Amex Membership Rewards Just Got Better!

Transferring Membership Rewards to British Airways and Iberia just got better thanks to a 1:1 ratio!

Last week, American Express improved the transfer ratio on two of their partners, British Airways and Iberia.  Prior to last week, transferring Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Executive Club or Iberia Plus would have yielded 200 Avios for every 250 MR transferred to either of these programs.

American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways and Iberia is now a 1:1 ratio

The ratio is now 1:1, which aligns with Ultimate Rewards.  This is a very positive change because British Airways Avios are useful for short-haul flights on American Airlines.  Even at at 250:200 ratio, transferring Amex points to BA was still more cost effective for short-haul American Airlines flights in most cases rather than booking with AAdvantage miles.

Puerto Vallarta on points
Fly to Puerto Vallarta for half the amount of miles AAdvantage charges by booking the American Airlines flight through British Airways.

The even better part?

American Express Membership Rewards 40% bonus British Airways and Iberia

If you transfer Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways or Iberia prior to 9/17/17, you get a 40% bonus! This means that for every 1000 MR transferred, you get 1400 Avios.  To compare, prior to last week’s change, 1000 MR would have yielded 800 Avios.

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 Singapore miles to book a ticket
  • I do not have 20,000 Amex MR to transfer to Singapore Air, but I have 28,000 Avios!
  • I cannot transfer the British Airways Avios back to American Express Membership Rewards.
  • Unless I have other points (Ultimate Rewards, etc) that transfer to Singapore Air, I could miss out on a great redemption!
A warning about devaluations:

Another reason I do not like to make transfers before making travel plans is because of potential program devaluations.  A devaluation is when an airline, hotel, or loyalty program makes changes that make your points/miles/avios less valuable.  This can happen with or without notice, but usually the program will give notice prior to a devaluation.  In the most recent British Airways devaluation, they changed flights within the US under 650 miles in distance to 7,500 Avios each way (which is still a great deal in many cases) rather than 4,500 each way.  I am not saying this is going to happen, but airlines will often start offering great bonuses prior to devaluing their programs.

Again, I do not think this is the case here but it is something to keep in mind!  For example, prior to the most recent American Airlines award chart devaluation, they were offering bonuses in many different channels such as large bonuses when purchasing or sharing miles.  This can sometimes, but not always, be a sign of an impending devaluation.

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.  For example, as I stated in my Whistler post, we plan to make that an annual trip.  I know I can eventually use the Avios for plane tickets to Vancouver for a Whistler trip.  With that said, award program devaluations are always a concern when transferring points without near-future travel plans.  Bank points such as Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards are less likely to devalue than airline miles and hotel points.  Because of this, I prefer to keep my points as bank points until I have specific plans.

Mexico British Airways avios
Cabo, anyone? Most American Airlines flights to Mexico cost less British Airways Avios than American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

The good news: if you already have American Express Membership Rewards, you have two months to find a way to use bonus Avios!

This is a great deal and it is tough to pass up.  Since you still have about two months before the bonus goes away, try to make some plans! See if there are any ways you can use Avios.  Note that you do not have to travel before 9/17/17.  In fact, you do not even have to book before that date.  But if you want the bonus, you will need to transfer the Membership Rewards prior to that date. If you need help, contact me!

Puerto Vallarta, British Airways Avios
Beautiful sunset in Puerto Vallarta

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