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Through October 10, 2016, you will receive a 50% bonus when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points transfers to British Airways Avios. This is the first time in about 18 months that American Express has offered a bonus for transfers to BA.
- Membership Rewards do not transfer at a ratio of 1:1 to BA Avios. Instead, they transfer at a 1:0.8 (200 Avios for every 250 Membership Rewards).
- BA no longer offers economy class short-haul awards (under 650 miles) originating or ending in the U.S. for 4,500 Avios or 9,000 Avios in business class. Now the lowest rates for such awards are 7,500 Avios and 15,000 Avios, respectively. While these are still fair prices, they no longer represent what was arguably one of the best award redemptions across any program.
There is no limit to the number of Membership Rewards you can transfer.
Should you take advantage of this promotion?
As always, speculative points transfers need to be considered very carefully. The promotion needs to be amazing to make such a commitment; remember, you're converting from a very flexible travel rewards currency to an airline mile that must be redeemed within the constraints of that program. However, if you have an Avios award booking in mind, and you see award availability, this is a perfect time to take advantage of the offer.
A couple of other things to keep in mind:
- Membership Rewards to Avios transfers are instant. You don't have to wait a two, three, or seven days for the transfer to complete.
- You can redeem Avios for awards on all of BA's Oneworld partners, including American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Japan Airlines, as well as their non-Oneworld partners, such as Alaska Airlines and Aer Lingus. The strength in any airline mile is not just their flights, but rather the flights you can take with their partners.
Additionally, remember that you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. In the case of Starwood points, you would receive a 5,000 Avios bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer. Therefore, if you do not have enough Membership Rewards and Avios for the award you want, you can supplement your Avios balance by transferring points from either of these programs as well.
While fuel (a.k.a carrier-imposed) surcharges will be imposed on most Avios awards, that is not the case for awards on U.S. domestic American or Alaska flights. These fees are also low on most Cathay Pacific awards and most awards within the same region.
It is certainly great to see American Express once again offering a transfer bonus on points transfers to British Airways Avios. The promotion is valid for through October 10, 2016, so there is no need to rush any transfers unless you are ready to book now.
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