50% bonus for Membership Rewards to British Airways points transfers

American Express Membership Rewards has just announced that they’ll be offering a 50% bonus on transfers to British Airways Executive Club through May 31, 2012. Unlike some bonuses which are limited to one transfer or have the bonus post 6-8 weeks later, this one is actually built into the transfer ratio, meaning you can transfer as many times as you’d like and get the full bonus immediately.

While British Airways did substantially devalue the redemption options for North America based flyers back in November, there are still some awards that can be a great value, some of which are outlined here.

Should you speculatively transfer points from Membership Rewards to British Airways just to take advantage of this bonus? I’d say no. But if you have a specific use in mind, this can be an excellent deal. Some of my favorite redemption options are as follows (priced for roundtrip travel and factoring in the 50% bonus):

  • 34,000 Membership Rewards points for Cathay Pacific business class between New York and Vancouver
  • 18,000 Membership Rewards points for coach on Alaska or American between the west coast and Hawaii
  • 34,000 Membership Rewards points for LAN business class between Miami and Lima
  • 6,000 Membership Rewards points for coach flights of less than 650 miles
  • 34,000 Membership Rewards points for American business class between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco

There are lots of great deals to be had, though like I said, transfer only with a specific use in mind. Points transfers are instant and this promotion runs for a couple of months, so there’s no point in transferring prematurely.

Any questions?

(Tip of the hat to Steven)


  1. Don’t know what to feel about it 🙂 … I do have 80K MR waiting to go somewhere useful… all it needs is better planning on my part to put them to good use…

    However, I do feel that this sounds like the best transfer ratio of MR to any airline I have seen recently…

  2. You said 18,000 Membership Rewards points for coach on Alaska or American between the west coast and Hawaii. What about business/first class. Is that also a good deal and how many miles?

  3. @ Caveman — Still a good deal at 54K, but not as good. My frustration is that they charge triple points for first class, even if it’s a two cabin plane, while they only charge double points for business class on a three cabin plane.

  4. For planning purposes any idea how often this promo comes around? 1x/yr, 2x/yr? Wife has MR points, I’ve been focused on UR points mostly. I’m holding out for a good Amex MR card signup bonus.

  5. Good stuff Lucky. I like 3k MR for MIA to NAS or PLS. US, AA, and *A generally are 35k for round trip from the US to NAS or PLS (except off peak savers on US, which are 25k), which is kind of silly since they are so close. But if you can get to MIA, it’s just 4500 Avios to get the rest of the way, on a leg that can cost $250 or more. MIA to PLS actually can be even higher at times.

  6. @ Mark — I’m truly puzzled by the lack of Delta transfer promos, which were abundant in the past. I suspect we’ll see something in the next month, though.

    @ BothofUs2 — This is the second time I’ve seen it (if I’m not mistaken), so I’d say once a year if you want to average. But I don’t think they’ve been a partner for long enough to truly predict when we’ll see this again.

    @ fosij — Correct, unfortunately US Membership Rewards only. Sorry, forgot to clarify that.

  7. What? Triple points for domestic first class unless it’s a 3 cabin plane?!? My love for medium haul Avios just died.

  8. @ HikerT — Indeed its ridiculous. Any flight marketed as first class is charged triple the mileage of coach, even if it’s not a three cabin plane.

  9. Is there any good reason why US carriers don’t call the forward cabin on two-cabin aircraft business? I flew domestic J on QF (on an Avios redemption that went from 15K for Y pre-Avios to 20K for J, actually), and it was infinitely superior to US/UA/AA/DL domestic F on two-cabin aircraft. I have to be careful with work reimbursements for travel from the UK to the US right now, since I can book premium economy or business (budget is only enough for premium economy, but I’ve used DL SWUs to upgrade to business), but I CANNOT book first class. I need to be sure I have a receipt before my instant domestic Y-fare elite upgrades clear and show me in first class, otherwise I have a mess getting reimbursed. If it said business on the US side, it wouldn’t matter.

  10. Definatly have to agree with apu, definatly is the best transfer ratio i have seen from any airline for a while, The only one i think can rival it in general with point transfers is virgin.

  11. Availability of award seats on BA for more than one person stinks in my experience of looking for seats in October to Europe. This is no deal at all if there aren’t the seats you’re looking for.

  12. @ MTKeller — I wish there were a good reason, though I suspect it’s just based on tradition and at this point marketing (since US passengers would think of business class as being less than first class). Agree though, it’s frustrating and annoying.

  13. Not sure how you got 34k for rd trip bus. class on cathay jfk – vancouver. but i just tried dates 5/14 to 5/19 and it shows as 50k. even when i try a 1 way, it shows 25k. mistake?

  14. @ Albert — The cost quoted was in Membership Rewards points. The roundtrip cost is 50,000 BA miles, which is 34,000 Membership Rewards points through this promotion.

  15. I am more than happy to eat my words from 2 days ago as this morning I was finally able to book 2 tickets in Club World to Germany in October. Thank you BA – we look forward to trying out your premium cabin!

  16. @ Lucky – Thank you for the great blog, I am learning new things everyday! I would like to book a flight from the West Coast, SAN-OGG, if possible, but would also do LAX-OGG if I couldn’t fly out of San Diego. I have around 100k MR points and 130k AA miles and would really appreciate any help. I am wondering if I should just call AMEX, or BA to book it? Any input would be greatly appreciated!

  17. @ Jason — If you’re looking at doing coach it would only be 25,000 British Airways miles roundtrip, and they have a 50% transfer bonus, so it’s really only 17,000 Membership Rewards points.

    You would want to call BA to ask about availability, then transfer the points, and then make the booking.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

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