Should You Speculatively Convert Amex Points Into Avios With A 40% Bonus?

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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.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points with the following cards:

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 DistanceEconomy
Off Peak // Peak
Premium Economy
Off Peak // Peak
Business
Off Peak // Peak
First
Off Peak // Peak
Zone 1
1-650 miles*
*Not available in North America
4,000 // 4,5005,750 // 6,7507,750 // 9,00015,500 // 18,000
Zone 2
651-1150 miles
6,500 // 7,5009,500 // 11,25012,750 // 15,00025,500 // 30,000
Zone 3
1151-2000 miles
8,500 // 10,00012,750 // 15,00017,000 // 20,00034,000 // 40,000
Zone 4
2001-3000 miles
10,000 // 12,50020,000 // 25,00031,250 // 37,50042,500 // 50,000
Zone 5
3001-4000 miles
13,000 // 20,00026,000 // 40,00050,000 // 60,00068,000 // 80,000
Zone 6
4001-5500 miles
16,250 // 25,00032,500 // 50,00062,500 // 75,00085,000 // 100,000
Zone 7
5501-6500 miles
19,500 // 30,00039,000 // 60,00075,000 // 90,000102,000 // 120,000
Zone 8
6501-7000 miles
22,750 // 35,00045,500 // 70,00087,500 // 105,000119,000 // 140,000
Zone 9
7001+ miles
32,50 // 50,00065,000 // 100,000125,000 // 150,000170,000 // 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?

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Comments

  1. Curious…how many points, on avg, do you accrue in a year? When there are point promotions, you always say “…don’t speculatively transfer.” I understand why you say it but I hesitate to transfer over 20k bc you never know what’s going to happen. But here you are SPECULATIVELY transferring 200k which makes me think “50k? Psshh..YOLO!!”

  2. What’s the point of speculatively transferring avios over for short haul redemptions when AA out of NYC pretty much zeros out sAAver level awards on most routes for Fri-Sun travel? Oh, that’s right, no point

  3. Transferred 100k. Invaluable for last minute AA flights. Regularly get over 3 cents/avio through Iberia. Going to regret if/when they change from distance-based to zones, or even worse…

  4. i am tempted, 40 percent is awfully good, but my husband and I both have lots left from last year. And I want to make sure I have enough MR when I need it for something like the transfer bonus for Virgin Atlantic for ANA. Look forward to learning about another amazing redemption like that one!

  5. I need enough to fly my wife and I PHX to Maui nonstop twice this year and PHX to Cancun and PHX to Cabo . If my married children want to join us in Maui I need more to help them come along. For us this is a great bargain.

  6. I clicked on your link for the peek/off-peek calendar and received a message saying the reward calendar is “not available in your area.” What’s up with that?

  7. Is it speculative if you figure you’ll be using them but don’t have a specific use in mind?

    I transferred to Iberia because we’re flying into Madrid next year, and will definitely want to use Avios for flights, but haven’t firmed up the schedule yet. Also, form Seattle anything closer than Albuquerque for 7,500/15,000 Business (BA), or most or anything closer than New Orleans 23,000/46,000 Business RT (Iberia)? Yes, please.

    So semi-speculative

  8. I have been wanting to take advantage of this, transfer to Iberia and book either ORD-MAD or SFO-MAD next spring. The problem is, there is absolutely zero business class availability in March or April from either of these cities. I’ve checked each day in both March and April. Nothing. So I am wondering if I should speculatively transfer in hopes something will open up. Can’t decide what to do.

  9. Just keep in mind that there is very little, if any, premium cabin award space on three-class AA transcons and BA/AA transatlantic within three weeks of the date you search for flights. I can’t find premium transcon through January. Very little JFK-LHR.

    Avios are much less attractive if award travel can only be booked far in advance.

    Perhaps this is a temporary situation but, if not, it’s a big devaluation.

  10. There is now no first or business class award space on three-class AA transcons for at least the next five months.

    Zilch.

    Dead as disco.

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