Should you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to British Airways Avios Before October 1 Before the Transfer Devaluation, when the ratio will go from 1:1 to 1.25:1, e.g. 1000 MR points will transfer to only 800 Avios?
A TravelSort Client writes “I have around 75,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points. Is it worth transferring them to British Airways Avios points? I know they are changing the program next week [reducing the transfer ratio such that 250 Membership Rewards points will transfer to 200 Avios] but if it's worth it I could do it before them. If not any other suggestions we could do with the AMEX Membership Rewards points?”
September 30: Last Day to Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points 1:1 to British Airways Avios
AMEX Membership Rewards is stealthily devaluing transfers to British Airways Avios per Flyertalk, having apparently sent out some notices to AMEX cardholders on their paper statements that starting October 1, Membership Rewards points transferred to British Airways Avios or Iberia Avios will transfer at the ratio of 1000 Membership Rewards points to 800 Avios, instead of the current 1:1 transfer ratio.
(So Far) Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG Starpoints Transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios
Keep in mind that so far, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios, and Ultimate Rewards points can be much easier to earn, thanks to 5X category bonuses with the Ink Plus, enabling you to earn 5X on all Amazon spend and 5X on all Whole Foods spend, as well as the Chase Freedom rotating quarterly 5X categories.
And SPG Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios, with a 25% bonus if you transfer in increments of 20,000 Starpoints. So 20,000 Starpoints become 25,000 Avios, although unfortunately the transfer isn't instant, as it is with Ultimate Rewards points, and Starpoints tend to be harder to earn unless you happen to stay at many SPG properties.
Earn 50,000 – 100,000 Avios with the British Airways Visa
Currently, the British Airways Visa (see the Best Travel Credit Cards page) has a signup bonus of up to 100,000 Avios if you spend $2000 within the first 3 months and a total of $20,000 within the first year of being a cardholder. See 100K British Airways Visa for $20K Spend: Worth It?
Best Uses of British Airways Avios and Award Trends
British Airways devalued its Executive Club award chart in 2012, and there was a new British Airways devaluation earlier this year which further increased the cost of frequent flyer awards using Avios, and also introduced peak and non-peak award pricing for awards on British Airways metal. Plus, there are fewer British Airways First Class awards to and from many U.S. destinations than there used to be. Also keep in mind that Avios is a distance-based award chart. The upshot is that Avios are best used for:
- Short nonstop economy flights within a given region, for example within the U.S., intra-Asia, intra-Europe, intra-Australia
- Business Class awards on partners that don't charge the high fuel surcharges that British Airways does, for example Air Berlin Business Class between the U.S. and Europe
- Companion voucher bookings in British Airways First Class and British Airways Business Class, if you can find award availability for two for your dates and have earned the companion voucher with the British Airways Visa.
- Locking in Cathay Pacific First Class award availability (albeit as a more expensive award) before the award calendar opens for AAdvantage and Alaska miles
Should You Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Avios By September 30?
In my view, there are only a few cases where it makes sense to transfer Membership Rewards points to Avios before October 1, 2015:
1. You Have a Specific Avios Award Redemption You Need More Avios For Soon
If there's a specific Avios award you hope to book soon that you don't have sufficient Avios for, yet you have plenty of AMEX Membership Rewards points (many more than Chase Ultimate Rewards) then it makes sense to transfer the needed amount to Avios ahead of the transfer ratio devaluation.
2. You Often Use Avios And Are Running Low
If you find yourself often using Avios, say for a last minute short nonstop award that would otherwise be expensive to buy, then it likewise makes sense to transfer enough Avios to cover you for expected Avios award redemptions for the next 6 months or so. Again, this assumes you have many more AMEX Membership Rewards points than Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and don't wish to transfer SPG Starpoints to Avios.
3. You Have More AMEX Membership Rewards Points Than You Know What to Do With
This is the only case where I would suggest considering a more speculative transfer, although keep in mind that in the past there have been AMEX transfer bonuses to British Airways Avios, and often these have been over 25%, which in the future, after the transfer ratio devaluation, will be the breakeven to get to a 1:1 transfer ratio. So if you think you just may need Avios before a transfer bonus comes along, then I'd suggest transferring some Membership Rewards points to Avios now.
Why I'm Not Planning to Transfer Any AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Avios Before October 1
Personally, I'm not planning to transfer any AMEX Membership Rewards points to Avios before October 1, even though we have very few Avios in our Executive Club accounts. That's because we prefer to save virtually all our AMEX Membership Rewards points to transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer for Singapore Suite and Singapore First Class awards, and because we haven't redeemed Avios for award travel in several months. I considered Avios for upcoming travel to Canada, but the paid tickets were inexpensive enough that I would have only gotten about 1.8 cents in value per Avios, which wasn't enough–I aim to get at least 2.5 cents per mile or point, and most of our award redemptions are in the 5-10 cents per mile or point range.
Do you plan to transfer AMEX Membership points to Avios before the transfer ratio devalues?
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