14 Ways To Take Advantage Of The American Express 40% Avios Transfer Bonus

Earn 40% bonus Avios for Membership Rewards transferred to British Airways, Iberia, or Aer Lingus

American Express occasionally offers bonuses when you transfer Membership Rewards points to airlines.  The current offer is 40% for transfers to Aer Lingus, British Airways, or Iberia.

American Express Membership Rewards airline partners October 2018

The transfer bonus ends on November 15, 2018.

British Airways and Iberia Avios can be used to book flights on Oneworld airlines

Avios is the currency of Aer Lingus, British Airways Executive Club, and Iberia Plus.  Think of Avios as miles or points.

British Airways and Iberia  are both Oneworld alliance members.  This means you can use their loyalty programs, Executive Club and Iberia Plus, to book flights operated by Oneworld airlines.  Honestly, I haven’t found much use for Aer Lingus other than for flights to Ireland, but I use British Airways often to book American Airlines flights.

Oneworld partners

Oneworld alliance 2018

British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus have distance-based award ticket pricing

A distance based program means that the redemption price is calculated based on the distance.  Distance ranges are divided into tiers and each distance range has a certain cost.  Every distance based program has different distance ranges and different rules.

Generally, if the flight is direct, British Airways will probably have a lower redemption cost.  If the route has one or more connecting segments, Iberia is probably the better program.  Click here for more information.

Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI

Maximize the Amex bonus opportunity with these redemptions

Note: You have to transfer Amex points in increments of 1,000, so I’m going to round up.

Click here for the award ticket pricing of award flights using British Airways Iberia Avios.

1. East Coast to Madrid on Iberia in business class (using Iberia Avios)

Note: Iberia allows one-way flights on its own metal.  Unlike Iberia’s chart for AA, the prices on this chart are each way, so roundtrip is double. 

New York (JFK) to Madrid and Boston to Madrid are in the 3,001-4,000 mile distance range which is priced at 50,000 Avios each way or 100,000 roundtrip.

  • Cost: 100,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 72,000 Amex MR points roundtrip

Iberia has off-peak dates where these routes drop to 34,000 each way in business class!  If you’re lucky enough to score these dates, the cost drops to:

  • Cost: 78,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 56,000 Amex MR points roundtrip

Unfortunately, Iberia adds fuel surcharges to award tickets to Europe.  A business class ticket would have about $450 in taxes and fees, but considering how low the Avios cost is, it could be worth paying the fees!  British Airways is even worse on fuel surcharges on transatlantic flights.  Click here for more info about surcharges and fees. 

2. East Coast to Madrid on Iberia in economy (using Iberia Avios)

New York (JFK) to Madrid and Boston to Madrid are in the 3,001-4,000 range which is priced at 17,000/20,000 Avios (off-peak/peak) each way, or 34,000/40,000 roundtrip in economy.

Off peak dates:

  • Cost: 34,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 25,000 Amex MR points roundtrip

Peak dates:

  • Cost: 40,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 29,000 points roundtrip

Iberia adds surcharges to economy flights to Europe, too, but they’re more reasonable than business class.  

3. US to Madrid on American Airlines with lower fuel surcharges (using Iberia Avios)

Iberia adds surcharges to their flights to Europe, and unfortunately they also collect fuel surcharges on partner flights such as American Airlines.  But for some reason, redeeming Iberia Avios for flights to Madrid that are operated by American Airlines cost about $100 in fees, which is about $80 less than Iberia operated flights!

The catch is that you can only redeem Iberia Avios for roundtrip American Airlines flights.

New York (JFK) to Madrid operated by American Airlines are priced at 42,000 Avios.

  • Cost: 42,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 30,000 Amex MR points roundtrip

A city further west in the US will add more Avios required for your flight to Madrid due to Iberia’s distance-based pricing.  DFW to Madrid is 65,000 Avios roundtrip

  • Cost: 65,000 Iberia Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 47,000 points roundtrip

30,000 or 47,000 (plus ~$100 in fees) roundtrip to Europe is a great redemption considering peak dates for these routes with AAdvantage miles would cost 60,000 miles plus ~$50.

Even if you’re headed to a European city other than Madrid, it may make sense to make Madrid your “gateway” and then purchase a cheap flight to connect to your destination!

4. Northeastern North America to Dublin on Aer Lingus (using Aer Lingus Avios)

The distances between these North American cities and Dublin fall into the 13,000 Avios range each way for off-peak dates: Boston, Chicago, Hartford, Minneapolis, Montreal, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington

  • Cost: 26,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 19,000 points roundtrip

For peak dates, the prices changes to 20,000 Avios which is still a good deal, but it lines up with the pricing using British Airways or Iberia.

  • Cost: 40,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 29,000 points roundtrip.

You read that right! 19,000 Amex points for a roundtrip ticket to Dublin!  The catch: Aer Lingus has fuel surcharges, but they aren’t as outrageous as British Airways.  Your total for this route would be 19,000 Amex points plus $270 in taxes and fees.  This could still be a good deal, though, especially when cash fares are higher. 

5. Other US cities to Dublin on Aer Lingus (using Aer Lingus Avios)

Fly from San Fran to Dublin for as low as 24,000 Avios in economy or 90,000 Avios in business class with this Amex promotion!

The distances between these US cities and Dublin fall into the 16,250 Avios range each way for off-peak dates: Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle

  • Cost: 32,500 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 24,000 points roundtrip

For peak dates, the prices changes to 25,000 Avios which is still a good deal, but it lines up with the pricing using British Airways or Iberia.

  • Cost: 50,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 36,000 points roundtrip.

6. US to Dublin on Aer Lingus in business class (using Aer Lingus Avios)

The distances between the east coast US cities listed above and Dublin fall into the 50,000 Avios range each way for Off-peak dates.  (Peak is 60,000).  If you can get peak pricing, this is a great deal with the bonus.

  • Cost: 100,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 72,000 points roundtrip

The distances between the other US cities and Dublin fall into the 62,500 Avios range each way for off-peak dates. Peak is 75,000.  If you can get peak pricing, this is a great deal with the bonus.

  • Cost: 125,000 Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 90,000 points roundtrip.

7. Flights to Mexico on American Airlines (using British Airways Avios)

Redeeming British Airways Avios for American Airlines flights within North America will not add fuel surcharges!

Click here for detailed instructions on how to book American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios.

Fly to Cabo for half the amount of miles AAdvantage charges by booking the American Airlines flight through British Airways.

DFW, LAX, or MIA to Mexico nonstop in economy:

  • Cost: 15,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 11,000 points roundtrip

Business class:

  • Cost: 30,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 22,000 points roundtrip

Chicago and New York are a little further, but still cost less than most programs for flights to Mexico.  Chicago or New York to Mexico in economy:

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

Chicago or New York to Mexico in business:

  • Cost: 40,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 29,000 points roundtrip

8. Los Angeles, Chicago, or DFW to Japan in economy on American Airlines or Japan Airlines (using British Airways Avios)

LAX to Tokyo (NRT) is 5,451 miles which falls just below the 5,500 miles cut off for the next tier.  This prices the flight at 25,000 Avios each way in economy.

  • Cost: 50,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 36,000 points roundtrip

Chicago to Tokyo is just under 6,300 miles and DFW to NRT is 6,427 which falls just below the 6,500 cut off.  This prices nonstop ORD-NRT or DFW-NRT at 30,000 Avios each way in economy.

  • Cost: 60,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 43,000 points roundtrip

Getting further east to airports such as JFK sends the mileage above 6,500 miles so that bumps the cost up to 35,000 Avios.  (AA doesn’t operate flights to Japan from New York but Japan Airlines does).  This is similar to what American Airlines AAdvantage costs, but with the 40% bonus, British Airways would be the better choice since 25,000 Amex points transferred to British Airways would give you the 35,000 Avios needed each way!

9. West Coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines (using British Airways Avios)

British Airways has a non-alliance partnership with Alaska Airlines so you can use British Airways Avios for Alaska Airlines flights. You can also book flights to Hawaii with American Airlines using British Airways Avios.

British Airways charges 12,500 Avios each way or 25,000 round-trip for flights to Hawaii in economy on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from west coast cities.  Some of these cities include Anchorage, Los Angeles, Oakland, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

West Coast to Hawaii:

  • Cost: 25,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 18,000 points roundtrip

10. Miami to Brazil on American Airlines or LATAM (using British Airways Avios)

At ~4,198 miles, this distance falls into the 25,000 Avios range each way.

  • Cost: 50,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 36,000 points roundtrip

Copacabana Beach

11. US to Costa Rica on American Airlines (using British Airways Avios)

Since Miami is less than 1150 miles from Liberia, Costa Rica, the cost is 7,500 Avios each way.

MIA-LIR

  • Cost: 15,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 11,000 points roundtrip

DFW and Charlotte are more than 1150 miles from Costa Rica, so the cost is slightly higher at 10,000 Avios each way.

DFW-LIR or CLT-LIR

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

12. US to the Caribbean on American Airlines (using British Airways Avios)

Several routes to the Caribbean fall into the range of 7,500 or 10,000 Avios each way.

Miami to any Caribbean island served by American Airlines is 7500 Avios each way.

  • Cost: 15,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 11,000 points roundtrip

Chicago to Nassau, Bahamas is 10,000 Avios each way.

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

Chicago to Grand Cayman is 10,000 Avios each way.

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

DFW to Montego Bay, Jamaica is 10,000 Avios each way

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

JFK to St. Thomas, USVI is 10,000 Avios each way

  • Cost: 20,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 15,000 points roundtrip

13. American Airlines flights within North America that are less than 1150 miles in distance (using British Airways Avios)

An AA flight within North America (including the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, and Central America) under 1150 miles in distance is 7500 Avios each way.  Plus you don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges on these routes!

  • Cost: 15,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 11,000 points roundtrip

14. Flights within North America operated by AA with a short connecting flight (using Iberia Avios)

British Airways charges for distance per segment, not for total distance.  So you’ll have to redeem points for the cost of 2 or more segments if your departure airport is not one with direct flights.  For flights within North America, a connection adds a minimum of 7,500 Avios each way.

Because of the way Iberia calculates redemption costs (total distance of all segments), adding a segment onto your route may not result in a higher redemption cost.  Click here for more info.

Houston to Destin with a connection in DFW would cost 30,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip.  But if you use Iberia, the cost is only 17,000 Avios roundtrip!

  • Cost: 17,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip
  • Amex Membership Rewards required with 40% promotion: 13,000 points roundtrip

American Airlines flights booked with British Airways or Iberia

Should you transfer Membership Rewards to British Airways or Iberia to take advantage of the bonus?

I usually avoid transferring until I have a specific trip and date to book.  Even when it’s a great deal like this, transfers are permanent so I would not want to be stuck with thousands of British Airways Avios without a plan.  If I really need points in another program but I already transferred a large chunk of my Amex MR to take advantage of this bonus, I am out of luck.  Here is an example:

  • I have no immediate or near-future plans to use British Airways Avios but I transfer 20,000 Membership Rewards to British Airways to take advantage of the bonus.  This yields 28,000 Avios.
  • A month later, I am planning a trip and realize I need 20,000 Etihad miles to book a ticket
  • I do not have 20,000 Amex MR to transfer to Etihad, but I have 28,000 Avios that I can’t transfer back to Amex!

On the other hand, if you have a large amount of Membership Rewards in your account and you’re pretty sure you will use the Avios, even if you do not yet have exact dates, it may not be a bad idea.  I will be transferring some Amex points to British Airways because I have several ideas I’m cooking up! If those ideas don’t work , I know I can eventually use them for American Airlines plane tickets to Florida where my parents live.

If you already have American Express Membership Rewards, you have about 4 weeks to figure out how to use the bonus!

This is a great deal and it is tough to pass up.  Try to make some plans! You don’t have to fly or book a ticket before November 15, you just have to have the Avios transferred from Amex.  Once transferred, you have plenty of time to book the ticket.

Puerto Vallarta, British Airways Avios

Beautiful sunset in Puerto Vallarta

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One thought on “14 Ways To Take Advantage Of The American Express 40% Avios Transfer Bonus

  1. Pingback: Ultimate Rewards for Europe Flights Part 5: Virgin Atlantic • The Miles Genie

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