Through June 7, 2013, the US American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 35% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, so every 1,000 Membership Rewards points you convert gets you 1,350 Avios. As a result you can earn the bonus as often as you’d like.
In the past we’ve seen transfer bonuses as high as 50%, though most recently we saw a 30% transfer bonus at the beginning of the year.
As a reminder, British Airways’ awards are distance based and their rates roughly correspond to the ones below (though British Airways doesn’t actually publish their own chart):
The funny thing is that the award chart isn’t useful for what I typically like to redeem miles for — it’s a poor value for first class (as they charge three times as much as coach), and the prices are quite ridiculous for longhaul travel. For example, a one-way first class ticket from New York to Hong Kong will cost you 105,000 Avios.
While they’re not useful for aspirational awards, they are extremely practical, especially living on the west coast. I use them all the time for travel on Alaska Airlines, as it’s just 7,500 Avios each way between Seattle and destinations in California. Since there are no close-in ticketing fees they’re great for last minute travel too.
Avios are also great for travel to South America. British Airways partners with LAN, which has an excellent business class product and an extensive route network throughout South America. They charge just 25,000 Avios for a one-way business class ticket from Miami to Lima, which is a value that’s tough to beat.
And even to Europe they’re getting better. In the past I was convinced it wasn’t possible to redeem Avios without fuel surcharges for transatlantic travel, though now we know that you can redeem them without fuel surcharges for travel on both Aer Lingus and Air Berlin, both of which can be a great value.
At this rate I’ll speculatively transfer some points to British Airways, given how many uses I have for their points. As of late it’s actually the mileage currency I’m burning through most quickly.