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TPG Reader Chris emailed me to ask:
“I have around 100,000 Amex points, and am considering rolling those over to British Airways because of the current bonus. Is that a good idea considering I live in a United Airlines hub (Houston)?”
Through the end of January, American Express is offering U.S. Membership Rewards members a 40% bonus for transferring points to British Airways. This can be an amazing deal if you know how to maximize Avios for short-haul redemptions, or on partners like Aer Lingus and airberlin that don’t add crazy surcharges. I live in Miami, and I love using Avios for hops around the Caribbean that are otherwise very expensive.
Chris wants to know if it makes sense to transfer points pre-emptively to British Airways using this bonus. He lives in Houston, which isn’t a Oneworld hub, so he’s going to have to connect a lot if he wants to fly American Airlines through Dallas or other airports.
Avios awards are calculated awards based on each and every segment, so if he hops through Dallas, he’ll have to use an extra 4,500 Avios in addition to whatever points he uses from there. Nonetheless, Avios are useful, especially for short hops through the region or last-minute flights. There’s no last-minute ticketing fee with Avios, so last-minute, short-haul coach awards can be very valuable.
100,000 Membership Rewards points would become 140,000 Avios with the transfer bonus, so those can go a long way. I think transferring speculatively could make sense, unless you have another trip in mind where maybe transferring to ANA or Aeroplan (both United partners) is an option. 100,000 Aeroplan miles will get you to Europe round-trip in business class (though there are some surcharges on those awards).
In general, I don’t think transferring to Avios is a bad idea, just make sure you know how to use them. I’ve written extensively about that in the past, so do some research and then decide by the end of the month whether it makes sense—there’s no reason you have to decide early.
Amex has offered 50% bonuses in the past, but I don’t think we’re likely to see that again anytime soon, and it has been a long time since the last 40% transfer bonus. If you’re thinking about getting in on this deal, don’t assume there will be another opportunity. I think it’s worthwhile; just make sure you know how to make the most of your award redemptions.
If you have any other questions, please tweet me@thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at email@example.com.