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This is another installment in my Maximizing Amex series where I examine the benefits of American Express cards and Amex’s Membership Rewards Program. The articles include; Post 1: Understanding the Card Offering. Post 2: Understanding Membership Rewards. Post 3: Understanding Transfer Bonuses. Post 4: Platinum Card Review. Post 5: SkyTeam Transfer Partners. Post 6: Oneworld Transfer Partners. Post 7: Star Alliance Transfer Partners. Post 8:Understanding Emergency Travel Assistance and Travel Accident Insurance. Post 9: Purchase and Return Protection and Extended Warranty. Post 10: Car Rental Benefits. Post 11: Gold and Premier Rewards Gold Card Comparison.
As I covered in the post on Understanding Membership Rewards, one of the most valuable aspects of having a Membership Rewards or Membership Rewards First Amex card is the ability to transfer points to 17 airline partners. The beauty of airline frequent flyer programs is that they allow you to redeem for flights on their alliance partners, so it is in your best interest to know which programs have the most flexible award rules and cheapest fees so that you can maximize the value of your American Express Membership Reward point transfers.
Today’s focus will be on the Oneworld transfer partners British Airways and Iberia. The Oneworld alliance also includes Dallas based American Airlines, Sydney based Qantas, Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific, Helsinkin based Finn Air, Tokyo based Japan Airlines, Lima and Santiago based Lan, Budapest based Malev, Amman based Royal Jordanian, Moscow based S7 airlines and currently defunct Mexico City based Mexicana.
What this means is that you can transfer miles to BA or Iberia and then redeem for American Airlines flights, like JFK-LAX. See below for more information on each program.
New Member Registration link. Membership Rewards -> British Airways transfers usually post instantly.
1- In addition to transferring Amex points to BA, you should also think about taking advantage of their 100,000 mile bonus on the Chase Visa British Airways card, which expires May 6, 2011.
2- BA has four award charts based on which carriers you redeem for: BA flights, BA + 1 partner, Single Oneworld partner, Multiple Oneworld Partners. The most lucrative chart is the single Oneworld partner chart, so its best to redeem and ONLY fly on one Oneworld carrier.
3- BA charges hefty fuel surcharges on all British Airways flights and all trans-Atlantic Oneworld redemptions ($400-$1,250). BA does not currently assess fuel surcharges on domestic American Airlines awards ($5 total in fees per roundtrip), South American redemptions on AA/Lan (around $65 in fees) and Asia/Australia awards on Oneworld partners are usually around $250-$350, which isn’t too bad considering how expensive those tickets are.
4- BA has only been a transfer partner of American Express for about two years, but they have already run a 5,000 point, 30% and 40% transfer bonuses, so I hope for more in the future. The 40% bonus most recently ended on March 31, 2011.
5- British Airways allows unlimited en-route stopovers. This is a huge, huge, huge benefit if you can take advantage of it.
6- British Airways allows one-way awards for half the price of a round-trip award. They even allow one-way award redemptions on partners.
7- Britishairways.com does show some partner award availability, but won’t show it if there is a British Airways routing option available.
8- BA allows redemptions on non-Oneworld partners Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines and Kingfisher.
9- BA miles expire after 36 months of no activity.
Related Posts on using British Airways Miles
Post 1 – Booking BA Awards
Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards
Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance
Post 4 – Taxes and Fees
Post 5 – Household Accounts
Post 6 – Companion Ticket
Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability
Post 8- Art of the Stopover
Post 9- Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions
New Member Registration link. Membership Rewards -> Iberia transfers usually take about 48 hours.
1- Iberia charges for flights based on distance, so generally short flights are a steal, but long-hauls are expensive. Award chart. 1,400 Amex = 100 Iberia, so a US to Europe saver flight in coach is 44,100 Amex points and 88,200 for Business class.
2- Fuel surcharges are less than British Airways, but more than most US airlines – expect to pay around $200 or so for trans-Atlantic flights.
3- Transfer bonuses are rare, but they did run a 20% bonus in the fall of 2009.
5- Iberia does allow one way awards, but only on Iberia and they cost more than 50% of the award, but less than 100%
6- Iberia.com does show some partner award availability if you use the Oneworld tab. It is far from perfect.
8- Iberia allows redemptions on non-Oneworld partners Vueling. Avianca, Royal Air Maroc, Taca and Binter Canaria.
9- Iberia miles technically expire after 24 months of inactivity, but I’ve had a small balance in my account and it’s been almost 3 years and the miles are untouched.