Thursday, December 31st, 2015, 11:59 am
Get A 25% (Or 56%) Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into Avios; Here’s What You Need To Know Before Using Iberia To Cushion The Avios Devaluation!
Update 12/31: This transfer bonus ends today!
Update, 12/15: The glitch has been corrected to the proper 1:1 transfer ratio, congrats those who got in while it was live!
Update, 12/07: After reading several DDF reports of people who received 313 Iberia Avios for a 250 point Membership Rewards transfer last Wednesday and Friday (an effective 56.5% bonus from the regular 200 Avios they would get) I sent over 1,000 points on Saturday night and now have 1,250 Avios in my account!
Although this is advertised as a 25% bonus, that’s actually an effective 56.25% bonus from the 800 Avios that I would normally receive with the 1K:800 ratio for Avios transfers that went into place in October.
It appears that the 25% bonus is being applied twice, once for what should be 800 Avios to become 1,000 Avios and then again for another 250 points on top of that.
Points in my Iberia account:
Quote from AMEX showing that I should have received 1,000 Avios for the transfer after the 25% bonus:
AMEX statement showing 1,000 points redeemed:
Originally posted on 12/02:
-Chase British Airways Visa: Earn up to 100,000 Avios for a limited time only! Earn 50K for spending $2K in 3 months, earn an additional 25K for spending another $8K in 12 months, and earn an additional 25K for spending another $10K in 12 months.
Some bloggers postulated that it would also mean the end of AMEX MR bonuses to Avios.
At the time I wrote that “I do still think we’ll still see bonus promotions in the future, but a 25% bonus will only bring the transfer back to parity.”
And that’s exactly what this new bonus does, it brings the ratio back to 1:1. The bonus is valid through 12/31.
With a catch. The bonus is only available for transfers into Iberia Avios.
As you may recall from the “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios” post, you can transfer British Airways Avios back and forth to Iberia Avios and Avios.com Avios. Each of those programs have different partner airlines and different award charts.
There is no minimum transfer amount:
There are 2 caveats to combine points though:
1. Both accounts have to have been open for 90 days.
2. Both accounts must be active and received points. Transfers from AMEX or earning miles from other sources activate an account.
I’ve posted previously about Iberia Avios being a useful account to have, so hopefully you already have one from deals like this which gave free Iberia Avios.
If you want to fly on Iberia to places like Europe or Israel you can save a fortune in fuel surcharges by transferring BA Avios to Iberia and using them on Iberia flights.
Assuming that you have an Iberia account older than 90 days you’ll be able to transfer points from AMEX MR to Iberia and then to BA at parity.
Of course it’s worth noting that effective 02/02 BA is eliminating 4.5K awards for flights that touch the USA and making the minimum award 7.5K for those flights.
While we’re on the topic though, let’s take a look at Iberia’s award chart for travel on AA:
And here’s BA’s award chart for all airlines:
Current BA award chart:
BA award chart effective 02/02/16:
|1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)||1-650||4.5K||9K||18K|
|1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)||1-650||7.5K||15K||30K|
There are at least 6 several critical things to keep in mind. There may be more as personally I don’t have experience using Iberia Avios as of yet, so feel free to hit the comments.
1. While BA charges for each segment, Iberia charges for the total mileage of the trip.
BAs zones are for each leg each way, while Iberia’s zones are for the sum total of all legs on a round-trip.
Let’s say I want to visit my in-laws in Kansas City (Oh stop that snickering!)
American doesn’t fly direct, so I’d have to connect in a hub like Chicago if I wanted to use Avios.
-Cleveland-Chicago is a 315 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01.
-Chicago-Kansas City is a 403 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01.
So the round-trip from Cleveland to Kansas City is currently 18K BA Avios, but will be going up to 30K after 02/01.
With Iberia the total flight distance is calculated without regard to the segments. So Cleveland-Chicago-Kansas City and back again is 1,436 flown miles, making it an Iberia Zone 3 award. That costs just 17K Avios round-trip.
What if I just want to go on my usual day trip to Chicago and hit up Milt’s, a ballgame, and some Shallot’s before flying home?
Cleveland-Chicago is a 315 mile flight, therefore BA currently charges 4.5K Avios for it. That goes up to 7.5K for tickets booked after 02/01. So the round-trip from Cleveland to Chicago is currently 9K BA Avios, but will be going up to 15K after 02/01.
With Iberia the total flight distance is calculated without regard to the segments. So Cleveland-Chicago and back again is 631 flown miles, making it an Iberia Zone 2 award. That costs 12K Avios round-trip.
2. Iberia’s cheapest award will be 4K cheaper than using BA.
Come 02/02 and you may want to book a flight from Detroit to Chicago with Iberia. At just 469 miles in round-trip distance, it falls within Iberia’s limited zone 1 award for travel up to 600 miles and costs just 11K Iberia Avios round-trip.
With BA that’s currently a 9K round-trip award, but it will be 15K effective 02/02.
-A round-trip flight from Detroit to St. Louis via Chicago is now 18K BA but will go up to 30K on 02/02. With Iberia that round-trip is just 12K Iberia Avios as the total flight distance falls into a zone 2 award. Without knowing about Iberia someone might use 37.5K AMEX points for 30K Avios to book that award (though I sure hope not!) With Iberia just 12K AMEX points will be sufficient for the round-trip.
Or maybe you won’t want to do that for the following 4 reasons:
3. Iberia only has round-trip partner awards. BA allows one-way awards.
4. Iberia doesn’t allow for changes or cancellations to partner awards. BA allows cancellation of domestic awards for just $5.60/one-way award.
5. Iberia charges more tax for domestic flights than BA.
While BA charges $5.60 for domestic one-ways and $11.20 for domestic round-trips, Iberia charges $20.20 for domestic nonstop round-trips and $29.20 for domestic connecting round-trips. It’s probably a mistake and/or illegal tax collection, but that’s what their system charges for now.
CLE-ORD-CLE on BA, now 9K+$11.20, soon to be 15K+$11.20:
CLE-ORD-CLE on Iberia, 12K+$20.20:
CLE-ORD-MCI-ORD-CLE on BA, now 18K+$11.20, soon to be 30K+$11.20:
CLE-ORD-MCI-ORD-CLE on Iberia, 17K+$29.20:
6. AMEX transfers into BA Avios instantly, but transfers from AMEX into Iberia Avios can take a day or 2. Transfers between BA and Iberia are instant.
So there will be times in the future that I’ll use BA and there will be times in the future when I’ll use Iberia. Namely when I need to fly round-trip, when I’ll definitely take the trip, and when the mileage savings is large enough to make it worth the extra tax and make up for the lack of ability to cancel. When connecting the advantage for Iberia is going to be even bigger after 02/01.
Good thing you can transfer points back and forth as needed!
Want to earn Avios?
-You can also earn Avios directly with the Chase British Airways Visa Signature card, which is offering up to 100K Avios currently!
The Preferred card awards 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on Uber and gas, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month.
The EveryDay card awards 1.2 points per dollar everywhere and 2.4 points per dollar on Uber and groceries if you make 20 transactions per month.
You can also earn Membership Rewards points from consumer charge cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and from business charge cards like the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card or The Business Platinum Card.
The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee and a limited time increased signup bonus. It earns a generous 1.3 points per dollar everywhere, but you’ll need any of the membership rewards cards listed above to transfer points from that card into airline miles.
-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX awards 25K signup points with no fee for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus. Transfers can take a few days.
-Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred instantly at a 1:1 ratio into BA Avios from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus credit cards.
Cards like Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Cash can’t directly transfer points into miles, you’ll have to transfer those points to a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus that belongs to an additional user before you can transfer those points to British Airways.