Sunday Reader Question: What to Do With Leftover British Airways Miles

by on November 13, 2011 · 26 comments

in British Airways, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Jane writes:

“I really enjoy your newsletters/blog and was able to spend a month in Africa with my husband last May courtesy of British Air miles and thanks to the information you provided.  I do not anticipate using them for travel in the near future however, and just got the Chase Sapphire card, already have lots of Capital One miles, lots of AA miles, etc

I have 15,900 miles left in my BA account (spent extra by accident) which I would like to do something with but can’t find a way to transfer them or even just buy gift cards with.  Do you have any suggestions?  The upcoming Nov. 16 changes in their program may not affect me with this meager amount of miles but it would be a shame to waste them.  Donating them to troops would be better than letting them sit.

A friend of mine has 60,000 left over in her BA account and was wondering what she could do with hers also.  She too, is a big fan of yours.”

First things first, while I’ve written about a devaluation in British Airways miles, I want to stress that the entire program isn’t horrible. It’s just the stellar redemptions we’ve come to love so much (Lan South America jaunts and Asia on Cathay) that will likely increase significantly.

You can still use BA miles for American Airlines domestic awards and in fact many of them may come down if they do go to distance based awards for those of us in North America. Some awards may come down significantly.

My best advice is to just hold on to your points and use them for any upcoming trips – especially since you can instantly top them up using the points earned from your Sapphire Preferred card.

British Airways miles currently expire after 36 months of inactivity. There are many ways to keep them active and reset that clock, including transferring Ultimate Rewards or Amex points. I’d recommend signing up for Award Wallet because they will alert you if any of your miles are going to expire.

So basically, hang on them and use them when you need a last minute flight. Those 15,900 miles can save you hundreds of dollars if you use them smartly!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Valerie G

    Can I combine my leftover BA miles with my AA miles for a single award ticket?

  • Beachswim

    can i cancel my ba visa signiture card to avoid the annual fee and still retain the left over miles in my ba executive club account for up to 36 months?

  • Dhammer53

    I combined my card with my wife to create a family account. The total of the two = 210,000 BA points. I planned my spend smartly. I’m going to use 160,000 points to fly to SA in buisness on LAN. The 50k balance = 2 AA tix.

  • PJ

    1. trasnfer some miles into BA thorugh chase Sapphire Preferred from anybody on this planet.. agreed 2. at least 12.5K is good for one way domestic flight on AA LAX to EWR or similar routes.2. Wait until AMEX MR feels really sorry for us and come out with a ( more) promotions to transfer out MR ; if you dont have MR just arrange to get on friends account as Authorized USER and then you are eligible to get points from MR. just settle the MR points with your friends.. as Brian said keep them or possible later help

  • PJ

    Brian and everybody: I currently plan to come back from Dan Diago after going down to Rio and take a package tour to go Iguazu falls in between dates. ( booked on BA 40K R/T last class a while back) Since the tour package( 3k + each person, not sure if ~140 passport fees each country cinluded) is just a bit more citi tours in Buenos Aires and Santiago after Falls tour, I am thinking just trying to find a ONE WAY award ticket back from RIO with a few days stop over to see the Falls. any suggestions pls ? BA claims they DONT fly to Iguazu from RIO and Back to JFK.. ie my currenty itinerary is JFK GIG SCL JFK the change of plan can save more than 6+K versus cancellation charges and taking 40K old day BA points . I do have a lot oa AA points to use

    many thanks

  • MJLouise

    You can use BA for a one-way redemption, then AA on the return. Two separate tickets, two separate redemptions.

  • MJLouise

    Yes I already cancelled my BA card when Chase thought I had too many cards, in order to get the Sapphire Preferred. No problems, my miles are still there.

  • MJLouise

    Brian I’ve heard a rumor BA will allow hotel redemptions for their miles, any idea if that is true?

  • PJ

    YES I was not alone plus I made up an excuse to Wife who has been mad the the BA points plus AMEX no longer good togo into CO : ” honey guess what… i complained to CHase about the BA points.. they let me have Sapphire Preferred instaed and took away my BA card” in Fact, I was trying to talk Chase Reconsideration to grant approval on my two applications Sapphire Preferred and Marriott after ” 3 new cards in 6 months” a no no at Chase.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve heard that as well, though I’m skeptical that will be a valuable redemption. I guess we will see on Wednesday!

  • Anonymous

    Lan doesn’t fly rio to iguazu so you’ll have to buy a one way. They aren’t cheap but the falls are great- highly recommend for a couple day trip

  • Anonymous

    What MJ said :-)

  • Bangkokiscool

    Check out this post on FT, by a user who reports CONFIRMATION from a BA CSR on the phone that after Wednesday, a 50K award for US-Asia on CX will go up to 100K, a 100% increase. (see

    There appears to be very little doubt now about what’s coming down the pike here.

  • iahphx

    At least under the existing award chart, this can be a useful strategy because AA is stingier with allowing stopovers.

  • andy

    Page not found

  • PJ

    so this should fly with AA = JFK to GIG ( stopover) on AA GIG to IGU by GOL =one way and IGU by GOL -GIG ( connection)- JFK ; Can I ask BA to book this on BA miles ?

  • PJ

    would my thinking is corect ? the last “decent” consolation on BA miles = to book domestic LAX or SFO NYC flights on AA flights

    also wonder how likely AMEX MR points can be revised to have 1 to 1 conversion ratio to Starwoods ? in order to comfort those complainers on BA miles and the departure of CO from UR

  • PJ

    GOL does i found out ater this posting

  • Hmaia

    If you fly to Foz de Iguacu which is on the Brazil’s side of the border, you will pay for a Brazilian domestic ticket. I am pretty sure it is cheaper. I have been to the falls. It is beautiful!

  • Bangkokiscool
  • Jameso

    I haven’t trolled the BA form, but LAX or SFO direct flights to Hawaii airports on AS or AA may actually decrease based on the Iberia distance charts…

  • Charles

    I tried to use BA points (I am Emerald/Concorde/GGL status with BA) to upgrade an AA domestic flight the other day. AA told me that it wasn’t possible to use BA points on AA flights – seem odd. Any thoughts on what I did wrong?

  • Beachswim

    thank you MJLouise, so after i use all or most of the miles in my BA executive club account im going to cancel my BA Visa Sig card after moving over my credit limit to another chase CC for horse trading at a later date.

    do you see any advantage of keeping the ba visa sig CC after i already use my points to book my itinerary?

    i see no reason to pay the $95 a year fee since BA has devalued their program and i get more advantages out of using the chase saphire and other CC’s.

    whats your opinion?

    thanks Beach Swim

  • guy

    interested also, use up some orphan adios’ miles

  • sil

    For 12.5K miles from BA, can i get a one way from YVR to LAX?

  • Ham

    TAM also flies between RIO and IGU. I’m headed down on a 2 week vacation to South America using BA miles from the credit card signup bonus I learned about here. Galapagos, then Buenos Aires, then Iguazu Falls, then Rio. Be aware that if you fly into Buenos Aires as a US passport holder you have to pay their BS reciprocity fee of $140. If you’re already going to Brazil you need a Visa. You can cross the border into Argentina on land and avoid the reciprocity fee and still see the Argentine side of the falls. BTW, I got a direct flight from Rio to NYC on AA using BA miles.

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