Wednesday, September 30th, 2015, 12:25 pm
Membership Rewards Canada: 25% Bonus For Transfers Into British Airways Avios; Thoughts On The Future Of Avios Transfers From US Based Programs
Update: The tranafer bonus from the Canadian Membership Rewards program to British Airways ends today.
Originally posted on 06/25:
Related post (Read this first!): -Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios
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This promotion applies for Canadian cards only. Through 09/30, transfers from Membership Rewards Canada to British Airways will be at a 1K:1.25K ratio.
This promotion does not apply for transfers from US based AMEX Membership Rewards cards.
Destination charts for nonstop flights from Montreal and Toronto that can be booked with Avios can be found in this post. With flights starting at just 4.5K Avios in coach and 9K Avios for a lie-flat business seat there are some real bargains. With the 25% bonus that means that a coach award will start at just 3.6K AMEX points and a business award will start at 7.2K AMEX points.
It’s interesting to note that it appears that Membership Rewards Canada will continue to transfer to British Airways at a 1K:1K ratio even after 10/01 when Membership Rewards US drops to a 1K:800 ratio.
That leads me to believe that the ratio decrease was due to pressure from Chase, which doesn’t compete in the Canadian market. We’ve seen this play out before when Chase arranged with Continental and United to have their transfer ratios from Starwood drop from 20:25K to 20K:12.5K. And Continental/United dropped out of the Membership Rewards program to become exclusive with Chase, though those airlines have always had more exclusivity with Chase than British Airways.
True, Chase also decreased the British Airways Avios earning on the Chase BA card from 1.25/dollar to 1/dollar. But moving the US AMEX transfer ratio down keeps their own US based card look better. Of course the truth is for spending that their other cards like Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink are better for Avios earnings due to their superior bonus spending categories. All Chase transfers are at a 1K:1K ratio and I don’t envision that changing anytime soon. Chase also doesn’t believe in offering transfer bonus promotions.
In fact the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card can still do better than any of the Chase cards, even with the upcoming decreased ratio. With 30 purchases in a month it earns 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries. If you want Avios that means it effectively earns 1.2 Avios per dollar everywhere, 2.4 Avios per dollar on gas and Uber, and 3.6 Avios per dollar on groceries after the upcoming devaluation. Those numbers are still higher than on Chase cards.
If you don’t want to deal with getting to 30 transactions per month you can use the Starwood Consumer AMEX or the Starwood Business AMEX which will effectively earn 1.25 Avos per dollar everywhere thanks to the 20K:25K transfer ratio.
The AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card and the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card offer 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare from all airlines, not just British Airways. And they offer a plethora of other lucrative bonus categories on top of a $100 annual airline fee credit for the personal gold card.
Some bloggers have predicted that the devaluation of the Membership Rewards US to Avios transfer ratio means that we won’t see any more transfer bonuses to British Airways. I’m not that pessimistic. There have been transfer bonuses at least annually from the US program to British Airways ever since Avios launched 4 years ago. My guess is that those bonuses continue, though a 25% bonus will only bring the transfer rate back up to parity. A 50% bonus will make the ratio 1:1.2. Those numbers aren’t great, but if you do have a card like Everyday Preferred earning 1.5-4.5 points per dollar everywhere it still means that transfers can be quite lucrative.
Avios have changed the way that many people travel on short-haul flights. It’s no big deal for me to fly from Cleveland to Chicago or NYC for a day trip when it only costs 9,000 Avios instead of a same-day $1,200 flight. Though with these changes I’m quite happy that I mistakenly (story here) transferred half a million AMEX points to British Airways during the US 40% promo earlier this year that they refused to reverse…