Amex Offering 40% Transfer Bonus to Avios

American Express just announced that British Airways Avios and Iberia Avios would once again be 1:1 transfer partners. This was great because it allowed Amex to catch up to Chase Ultimate Rewards a bit since British Airways is a 1:1 transfer partners of Chase. Now the deal is even sweeter because Amex is offering a 40% bonus transfer rate to Avios. 

The offer 

  • Special Offer: Get 40% more Avios when you transfer Membership Rewards points through 9/17/17.

You have all the way until mid-September to take advantage of the offer so there’s plenty of time to earn a couple of sign-up bonuses and then transfer them over to British Airways or Iberia.

These promotions come about once a year and while some promo bonuses have been higher, 40% is still solid.

For your convenience, I’ve included some of the best uses of Avios below.

Just remember to play around with the math to figure out the new transfer requirements. Some of these requirements become quite lucrative. For example, 50,000 Membership Rewards to Iberia becomes 70,000 Avios, which is enough for a roundtrip business class ticket from cities, such as Chicago, New York, and Boston. 50,000 roundtrip in J is a an exceptional deal!

How to figure out your exact mileage requirements?

To figure out your exact mileage requirement for this promotion simply enter the standard total milage requirement and divide it by 1.4. So using the example above it would normally require 68,000 Avios for a roundtrip to Madrid from Chicago. 68,000/1.4 = 48,571.

What can I use Avios for?

Avios are excellent for short-haul flights around the US/Mexico/Caribbean, flights from the West Coast to Hawaii, certain routes to Europe, and other intra-continent flights around the world in places like South America and Australia.

Here are some specific examples of great value that you can get from Avios.

1) Flights to Europe

A. Flights with Aer Lingus 

A long-loved sweet spot was using Avios to fly Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus but that sweetspot was bumped from Zone 4 to Zone 5 on the British Airways chart so that the mileage requirements increased. Even with the new requirements, it’s still a good deal, especially if you can book the trip during off-peak times.

The roundtrip redemptions from Boston to Dublin now look like this:

  • Economy
    • Off-peak: 26,000 Avios
    • Peak: 40,000 Avios
  • Business:
    • Off-peak: 100,000 Avios
    • Peak: 120,000 Avios

Also, as a result of the new chart with Aer Lingus, more sweet spots opened up from different cities. You can now fly from NYC/Chicago/Hartford/DC/Toronto to Dublin for the following rates:

  • Economy
    • Off-peak : 26,000
    • Peak: 40,000
  • Business:
    • Off-peak: 100,000
    • Peak: 120,000

Fees can be around $170 total for a roundtrip so they aren’t that bad, considering how cheap these redemption rates.

B. Flights with Iberia 

If you want to fly in business class to Europe from certain cities like New York and Chicago, then you probably want to consider transferring your Membership Rewards directly to Iberia Avios. It is possible to transfer your Avios from British Airways to Iberia, but there are technical steps involved with that so I would just transfer your points directly to Iberia if you were planning on flying with them.

The great sweet spots with Iberia are for trips between 3,001 to 4,000 miles. 

This is a tremendous sweet spot for using Iberia Avios to book business class, especially if your trip falls within the off-peak calendar. 68,000 Avios for a roundtrip in business class to Europe beats some of the best redemption rates like Korean Air, Asiana, and ANA and the fees are reasonable so don’t overlook this option!  The 100,000 (round trip) redemption rate from British Airways and Aer Lingus during off-peak times isn’t bad either, so long as you can avoid or minimize fees.

Here’s a comparison of the rates with British Airways/Aer Lingus.

  • British Airways/Aer Lingus
    • Off-peak: 50,000
    • Peak: 60,000
  • Iberia
    • Off-peak: 34,000
    • Peak: 50,000

These rates are good with Iberia for the following routes:

  • Boston to Madrid
  • New York to Madrid
  • Chicago to Madrid

Chicago technically is more than 4,000 miles but Iberia lumps it in with the other routes and I’m 100% okay with that.

2) North America to Hawaii

When flying from the West Coast to Hawaii, Avios offers one of the best redemptions. For this particular redemption, you’ll be flying with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, which gives you access to a number of departing locations all along the West Coast and Alaska.

A. Avios economy redemptions

  • 25,000 Avios – West Coast to Hawaii

B. Avios business class redemptions

Getting from the West Coast to Hawaii in business class with Avios is still somewhat of a sweet spot compared to other major airlines, although you can do better by going with airlines like Korean Air, ANA, Singapore, etc.

  • 75,000 Avios – West Coast to Hawaii

Note: if you used Iberia Avios for this redemption you could get it as low as 62,500 Avios roundtrip (but you can’t book one ways on American with Iberia).

3) North America to South America

Avios can offer you some of the best redemption rates for getting to South America. You’ll usually be flying on LAN, TAM, or American Airlines.

A. Avios economy redemptions

Take a look at economy rates for getting to two popular South American destinations, Lima and Santiago Chile from Texas and New York. The distances between these destinations stays in Zones 5 and 6 for Avios so the rates are pretty reasonable but the sweet spot is getting to destinations in the southern part of South America, such as Santiago.

  • 40,000  Avios -DFW/JFK to LIM
  • 50,000  Avios – DFW/JFK to SCL

B. Avios business class redemptions

For the most part, the business class redemptions to South American from North America are not great and a lot of them are very terrible but I’ve included them for your reference and the sake of completeness. Here’s a look at some of the redemptions and how they stack up against the competition.

  • 75,000 Avios – MIA to LIM
  • 120,000  Avios -DFW to LIM
  • 150,000  Avios – DFW to SCL

4) North America to Mexico or the Caribbean

Using Avios to get to Mexico and various Caribbean destinations can be a great way to redeem. As you can tell from a couple of the examples I’ve posted, the deals can be great even if you are flying from the Northeast or Midwest.

A. Avios economy redemptions

Getting to Mexico

  • 15,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 20,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

Avios business class redemptions

When flying from hubs in the southern part of the country, the redemptions for business class are an absolute steal to Mexico and the Caribbean, assuming you can find direct shots. Even when you’re departing from northern states, the redemption rates are still very competitive.

Getting to Mexico

  • 30,000 Avios – DFW to CUN (Cancun)
  • 60,000 Avios – JFK/ORD to CUN

5) Short haul economy flights in North America

The recent devaluation to short-haul flight redemptions with Avios was a pretty big hit to the program but there’s still some pretty good redemptions to be had. The devaluation basically did away with the first zone and made it so that the cheapest short-haul flight in economy would require 7,500 Avios, and business and first class were changed to Zone 2’s requirements as well.

Even with that devaluation, it’s still a good deal to use Avios for flights 2,000 miles and under in the U.S. because you can save 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Getting around the United States

  • 15,000 Avios for routes up to 1,150 miles (e.g., MIA – JFK)
  • 20,000 Avios 1,151 miles to 2,000 miles (e.g., SFO – IAH)
  • 25,000 Avios 2,001 miles to 3,000 miles (e.g., LAX – JFK)

6) Intra-continental flights

Avios can also be used effeciently to book intra-continental flights. I’ve recently used Avios to book some pretty otherwise expensive flights between Lima and Santiago. The particular flight I booked costed $2,000 for a one-way business class ticket. I used 20,000 Avios for a 10 cent per point redemption, a great value that you usually find on higher-end first class suites.

These kind of redemptions can be had in other continents, too. I’d always do some research on One World partners in Africa, Australia, and Asia in order to seek out valuable Avios redemptions.

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