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I’m very excited to share the news that two American Express Membership Reward transfer bonuses are currently available. I admit I am way more excited about one of the transfer bonuses than the other, but transfer bonuses are always better than no transfer bonuses. Currently both British Airways and Virgin American are offering bonuses when you transfer American Express Membership Reward points to those respective airlines. For me, transfer bonuses are the single most valuable aspect of the Membership Rewards program. They have lost some transfer partners and (temporarily) lost their online shopping mall, but transfer bonuses are what keep me loyal to my Membership Rewards earning card. For example, if you use an AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card to purchase airfare at 3x points, and then transfer the points during a promotion like the current 40% BA transfer then you are effectively earning 4.2 points per dollar on those purchases (and if you can purchase your airfare with that card via Travelocity in the Ultimate Rewards portal then you are earning an additional 2x UR points). That’s a pretty great return!
Here are the details on the two currently available Membership Rewards transfer bonuses:
Through September 27th there is a 40% transfer bonus on all MR points transferred to the British Airways Avios program. This 40% bonus is already coded into the system, so it will happen automatically when you transfer points. Points normally transfer 1,000:1,000 from Membership Rewards to British Airways, but right now they transfer at a rate of 1,000:1,400
I am a huge fan of the British Airways program for short flights to/from the US, Caribbean, Canada, and a few other strategic uses. Often my recommendation is to use them to fly on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines. Most of the time, I don’t actually recommend using them to fly on British Airways as you can get way more value for your points elsewhere. You can read more about my favorite uses of Avios in this post. Since the award chart is distance based, I typically use Avios for short flights that would be expensive for me to purchase; I usually get at least 2-3 cents in value per Avios point.
Here’s a quick real-life example. I recently used Avios for a redemption for my husband from Houston to Chicago. The selling price for the flight was $406 round trip. The price in Avios was 15,000 Avios round trip for direct flights. That means that I got a 2.7 cents per point value from my Avios. When you take into account that I had obtained those Avios by jumping on the previous Membership Rewards transfer bonus, then the reality is that I was really getting 4.05 cents per point for my Membership Reward points (I had transferred during a 50% bonus). That is a very good return per point – especially considering it was for a domestic economy ticket that I was going to have to purchase one way or another.
A 40% transfer bonus is pretty good, but there was a 50% transfer bonus earlier in the year, so just take that into account when deciding if you want to transfer points. I often transfer points to Avios speculatively since I have so many valuable and practical uses for them, but that decision is not right for every family. Once you transfer the points from MR you lose their flexibility, so the general advice is to not transfer until you have a specific redemption in mind. Thanks to View From the Wing for sharing this news!
Virgin America Elevate:
Through September 2nd there is a 30% transfer bonus for all Membership Reward points transferred to the Virgin America program. The normal transfer rate is 2:1. That means that you normally lose 50% in the conversion. With the 30% transfer bonus, you receive 130 Virgin America Elevate points when you transfer 200 Membership Reward points. That is better than the normal rate, but it still isn’t very impressive to me, especially since Virgin America points aren’t typically worth very much per point. Check out The Points Guy’s post on this transfer for more info!
I would love if Delta introduced a transfer bonus since they were very active on the transfer bonus scene last year, but have been very quiet this year. Still, having these two transfer bonuses available helps reinforce my favorite component of the Membership Rewards program. Will you be taking advantage of either of these transfer bonuses?
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