Sunday Reader Question: Credit Oneworld Miles With American or British Airways?

by on November 4, 2012 · 5 comments

in American, Avios, British Airways, Oneworld, Sunday Reader Questions

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Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

TPG reader Nachama asks:

“I have a question about the Oneworld Alliance. I think I’ve mastered the Star Alliance, but haven’t spent a lot of time banking Oneworld points. Who should I make my primary Oneworld carrier – British Airways or American Airlines? I’ll occasionally fly AA domestically, but I’m expecting to have a bunch of Amex points thanks to a corporate Amex card and obviously, those transfer to British Airways and not AA. When I fly AA, should I be booking my AA points with British Airways?”

In general, I think American AAdvantage miles are more valuable than British Airways Avios, however the key factor here is that you can easily top up your British Airways Avios with Amex transfers (often at 40% or 50% bonuses), so do you want to put all of your eggs in one basket with British Airways or diversify with American?

It really depends on how much flying is “occasional” and what you want to redeem your miles for. If your ultimate goal is awards to Europe or Australia (or Asia on JAL), then I’d say steer clear of British Airways because those award tickets (except on Air Berlin and Aer Lingus) come with huge fees. However, if you want to redeem for North America awards or flights to South America, British Airways is a better bet since their awards are distance-based and short/medium-haul flights usually come to less Avios than American. Additionally British Airways doesn’t charge a last minute award booking fee (vs $75 on American for awards ticketed within 21 days of departure), so it’s all around probably smarter to just consolidate and bank everything to British Airways than try to build up a small balance with American. Another good thing is that even the cheapest AA coach fares earn 100% miles with British Airways, so you won’t have to worry about only getting a fraction of the miles, which often happens when you credit partner airline miles to a frequent flyer program.

AA earning on British Airways

If you end up flying AA more (especially with their double EQM/ point promotion) and get within elite status range, you may want to rethink your strategy. However, if it truly is occasional, I’d probably just simplify things and accrue all of your Oneworld flying to British Airways. There are a lot of other positives (cheap Avios upgrades on British Airways flights, decent hotel redemptions and household accounts) and negatives (no changes to awards 1 day prior to departure and buggy website) to using Avios, but once you get the hang of it, you can extract great value out of your Avios. I’d highly recommend reading through my most recent Maximizing British Airways series so you know how to maximizing your Avios!

Spotlight on Taxes and FeesDistance-Based AwardsTravel Together Companion TicketUsing Avios to Upgrade Paid TicketsThe Avios and Cash OptionSave Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to IberiaUsing Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.

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  • Lantean

    I think using Avios on Finn Air helps avoid the fees too.

  • Karl Mitchell

    Say you book an AA flight with avios, and have status with Alaska Airlines: Is there any problem with using the perks of Alaska status, such as fee-free baggage, on that flight?

  • Alex

    One key consideration is whether you fly firstbusiness or coach on paid fares. Premium cabin flights do much, much more for your elite qualification on BA. For example if you fly four transatlantic segments (i.e. JFK-LHR) in business and four short haul economy segments (at least half of those on BA metal) you would have Silver status with BA(equivalent to AA Platinum), but will be slightly short of Gold on AA. On the other hand if all of the flights are in economy you are much better off with AA.

  • J Wexxx

    Question – If you have Platinum status with American, and are flying on an AA flight (non codeshare) flight, but choose to earn Avios, do you earn the 100% bonus? Or do you have to have Silver Status with Executive Club to earn the 100% on an AA flight? The question is general, not talking about the current promotion to earn double miles.

  • Jonathan

    So to follow up on this if I want to use the points to fly to Israel I should stay with AA vs BA due to the fees?

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