Since mid-September, the US Amex Membership Rewards program has been offering a 40% bonus when you transfer points to British Airways Executive Club or Iberia Plus. Amex points ordinarily convert into Avios at a 1:1 ratio, meaning you’re getting a 1:1.4 ratio here. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so you can take advantage of this deal as often as you’d like.
This promotion is valid for about two months, though it’s soon coming to an end. The 40% transfer bonus ends on November 15, 2018, which is less than a week from now.
This post is a reminder for those who were considering taking advantage of this offer. Though more importantly, I wanted to talk a bit about a question I’ve been asking myself — does it make sense to speculatively transfer Amex points to take advantage of the 40% bonus, even if you’re not yet ready to book?
The reason transferable points are so valuable is because of their flexibility, and you lose that flexibility when you transfer those points to a single partner. So in general with these currencies I recommend only transferring points with a short-term redemption in mind.
But what about in this situation, with a 40% transfer bonus?
Let’s acknowledge a few things first:
- Historically Amex has offered a transfer bonus to British Airways/Iberia about once a year, and not more often; so I’d expect we won’t see this bonus again for at least another year (and there’s a chance it won’t return next year)
- While British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus are transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase has never offered a transfer bonus to them, so that’s worth keeping in mind
- British Airways is supposedly considering some changes to their loyalty program in the not too distance future, so I don’t think it’s a sure bet that redemption rates will stay as they are now
Furthermore, for context, here’s the British Airways Executive Club award chart:
|Zone // Flight Distance||Economy|
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
Off Peak // Peak
*Not available in North America
|4,000 // 4,500||5,750 // 6,750||7,750 // 9,000||15,500 // 18,000|
|6,500 // 7,500||9,500 // 11,250||12,750 // 15,000||25,500 // 30,000|
|8,500 // 10,000||12,750 // 15,000||17,000 // 20,000||34,000 // 40,000|
|10,000 // 12,500||20,000 // 25,000||31,250 // 37,500||42,500 // 50,000|
|13,000 // 20,000||26,000 // 40,000||50,000 // 60,000||68,000 // 80,000|
|16,250 // 25,000||32,500 // 50,000||62,500 // 75,000||85,000 // 100,000|
|19,500 // 30,000||39,000 // 60,000||75,000 // 90,000||102,000 // 120,000|
|22,750 // 35,000||45,500 // 70,000||87,500 // 105,000||119,000 // 140,000|
|32,50 // 50,000||65,000 // 100,000||125,000 // 150,000||170,000 // 200,000|
- All awards on partner airlines price at the peak levels
- Variable (peak and off-peak) pricing only applies for travel on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus, and you can find the calendar for that here
- Pricing is per segment, so no matter what type of award you book, you’ll pay individually for each segment
- Travel on British Airways and many partner airlines is subjected to carrier imposed surcharges, which is the frustration that many people have with the program
And here’s a post with some of the great uses of British Airways Avios without huge fees.
So, where does that leave us? Does it make sense to speculatively transfer Membership Rewards points to Avios without an immediate use in mind? Obviously this depends on many factors, including how many Membership Rewards points you have, what your typical redemption patterns are, etc.
Last year I didn’t speculatively transfer over any points during the promotion, and I ended up regretting that, since over the course of the year I made several transfers without the bonus, as the need arose.
So this year I will be transferring some points speculatively. I think the best strategy is to transfer over as many points as you see yourself redeeming in the next year. That way you’ll be covered until the same promotion next year (assuming it’s offered).
Even if British Airways did end up devaluing their award chart before I were able to redeem Avios, I doubt it will be a devaluation that reduces the value of Avios by enough to offset the value of the bonus.
Avios are admittedly a niche currency, and they’re not the best for aspirational awards. However, they sure are useful for shorthaul awards, and increasingly that’s where I’m finding value with redemptions.
So yes, this time around (unlike last year) I do plan on transferring over points speculatively with the 40% bonus. I have a sizable balance of Membership Rewards points, so I’m thinking of transferring over 200,000 points or so, as that should cover me and my family for a while.
Are you converting Amex points into Avios speculatively with the current 40% bonus?