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American Express is now offering targeted cardholders the opportunity to transfer Membership Rewards points into one of two Avios programs while locking in a 40% transfer bonus. The bonus is valid for transfers to the British Airways Executive Club and Aer Lingus Aer Club (but not Iberia Plus) and will be available for the next six weeks.
The Amex website has been suffering from a variety of issues today but if you hold a Membership Rewards card and can log in to your account, you may find that Amex has targeted you for a 40% bonus on transfers to BA and Aer Lingus.
I can see the British Airways bonus from my Amex homepage…
…and I can see the Aer Lingus offer on the Membership Rewards transfer partners page.
This is what the offer looks like regardless of which loyalty program you’d like to transfer points:
Keep in mind that it doesn’t really matter which of the two programs you transfer points to as Avios can be moved seamlessly between the British Airways Executive Club and Aer Club.
Should You Transfer Points Across To Avios?
I value Membership Rewards points at a conservative 1.5 cents each while I value British Airways Avios at just 1 cent each so, based just on that, a 40% bonus isn’t really worth considering. Sometimes, however, the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
There will be circumstances where you can get significantly more value out of Avios than the 1 cent at which I value them so, if you have a solid plan for the Avios you’ll generate by converting Membership Rewards points, there’s every chance this could be a bonus worth considering.
Very short routes
Some of the more popular and very short routes within the US (like New York to Washington D.C.) cost just 7,500 Avios + $5.60 (in taxes and fees) so when the cash rates on these routes are high, using Avios to make the booking instead of cash can easily see a traveler getting over 2.5 cents of value out of each Avios used.
Expensive short leisure routes
Also, some of the more popular leisure routes are being priced higher than normal right now so if you see an expensive fare on a short-ish American Airlines route on which awards are available…
…Avios may be able to save the day:
Using the example above, someone using Avios to book this fare would be getting ~2.83 cents of value out of each Avios they used and that’s pretty good going if each of those Avios was generated from a currency valued at just 1.5 cents.
It’s also worth remembering that Qatar Airways is now using Avios as its loyalty currency and while historically Avios long-haul redemptions have been accompanied by horrendous surcharges, that’s not really the case with Qatar Airways Avios redemptions.
With Qatar Airways charging just 70,000 Avios (+ surcharges) for a one-way Business Class fare between Los Angeles and Doha (for example), someone targeted for this transfer offer would need just 50,000 Membership Rewards points to make that booking. Considering the distance being traveled and the quality of Qatar Airways Business Class, that’s a fantastic deal.
There’s definitely value to be had in transferring Membership Rewards points over to the British Airways Executive Club while there’s a 40% bonus on offer but you should only be doing this when you have a plan for Avios you’ll be generating.
Nobody should be generating Avios in the hope of using them at some vague point down the line as there’s no knowing what will happen with the currency before the Avios get used. If, however, you can see an award that you’d like to book and the math makes sense, transferring Membership Rewards points to Avios to allow you to book that award could make a lot of sense.