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Sunday Reader Question: Can You Transfer British Airways Avios to American Airlines Miles?

by on January 13, 2013 · 9 comments

in American, British Airways, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Ann asks:

“Can British Airways Avios points be transferred to American Airlines AAdvantage miles since the airliens are code share partners?  Or the reverse?

For example, if one opens the BA card, could those bonus miles earned then be transferred to AA at any time? Or could an existing small AA balance be sent to the BA account?”

In short, no, you generally cannot transfer miles from one airline frequent flyer program into another- even if they are alliance or codeshare partners. You can, however, redeem British Airways Avios for American Airlines flights, but you are limited to award flights that American makes available to their partners, which is generally most MileSAAver awards. See this post for redeeming British Airways Avios for partner flights (and avoiding their notoriously huge fees).

Although American and BA are partners, you can't transfer miles between accounts.

Although American and BA are partners, you can’t transfer miles between accounts.

Exceptions to the Rule
Frequent flyer programs will allow you to transfer points between airline programs when airlines merge.  For example, you can currently move points between AirTran and Southwest’s old Rapid Rewards program until the AirTran program no longer continues to exist (probably later in 2013).

British Airways allows you to transfer points to their subsidiary Iberia Plus program, which can save you a boatload on fees. Read this post for more info on that process.

Points.com will also let you transfer points between programs, but in my experience, the ratios are horrible – you are essentially losing 60% or more of the value of your points by moving them from one account to another. Instead of going this route, I’d recommend boosting you account balances by leveraging transferable points programs.

American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest points all transfer to British Airways at base 1:1 transfer ratios. American miles are harder to come by, but Starwood Preferred Guest points transfer at a 1:1 base ratio with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.

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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  • slooz

    Do you know if there is any way to see flights on britishairways.com that leave from Buffalo? I’ve tried it before and can’t get it to show any of the American Airline routes.

  • gomike

    American Eagle fly’s BUF-ORD, that’s it from what I see.

  • PJ

    call them up they will book without fees when NOT available for you to click on line

  • KT

    I have never been able to find ANY flight with availability through Britishairways.com -> Executive Club -> Spending Avios -> Book flights with Avios. Even just choosing random dates far in the future.

    Are they absurdly stingy or does the tool not really work?

  • amparo elena

    I am going to fly from Mexico to England . I have an AAvantage Number in Ameican Airlines. How can I add these miles?

  • GB

    Over the past few years, we have used our BA points to book Club round trip to the UK a few months in advance without problem. This year there is almost nothing available in Club from anywhere in the US to the UK from February to May 2014. What little is available is in Economy Premium which they seem to be pushing. Airline miles with BA were a good deal for years, but they seem to be closing the door.

  • David Boden

    I am trying to redeem my avios on BA for a flight from LAX ✈ LON. It’s listed at 25k avios + $250 in fees. When I searched on American Airlines, the same BA flight is available for 20k miles. Is it possible to somehow book the flight through American using avios? or any other way to get that 20k redemption rate. Also, will the fees be lower by booking through AA.

  • CV

    Thanks. I’m about to travel British for the first time. Wish I could transfer those miles to American.

  • http://aaadventurephoto.com/ Alan

    I’m encountering this issue, myself. There are many routes that BA doesn’t even participate in such as DFW -> HNL, but I can’t seem to book anything other than very point-expensive flights on partner airlines (if there’s any availability at all).

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