Membership Rewards offering a 35% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios through June 7, 2013

Through June 7, 2013, the US American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 35% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so every 1,000 Membership Rewards points you convert gets you 1,350 Avios. As a result you can earn the bonus as often as you’d like.

In the past we’ve seen transfer bonuses as high as 50%, though most recently we saw a 30% transfer bonus at the beginning of the year.

As a reminder, British Airways’ awards are distance based and their rates roughly correspond to the ones below (though British Airways doesn’t actually publish their own chart):

The funny thing is that the award chart isn’t useful for what I typically like to redeem miles for — it’s a poor value for first class (as they charge three times as much as coach), and the prices are quite ridiculous for longhaul travel. For example, a one-way first class ticket from New York to Hong Kong will cost you 105,000 Avios.

While they’re not useful for aspirational awards, they are extremely practical, especially living on the west coast. I use them all the time for travel on Alaska Airlines, as it’s just 7,500 Avios each way between Seattle and destinations in California. Since there are no close-in ticketing fees they’re great for last minute travel too.

Avios are also great for travel to South America. British Airways partners with LAN, which has an excellent business class product and an extensive route network throughout South America. They charge just 25,000 Avios for a one-way business class ticket from Miami to Lima, which is a value that’s tough to beat.

And even to Europe they’re getting better. In the past I was convinced it wasn’t possible to redeem Avios without fuel surcharges for transatlantic travel, though now we know that you can redeem them without fuel surcharges for travel on both Aer Lingus and Air Berlin, both of which can be a great value.

At this rate I’ll speculatively transfer some points to British Airways, given how many uses I have for their points. As of late it’s actually the mileage currency I’m burning through most quickly.

Filed Under: American Express, British Airways


  1. @ tyler — Air Berlin flights can be booked on, while Aer Lingus flights have to be booked by phone.

  2. @ John — It has been a while since we’ve seen a 50% bonus, so it’s anyone’s guess, really. I would guess we won’t see another promo like that for a while, especially since the last time they offered it was shortly after they substantially devalued their award chart.

  3. @lucky : my bad … i’ve been reading all the avios charts on google search of “zone 9 – 7000-10000 miles”

  4. I haven’t found much availability on LAX -sfo on American, do you find Alaska availability better than AA?

  5. @ Beachfan — Interesting, I generally find availability excellent on American between LAX and SFO. Alaska doesn’t fly the route, though I generally find their shorthaul award availability to be very good.

  6. Sounds great, but *which* regional Amex MR is this? The local one speaks nothing of this kind of bonus.

  7. “Great business product on LAN”…. got the impression you poo-pooed them in your last trip report…. is it more of a “it got me there for fewer miles in C” kinda opinion… (just like my “meilenschnäppchen” 55K RT in LH C I finished yesterday>?)

  8. Ben , you say you are burning BA miles as much as you can, do you keep the BA Chase card open? I opened mine in Dec 2010 and am thinking of closing it since it provides no benefit. Just hope it does not ding my C report.

    ( By the way was approved for the Hilton Citi Reserve using your link 🙂 )

  9. @Tom
    You would use BA’s chart to redeem but fly on Aer Lingus metal. Lucky previously detailed a sweet spot in the BA chart to fly on Aer Lingus between BOS-DUB, and fwiw, JFK-DUB is not too much more expensive than that.

  10. @Tom, sorry I saw chart and not availability. My mistake. I believe shows Aer Lingus availability since they are a partner – also ExpertFlyer.

  11. @ elsie — I wasn’t impressed with LAN Argentina, though many say LAN Peru/Chile are better. That being said I do still think it was a very good product. It featured fully flat beds, which isn’t the case with most carriers between the US and South America in business class.

  12. @ Tom — Neither ExpertFlyer nor accurately show Aer Lingus award space as it’s available to those with BA Avios. So the only way to find out the BA availability is to call.

  13. @ jorge — I actually closed the card late last year. While you earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent, I was still doing better just earning AmEx Membership Rewards points and transferring them with a bonus.

    And thanks for using my link!

  14. I legally changed my last name. And so it is on my cc. However ba won’t allow a name change to acc without it fist being changed on my passport. Any advice how I can get my points from my cc without getting a new passport? Thanks

  15. When I use the avios calculator on the British Air site, and enter Bos as the starting point and Dublin as the end point (selecting economy), the calculator reports that 25000 avios are needed each way for this trip (but no taxes). How does one know that only 12500 are needed if the trip is booked on Aer Lingus?

  16. @ HR — That’s because the calculator pricing is based on travel on British Airways, while you’re looking at traveling on Aer Lingus, which has lower pricing since it’s a direct flight. If you call they should be able to confirm the lower price.

  17. @ tyler — It shouldn’t be an issue if you keep crediting to the account with your old name. When it comes time to make a booking you can just enter your correct name in the passenger details, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

  18. Just tried to transfer 72,000 rewards points for 97,200 British Airways Avios. AE stated they will charge .0006 per point transfered so it would cost me $43.20 for the privilege of AE allowing the transfer. Is this new? I don’t recall being charged a fee last time I did this. If this is a new policy for AE to make money, this sucks royally.

  19. @ pssteve — You can search availability on either the Alaska or American websites. Both display award availability for Alaska regardless of whether you’re a member of their program or not.

  20. @ Kent C — That fee should only apply if transferring to a US frequent flyer program. That means the fee wouldn’t apply if you make a transfer to British Airways.

  21. Thanks for clarifying. Wonder if AE has always charged for transfers to US based airlines or if this is something recent.

  22. @Kent C and @Lucky – can you transfer AA miles to BA avios and back? So far I’ve credited every BA flight I’ve ever taken to AA account but with no surcharges and good bonuses when transferring MR to avios, would it be smart to start a BA account?

  23. @ Pete Burgess — No, you unfortunately can’t transfer points between American and British Airways. Generally you’re better off crediting flights to American than British Airways, though, given that their miles tend to be more valuable.

  24. So, I need to transfer my AMEX points into Delta to confirm my flight itinerary but this has me curious. Could I send my AMEX points to BA and then use them to pay for my Delta flight??

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