Family Getaway: Fly American or Alaska Airlines from 5,400 Amex Points During Transfer Bonus

Sep 21, 2018

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

There are few things I love more in the points and miles world than a good old-fashioned transfer bonus. You never know when (or if) a transfer bonus will appear, but when it does, you have the opportunity to extract more value for your points if you transfer them to that partner. Since families are often booking for multiple people, jumping on opportunities to stretch miles with beneficial transfer bonuses should be a key part of any solid family points and miles strategy.

Now through November 15, you’ll get a 40% bonus when transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Aer Lingus Avios, British Airways Avios and Iberia Avios. Before you click away from this article thinking that a British Airways transfer bonus isn’t relevant to your family, remember that some airlines that are closer to home — such as American Airlines and Alaska Airlines — also partner with British Airways. This means there are (lots) of ways to utilize this limited-time 40% transfer bonus for your family without leaving the United States.

Fly American Airlines from 5,400 Amex Points

In 2015, British Airways changed up its award chart and the airline now charges a minimum of 7,500 Avios for all nonstop flights of 1,150 miles in length or less, from or within North America. The carrier’s distance-based award chart starts at 4,500 Avios for standard awards in other parts of the world. However, even a 7,500 Avios award can be an insanely good deal, especially for some of the slightly longer short-haul US flights. American Airlines also discounts their short-haul flights starting at 7,500 AAdvantage miles, but the awards are capped at 500 miles in distance.

Should you wish to fly nonstop on American Airlines from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Vail-Eagle (EGE) during the ski season, that 721 mile flight at the economy saver level would typically cost you 7,500 British Airways Avios, or 12,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Fly to Vail from 5,400 Amex points
Fly to Vail from 5,400 Amex points. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

However, with the limited-time 40% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways, this very same flight can be yours for about 5,400 Amex MR points. You must transfer Membership Rewards points in increments of 1,000 points to British Airways, so if you’re starting from an account balance of zero, you would need to transfer 6,000 Membership Rewards points to get 8,400 British Airways Avios — more than enough for a one-way 7,500 Avios flight.

If a family of four wanted to fly round-trip in economy on an American Airlines or Alaska Airlines operated nonstop award flights of 1,150 miles or less each direction, that would cost a total of 60,000 British Airways Avios for four tickets. But during the 40% transfer bonus, those four round-trip flights can be yours by transferring just 43,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways, which is pretty outstanding considering how much four round-trip airline tickets can cost if purchased with cash.

I recommend searching the AA website for saver award availability before heading to the British Airways site to book. Those who are running low on Amex Membership Rewards points can browse a few of these current public Amex welcome bonus offers:

Fly to Hawaii from 9,000 Points

Another family-friendly sweet spot you’ll find with British Airways Avios is the ability to fly nonstop from several West Coast cities to the various Hawaiian islands from just 12,500 Avios each way, thanks again to the Avios distance-based chart.

That’s always a solid deal to get to Hawaii, but right now it’s even better if you have 9,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to spare. Transferring 9,000 Amex Membership Rewards points will currently net you 12,600 British Airways Avios. This is 100 Avios more than you need to book a one-way economy award to Hawaii from as far east as Phoenix (when there is Alaska or American saver award availability).

Say yes to Hawaii from 9,000 Membership Rewards points. (Photo by @mreyz/Twenty20)
Say yes to Hawaii from 9,000 Membership Rewards points. (Photo by @mreyz/Twenty20)

While American Airlines operated award flights can be booked online, Alaska Airlines operated flights must be booked over the phone with British Airways since they aren’t searchable at ba.com.

No Close-In Booking Fees and Low Change Fees

An added perk of booking via British Airways is that there are no close-in booking fees and the change/redeposit fees are more reasonable than with many other programs. This makes this offer all the more useful for families who have schedules that aren’t always set in stone.

Fly to Europe or Try a Lie-Flat Seat from 10k-11k Points

If your family wants to stretch their wings a bit more than an economy domestic award ticket, they can fly to to Ireland starting at 10,000 Amex points one-way (or 19,000 round-trip) thanks to this 40% transfer bonus. If Europe in business class is the goal, that can be booked from 49,000 Amex points round-trip + taxes and fees. Or, if you just want to try out a fancy American Airlines lie-flat business class seat on a shorter flight, this bonus allows you to do that starting at just 11,000 points one-way.

Bottom Line

It’s easy to tune out opportunities to stretch miles when they come via a program you may not have used very much in the past. However, families can and should make use of this 40% transfer bonus to British Airways while it lasts.

Featured image by James R.D. Scott / Getty Images.

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