AMEX Membership Rewards points now transfer to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio. This is great news, because since October 1, 2015, Membership Rewards points have transferred to Avios at a 1.25:1 ratio, i.e. 1000 Membership Rewards points have become 800 British Airways Avios (see Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to British Airways Avios Before the Devaluation?)
Of course, the way around this was to use Chase Ultimate Rewards, which have always transferred 1:1 to British Airways Avios, or to earn Avios through the British Airways Visa signup bonus or spend, or to transfer SPG Starpoints 1:1 to Avios with a 25% transfer bonus when transferring in increments of 20,000 points (although personally I'd recommend saving SPG Starpoints for more valuable points transfers).
And there have also been periodic transfer bonuses from AMEX Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios; for example, see this August 2016 post, 50 Percent AMEX MR Points Transfer Bonus to British Airways Avios Worth It?
But it looks as though now the current transfer ratio is 1:1, and that this isn't a time-limited opportunity.
Is It Worth Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points to British Airways Avios Without an Immediate Need?
Personally, I wouldn't transfer speculatively. After multiple devaluations, Avios have very specific sweet spots, and they're one of the currencies I redeem least. Plus, chances are, you already have one or more Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, along with the no fee Chase Freedom (if not, and you're an avid traveler, you should). It's not hard to earn 3X-5X on a great deal of spend, if you have the old Ink Plus, the Chase Freedom and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Because of this, anytime I do need to top up my Avios for a new redemption, I use Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I save AMEX Membership Rewards points, which are harder to earn, for transfers to Aeroplan, Etihad, Emirates and the like, which aren't partnered with Ultimate Rewards.
So What Are Good Redemptions Using British Airways Avios?
Because long haul oneworld premium class awards such as Cathay Pacific First Class and JAL First Class from the U.S. to Asia are more expensive than using AAdvantage miles (140K Avios vs. 110K AAdvantage miles for JFK-HKG in Cathay First, and 140K Avios vs. 80K AAdvantage miles for JFK-NRT in JAL First), these are some of the best uses for Avios:
- Intra-Regional Flight Awards: Avios can be put to good use for short-haul flights within a region, for example intra-Asia flights on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair, intra-Australia flights on Qantas, and intra-Japan flights on JAL. You should, however, run the numbers to figure out whether paid flights are a better deal. Depending on how you value your points, you don't want to redeem your Avios if your redemptions are less than 2 cents per Avios point. In particular, as I mentioned in A Good Use for Our British Airways Avios, JAL Business Class between Tokyo and Asian cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Manila can be good value. Closer to the U.S., JFK to Vancouver in Cathay Pacific First Class is slightly better value with Avios, at 50K Avios, than with AAdvantage miles, which would be 55K miles.
- Avios Upgrades: If you have work travel booked in British Airways Economy or Premium Economy, depending on the fare, it can be possible to use Avios to upgrade your flights. Keep in mind the upgrade is one cabin, so Economy upgrades to Premium Economy (World Traveler Plus) and Premium Economy upgrades to Business (Club World), with the latter option preferred since it gets you a flat bed seat.
- Avios + Cash Awards: If you're short on points or British Airways Avios, another option can be redeeming for Avios + cash awards.
Can I Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards to a Spouse's or Partner's Frequent Flyer Account?
Only if that person is an authorized user of your account.
Will you be transferring any AMEX Membership Rewards points to Avios now that the ratio is 1:1?
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