Escape the Cold to the Caribbean For 20,000 Points RT

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I actually like winter, but can’t believe how cold it has been in some locations this week – even here in Texas it was below freezing for a couple of days.  One of the reasons I didn’t mind the cold down here is that I knew I had a warm beach vacation coming up in the very near future.  As I put the finishing touches on that trip, it spurred me to encourage some of you who need some thawing out to do the same.  Obviously there are lots of ways to spend miles and points to get to the beach, but I’ll cut to the chase and share my personal favorite trick for those in South, East Coast, and even some of the middle of the country…utilize British Airways Avios to fly partner American Airlines to the Caribbean!  If you are on the West Coast, use them to get to Hawaii.

As you may already know, British Airways has a distance based award chart, so this means that you don’t have to spend too many points on short flights.  Here is a good example for someone in New York City who wants to warm their bones in the Caribbean this coming weekend.

Flights to the Caribbean on points

Since I just got back from the US Virgin Islands, I plugged in JFK – St. Thomas (STT) on the British Airways website.  I quickly found availability leaving this Friday January 10th and coming back on Tuesday January 14th for a grand total of 20,000 British Airways Avios.  If you booked that exact flight using American Airlines miles for the same American operated flights it would cost you 35,000 miles (though you could get 10% of those back with a co-branded AA card).  Plus, you would have “close-in” booking fees with American at this point, where you pay nothing more than $10 in taxes when booking this flight via British Airways.


Trunk Bay in St. John

If you wanted to buy this exact flight with cash, it is currently selling for about $415 round trip, so not a terrible cash price, but way better on Avios points!

You can earn Avios via the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, or transfer them in 1:1 from Ultimate Rewards and card such as the Ink Plus® Business Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.  However, my personal favorite way to earn Avios on an ongoing basis is via cards that earn Membership Reward points such as the American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold Card  This is because Membership Rewards periodically runs transfer bonuses to the British Airways Avios program that have at times been as high as 50%.  During a 50% transfer bonus, you would only need to transfer about 14,000 Membership Reward points to end up with 21,000 Avios, which would be more than enough for this specific trip.

A 20% transfer bonus just ended on 12/31, but I’ll be sure to share when another one (hopefully) returns.  Be aware that with Avios, trips that require connections will price higher than direct flights.  You can use the Wandering Aramean’s Avios calculator to estimate how many Avios your trip will cost.  If you are brand new to the concept of using Avios to book flights then check out this post and this post.

Get family out of the “Polar Vortex” (my, that sounds like something from “The Day After Tomorrow” movie) and go thaw out now if you can, or start earning some Avios so that you can use for the future!


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  1. Nic, not at all. I am doing it from Houston in the very near future for just slightly more points. The exact example is NYC specific, but the same technique can be used from many places. Heck, if you live in Miami it is just 9k to get to the Caribbean. 😉

    However, if you are West Coast I would use the same technique but go to Hawaii or similar as it is closer and fewer points than heading across the country to the Caribbean.

  2. Also be on the lookout for good fares to Miami and use BA points from there. I helped a buddy snag some $150 fares from MSP to MIA and he used Avios to get to the island of his chice from there.

  3. “Slightly more points” is 50% more, so 30K from Houston or 24K from Atlanta. I agree with Miami, but Miami doesn’t get cold. To put it in perspective from ATL to NAS is already 18K, so not many combinations are possible at 20K mark.

  4. Lee, also a good strategy!
    Nic, I’m sorry you don’t like the title. However, it is only 24k from Houston, so just 4k more RT (7.5k each way to Miami and 4.5k each way to many islands). That is just a little more to me. Add participating in any transfer bonus and it is under the 20k mark, but that’s another story. 😉

    Semantics aside, there are many combos that are a little more or a little less than 20k. Apologies again if the title didn’t work for you.

  5. Don’t get me wrong, you do a terrific job. My intention was just to highlight that 20K is more the exception than the norm.

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