I posted earlier today that I literally did a happy dance when I saw that a 50% transfer bonus had been launched from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways, and I really did. In my office….by myself. There have been lots of posts today in the miles and points blogosphere about the transfer bonus and how to maximize some of the best uses for Avios points, so I will summarize a few of those ways here, and share how I just redeemed some Avios points for a trip you may want to take as well.
Good Redemption Options with Avios:
- Short domestic trips within the US on American Airlines: This is how my family primarily takes advantage of the Avios program. Since the chart is distance based, this works best for cities that aren’t too far apart and that involve flying to or from an American Airlines hub. Some examples are Chicago – Las Vegas for 10,000 Avios each way (or 6,667 Membership Reward points), Houston – Miami for 7,500 Avios each way (or 5,000 Membership Reward points), or Los Angeles to Hawaii for 12,500 Avios each way (or 8333 Membership Reward points). Since there is no additional fee to book to close the booking date, this can be great for last minute travel.
- Flying from the US to Canada, the Caribbean, and other “close” destinations:Some examples are JFK – Montreal for 4,500 Avios each way (or 3,000 Membership Reward points), Dallas – Montego Bay for 10,000 Avios each way (or 6667 Membership Reward points), or I also really like Lucky’s idea of flying roundtrip on Cathay Pacific in Business class from JFK to Vancouver for 34,000 Membership Reward points.
- Flying on American or LAN from the US to South America: One example is Miami – Lima for 12,500 Avios each way (or 8333 Membership Reward points). That same flight can be had in business class for 25,000 Avios (or 16,666 Membership Reward points) each way.
Keep in mind, you have to transfer MR points in multiples of 1,000, so you can’t actually transfer 16,666 points for one award.
Poor Redemption Options with Avios:
- Flights with hefty fuel surcharges. This can be tricky as I don’t know of any “one stop shop” that lists all of these out, but in general, read this very helpful post about fuel surcharges from View From the Wing.
- Long flights. Since the chart is distance based, in general the most value isn’t to be found with very long flights. You can likely do better on another airline’s award chart.
- Shorter flights with many connections. Since the total number of Avios required is based on each segment, then you have to price out awards based on each individual flight. So, if you are flying on multiple segments, the number of Avios required will increase.
How to Use Avios on American Airlines:
- Go to the American Airlines website and see if there is award availability at the Saver level. The flight must be available at the lowest level for that class of service on American to book with Avios.
- Go to the British Airways website and select “book your trip with Avios”. You do have to have an Executive Club account and sign-in in order to search for award flights. Once you search for a flight that you intend to from AA on, you will have to select “Include Partners”.
- The availability should then match what you saw on AA, but the BA website can sometimes be a bit crazy, so if you aren’t seeing what you know AA says is available at the lowest level, then call BA and book over the phone. Tell them the website was not functioning to try to avoid the phone booking fee.
The booking I just made using Avios was for my husband to go to Chicago the weekend of the Chicago Seminars. From Houston to Chicago it was only 15,000 Avios roundtrip – that comes to just 10,000 Membership Rewards points for a roundtrip flight. I mention this because, depending on where you live, it may be a smart play to use some Membership Reward points to attend the Chicago Seminars in October. Even if the roundtrip flight from Houston to Chicago was only around $250, that is still a 2.5 cents value per Membership Reward point, and that is a pretty solid deal in my book.