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Back in October, Amex launched a 20% transfer bonus to British Airways that ends tomorrow, December 31, and lately, I’ve had a lot of readers (and family members) writing in to ask whether it’s worth taking advantage of even if you don’t have any Avios award redemptions planned in the near future.
First, let’s consider the history of recent Amex transfer bonuses. We haven’t seen many big Amex/BA transfer bonuses in 2013 so far – though there was one for 30% back in January and another for 35% back in April/May. Before that, there were bonuses of up to 50% for several months both in 2011 and 2012, which we haven’t seen in a while.
More recently, Amex has been offering a 33% Hilton transfer bonus good through January (not thrilling, in my opinion), a week-long transfer bonus of 25% to new transfer partner Emirates, a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic in October/November (concurrent with the BA one), a 20% Choice Privileges transfer bonus in October/November, 20% to HawaiianMiles over the summer, a targeted 35% bonus to Flying Blue in May, and at the high end of the spectrum, a two-week 40% transfer bonus to Virgin America in September,
I actually think we’ll see some more transfer bonuses in 2014 as Amex tries to retain its competitive edge in an increasingly wide marketplace with other issuers like Chase and Barclaycard honing in on its customers, but I also bet that they will be with less valuable partners like Virgin America, JetBlue and Hilton, with a 50% Starwood bonus thrown into the mix possibly.
So in general I think this 20% bonus is decent if you need to top up your account now, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 30% bonus sometime in 2014. However, I wouldn’t hold your breath for it to go back up to 40-50% anytime soon, though I’d love to be proven wrong here!
There is another interesting angle to this, though. Right now until January 5, Iberia is offering a 50% bonus on Avios transferred between Iberia Plus accounts, so you could actually find a way to transfer Amex points to your BA account with a 20% bonus, then transfer those Avios instantly to your Iberia account and then transfer between Iberia accounts with a 50% bonus and end up minting miles for under one cent apiece – though there are a few steps involved.
Iberia 50% Transfer Bonus
Now through January 5, 2014, Iberia is offering a 50% bonus on Avios transferred between Iberia Plus accounts. The maximum amount of Avios you can transfer is 144,000 per calendar year. These limits apply to both the person who issues the Avios and the person who receives them. You can transfer up to 24,000 Avios per transaction at the following prices:
The prices are fixed at those intervals – so transferring 19,000 Avios costs the same as transferring 24,000 Avios – 160 EUR ($220). So here is how you could leverage both promotions. The catch is that you need both BA and Iberia Avios accounts that have been open at least 3 months for this to work. If you do, however, here is how it would work.
First, transfer the Amex points you have to British Airways at the 20% bonus, so 1,000 Amex points = 1,200 British Airways Avios.
Then on BA.com, you simply log into your Executive Club account, go to the Manage My Account tab on the lefthand side of the page and it pulls up a screen with your options, the last of which is to “Combine My Avios.”
That pulls up the following page where you can then link your BA and Iberia Avios accounts.
All you need is the Iberia Plus number you want to transfer through and the amount of Avios to transfer and that’s it. Best of all, you can transfer as many Avios as you want as often as you want between the two programs, and it takes effect immediately, and you can transfer back and forth as much as you want, so you don’t have to leave your Avios in your Iberia account but can send them back to BA when you’re done.
Once your Avios are in your Iberia Plus account, you can transfer them to another Iberia Plus account and earn the 50% transfer bonus. So let’s say you transferred 20,000 Amex points to 24,000 BA Avios, then transferred those into your Iberia Plus account so that you would have the full Iberia transfer amount available. Then you could send those to another Iberia Plus account for 160 EUR ($220) and end up with 36,000 Iberia Plus Avios (which you can leave there or transfer back to BA).
By leveraging both promos, you’re basically minting 16,000 Avios for the cost of 1.375 cents per Avios. It’s actually slightly cheaper to make your Iberia transfers in increments of 6,000 Avios since it costs just 30 EUR ($40) and is a slightly lower per-Avios price, but more time consuming. Even at 1.375 cents per Avios, it’s still something to consider since that’s about half the cheapest price British Airways sells Avios for, and it actually charges up to 5.3 cents per Avios in some circumstances, so this is a decent discount.
The other thing to note is, though the Amex-BA transfer bonus ends December 31, the Iberia one is going on now through January 5, and the Iberia share/transfer bonus max resets with the calendar year, so you could theoretically max it out for 2013 now, and then do it again with another 144,000 Avios in 2014.
That’s a lot of points to be shifting around, and I would not suggest doing so unless you have an immediate need for those Avios with a specific redemption in mind and are willing to pay extra for the Iberia transfer bonus ones.
For more information, see these posts:
Amex Transfer Bonuses to British Airways (20%) and Virgin Atlantic (30%) Launch Tomorrow
Maximizing the Amex Transfer Bonus To British Airways – Partner Redemptions
Comparing Current Amex Transfer Bonuses to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic
Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia
And my recent Maximizing British Airways Avios series: With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.
–Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer
–Spotlight on Taxes and Fees
–Travel Together Companion Ticket
–Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets
–The Avios and Cash Option
–Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions
–Using British Airways Avios on Aer Lingus to Avoid Taxes and Fees
With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.