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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, British Airways Visa Signature Card
In August American Express announced a 40% bonus on Membership Rewards points transfer to British Airways Avios and for all of the procrastinators out there (myself included), Thursday is the last day to decide whether you want to take advantage of this offer.
The bonus is hard-coded into the transfer ratio, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,400 Avios points and they transfer instantly and there is no fee to transfer points to British Airways.
I’ll reiterate that this bonus isn’t as lucrative May’s amazing Amex 50% transfer bonus to Avios (when I transferred 100,000 points), but this is still something to consider if you are thinking about redeeming your Avios for travel on British Airways or any of its partners like American Airlines, LAN and Cathay Pacific. If you need a British Airways account, you can get one for free here.
Before you transfer, figure out if Avios will indeed make sense for your award redemption. As you know, the British Airways Executive Club mileage program changed dramatically last November when it switched over to Avios, but I’ve since written a series on Maximizing British Airways Avios that will help you make the most of your points. The posts in my series include: Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Distance-Based Awards, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Household Accounts, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets, The Avios and Cash Option, Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia, Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.
Overall, you can get some great values out of your American Express Membership Rewards points with a transfer bonus like this. For example, I needed to get a roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles to Austin in October, and tickets were going for $541. However, there was tons of low-level award availability on American Airlines, so I could book a roundtrip economy ticket for 20,000 Avios and $5 in fees even just a week out from my departure date. All I needed to do was transfer 15,000 Amex points to British Airways Avios (which actually netted me 21,000 Avios thanks to this bonus), and I had more than enough points to book my ticket. My per-point value worked out to 3.6 cents. Pretty good for domestic coach since I would have absolutely had to spend that $541 if I didn’t have my Amex and Avios.
If you’re thinking of speculatively transferring points to British Airways to possibly redeem an award in the future, I’d just counsel you to consider what kind of award you want and whether the value you will get makes sense for you.
Also just as a reminder if you’re looking to top up your Amex Membership Rewards account for future transfer bonuses, you should check for targeted offers from Amex, which are generally the most lucrative. The best current public offer is the Business Gold Rewards card with a 50,000-point sign-up bonus when you spend $5,000 within 3 months.