It’s hard to count the number of times over the past several years that airlines, hotels, and banks have devalued their loyalty programs without notice. Every time you read through the news in the miles and points world, you seem to find an airline increasing the number of points you need to book a flight.
Well today, American Express surprised us all and made a positive change.
You can now transfer Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios at a ratio of 1:1.
The positive news of this increased transfer ratio was such a shock that many people initially believed it was either a surprise limited-time promotion or a mistake! American Express has since confirmed that this is a permanent change.
A Brief History of Membership Rewards’ Avios Partnership
Before the fall of 2015, you could transfer Membership Rewards to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. To make it even better, there were often transfer bonuses (sometimes as high as 40%) when moving the points.
Then American Express announced a devaluation. On October 1, 2015, American Express announced that they would be reducing the transfer ratio from Membership Rewards to Avios to 250:200 (1:0.8).
After that, transfer bonuses all but disappeared, and people found other ways to earn British Airways Avios. Rather than transfer points at a poor 250:200 ratio, people chose to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints that still transferred at a 1:1 ratio.
Apparently, this had an impact on American Express. It took almost 2 years, but they have changed the ratio back to its pre-devaluation 1:1. If we’re lucky, we will start seeing some of those transfer bonuses coming back too!
How to Earn Membership Rewards
Now that the transfer ratio is better, but how do you earn Membership Rewards points so you can transfer them?
American Express makes this fairly easy, assuming that you spend money on credit cards. They provide several options for both personal and business cards.
Here are a couple of our favorites on the personal side:
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express – This card comes with no annual fee, a 20% bonus on points earned if you make 20 transactions in a month, and double points on the first $6,000 in grocery purchases each year. (Plus, check out 30+ additional perks in our benefits review.)
A couple of our favorite business cards include:
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN – Just like its twin on the personal side, this card comes with plenty of benefits and a great introductory bonus. You can also get a 35% rebate when booking with points through Amex Travel.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN – This card comes with several bonus categories that earn 2X or 3X points per dollar. This is a great card for airfare, gas, and advertising purchases.
Welcome bonuses for American Express cards can vary greatly over time, so be sure you are satisfied with the current bonus before applying. There are also plenty of other cards that earn Membership Rewards.
With all of the Membership Rewards cards available, you can earn a ton of points just with introductory bonuses. Add in the category bonuses that many of the cards have, and pretty soon you will have enough points to transfer over to British Airways.
Hot Tip: Want to earn a ton of Membership Rewards points quickly? Check out how you can earn 100k+ Membership Rewards in 90 days!
Best Uses for Avios
For a detailed look at how you can use your newly transferred Avios, check out the 40 Best Ways to Redeem British Airways Avios for Max Value in 2017.
Need some ideas to get you started? Consider short-haul flights in either South America or Asia. You can hop around these regions with ease and see tons of new places.
If you happen to find saver level award space on American Airlines, Avios are also great for short flights within the U.S.
Need help booking? See our step by step guide for booking British Airways business class or first class.
Starting today, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios at a ratio of 1:1.
It’s good news for award bookings, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…this is rectifying a mistake on the part of Amex; a transfer ratio of 1:1 should be standard, not special.
It does, however, make Membership Rewards worth a little bit more!
In a world where we’re constantly worried about devaluations (see United’s latest changes for example), it’s nice to see some positive movement.