Reminder: Amex British Airways 50% Transfer Bonus Ends Tomorrow May 31, 2012!

by on May 30, 2012 · 13 comments

in American Express, British Airways

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There haven’t been a huge amount of great transfer bonuses through American Express Membership Rewards lately (and none so far from Chase Ultimate Rewards!). The one exception is the current 50% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios, which ends this Thursday, May 31.

You can transfer your points from this page on the Membership Rewards site. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,500 Avios points and they transfer instantly. If you need a British Airways account, you can get one for free here. I know a lot of people (and sometimes even I do!) talk about the negative aspects of the changeover from BA’s old mileage program to Avios, but there are actually a lot of ways to get huge value out of your Avios points, and this is one of them.

The Amex-BA transfer page. As you can see, the 50% bonus is hard-coded into the transfer, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,500 BA Avios instantly.

Remember, you can also transfer Amex points to anyone else (simply log in to your account -> Points Summary -> Scroll to bottom right where you see accounts, scroll to bottom and select “Link additional accounts”), 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 amongst several accounts much easier.

Before you transfer, figure out if Avios will indeed make sense for your award redemption. Since Avios awards are distance-based, personally, I like the low miles required for short- and medium-haul redemptions. While fees are high on flights to Europe and Australia, they are nominal if you redeem on partners like American and LAN for travel within the Americas and even Cathay flights to Asia aren’t too bad. You can also use this calculator to figure out how much your trip will cost in Avios points. Note: You must price each leg of your itinerary individually.

To book partner awards just go to -> log in with your password -> Executive Club -> Spending Avios -> Book flights with Avios. When searching for partners it’ll prompt you to pull in partner availability after it tries to search initially for BA flights. Also, complex awards and stopovers in cities other than London generally need to be booked over the phone at 1-800-452-1201.

Now for an important question: If you don’t have a specific award in mind that you want to use Avios points for should you speculatively transfer points to British Airways? The answer, as usual, totally depends on what you want out of your Amex points. If you are planning to take your family to Europe in coach I’d advise against British Airways because of the huge fuel surcharges and fees. If you are trying to get your family from Philadelphia to Miami in coach on American Airlines, like Danielle recently did with her Avios to get her family down to Florida for her cruise, I say go for it and strike hard with this promo. However, do your research and as always, feel free to comment here for advice.

Another big question is: Will Delta have a good transfer bonus soon? And the answer is: I have no idea. I hope so, but I have no inside information to share and frankly I’ve been surprised/disappointed at the lack of Amex/Delta bonuses this year.

To learn more about what you can do with your Avios once you’ve transferred those Membership Rewards points and scored the 50% bonus, you can check out the series I recently did on Maximizing Avios when the Chase BA Visa 100k bonus came out back in April. The posts in the series include: Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Distance-Based Awards, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Household Accounts, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets and the Avios and Cash Option. Update: The current sign-up bonus offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios. 25,000 upon first use, and another 25,000 when you spend $2,500 within 90 days.

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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  • CherylD

    When did they start charging a fee for the transfer? I have done this before and don’t remember a window stating they would charge .0006 per point to my card for excise fees.

  • Sean

    Like many of your readers, this promotion has me in a bit of a bind.

    I hate to let it go by, but I am holding out for a Delta promo.

    My decision is affected by already having ~80k Avios in our household account, and thus far I’ve only redeemed 4500 for a SAN-LAX positioning flight.

  • CU

    Yeah, I’ve been hung up between Delta and this promotion but just caved and did the BA transfer and now have a nice bunch of miles waiting for our next vacation :) Thanks for the reminder, TPG.

  • Naomie Jones

    Thank you so much for this info! I took advantage of it to use for domestic AA flights to MIA.

  • PJ

    no fees from AMEX MRs to Avios ( which is a foreign entity)

  • CherylD


  • Jeremy

    I am really torn as to whether i should transfer more to the program – it seems you recommend transfering some points over even without a specific itinerary in mind. I used the promotion earlier this year to book AA flight LGA to ORD for 7500 one-way and realized almost 2.5c per Amex point, which i think is the best value i have ever gotten for my Amex points. Would you ever recommend just transferring a decent amount (say 20k Amex -> 30k Avios) and using it strategically or has that backfired for you in the past? I fly most AA hubs but however, it seems from your previous posts that some people had trouble getting some AA flights that require layovers (non-stops work fine).

  • Alan

    Unless I made a mistake, it seemed like coach trip Boston to Prague was 39,000 avios plus $685. in fees. Even with a 50% bonus on the Amex transfer, that doesn’t seem like a good deal.

  • thepointsguy

    Using Avios coach to Europe rarely makes sense

  • xina

    I transferred 100K MR points to 150K Avios and redeemed for international award tickets using Avios. I was wondering if I could make changes to the inbound itinerary, if the outbound has taken place?

  • Sam Wolfe

    Just transferred another 75,000 to top up and aiming for Cathay F to HKG shortly. Good deal!

  • Madamfefe2

    Is it worth it to transfer 187,000 points to BA from Amex to go in business class to HKG with the $743 in fees for 2 people when I have 240,000 points in my United account and can just use those points to go to HKG and only pay $135 total in fees? I’d be saving myself 53,000 points with the BA deal but spending almost $600 in fees. Plus I’d end up draining our Amex account. I’d have maybe 25K left in my United account after if I use United points for the trip. I only use United to go to Aspen from NYC and can generally afford the $500 plane tickets in cash.

  • Gavinmac

    Just transferred all of my 75k MR points to BA. Will aim to use them for Cathay to Bangkok.

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