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American Express just added Etihad as a Membership Rewards transfer partner in April, and it is now offering a 30% transfer bonus through June 15, 2016.

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For the next six weeks, 1,000 Membership Rewards will transfer to 1,300 Etihad Guest Miles.

Good Deal?

Using Etihad Miles for Etihad Flights

Etihad Guest Miles aren’t very good for booking First Class on the Etihad A380, which is a current obsession of mine.

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For instance, Etihad would charge 88,022 Etihad miles + $175 to book Abu Dhabi to London in First Class on the Etihad A380. During the transfer bonus, that’s 68,000 Membership Rewards.

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A better deal, but not quite a good one, is booking JFK to Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class for 117,556 Etihad miles + $179, which would be 91,000 Membership Rewards during the transfer bonus. You could book the same flight for 115,000 American Airlines miles + $6.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.09 AMJFK to Delhi, which would feature two flights in First Class is 119,000 Membership Rewards during the promotion. Again, this would cost 115,000 American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.53 AM

So Etihad miles are competitive with American Airlines miles to book Etihad flights during this transfer bonus, but that’s not saying much. Both types of miles are still expensive for booking Etihad flights. The real value of Etihad miles is to book other airlines’ flights.

Using Etihad Miles for Other Flights

Etihad Guest miles can be used on 25 other airlines. On Etihad’s page, you can click on “Know more” and then click to bring up the redemption table for that airline’s flights.

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For redeeming Etihad miles on American Airlines flights, the Etihad’s award chart is nearly identical to the old American Airlines award chart before the devaluation that happened March 22, 2016, at least for now. Remember 62,500 miles one way to Australia in Business Class and 20,000 miles one way to Europe in Economy? You can’t book those with American Airlines miles anymore, but you can with Etihad miles!

  • 125,000 Etihad miles (97,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Australia roundtrip in American Airlines Business Class
  • 40,000 Etihad miles (31,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Europe roundtrip in American Airlines Economy (however that out of pocket amount would skyrocket if you returned from London because of departure taxes, choose one of these European cities with lower taxes instead)

A few months ago I wrote about how you can fly to Europe in a flat bed for 37,000 ThankYou Points. That’s because it costs:

  • 36,620 Etihad miles (29,000 Membership Rewards) + $94.70 in taxes = New York to Brussels roundtrip in Brussels Airlines Business Class (featuring a flat bed)

This is technically still speculative, as I eventually found an Etihad Guest agent who found a Business Class award seat on this flight but I did not actually carry out the booking.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a sweetspot, but it is useful to know that if you ever need to book a flight on Air Serbia for some reason, hopping over to Romania on a Eurotrip perhaps, the only miles you can use to book their awards are Etihad miles. I just booked an award for 5,000 Etihad Miles (4,000 Membership Rewards) + $23 from Prague to Belgrade.

Bottom Line

American Express is offering a 30% bonus on Membership Rewards transferred to Etihad Guest Miles until June 15, 2016. This does not offer great value for booking Etihad First Class, but it does offer great value for booking partner flights like American Airlines, Air Serbia, and 23 other partners.

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