Membership Rewards Announces Transfer Bonuses to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic!

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Update: The transfer bonuses are now live!

Good news this evening as the American Express Membership Rewards program has announced not one but two transfer bonuses that begin at midnight!  The first is a 20% transfer bonus with British Airways that runs from 10/15 – 12/31/13.  The second is a 30% transfer bonus with Virgin Atlantic that runs from 10/15 – 11/30/13.

One of my very favorite things about the Membership Rewards program is that they periodically run transfer bonuses with some of their hotel and airline partners.  This makes the points that you earn with cards like the The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN, Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card, or The Mercedes Benz Platinum Amex stretch that much further, which is key when you are earning and spending miles and points for a family.

20% Transfer Bonus to British Airways Avios:

The Membership Rewards program has had previous transfer bonuses to Avios that were as high as 50% in 2012.  The most recent transfer bonus was a 35% transfer bonus that ended in June 2013.  A 20% transfer bonus obviously isn’t as high as some of the previous transfer bonuses, but it is obviously better than nothing, and I like that it is valid for such a long period of time.  This means that you don’t need to make any speculative transfer now, but instead you can just take advantage of the deal if you find yourself needing Avios over the next 2.5 months.

BA Transfer Bonus

I get some serious value out of using Avios on flights with partners like American Airlines.  For example, soon I am going to Dallas and while flights were going for around $150 each way from Houston when I needed to book, it was just 4,500 Avios each direction.  This is the best miles and points deal out there from short, but expensive flights serviced by British Airways partners.  With this 20% transfer bonus, my 4,500 Avios flight would have just essentially required 3,600 Membership Reward points.  Here is a post with some of my favorite uses of Avios as well as a step-by-step guide on how to book American Airlines flights with Avios.

30% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic:

One of the things that many people like about the Virgin Atlantic program is that their miles transfer 1:2 to the HIlton HHonors program.  The normal transfer rate is 1,000 Membership Reward points: 1,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles, but with this you will get 30% more.  When you then transfer those to Hilton, you will do so at 1:2.  This means that if you transfer 20,000 Membership Reward points to Virgin Atlantic during the promo, that will become 26,000 Flying Club Miles.  You can then transfer 25,000 of those to Hilton HHonors where they will become 50,000 HHonors points.  Hilton has devalued their program some in the last 6 months, but there are still some good family friendly redemption options, so this might make sense for some.  Using Virgin Atlantic miles for flights can be tough since they do charge some relatively high taxes and fees for doing so.

Both transfer bonuses are set to go live at midnight tonight, and will be hard coded into the Membership Rewards transfer screen so there is no registration that is required.  Will you be taking advantage of either transfer bonus?


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  1. @Jeremy – Oh, so if I have a BA Visa, I can transfer all of my Amex MR points to BA at a rate of 1.25? No, I can’t. The earning rate of the BA Visa has absolutely no bearing on this blog post. Don’t confuse other readers.

  2. Yes! I have some leftover points just hanging out and I need to cancel the 2- amex gold’s I got with a 50,000 pt bonus before my annual fees hit. I think we may be shooting for Hawaii in 2014 so it would be a speculative transfer. (I had planned on cashing out the last points for Hyatt GC’s until this post, though I didn’t really want to as I’m currently stockpiling Ultimate rewards with the Islands in mind) I’ve not had any experience with Avios. Will I sign up for a program or do I have to get a British Airways card to take advantage of them?

  3. Saving my MR points for either Singapore ot Cathay first class. Mrs flight likes the idea of one of those double beds…

  4. I’m wondering if I transfer to Virgin Atlantic and British Airways will the mile requirements still be the same if I use their travel partners?

  5. Have been waiting for a BA transfer offer but 20% does not have me excited, especially since I took advantage of the 35% transfer earlier this year. Not sure what to do now. I wonder if there will be a higher transfer next spring?

  6. @Jonathan I was not trying to confuse readers, I’m merely informing them that a 20% transfer bonus on their MR may not be their best option if they have the BA Visa. So, if you’re trying to save up Avios for a trip, I wouldn’t start using an Amex card (unless it gets double, triple, etc points) if they had been using their BA Visa.

    BTW BA Visa right now has a no annual fee sign-up.

    • I totally agree Jeremy’s 1.25 BA card is a better deal that the 20% offer….plus in Jeremy’s case he he on his way toward the 30k companion pass that would trump if even further……..a lot of ifs but 20% WILL NT BE the best deal in the room over the next year……only shoot if you have no other choice………..

  7. Thanks for the post MP.

    However, its 12:08 in the morning of 10/15 here is the Pacific Time Zone and 1,000 MR points is still showing as converting to 1,000 BA Miles…

  8. Jeremy, I’m not sure it should be one card vs the other. If you are big on Avios, honestly you should have both. This transfer bonus is smaller than previous ones, but even this year we had one that put the MR earnings at higher than the BA Visa earnings if that is how you used your points. Even now, I mostly charge things on my Amex cards that earn a bonus there, so for example my 3x on airfare on the Biz or Personal Gold Reward cards means I am earning essentially 3.6 Avios per airfare dollar charged if transferred during this bonus. Still, I say it is not an either or scenario. 😉
    Just Saying, I don’t think it is the trigger happy who should use this deal. I think it is those who need miles/points in one of these programs for a redemption during the promo. If you have no Avios, and need some right now for a redemption then this is certainly better than no bonus, but I would not make speculative transfers.
    Glenn, not sure what time in the night it was actually loaded, but it was showing for me when I logged on at 6AM Central.

  9. I agree this is just for the desperate who have no AVIOS and need AVIOS points to use in the next month or so. Otherwise wait for the 40% bonus or 50% offers that tend to come around.

  10. @mommypoints Totally agree that if you get 3x, 2x, on your Amex that trumps the 1.25 with BA Visa. I do happen to have both, but for those deciding which card to get or unsure how to use their miles, it may be best for them to a) wait for another bonus (hopefully another 35-50% one) b) get/use a different card. You are correct this certainly isn’t an either/or situation. I’m going to sit this bonus out, though I may take advantage of the Virgin Atlantic offer for transfers to Hilton, use on Hawaiian, or Virgin America.

  11. I think the Virgin Atlantic sweet spot that I enjoy is a first class ticket on Virgin America from DFW-LAX for 40,000 points. At 31,000 miles x .3 to get you over 40,000 – this seems like a steal. It’s at the very least 3-4cpp and a bit nicer than most domestic first class flights.

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