Amex Lowering British Airways Transfer Rates (USA Only?)

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It’s definitely an Amex news day today!

It appears that Amex is reducing the number of Avios you can earn by transferring Membership Rewards (MR). A big hat-tip to Travel With Grant for pointing this out.

Amex Membership Rewards

Historically, the transfer ratio of MR to Avios has been 1:1 – as it is with most MR partners but Travel With Grant spotted a “Notice of Important Membership Rewards Changes” on his latest credit card statement (bolding is mine):

Effective October 1, 2015, when transferring points from Membership Rewards to British Airways and Iberia, the number of Avios you receive will change. From this date, for every 250 Membership Rewards points you transfer to the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus programs, you will receive 200 Avios (the previous conversion rate was 1,000 Membership Rewards points for 1,000 Avios). As of October 1, 2015, you must transfer points to these loyalty programs in increments of 250.

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The, soon-to-be-old transfer rate

Note to UK Readers: I spoke to Amex Membership Rewards today and they’re sticking to the line that “there are NO changes planned for how you redeem your Membership Rewards points and at what levels you can redeem them“. However, that was a Membership Rewards phone representative and not someone in a more senior position of authority so they may not be aware of all plans – watch this space.

And, while I’m writing notes….

Note to Amex: Some of us get our statements online and, once we’ve checked you haven’t overcharged us (or that someone else hasn’t taken themselves to Tahiti on our card) we tend to stop reading. We rarely get to the small print. This sort of information should either come in an email or in a separate letter – ideally both!

This change to Avios earning is just another blow in what is turning out to be a pretty bad year for Avios enthusiasts. 

On the flying front British Airways took a hatchet to the Executive Club earning rates (amongst a lot of other things) earlier this year – Most Economy Class tickets earn a lot less Avios than they used to.

On the credit card front Chase reduced earnings on their British Airways card from 1.25 Avios/$ to 1 Avios/$ (although they increased earnings for BA purchases from 2.5 to 3 Avios/$).

And now this.

Amex Membership Rewards

Anyone who’s read my posts on British Airways (here, here and here) will know that I’m not exactly a fan of the airline but this time I’m not sure who to blame. One of a number of things could be happening here:

Is Amex trying to get card holders to focus on transferring MR points to their new “Plenti” program? If so we should probably expect to see changes to all the other MR transfer partners which still appear to have 1:1 conversion rations.

Are British Airways asking credit card partners to issue less Avios? This is highly unlikely as BA makes an considerable amount of money by selling Avios to the credit card companies . Having said that, they’ve done some stupid things in the past so who knows?

Is Chase putting pressure on BA for a bit more exclusivity? Chase Ultimate Reward points transfer to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio (for now) so have they asked BA to reduce what Amex can offer? Possibly, but considering their overall Avios earning rate dropped it doesn’t seem that likely.

Is British Airways increasing what it charges Amex for Avios? This is a possibility and would explain why it only appears to be the ratio at with MRs transfer to BA that’s changing and not any other program – but I don’t know when Amex’s contract with British Airways is due for re-negotiaiton so this is just a theory.

For now I’d suggest that Amex Membership Rewards collectors in other counties keep a close eye on your statements as they come in – let me know in the comments if you get any unwanted news.


  1. […] Continue reading…. […]

  2. […] Amex Membership Rewards Points (in the US) can be transferred into any of 17 different airline rewards programs or any of 3 hotel rewards programs….so you could say that the currency is pretty flexible. Unfortunately, like most rewards programs, Membership Rewards has seen its share of devaluations and the most recent notable devaluation (1 October 2015) was when the transfer ratio for Amex to British Airways transfers went from 1000:1000 to 1000:800. […]

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