Get a 40% Bonus on transfers to Avios from Amex Membership Rewards
American Express is running a great promo with British Airways and Iberia, offering a 40 percent bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to your Avios account through November 15th.
There are some great award opportunities you can take advantage of with this promotion, including the ability to fly transatlantic business class for less than 25,000 Membership Rewards points each way.
The Basics on Avios
Both British Airways and Iberia have distance based award charts. That means the number of miles needed to book an award ticket is based on the actual distance of each segment you fly. You can input your desired destinations at GCmap.com to see the distance of your desired destinations. See the British Airways Avios award chart below.
Miles Traveled (One Way) Off-Peak Economy Off-Peak Business Peak Economy Peak Business
0 - 650 miles 4,500 Avios 9,000 Avios 5,000 Avios 10,000 Avios
651 - 1,151 miles 7,500 Avios 15,000 Avios 8,250 Avios 16,500 Avios
1,151 - 2,000 miles 10,000 Avios 20,000 Avios 11,000 Avios 22,000 Avios
2,001 - 3,000 miles 11,000 Avios 21,250 Avios 12,500 Avios 31,250 Avios
3,001 - 4,000 miles 17,000 Avios 34,000 Avios 20,000 Avios 50,000 Avios
4,001 - 5,500 miles 21,250 Avios 42,000 Avios 25,000 Avios 62,500 Avios
5,501 - 6,500 miles 25,500 Avios 51,000 Avios 30,000 Avios 75,000 Avios
6,501 - 7,000 miles 29,750 Avios 59,500 Avios 35,000 Avios 87,500 Avios
7,000+ miles 42,500 Avios 85,000 Avios 50,000 Avios 125,000 Avios
There are a few things to note when it comes to booking British Airways awards which are as follows.
- The frustration with awards on British Airways is often the carrier-imposed surcharges which can be very high (typically for flights routing through London).
- If you book an award on a partner airline (American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc.) it will always price out at the peak levels. There are not partner off-peak awards.
- The exception to the rule above is for travel on British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. You can book off-peak awards for these airlines.
- The award pricing is always by segment. This means you will pay individually for each segment, even on a round-trip flight.
So what can you book with the 40% transfer bonus to Avios?
Book Domestic Flights
One of the best ways to book a short domestic flight in the United States is by using British Airways Avios. Yes, you read that right. British Airways is a Oneworld alliance member, which means you can book flights on partner American Airlines with your Avios. And British Airways is one of the few to use a distance-based award chart (as described above), meaning flights of 1,150 miles or less will cost just 7,500 Avios each way. Factoring in the 40% transfer bonus, you could transfer in just 6,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to book a one-way flight. It is worth noting that transfers must be in increments of 1,000 points.
With a range of 1,150 miles, you could fly from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), New York City-JFK (JFK), or Washington, D.C. (DCA). Other options include ORD-Denver (DEN), JFK-Miami (MIA) and more. Put in your desired destinations at GCmap.com to see if your travel plan makes the cut under 1,150 miles.
British Airways’ site can be spotty, so your best bet to find award availability is to look at American Airlines’ website. Then input your flight details at BritishAirways.com or call up the airline to make the booking. Using this method, finding award flights to the Carribean on American is also a great use of Avios.
No matter your route, there are some serious savings here, especially when you factor in the transfer bonus from Membership Rewards.
Economy or Business Class Awards on Iberia Airlines
Like British Airways, Iberia Airlines also has a distance based award chart. The airline divvies up how it charges for award flights by the total distance you’ll travel each way. If you’re not sure how long your flight will be, put your two airports into GCmap.com to crunch the numbers.
They also use peak and off-peak pricing, meaning award flights are cheaper outside of the peak travel season. But Iberia’s definition of “off-peak” has generally been insanely generous. It means you can fly at the lowest rates for nearly 2/3 of the year.
Only July and August are roundly considered peak season, with some occasional weeks and weekends throughout the year also blocked out for peak travel. Check out Iberia’s full calendar to scope out the dates.
The end result is that Iberia consistently offers the cheapest way to get to Europe in either business or economy. Factor in the 40% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards and the deal only gets sweeter. Check out the Iberia award chart below.
|Miles Traveled (One Way)||Off-Peak Economy||Off-Peak Business||Peak Economy||Peak Business|
|0 - 650 miles||4,500 Avios||9,000 Avios||5,000 Avios||10,000 Avios|
|651 - 1,151 miles||7,500 Avios||15,000 Avios||8,250 Avios||16,500 Avios|
|1,151 - 2,000 miles||10,000 Avios||20,000 Avios||11,000 Avios||22,000 Avios|
|2,001 - 3,000 miles||11,000 Avios||21,250 Avios||12,500 Avios||31,250 Avios|
|3,001 - 4,000 miles||17,000 Avios||34,000 Avios||20,000 Avios||50,000 Avios|
|4,001 - 5,500 miles||21,250 Avios||42,000 Avios||25,000 Avios||62,500 Avios|
|5,501 - 6,500 miles||25,500 Avios||51,000 Avios||30,000 Avios||75,000 Avios|
|6,501 - 7,000 miles||29,750 Avios||59,500 Avios||35,000 Avios||87,500 Avios|
|7,000+ miles||42,500 Avios||85,000 Avios||50,000 Avios||125,000 Avios|
The distance-based chart generally means that your best deal is flying to and from the East Coast, as you can expect to pay just 17,000 Iberia Avios for a one-way economy flight during the off-peak season. For West Coast travelers, that same flight is 25,500.
However, there’s great news for midwestern flyers. Although the flight from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to MAD should be more expensive, Iberia carves out a specific exception that treats it as an East Coast flight. So you can fly nonstop from ORD for just 17,000 miles in economy – or 34,000 miles in business class. No matter where you’re flying from, this is one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe with miles and points.
Thrifty Tip: See our full guide to booking Iberia Award tickets here.
Inter Europe Flights on British Airways
I have flown British Airways twice and both times were on inter European flights. Most recently, I flew from Amsterdam (AMS) to London Heathrow (LHR) for just 7,500 British Airways Avios one way. Because these flights are on British Airways, the peak and off-peak pricing is in play.
Any award within 650 miles of London will be either 4,000 or 4,500 Avios one-way depending on whether it is a peak or off-peak award (plus taxes & fees). Factoring in the transfer bonus from Membership Rewards, you would only need to transfer in 3,000 or 4,000 Avios respectively.
Of course, it is always a good idea to check the cash prices for flights on the routes you are looking at. There are a plethora of European low-cost carriers that can make these routes a bargain, but there are still many situations where the Avios transfer is a better deal, especially with the Membership Rewards transfer bonus.
How to Get American Express Membership Rewards Points
You already know you can transfer American Express points to British Airways Avios with a sweet bonus. Now you just need some American Express points. You’re in luck. American Express has a handful of credit cards to earn Membership Rewards points.
Plus, the card comes with an unbeatable suite of perks for the frequent traveler, including lounge access. It also comes with $400 in annual credits for airfare and Uber and up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The 5x points you get on airfare purchases is unrivaled in the world of miles and points, justifying the card’s $550 annual fee.
There’s also the American Express Gold card, which currently has a 35,000-point welcome bonus.
Keep in mind that because this transfer bonus lasts just a few months, you don’t have a ton of time to earn a bunch of Membership Rewards points for the purposes of utilizing this promotion. However, there is never a bad time to start earning Membership Rewards points, as they often offer transfer bonuses to their partners.
Avios isn’t the most popular frequent flyer program, but it shouldn’t be ignored as there are a lot of good transfer opportunities to be had. And with this transfer bonus, it should absolutely be on your radar to book some incredible trips on the cheap.
Lead photo credit of British Airways
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.