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Last week was good for miles and points bonus promotions.
For those of you who missed it, I thought I’d do a quick recap of each promotion and whether it might be worth it.
1. 50% Transfer Bonus on Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios: One of the best parts of the Amex Membership Rewards points program is the lucrative transfer bonuses they run from time to time with partners such as Delta and British Airways, including this current offer running now through May 31, 2012, of a 50% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways. As always, let me add the disclaimer that I know there are many of you who think Avios are worthless due to high fuel surcharges on some awards, but there are actually some fantastic redemption opportunities on their short- and medium-haul flights, as well as on premium class tickets that don’t go through Europe. Another positive is the fact that you can transfer Amex points to anyone else, and there are no last-minute award booking fees with Avios. Read my detailed breakdown of the promotion here.
Key Considerations: If you transfer all of your Amex now, you might miss out on future transfer promotions and I suspect there will be a Delta one soon. Delta isn’t the perfect frequent flyer program either, but their fees are lower and there are lots of options for European travel with partners like Air France, KLM and Alitalia.
2. 100% Purchase Bonus on US Airways Dividend Miles: Miles purchased through this promotion, through April 15, 2012, can be procured for nearly 1.9 cents each. While that’s more than past promos of 1.5 cents per mile, this is as good as we’ve seen in recent months. US Airways has some great redemptions, like 90,000 miles business class to North Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan & Korea).
Key Considerations: This probably isn’t worth it if you are redeeming for coach awards, unless you need to top up your balances. US Airways does not have one-way awards (at least not at half the price of roundtrip) and you cannot change awards once you take the first outbound segment. That being said, they do have very flexible routing rules and allow a stopover and open jaw, so you can create some great trips if you take the time to understand the rules. For more information on maximizing US Airways awards, check out this post.
3. 50% US Airways Bonus on Hotel Transfers: The second US Airways promotion from last week was a 50% bonus on transferring hotel points from the airline’s partner programs into miles until March 31, 2012. You can find the details and the full list of hotel partners including Hilton HHonors, Marriott Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, Priority Club and Starwood Preferred Guest on US Airways’ site here. But the short version is that though I generally don’t recommend transferring hotel points to airline miles (unless you really need to top up for an award), this promotion certainly sweetens the value proposition – especially if you know how to maximize US Airways redemptions and score award gems like 110,000 miles for business class to Australia/Oceania/New Zealand with the possibility of routing through Asia. One of the biggest opportunities with this promotion is to transfer Starwood points, because this promotion stacks on top of the existing 5,000-mile bonus Starwood adds to each 20,000-point transfer to US Airways. So 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 US Airways miles + this 50% promotion = 37,500 miles. Not a bad redemption if you need airline miles and have more hotel points than you need.
Key Considerations: This makes the current Marriott hotel+air redemptions even more lucrative. Also, Starwood points are extremely valuable for hotel redemptions, so I’d really only recommend this if you are in need of Star Alliance miles. I personally don’t want to drain my Starwood balance, but I do have a huge amount of Amex points. You can also transfer Amex points to Starwood at 2:1 until March 31, 2012, so with this bonus you can essentially move Amex to US Airways at 1: .94, which is nearly an even exchange. I may transfer 80,000 Amex to 40,000 Starwood, which will turn into 75,000 US Airways miles. US Airways generally charges less for awards in terms of miles and fees than the other Star Alliance partners of Amex (Aeroplan, ANA and Singapore).
Lots to think about here, especially if you’re planning on redeeming US Airways or British Airways Avios anytime soon. As with all things miles and points, do the math yourself and make sure you aren’t just taking advantage of these promos for the sake of getting in on a good deal.