Home » Uncategorized » Why I’m swapping my BOV Flypass Visa card for a BOV American Express card

Why I’m swapping my BOV Flypass Visa card for a BOV American Express card

I’ve said it a few times before, but the removal of the ability to earn Flypass KMiles from the BOV Flypass Visa card (now renamed the BOV Skypass Visa card) has hugely reduced the benefits (and therefore value) of this card.

This devaluation equally applies to the BOV Visa Gold and Platinum cards.

Now, rather than getting you 20,000 KMiles, a €20,000 spend on the card will get you €45 off a flight of your choice. That is a very poor reward.

The obvious alternative is to switch to Banif’s Gold card, where you still earn 1 KMile per €1 spend, or HSBC’s credit cards, where you earn 1 KMile per €2 (1 KMile per €1 if you’re a Premier customer). This is all set out in detail here.

There is an alternative however if, like me, you don’t want the hassle of changing banks and prefer to stay with BOV. Indeed, I very much consider it the better option.

It’s a little known fact (they don’t publicise it particularly well), but BOV offers American Express cards. If you spend via a Malta American Express card, you automatically earn Membership Rewards points (1 per €1 spend) on signing up to the Membership Rewards programme (a very simple process, for example you can do it by calling +44 (0) 1273 864 864).

Membership Rewards (MR) is vastly superior to all other credit card points reward schemes to which Malta residents have access. It is a comprehensive, internationally competitive scheme that offers a wide range of reward points (that can be used on, or in many cases transferred to the frequent traveller schemes of, flight, hotels, holiday packages and many other redemption options).

But don’t just take my word for it, have a look here:

http://www.americanexpress.com/icc/eurodollar/membership-rewards-faqs.html#redeem

For airlines and hotel reward schemes, transfer rates for MR points earned on a Malta American Express card are summarised as follows:

Airlines

Number of Membership Rewards Points

Transfer Rate

Air France/KLM

3

2 Flying Blue Miles

Alitalia

1

1 Alitalia Mile

British Airways

3

2 Avios Points

Cathay Pacific

1

1 Asia Mile

Delta

3

2 Sky Miles

Etihad

3

2 Etihad Guest Miles

Finnair

1

1 Finnair Plus Point

Malaysia Airlines

1

1 Enrich Mile

Singapore Airlines

1

1 KrisFlyer Mile

SAS

3

2 EuroBonus point

Virgin Atlantic

3

2 Flying Club Miles

 

Hotel Programme

Number of Membership Rewards Points

Transfer Rate

GOLDPOINTS Plus

2

3 Gold points

Hilton Worldwide

4

5 Hilton HHonors Bonus points

Sirus

20

1 Sirus point

Starwood Preferred Guest

3

1 Starwood Preferred Guest point

Perhaps most relevant to the current comparison is that 30,000 MR points can get you 20,000 Avios. As previously flagged, 20,000 Avios (plus around €60 in tax) is enough for a return flight to the UK with Air Malta. Compare that to the derisory €67 off a flight you would get with 30,000 BOV points on your Skypass card!

Similarly, you can use your Euro spend on a Malta American Express card to earn you points for Hilton, Le Meridien, Alitalia, Air France, Virgin Atlantic and many other frequent flyer/stayer schemes.

But what’s the cost?

The Malta American Express card costs, but – in particular bearing in mind your access to the MR scheme – it is very competitive when compared to the BOV Visa card prices (indeed the AMEX Green card is cheaper).

  • The AMEX Green card costs €20 per year, plus €20 for an extra card. You also need to pay €35.25 to join the Membership Rewards scheme, although this is free in the first year.
  • The AMEX Gold card costs €110 per year, with two cards. Membership Rewards is free.
  • AMEX Platinum is €550 a year, and as a result is probably not your best value option.

You can do your own comparison of the relative benefits of the cards by clicking on this link. I would suggest that your best value Malta American Express option is probably the Green card, although consider the Gold card (and the additional insurance and customer service benefits) if you’re getting a supplementary card (as the supplementary card is free with Gold, compared to €20 with Green).

By comparison, the BOV Skypass card costs €35 per year and an additional €12 per year for an extra card. Meanwhile the Gold Visa card costs €69 per year (+ €24 for a supplementary card), and the Platinum Visa card €115 (+ €35 for a supplementary card).

Of course, the justification for paying for a credit card is very much relative to how much spend you will put through it, and so how many reward points you will earn. Given how vastly superior MR is to the BOV Loyalty Points scheme, I think it is quite clear that you are getting better value for money using AMEX. However, in any case, if you don’t put big spends through your credit card (and therefore don’t earn a substantial number of reward points), there’s probably no point in paying for it: it’s a waste of the card fee – you should just use your debit card.

Another major positive of MR points is that they regularly offer bonuses on redemption (sometimes up to 50%).

Finally, unlike BOV points 36 month shelf-life, MR points never expire.

What about the benefits other than simply points?

Both the BOV Visa and AMEX cards offer the usual additional insurance, and largely cancel each other out on this front (although the AMEX insurance is undoubtedly more comprehensive: extending to winter sports, for example and children aged up to 23 (rather than 18)).

Does anywhere in Malta actually accept AMEX?

Yes. Because the AMEX scheme here is administered by BOV, the BOV payment terminals at all supermarkets will accept AMEX, so you’re in exactly the same position as if you had a BOV Visa card.

You may struggle occasionally with certain online merchants, but in these circumstances you can simply use your debit card.

Please note that all the above is subject to the assumption that you pay off your credit cards in full every month and don’t pay interest or fees. If you start paying interest/fees on credit cards, this will far outweigh the upside of any rewards earned through them.

I have not included any affiliate links to American Express in the above. This is an editorially independent article that does not in any way seek to benefit from the recommendation of American Express cards, it is simply an objective summary of the positives of this card for the Malta frequent traveller.

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