American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Bonus – British Airways & Virgin Atlantic

Here are the latest American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses:

  • 20% to British Airways
  • 30% to Virgin Atlantic

It’s been a little bit since some good transfer bonuses so let’s dig in a bit.

British Airways

Get 20% more Avios when you transfer Amex MR points to your British Airways Executive Club account by December 31, 2013.

british airways

British Airways Avios are a great currency if you can leverage the program properly.

Avios Chart

“Avios Chart”

The award chart is distance-based so short haul flights get you the best value. Nonstop flights are key because you will be charged by the distance of each segment.

One example of an award chart sweet spot are flights like NYC to Montreal. At only 333 miles, you can fly round trip for a mere 9,000 Avios. Factor in the current 20% bonus and you only have to transfer 8,000 MR points (you must transfer to the nearest 1,000).

Another award chart sweet spot is NYC to Miami which I’ve redeemed before. At 1,089 miles, this flight falls into Zone 2 and costs only 7,500 Avios each way. For a round trip flight, you would only have to transfer 13K MR points.

The value becomes even more apparent in an almost perfectly distanced routing of Boston to Dublin, Ireland. At 2,993 miles, this just barely sneaks in as a Zone 4 award. Booking in Business Class arguably gets you the best value because, again with the Amex 20% transfer bonus, you would only have to transfer 42K points for a round trip award in International Business. Not bad considering this award on United or American would cost 100K miles round trip!

If you want to talk long haul, consider NYC to Hong Kong. At a lengthy 8,072 miles, the JFK-HKG nonstop would cost 35K/70K/105K Avios one-way. Double that and that’s a lot of points. This is where you could leverage the transfer bonus. You would have to transfer 175K Amex points for a First Class award (normally 210K).

Note: I know the chart says otherwise but, for all intents and purposes, disregard Zone 9. There are effectively only 8 zones in the Avios chart.

These are just a few examples of the awards you can book with AVios. Because of their nature, they are great for short hops and connecting open jaws within other, larger awards.

British Airways also doesn’t charge a fee for last minute award bookings. Several airlines charge a fee upwards of $75 for awards booked within 21 days.

The thing to avoid with Avios is actually flying on British Airways. That is where their monster fuel surcharges come into play and kill any value you might have received.

Virgin Atlantic

Get 30% more miles when you transfer Membership Rewards® points to your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account by November 30, 2013.

virgin atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is a program that doesn’t get much praise in the miles & points world.. and rightfully so. They levy some of the highest fees and fuel surcharges in this game (along withe aforementioned British Airways).

A few months ago, they did have a great deal for travel TO London. 13K miles + $98 in Economy. Not bad. Even today, that award would cost 17,500 miles + $131 in fees.

The surcharges and duty come from origination flight in the UK. The flight from London to NYC would be the same 17,500 miles, but now with $286 in fees and surcharges.

The Upper Class (Virgin’s name for their Business Class offering) round trip redemption of this route would be 80K miles and over $700 in surcharges. No thank you.

The Points Guy has a few good ways to maximize Virgin Atlantic points but, overall, I don’t find this program very rewarding at all.

Wrap Up

It’s nice to see 2 American Express transfer bonuses going on at the same time. I’m happy that Avios is back in the mix, but I miss last year’s 40% transfer bonus. I personally don’t find much value in Virgin Atlantic, even with their 30% bonus.

Overall, my Amex MR points are either staying put or going to Avios if I find a redemption I might need before the end of the year. Irrespective of these transfers, I think Chase needs to hook us up with some transfer bonuses! I know everyone would be scrambling if that was ever announced.