40% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios

Just last week, we reported that the normal transfer ratio from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways and Iberia Avios has returned to the old 1:1 ratio that had been the norm until a couple of years ago. Not even a week later, we have our first transfer bonus on the new even money ratio, with a 40% bonus meaning that transfers are now 1:1.4 or 250 Membership Rewards points = 350 British Airways Avios though September 17, 2017.

The Deal

  • 40% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios
  • Points transfer 250:350 (or 1,000 Membership Rewards = 1400 British Airways Avios)

Key Terms

  • Minimum transfer is 250 points
  • Additional Avios will be awarded at the time of transfer
  • Applies to transfers made by 11:59pm MT on September 17, 2017

Quick Thoughts

When the ratio returned to 1:1, I wondered whether this would signal a slowdown in transfer bonuses (the previous 250:200 ratio would sometimes be increased by transfer bonuses to improve to better than 1:1). It’s terrific to see that transfer bonuses are not a thing of the past with a fairly generous offer to kick things off.

British Airways Avios are best for short-haul Oneworld flights outside of the US (where a single flight segment up to 650 miles in distance costs just 4500 Avios, which would require 3,250 Membership Rewards before the bonus as you must transfer in increments of 250. Another great use is from the west coast of the USA to Hawaii, which normally runs 12,500 Avios one-way (a transfer of 9,000 Membership Rewards would get you a one-way to Hawaii).

Iberia Avios is a separate program with a separate award chart. One great use could be business class from the east coast and Chicago to Europe — especially if and when they run an award sale. Even at regular rates, in off-peak season, it costs 34,000 Avios plus about $125 for business class from New York, Boston, or Chicago to Madrid or just 42,000 Avios from Los Angeles or many cities in Central/South America to Madrid. With the transfer bonus, those rates drop to just 24,500 Membership Rewards from New York / Boston / Chicago or 30,000 Membership Rewards points from Los Angeles or some of the cities in Central/South America. Those rates can be an excellent value. See this post from a previous sale for the Iberia award chart.

Avios can also be transferred between those two programs, though there are some hoops — read about how to jump through them here.

Of course, the value of the promotion depends on how you intend to use the Avios — but there are some great values to be had here. I wouldn’t necessarily move points speculatively, but this is a great rate if you have a redemption in mind.

H/T: IAD Gr8 on Twitter

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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    • I don’t off the top of my head. This is how I’d go about figuring it out:

      First, start by looking at the Avios award chart. If you Google British Airways award chart, you can start there and see the distances. For example, a trip up to 3,000 miles costs 12,500 Avios one-way. My next stop was the Philadelphia Airport Wikipedia page to see which destinations you can fly to direct on American, British Airways, or other Oneworld partners out of Philadelphia:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_International_Airport

      Honestly, there’s not much that would represent a huge savings. You could save some miles on flights to Mexico/Caribbean by using your Avios to fly on American to Cancun or Punta Cana — but good luck finding saver award space, and cash tickets are often cheap enough to probably be a better value. Some of the AA seasonal flights in the Caribbean/Central America might work out to be good depending on your needs.

      To determine distance from PHL, you can use gcmap.com to look up a specific distance (like PHL-CUN) or you can use a radius mapping tool like this one to get inspiration from a map as to destinations within each tier:

      https://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm

      Iberia Avios for travel on Iberia represent a better value to Europe in many instances, but Iberia doesn’t fly out of PHL. You can also use Iberia Avios for travel on American (or other Oneworld partners). There are some interesting value spots to be had, but there are some catches (partner awards can only be booked round-trip and partner awards cannot be canceled — in other words, you lose your miles if you can’t take the trip). Mommy Points has a good write-up about this:

      http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/2017/04/04/use-iberia-avios-to-book-american-airlines-award-flights/

      Finally, I find the biggest “sweet-spot” for Avios if you’re looking to fly from PHL is that there are no close-in booking fees. When my parents had planned to drive 14 hours for a wedding and my mom hurt her back the day before the drive, I was able to book them a flight on 24hrs notice for $6 each way (and the Avios of course). American would have charged me an additional $75 close-in booking fee.

      Otherwise, the best uses of Avios are typically short but expensive Oneworld flights outside of the US. Flights under 650 miles (outside of the US) cost only 4500 Avios (+ taxes). Within the US, all flights 1150 miles or less cost 7500 Avios + taxes….but that means that you need to find saver availability on American (or Alaska…but they only fly to SEA out of PHL). Finding AA saver availability is pretty tough unless you’re booking last-minute (in which case, Avios are a good value since they lack the aforementioned close-in booking fee).

      Hope that helps.

      • Thanks, Nick, for such a detailed and well thought-out reply. I’ve never really had much luck finding any worthwhile Avios redemptions from PHL in the past, and you pretty much summed up why.

        Thanks also for the heads up on the last-minute bookings on AA. I will certainly examine that possibility for future travel.

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