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Since part-way through September American Express has been running a promotion for anyone looking to convert their Membership Rewards Points (US) to Avios and the 40% bonus it has been offering tempted a lot of people…and rightly so.
Sadly the 40% conversion bonus ends today so, if you think you’re going to need to top up your Avios balance anytime soon, today would be the day to do just that.
Amex is offering the 40% bonus on transfers to both the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus and there are reasons why one may be a better idea for you than the other.
If you have an “active” Iberia and BA accounts (i.e it both have been open for at least 90 days and the accounts have had some activity in them) you can transfer Avios freely between the two programs….so it doesn’t really matter which program you transfer your Amex Membership Rewards Points to.
There are, however, some scenarios where picking one program over the other is a sensible thing to do.
If of your accounts (Iberia Plus or BA EC) hasn’t been declared “active” because it hasn’t had any activity in (a lot of people seem to be in this position with their Iberia Plus account), this would be a good time to transfer a small number of points (1,000) into that account to give it the activity it needs to be declared active (should you wish to make transfers between your accounts in the future).
If you’re looking to book a long-haul Avios redemption and your Iberia Plus account hasn’t yet had any activity in it then you should be very careful where you transfer your Avios.
Iberia charges lower (although still annoying) award surcharges than British Airways so, if you can find award availability on Iberia, that’s the airline you need to be booking with (and therefore transferring your points to).
If you transfer your points to BA and then find award availability with Iberia you will not be able to transfer Avios to Iberia due to the lack of activity in your Iberia Plus account.
If you’re looking to book European short-haul flights using Avios (and one or both of your Iberia/BAEC accounts isn’t active) you should definitely be transferring your Amex points to British Airways.
Within Europe British Airways caps the taxes it charges on awards while Iberia does not so this makes BA Avios the significantly better option of the two.
If one of your accounts hasn’t been declared “active” you won’t be able to transfer points to BA if you’ve accidentally deposited them into your Iberia Plus account.
If you need Avios in a hurry a transfer to the British Airways Executive Club is probably in order (unless one of the other scenarios outlines above suggests otherwise) – Amex transfers to BA are instantaneous while transfers to Iberia Plus can take up to 48 hours.
Transferring Amex Points To Avios Is Simple
I had forgotten about this promotion until last Sunday when I noticed it in my Amex account and, as I needed to top up my BAEC account, I instigated a transfer.
I wrote a post on how to transfer Amex Membership Points to airlines earlier in the year so that may be a good starting point for you but if you already know what you’re doing all you need to know is that transfers to BA are instantaneous and transfers to Iberia Plus can take up to 48 hours (as mentioned above).
I chose to transfer 56,000 Membership Rewards Points (I only ever transfer out just enough points to get me the award I’m looking to book)…
…Amex confirmed the transfer took place on 11 November…..
…and here are the points hitting my BAEC account on the same date (you’ll just have to trust me that the transfer was instantaneous):
If it looks like you’re going to be needing some Avios soon then now’s the time to transfer – the 40% bonus disappears after today and probably won’t be seen again for a while (it usually appears once a year).
Don’t transfer Amex points on a whim – Membership Rewards points are more valuable and more versatile than Avios so they’re the currency you should be hoarding and not Avios.
There have been rumors floating around about an Avios devaluation for over a year now and I suspect that it’s only the incompetence of BA’s IT department that has seen us spared so far (that, and the fact that BA probably has enough annoyed customers right now and they probably don’t want to annoy too many more just now). Don’t transfer points unless you have a short-term plan in place.
If you transfer points, fail to use them and then Avios gets devalued, don’t come crying to me wondering where it all went wrong! 🙂