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TPG reader Mark tweeted me to ask:
@thepointsguy–“I’ve always banked miles earned on British Airways to American Airlines, but am I better off earning Avios and using them for American flights?”
With so many airline partners these days, you have a lot of choices when deciding which one to fly. If you fly American Airlines, for example, you can bank the miles you earn to other partner programs like Alaska Airlines, British Airways, or even Quantas.
Whenever you bank miles to another program, you’re also banking elite qualifying miles there. I love Avios, but I love my American Airlines elite status more, so I bank all of my Oneworld flights to American Airlines. If you don’t care about elite status, you should decide which loyalty currency is most valuable to you.
With regard to Mark’s situation, it’s hard to make a blanket statement like “British Airways is more valuable than American,” since the value is circumstantial. Some people view the fuel surcharges on British Airways as a major deterrent. However, there are many different ways to avoid those fees, and frankly, using British Airways Avios for short-haul or medium-haul can be much more valuable than using AAdvantage miles for the same flights.
For example, New York to Miami is only 15,000 Avios, versus 25,000 AAdvantage miles. New York to Montreal round-trip is 9,000 Avios versus 25,000 AAdvantage miles, and the fees are similar.
British Airways also doesn’t charge $75 last minute ticketing fees. If you aren’t familiar with the British Airways Avios program, you should definitely check it out, because Avios can be incredibly valuable.
I bank everything to American to earn elite status, so I use Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards for British Airways flights, since they both transfer to Avios.
You can try using the British Airways calculator for the routes you want to compare the cost of your itinerary in Avios. For super long-haul flights, or flights with several connections, British Airways will likely be awful and you’ll be better off using AAdvantage miles. It all depends on your travel plans and whether you’re concerned with earning elite status.
If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.