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Buying & Advancing Amex Points For The British Airways Transfer Bonus – Worth It?

by on May 14, 2012 · 17 comments

in American Express, British Airways

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There are just over two weeks left of the current 50% transfer bonus of American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios (the last day to transfer is May 31, 2012). Avios points aren’t the most valuable points out there because of the high fuel surcharges on most flights to Europe and Australia, but they can also be incredibly valuable for certain awards, like short and mid-haul flights and partner awards, and upgrading from Premium Economy to Business class.

50% Amex to British Airways Transfer Bonus Until May 31, 2012

So what if you don’t have enough American Express Membership Rewards points to take advantage of the promo now, but you really want to take advantage of the 50% transfer bonus, which may not come back again anytime soon? You have two little advertised options from American Express:

1) Advance yourself points for free. Amex will advance you 15,000 points beyond your current balance if you are a Green/ Gold/ Premier Rewards Gold cardholder, and 60,000 for those with the Platinum and Centurion (invite only) cards. For those mathematically challenged, a 15k advance equates to 22,500 Avios, and 60,000 is 90,000 Avios.

Corporate cards are not eligible for point advances. You must be a cardmember for at least 6 months and have all accounts in good standing. The advance is free, but you must earn back the points within one year of the advance, or else Amex will charge you 2.5 cents per point on the remainder. All points earned count towards repaying the advance – so any future sign-up bonuses will all count. So if you need those points now and don’t have time to wait to hit the spend requirements and wait for the points to post, you can advance yourself points and then repay the advance once the sign-up bonus credits to your account. This also goes for any spend bonuses, like 4x points per dollar when you book airfare through Amex Travel.

2) Purchase Membership Rewards points at 2.5 cents apiece. With the 50% Avios bonus, it’s the same as purchasing Avios at 1.67 cents a piece and if you redeem them the right way, you can easily get double/triple or more in value out of your Avios. You can only purchase points if you don’t have enough in your account for the transfer and there is a limit of 500,000 purchased per calendar year.

You can also call to have Amex credit your account with any pending points. After you earn points, Amex puts them in the pending status for about a month, but as long as your account is in good standing, they should be able to credit them to your account for use so you don’t have to buy or advance additional points.

Additionally, if you’ve forfeited any points in the past you can reinstate each month’s forfeited points for $29. I would only recommend doing this if you forfeited over 1,160 points (which would make the re-purchase price 2.5 cents a piece or less since you can buy them directly from Amex for 2.5 cents).

I’m not recommending these options for all people – hopefully you have enough points stacked up for the awards you need. However, you shouldn’t take the 50% transfer bonus for granted since Amex is very fickle with transfer bonuses (the fact that there hasn’t been a strong Delta transfer bonus this year is still making me scratch my head since there were so many last year). However, any Amex cardholder should understand these options if their balances are sufficient for their award needs and if you can get more than 1.67 cents per value per Avios, then it could make a lot of sense to leverage the advance and purchase options so do the math and make the decision that works for you!

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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  • Guest

    The reinstatement fee for points is going up to in July. I believe it’s to $35. So if people have lost points they are looking to reclaim, now might be the time to do it.

  • MJLouise

    I’ve been semi-hoarding my MR points thinking of them as Delta points, and waiting for transfer bonuses. I guess the uncertainty at Delta is messing with that pipeline. Still torn on whether or not to transfer MR to Avios. I just need a big trip now to use them all :D

  • Nickfromct

    If you want to advance MR points, do you have to be any AMEX card member for 6 months or for the particular card you are advancing. I just got the AMEX Platinum, but I’ve been an AMEX Jet Blue card holder for years.

  • Raj B

    My wife and I advanced 60k MR points on our brand-new Platinum accounts last year for the awesome Delta bonuses. We both have AMEX Delta Skymiles accounts for several years now.

  • Yitz123

    Hi. If you would have to guess would you say we will have a delta promo of at least 30% this year? How about delta to delta 100% transfer promo?
    P.S. Thanks for all your great work.

  • Nickfromct

    Thank You, Raj!

  • AlexOlsen

    Hi TPG, do you think that there is any correlation between no Delta transfer bonuses this year and the rumors of the program change?

  • PJ

    I need to dodge 5@$175 Amex membership fees in between aug-sep.

    I have transferred out 1/3 of AMex points into Avios,and waiting to see THE NEXT Delta promotion. Worst scenario is to trasnfer into Aeroplan with 1;1 ratio and certainly would hope another 20% bonus promotion to pop up soon

  • PJ

    anybody who can get Avios sigin on bonus is NOT planning to get it?

  • CU

    I’m torn too. Wait for Delta transfer bonus or jump in? Hmmm…

  • Krwatso

    Can’t you just use Avios to book with AA when traveling to Europe to avoid the taxes and fees that British Airways charges?

  • EL

    I was seriously considering this bonus transfer so I signed up for the Executive Club and started playing around with the booking. One flight I was looking for was SFO–>HKG first class and I had to book almost 10 months out to get a flight that I wanted. Then I tried to look for SFO–>JFK economy. I looked up 10 different dates and wasn’t able to get any flight, I kept getting “no flights available”. So even though there is no surcharge for rush booking, you can’t get the flights you want anyway so it’s a moot point!!

    Even Delta, while they might charge you a lot of miles for a flight, at least you can still get the flight….

    Disappointed with the BA Executive Club

  • Nmehra

    I used this deal to book two one-way tix from MIA to DCA. 7,500 Avios each, plus $2.50 in taxes/fees.

    So, two tickets from MIA to DCA cost me a total of 10,000 AmEx points plus $5. Not bad…

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  • Mikenarula

    How do you even loss MRs to need to have them reinstated?

  • thepointsguy

    Not paying your bill on time

  • Sbiswas

    Hi Raj
    Can you advance yourself points on skymiles card? I have the delta reserve card, can I advance myself points to get the threshod medallion bonus miles earlier? thanks

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