Fly from Just 3,000 Points Using Amex Transfer Bonus to British Airways

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Periodic transfer bonuses are part of the stable of miles and points tools that my family uses to really stretch what we have for travel that we otherwise couldn’t afford. You can’t predict most transfer bonuses, but you can choose to utilize them when they become available. Along those lines, through September 17, 2017, there is a 40% transfer bonus from the Amex Membership Rewards program to British Airways Avios that increases the transfer ratio from a one to one ratio to 250 Membership Reward points = 350 British Airways Avios!

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express

It doesn’t take a math genius or fancy calculator to know that a 40% transfer bonus is pretty good, but sometimes it helps to really put that sort of theoretical number into real world flight award price examples. This is especially true with British Airways as their award chart is a little unique because it is distance-based with peak and off-peak prices. In other words, there are literally dozens of award prices even though the chart itself is pretty simple. Lots of dates are actually off-peak, but the partner awards mentioned below will all price as peak awards, regardless of date.

As you probably know, you don’t have to fly British Airways to use their distance-based award chart. Closer to home you may be looking at Alaska or American Airlines operated flights for the award bookings you make using British Airways Avios starting at just 7,500 points each way. This doesn’t even begin to factor in that you can transfer your British Airways Avios over to Iberia or Aer Lingus for some different (and sometimes better) award prices.

For today though, let’s look at what you can do with British Airways Avios using the current 40% transfer bonus from the Amex Membership Rewards program from cards such as the Amex EveryDay® Credit CardThe Platinum Card®, and even the Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express that has no annual fee and earns 2x points on most charges up to $50,000 annually.

Fly From 3,000 Membership Reward Points + Taxes

Let’s start with the shortest flights of 0 – 650 flown miles that price starting at just 4,000 Avios each way during off-peak dates, and 4,500 during peak dates. That lowest priced tier does not work in North America, but it does work elsewhere. As an example, you can fly a really cool route from Grand Cayman to Nassau for just 4,000 Avios + $27.50 in economy, or hitch a ride in a lie-flat business class seat for just 7,750 Avios + $40.00 on that same route. With the current 40% transfer bonus that comes to about 3,000 Membership Reward points for economy and 5,750 Membership Reward points for British Airways business class!

Note that those numbers and others I will use are assume you have 0 points in your Avios account and need to transfer in enough to cover the award. You may end up with a small reminder of Avios left in your account as you can only transfer in 250 point intervals. 

If you don’t want to cruise around the Caribbean on some of those cool Fifth Freedom Routes, you can also fly around Europe on British Airways somewhere like Dublin – London from just 3,000 Membership Reward points + $14.09 in taxes with the transfer bonus. Remember that British Airways charges per segment, so if you connect on any awards you will pay more, therefore, target nonstop flights. Taxes can also be higher on some of these short flights if you haven’t earned an Avios in the last 12 months.

Fly in the United States from 5,500 Points + $5.60

The lowest level on the British Airways distance based award chart in the United States and North America is 7,500 Avios for up to 1,151 flown miles on partners like American and Alaska. For a Houston-based flyer like me, that means that I could fly on a nonstop American Airlines flight from Houston to Charlotte, Phoenix, or Miami for 7,500 Avios + $5.60 each way, which comes to just 5,500 Membership Reward points with this 40% bonus.

If you were feeling fancy and wanted to do those same flights of up to 1,151 miles in domestic first class on a two-cabin plane it would run you 15,000 Avios, which comes to 10,750 Membership Reward points each way.

To put this in perspective, let’s look at what American Airlines would want for a saver first class award from Houston to Miami, Charlotte, or similar. They would want 25,000 miles each way for a saver award compared to the 15,000 Avios/10,750 Membership Reward points mentioned above. Booking via British Airways while using this transfer bonus saves you over half the number of miles and points for the same exact flights. This is exactly how families can really stretch their miles and points to the limit.

Fly to Hawaii from 9,000 Points + $5.60

For 12,500 Avios you can fly from 2,001 – 3,000 miles, which means that nonstop flights from the West Coast and as far east as Phoenix to the Hawaiian Islands can be yours for that price. With the 40% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards, that means you can fly to Hawaii from just 9,000 Membership Reward points + $5.60 each way nonstop on British Airways partners Alaska or American Airlines flights in economy.

If you want to do the trip in business class/domestic first, I don’t blame you, though keep in mind that all of this hinges on saver award availability, which can be even tighter than tight in a premium cabin to Hawaii. However, it does happen and a flight like this one from Los Angeles to Honolulu on American Airlines will cost you 37,500 Avios each way, which comes to 27,000 Membership Reward points during the transfer bonus. American Airlines would want 40,000 miles each way for the same flight.

Houston to London for 11,750 Points + $153

While we do sometimes now see crazy airfares sales to Europe, I still won’t shake a stick at flying nonstop on British Airways from Houston to London from just 11,750 Membership Reward points (16,500 Avios) + $153 during this transfer bonus on an off-peak date. I mean, think about a domestic saver award within the United States with most programs that costs 12,500 miles each way, and then think that you can get all the way from the middle of the country to London for just 11,750 Amex points + $153 in taxes.

If you were feeling fancy, you can do this is business class it will just cost you more to the tune of 44,750 Membership Reward points transferred in + a painful $506.10 in taxes. British Airways business class may not be a crowd favorite, but we enjoyed it with our family. As an added bonus, lap infants are just 10% of the award price in Avios as opposed to 10% of the actual cash price the way they are with most other programs.

C flying British Airways business class.

I know this can be confusing at first, so please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and we’ll work to get you on the right path.

Do you plan to make use of the current 40% transfer bonus to British Airways from Membership Rewards? If so, I’d love to hear about your plans!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. “Taxes can also be higher on some of these short flights if you haven’t earned an Avios in the last 12 months.”

    Does a transfer in from MR points to Avios count as an ‘earn’ to see the saver fares?

  2. Hi, I and my wife have nearly 75k membership reward points with no plans on using those in the near future. I have been thinking of taking advantage of this offer to transfer all to Avios , but it would be a speculative thing. We have plans to go to Europe/South America, but it may not be until fall 2018. Would you suggest transferring now or wait since I doubt such offer would ever reappear.

    • Oh gosh, that is tough. I think this is a good transfer bonus, but speculative transfers are dangerous as British Airways could devalue. I would only do it if you have some back-up plans to redeem if a devaluation is announced.

  3. I’m in a similar boat as Pritish. I have 123k membership reward points and want to transfer them somewhere before my Amex renewal fee of $550 is charged in September. I’d like to take our family of 3 to Australia in Dec 2018 but don’t see that happening anytime soon so I need to go to plan B, which is still unknown. I’m thinking of transferring all my points to Avios, especially with the transfer bonus. Not sure if this is a good idea. I’m new to this points/mile thing (like under 1 year) and am trying to figure out a strategy and hope I don’t mess up too badly along the way

  4. It’s all tempting and on some routes there can be really good availability. Over the last year or so it seems harder to use these on USA domestic generic flights. I assume because of the lack of good AA saaver space.

    • This is very true. In terms of partner awards, it all hinges on saver award availability of those partners. American’s isn’t at an all time high, but it may be a tick better than it was at one point…on some routes.

  5. We are planning a trip to San Francisco in the Spring of 2018. Does the British Airways strategy work for 2 round trip tickets to San Francisco from Orlando. If not do you have other suggestions.

    Thank you

    • Yes, it works. That priced out for me at 12,500 Avios each way, so it would be about 9,000 Membership Reward points each direction with the 40% bonus, assuming there is saver award availability on American.

  6. Wow some great deals.

    I wish I had some of these points. I think I would do the Hawaii idea. That is pretty amazing. I hope this comes back around sometime when I have these points.

    • It’s not the first – let’s hope it comes around again. Earning some Membership Reward points is a good strategy so you are ready for the next time around.

  7. Yes, I like the idea of earning points on different platforms so that you can just take advantage of things when they pop up like this.

  8. Hi Mommy Points,

    Thank you for all the tips on flying free…or nearly 🙂 I am in a dilemma and need to top off two American Advantage accounts to fly from DTW to SNA tomorrow for one adult and two teens and a tween. One AA account needs 10k miles and the other AA account needs 6k. I have no Chase points, Marriott or SPG. Any suggestions on buying miles and what credit card to use? I know it isn’t the most economical purchase, but I am trying to figure out the best purchase avenue to lessen the pain 😉 Thanks so much.

    • Well if you don’t have the ability to book via British Airways Avios or similar then you are correct, buying American miles is the way to go. They do have a bonus going on right now based on how many points you buy and it should code as an American Airlines purchase, so use the card that will give you the best bonus on travel/airfare. Good luck!
      https://buymiles.americanairlines.com/en/buygift

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