Avios are the currency of the British Airways Executive Club that can be useful in different ways. Since Avios pricing is distance-based, they’re super-useful on non-stop shorthaul flights as the shortest flights cost only 7500 Avios. Since each leg of a flight is priced separately, the more connections required, the more Avios required. For this reason, and the fact that on international flights BA passes along the fuel surcharges, they’re not as useful for international flights. There are exceptions to this general rule however: BA’s booking window opens up a couple of weeks before American’s does, giving those with Avios first crack at award seats on certain carriers. For example, I was able to use Avios to book a first class seat on a Qantas flight to Australia before it was available to AA members. I had to pay the fuel surcharges but since premium cabin seats are so scarce on Qantas, I thought it was worth the cash required to obtain that seat.
Normally you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points to Avios at the rate of 250 MRs to 200 Avios. But from now through October 10, 2016 you’ll earn a 50% bonus when transferring MRs to Avios. So transfer 250 MRs and get 300 Avios. To make the transfer, log into your Amex account and indicate the number of MR points you want to transfer. The website will show you how many Avios you’ll receive.
All transfers are final so if you’re transferring for a specific flight, be sure there is award space available. If you’re planning to use the Avios on a BA partner flight you’ll need to be sure the available award space is at the saver (cheapest) level.
Membership Rewards (MR) is the points program from American Express. MR points can be accumulated via a number of their credit cards including the Premier Rewards Gold Card, Platinum Card®, American Express® Green Card, Blue Sky from American Express®, Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card and Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card. Some of these cards ean bonus points when shopping at certain merchants.
One of the great things about MR points is that they can be transferred to a number of travel partners including:
- Aeroplan (Air Canada)
- British Airways Executive Club
- Alitalia (1000:750)
- Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) (1000:750)
- Delta (1000:750)
- Etihad (1000:750)
- SPG (1000:500)
One of my favorite uses for MRs is transferring them to British Airways as BA Avios are great for short haul trips on American Airlines as they transfer at a 1:1 ratio vs. some of the other ratios we see above.
Unfortunately that’s changing on October 1. Starting on that date the transfer ratio to British Airways (and Iberia, which also uses Avios) will be 250 MRs to 200 Avios, which is a 25% devaluation. While that won’t be a huge hit for short haul trips, it would make a big difference when using Avios for long haul trips, like my upcoming trip to Australia. I didn’t have enough Avios in my account and topped it off with MRs so I’d have enough to make the reservation.
I suppose this is to be expected as we’ve learned that nothing stays the same in the world of points and miles but it’s still disappointing.
Over the weekend I got my monthly statement for my American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points and it had this notice at the top of the statement:
Effective March 5, 2015 Frontier Airlines will no longer be a point transfer airline in the Membership Rewards program. Any Membership Rewards points transfers for Frontier Airlines must be made by March 4, 2015. These transfers will be considered final, non-refundable, and subject to the EarlyReturns program terms and conditions. To transfer points to Frontier, please visit membershiprewards.com/travel.
This doesn’t impact me as I haven’t flown Frontier in years and only once. Back before the recession they had daily service between Memphis and Denver. Now, the service is no longer daily and not on Saturdays, which is when I’d want to travel them for ski trips, which is disappointing. My one experience with them was flying to San Francisco (via Denver) and I quite liked the leather seats in their regional jets. But that was many years ago and now, of course, I much prefer to fly up front or at least in an Economy Plus-style seat with more legroom.
So if you’d plan to transfer your Membership Rewards points to Frontier, now’s the time to do so!