Reminder: British Airways Avios 30% Amex Transfer Bonus Ends January 31

by on January 19, 2012 · 21 comments

in American Express, Avios, British Airways

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Back in November I wrote a post about Maximizing the 30% Amex transfer bonus to British Airways’ new Avios program. This is just a reminder that this promo ends January 31, 2012.

The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,300 Avios points and they transfer instantly. Also remember, you can transfer Amex points to anyone else, so this might be a good time to top up your family or friends’ accounts to get them to levels needed for awards. Amex will even let you advance points for free as long as you earn them back within a year – 15,000 for Premier Rewards Gold/ Gold/ Green and up to 60,000 points for Platinum. You can also set up a Household Account to pool your Avios points, which makes the logistics of booking travel among several accounts much easier.

The Amex page for transferring Membership Rewards points to Avios.

Key Elements of Avios

I know many of you are annoyed at the new Avios program, and I slammed it when it launched as well for various reasons including the airline’s lack of concern about keeping its frequent flyers informed as well as the fact that several of my favorite awards disappeared.

However, Avios are here to stay and the fact of the matter is that there is still tremendous value to be had out of the program.

The two main advantages of Avios are:

1. Last minute redemptions: British Airways does not charge last minute award ticketing fees like American, which levies a hefty $75 fee for any awards booked less than 21 days in advance.
2. Short/medium haul flights: The new Avios program may penalize you for making multiple connections or going long distances, but one-way flights now start at only 4,500 points – pretty incredible, since many short-haul flights cost an arm and a leg – especially for last minute travel.

1) Fuel surcharges can be steep depending on where you fly:
Europe: Whether on British Airways or partners like American, will incur steep fuel surcharges. So almost any economy award will have ~$500 in fees and business/first $750+.
North America: No fuel surcharges. You’ll only be charged $2.50 per segment for domestic awards and Canada/ South America around $50 to account for taxes.
South America: American or South America awards on AA and Lan- both do not currently have fuel surcharges. Fees are usually around $65 per roundtrip, regardless of coach vs business/first.
Asia: There are fuel surcharges, but I paid around $350 for a Cathay Pacific first class award. JAL is a little higher.
Australia: There are surcharges/fees on Qantas awards, usually around $450. Can still be a good deal considering how high these tickets cost to buy- especially in business and first.
Africa: There are no African carriers in Oneworld so you have to route through Europe, which means high fuel surcharges. I once booked an award from Toronto to Nairobi in first class and fees were $1,250!
India: Up until March 2012 American flies Chicago to Delhi, but after that route goes away you’ll have to fly via Europe (and possibly Hong Kong on Cathay), but fees for both will be high.

2) Pricing is based on distance and segments. So if you fly Chicago-Boston-London you will be charged more than a simple Chicago-London. This is not good for flyers who do not live in hubs and are forced to connect (or those who like to build in stopovers- they used to be free, now you pay for each segment individually).

Before you transfer, figure out if Avios will indeed make sense for your award redemption. You can use the Avios Calculator here and the chart below shows how many points will be needed per leg of your journey.

Avios Award Chart

In my previous post about the bonus, I calculated out a few Avios redemption options that I thought were a good value. I also wanted to point out that Air Berlin flights are now bookable using Avios. These awards still carry those hefty BA fees and taxes, but several TPG readers have told me they’ve gotten great deals on trips to Germany using Avios on Air Berlin and that they enjoyed the service.

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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  • Jonathan Futrell

    TPG, what are you’re thoughts on this going back up to the 50% it was last year? If I don’t need the miles right now, would you just wait?

  • Anonymous

    Amex will advance far more points if your monthly avg spend sustains it. They know they’ll get it back in a few months. Advances of 300,000 and higher are not unusual if you are spending $250,000 a month on your card.

  • Ray

    TPG, I would also like to know what you think the chances are for transfer bonus of 40% or 50% later this year. I don’t need the miles now but wouldn’t mind having some when I book my vacation for the end of this year.

  • Daniel

    TPG, Do you think that Avios would be better used on flights within Europe? Will these Intra-Europe flights incur steep fuel charges also? Or do think I should focus on budget European carriers?

  • Jim

    Another benefit of Avios is the ability to create household accounts, which by my limited frequent flier knowledge is not common among the major carriers.

  • Dave

    **Does anyone know the fuel surcharge on a SFO>HKG flight in econ class?

  • Anonymous

    Not off the top of my head but you can do a dummy booking at

  • Anonymous

    Fees are lower. It could make sense if the flight is expensive to buy

  • Anonymous

    No idea…

  • PJ

    Avios rock on short hops in Asia : I was ammzed how inexpensive it take to HKG- TPE ICH( South Korea) -NRD NRD- TPE . A oneway HKG-TPE ticket is readily available with 4.5K + $42 fees. Cash price : 150-300
    In South America: PMC ( Pureto Varas) SCL costs 4.5K+ $13 with online booking
    anbody can chime in with your award booking experience on these routes :GIG -IGR or IGU IGR-AEP(BUE) , EZE-BRC?

  • PJ

    if my memory serves me: they shocked me with upper 300 fuel charge to fly out of NYC to TPE and I chose to fly CX with 60( or 65) AA miles + nominal fees to go JFK HKG TPE (STOPOVER) NRD LAX ( STOPOVER)-EWR . I left early Sep last year and came back Oct 31. As of now CO ( United) is the only one with 65K and very smooth connections back to TPE

  • PJ

    just click on with your login and you will be amazed. I think BA minted Avios out of Southwest’ or Virgin America’s program

  • PJ

    brian thanks for the reminder. I dont think it is a bad idea also to act on the 50% delta miles transfer which is going out on the same day .

  • Dave Mord

    Hi TPG …. as many here I was very concerned when British Airways decided to play around with the miles. As I currently have 160K Avios sitting in my account I am thinking of the best possible way to use them (business/first class). I also have the AA miles and other airlines miles but kinda want to get rid of Avios first.

    So my question is …. in your opinion … where would Avios be best used?

    I fly out of JFK, LGA, EWR and plan to travel to Asia (hong kong, thailand), South America (Rio, Argentina), Europe (Hungary, Ukraine, etc).

    I have a few hundred thousand of AA miles, over 100K Delta, over 300K CO miles. Those to me for some reason are more valuable than Avios … hence, such a question.

    thank you.

  • Anonymous

    South America is your best bet. JFK-Rio/ Buenos Aires nonstop on AA.

  • Dave Mord


    What about Cathay Pacific to Thailand? Can’t use BA instead of AA miles?

  • Anonymous

    Sure,but you’ll pay more in fees and long haul flights aren’t as much of a discount. All things being equal, using your BA miles to South America will probably be most bang for your point

  • Dave Mord

    by the way …. some time ago it was 150K BA miles for First class in Cathay to Thailand from NYC (just like AA). What is it now???

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