Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
Periodic transfer bonuses are a really great way to stretch your miles and points to the max. You can’t predict when most transfer bonuses will start, but we do know that a really good one ends tomorrow, September 17, 2017. The 40% transfer bonus from the Amex Membership Rewards program to British Airways Avios increases the transfer ratio from a 1 to 1 ratio to 250 Membership Reward points = 350 British Airways Avios. This is your last chance to get in on this bonus!
Historically speaking, a 40% transfer bonus to British Airways is pretty good, and I would be shocked to see anything better in the near term. Heck, until recently the regular transfer ratio wasn’t even 1:1, so this is a big increase over where we were a few months ago. The British Airways award chart is a little unique compared to some popular US airline programs 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 dates, but the partner awards mentioned below will all price as peak awards, regardless of date.
The key to why this chart and transfer bonus is pretty great is that you don’t have to fly British Airways to use their distance-based award chart. Here in the US you may be looking at flying on Alaska or American Airlines operated flights with your British Airways Avios starting at just 7,500 points each way. You can also transfer your British Airways Avios over to Iberia or Aer Lingus for some different (and sometimes better) award prices.
As a refresher before the transfer bonus ends, here are some example awards you can book with British Airways Avios using the current 40% transfer bonus from the Amex Membership Rewards program from cards such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The 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 assuming 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 points, 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 Kauai 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.
The easiest to look for these awards is on the American Airlines site at the saver level and then you can head to the British Airways site to book the American operated flights, though you have to call British Airways to book the Alaska operated flights.
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. A domestic saver award within the United States with most programs that costs 12,500 miles each way, so being able to get all the way from the middle of the country to London for just 11,750 Amex points + $153 in taxes ain’t too shabby.
If you were feeling fancy, you can do this is business class and it will just cost you 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.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.