Amex Membership Rewards reduces KrisFlyer & Skywards transfer rates, adds Qatar Airways redemptions

American Express has announced sweeping changes to its proprietary Membership Rewards program in Australia, substantially lowering redemption rates for two popular airline programs, whilst adding several new rewards partners into the mix.

Here’s what you need to know.

You’ll soon be able to transfer Membership Rewards Points to Qatar Airways and Hawaiian Airlines

Starting from August 2023, Amex Card Members in Australia will be able to redeem Membership Rewards points with Qatar Airways Privilege Club, unlocking the ability to earn Avios for redemption on Qatar Airways services and with Avios partners including British Airways.

Qatar Airways has long been on my ‘wishlist’ as a MR transfer partner. It offers a range of exciting redemption opportunities, including the possibility to unlock QSuites services direct at a significantly cheaper rate than partner airlines, and the ability to book award flights on selected Qantas services at very competitive rates.

qatar airways qsuite
Membership Rewards points will soon unlock redemptions direct with Qatar Airways

From October 2023, Hawaiian Airlines will also join the Membership Rewards Program. Australian travellers will be able to redeem direct for Hawaiian Airlines’ popular non-stop service from Sydney to Hawaii. From Hawaii, the airline also services Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, American Samoa and Tahiti.

The transfer rates will be as follows:

  • Qatar Airways: 2 Membership Rewards points = 1 Avios
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 2 Membership Rewards points = 1 HawaiianMiles

… but KrisFlyer and Skywards redemption rates will be lowered

Later this year, the redemption rates at which Card Members redeem Membership Rewards points in Australia for KrisFlyer and Skywards are changing. While the current Membership Rewards transfer rate is 2:1 for both programs, this will be lowered to 3:1 from 4 October 2023.

This move is the biggest change since American Express last devalued to the Membership Rewards program in 2019. The change is likely to disappoint the growing number of Australian travellers who’ve clued into the value offered by the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program in recent years, forcing many travellers to re-think their Star Alliance redemption strategy going forward.

How these changes will impact my Membership Rewards redemption strategy

Despite the looming devaluation to Skywards and KrisFlyer redemption rates, there’s still compelling value to be found with Membership Rewards, provided you know where to look.

From early October, I’ll likely shift my focus across to Asia Miles for sharply priced oneworld redemptions, while taking advantage of ‘sweetspot’ redemptions via the new Qatar Airways Privilege transfer option.

I’ll also continue to use my points for ‘sleeper’ program, Virgin Atlantic’s cheap trans-Tasman business class award flights, and may send some points across to Velocity if transfer bonus offers are offered.

Despite these announced changes, it’s important to note that the rate at which Membership Rewards points are earned remains the same and points still have no expiry date if an Account remains in good standing.

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5 thoughts on “Amex Membership Rewards reduces KrisFlyer & Skywards transfer rates, adds Qatar Airways redemptions”

  1. Avatar for Bob Arjie

    As an Emirates Gold FF having recently ended my long-standing relationship with Citibank (NAB) due to their disassociation with Emirates Skywards, I joined Amex on the back of their membership rewards program and the Skywards tie-in. To learn of this devaluation so early in the piece is a kick in the teeth and begs the question why we Australians are becoming the poor relations when it comes to rewards-based travel benefits. What is driving this?

  2. Avatar for Tanya Burke

    And just like that, the gap between US and AUS Amex benefits widens even further. It’s insulting to think that we pay such an inflated annual charge card fee here, now to earn half the redemption rate accessible overseas. On the other hand, I see NZ is moving to an even worse conversion rate – so I guess it’s something that we’re doing better than our poor cousins across the Tasman.

  3. Avatar for Nick

    Am I right in thinking this deval will basically put direct MR transfers to KF worth about the same as transferring MR to Velocity, then over to KF? Possibly the Velocity transfer may now be worth even higher, if the transfer is timed for a Velocity points bonus promo.

  4. Avatar for Andy

    Interesting that this move comes hot on the heels of St George Amplify announcing ‘enhanced’ KrisFlyer redemption rates. It’s suddenly going to get much harder to earn decent chunks of KF miles in AU.

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