Video SRQ: Transferring Membership Rewards Points To Maximize A Bonus Without a Redemption in Mind

by on May 12, 2013 · 8 comments

in American Express, Avios, British Airways, Oneworld, Qantas, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Joe is intrigued by the current Amex 35% transfer bonus to British Airways which expires June 7:

“Would it be smart to transfer points to British Airways Avios from American Express Membership Rewards with the current bonus if you don’t have a redemption in mind? I was going to transfer some anyway to keep the account active, but I was tempted to transfer more. I know Avios are good for short haul flights. Since we mostly fly out of Orlando MCO it looks like unless we fly to an American Airlines hub, we’re stuck redeeming 2 segment awards. Would that take back any benefit of the bonus? Is there any other spot where using Avios out of a non Oneworld hub city make sense? We are going to Australia next year. Could it be worth it for Qantas domestic tickets?”

In general, I recommend keeping points in your American Express Membership Rewards account until you need to use them. Having the flexibility to transfer your points to different partners and take advantage of current promotions is the beauty of the Membership Rewards program.

The 35% bonus is hardcoded into the transfer ratio so 1,000 Amex = 1,350 Avios

The 35% bonus is hardcoded into the transfer ratio so 1,000 Amex = 1,350 Avios

However, transfer bonuses have been few and far between lately, and not as high as their historic highs. The Amex 35% transfer bonus to British Airways is a pretty good deal and should be taken advantage of IF you know how to use Avios. If you would like more information on how to maximize British Airways Avios, you should read this series which includes several different posts on the various aspects of Avios like maximizing distance-based awards, avoiding high taxes and fees, the Travel Together companion ticket, and using Avios for upgrades.

You mentioned you fly out of Orlando which isn’t an AA hub and that raises a problem because British Airways Avios awards are based on each segment rather than zone, so as you say, you could be shelling out Avios for at least two different segments by taking a flight to an AA hub and then connecting there.

However, if you do go to Australia, Avios can be huge for domestic Australia flights because it is partners with Qantas. Since Australia is a really big country, when you’re flying from one side of the country to the other transcontinental flights (in business class especially) can be through the roof. There’s not a ton of competition in Australia so redeeming your Avios for flights with low surcharges can absolutely make sense as well and since British Airways doesn’t charge close-in booking fees, even if your plans change at the last minute, you won’t end up spending a huge amount of extra cash.

I would try to hedge your bets and transfer a portion of your points into British Airways, that way if a better bonus comes along you won’t feel so bad that you just depleted your account on this, but you were still able to take advantage of a pretty good promotion. If you’re comfortable using Avios and really maximizing their value – which is possible in lots of different ways – I say go to town!

I know that wasn’t a clear cut answer to your question, but if I were you I would transfer some Membership Rewards points in for now and see what else comes along. As long as you are comfortable using Avios and know how to take advantage of them then go to town!

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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  • jason

    Quick question,

    From the day I cancel my chase ink bold how many day do I need to wait to reapply for the chase ink bold and receive the 50k UR bonus again?.

  • Joeheg

    First of all, thanks for answering my question. {thud} Actually you confirmed what I was already thinking of doing. With the 75K biz Amex special which I was able to get in on, I don’t mind transferring the points as much now. We can always fly to JFK from MCO if we need to use the avios. Thanks again for the response. As a newbie, this is still kinda cool.

  • Milezjunkie

    @jason, you can switch to Ink Plus but I would apply for the new card BEFORE canceling. You won’t get the bonus points again for the Ink Bold. Some people have reported getting it a second time for a second business.

  • jason


    I already have the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus and the first year annual fee is coming up, first to the Ink then the Ink plus. so which one is churnable?

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  • Ciana

    Thanks Brian! Your post gave me food for thought as I am going to Australia next Feb (used Aeroplan for 2 Business seats from Toronto – ugh for $$fees though) We wanted certain dates and direct so am happy with getting those seats) I had some Amex points so after reading your article I transferred 18,000 to Avios and got 2 seats for Sydney – Hobart return for $66. Unfortunately there was not a bonus and it took 3 days for the points to post – Canadian Amex very different than the US version. Luckily the award seats on Qantas were still available. Cheers!

  • lessilber

    Hi Brian,

    I,d rather not pay the $175 annual fee for my Business Gold Card. Therefore, I need to transfer my Amex Reward Miles to ANA & Avios for future travel. Do you know if either program has a mileage expiration date for inactive accounts? Would you let me know if there is a expiration chart for all the travel programs?

  • SKK

    TPG. Can one use British Airways AVIOS miles to fly on Jet airways flight from US/Canada to Delhi India? I know one can use AA miles currently to do the same. Thanks

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