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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
Finally! It’s been a relatively quiet year for Amex transfer bonuses, but starting today American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 35% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios now through June 7, 2013. While not quite as generous as recent transfer bonuses of 40% and even 50%, it beats the most recent transfer bonus of 30% from back in December – it seems like Amex and British Airways are trying to find a sweet spot for transfer bonuses.
This is still something to consider if you are thinking about redeeming your Avios for travel on British Airways or any of its partners like American Airlines, LAN and Cathay Pacific. If you need a British Airways account, you can get one for free here.
Before you transfer, figure out if Avios will make sense for your award redemption. I have written a series on Maximizing British Airways Avios that will help you make the most of your points. The posts in my series include: Master FAQ Post on British Airways 100,000 Mile Offer, Distance-Based Awards, Spotlight on Taxes and Fees, Travel Together Companion Ticket, Household Accounts, Using Avios to Upgrade Paid Tickets, The Avios and Cash Option, Save Money on Fuel Surcharges by Transferring British Airways Avios to Iberia, Using Avios For Non-Flight Redemptions.
Remember, you can also transfer Amex points to anyone else (simply log in to your membershiprewards.com account -> Points Summary -> Scroll to bottom right where you see accounts, scroll to bottom and select “Link additional accounts”), so this might be a good time to top up your family or friends’ accounts to get them to levels needed for awards.
Until June 30, 2013, Amex will even let you advance points for free as long as you earn them back within a year – 15,000 for Gold/Green and up to 60,000 points for Platinum.
So let’s say you wanted to fly roundtrip from New York JFK-Montreal. A roundtrip economy award ticket on this short but expensive route would require just 9,000 Avios, or just 7,000 Membership Rewards points if you transferred them to Avios with this promo.
That same ticket could cost you around the $500 in the next few weeks.
So you’d be getting a value of over 7 cents per Amex point – a pretty great value, especially for a coach redemption.
To take another example, flying from LAX to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific first class one-way would normally cost you 105,000 Avios + $156, but with this promo you’d only need to spend 78,000 Amex points.
That same ticket would cost you $7,836 (not that anyone would ever pay that much except in a pinch, but this opens up the possibility of a last-minute first class flight to Hong Kong if you so desire).
So your Membership Rewards points would be worth nearly 10 cents each.
As I always counsel, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to speculatively transfer Amex points to British Airways, even with a transfer bonus like this. However, if you have a specific upcoming redemption in mind and know how many Avios you’ll need, this can be a great way to cut your redemption requirement by 26% and save some Amex points while still booking the award you want.
Also keep in mind that Avios expire and will be removed from your account if you don’t earn, redeem, purchase or share at least one Avios every 36 months, so an Amex transfer is a good way to reset the expiration clock if you haven’t had any account activity in a while.
If you’re low on Membership Rewards points and are considering applying for some new cards, here are the current bonus offers out there.
Business Gold Rewards: 50,000 points after $5,000 spent within the first 3 months. $175 annual fee, waived the first year. More info
Mercedes-Benz Platinum: 50,000 points when you spend $1,000 within 3 months. $475 annual fee.
Business Platinum: 25,000 points when you spend $5,000 within 3 months. $450 annual fee.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express: 25,000 points when you spend $2,000 within 3 months. $195 annual fee, waived the first year. Detailed review.
Platinum: 25,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. $450 annual fee. Detailed review.
Always check your mail for targeted offers since they may be much more than any available public offer. I will definitely be taking advantage of this, but I’m not sure just got many I’m going to transfer. While I don’t like to speculatively transfer, I’ll wait until the end of the promotion to see if anything else comes up and then make a decision. Since transfer bonuses are becoming so rare, I’m temped to transfer a decent amount because I know how to leverage Avios for sweet-spot redemptions.
What is your plan of action?