

Note that both Qantas and British Airways offer bonus points for members with elite tiers, but we will exclude that for now.

Airline / ProgrammeEconomy Saver
(or equivalent)
Economy
(highest fare class)
Business
(lowest fare class)
Business (flexible)First
(lowest)
Singapore Airlines / Krisflyer19563912489058687824
British Airways / Executive Club9793916587497909790
Qantas /
Qantas Frequent Flyer
260052007800845010400
Earn rates for one-way trip from Singapore to Sydney

In all cases, you easily earn over 30% more Qantas points than Krisflyer miles. Compared to BAEC, the number varies, but you are likely to benefit more if you are flying cattle class and if you don’t have status with BAEC.

Having said that, Qantas doesn’t nab you as many points when you fly other oneworld airlines, but that’s a common practice.

For instance, if you were to fly to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific:

Airline / ProgrammeEconomy Saver
(or similar)
Economy Standard
(or similar)
Economy
(highest fare class)
Business
(lowest fare class)
First
(lowest fare class)
Cathay Pacific /
Asia Miles
1,0001,8002,0002,5003,500
British Airways / Executive ClubNone4001,6012,0012,402
Malaysia Airlines /
Enrich
None7941,5881,9852,382
Qantas /
Qantas Frequent Flyer
None1,0002,0002,5003,000

While not fantastic, Qantas doesn’t come up too short – as compared to other oneworld members, it usually dishes out the most number of points for a similar itinerary.

Final thoughts

Transferring any credit card reward points to Qantas Frequent Flyer programme is a dead no for me, given the relative lower value of a Qantas point compared to many other programmes. Qantas probably know that its own currency is worth less than other airlines’ miles, but has always stuck to parity when it comes to conversion rates vis-a-vis other programmes.

The best way to rack up Qantas points is in flying and not through credit card conversions, unfortunately. So this means that the programme is only useful insofar as frequent flyer programmes were originally designed for: rewarding those who actually fly.

So if you find yourself heading Down Under pretty often, you will find yourself benefitting more from earning points by flying Qantas and placing your points with Qantas Frequent Flyer than those who rely mostly on credit card spending. If you do a lot of flying within Southeast Asia, you can also earn a fair number of points from flying Jetstar, especially if you buy bundles often. This is a much better proposition than trying to earn Krisflyer miles on Scoot flights.

Having said that, there have been instances where banks run bonus rates for conversions, such as the DBS offers last year where you get up to 25% bonus. Where they happen, the programme may still offer good value.

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