Membership Rewards to Avios Devaluation
As of tomorrow (October 1), American Express is reducing the transfer ratio of Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios by 20%. Currently 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Avios, however after this change 250 Membership Rewards will = 200 Avios.
With the deadline upon us, the question becomes whether it makes sense to transfer over points to Avios right now. The answer to that question will largely depend on your situation, but let’s look at the various things to consider.
Other Transfer Partners
For the moment Chase Ultimate Rewards will still transfer to Avios at a 1:1 ratio and SPG Starpoints will transfer at 1:1 or 1:1.25 in 20K increments. If you have large amounts of those currencies, then you may want to hold off.
I personally think Ultimate Rewards are best used for Hyatt and occasionally United since those two programs don’t partner with anyone else. (United does partner with SPG, but the ratio is terrible.) Starpoints are also very valuable and there are a ton of other airlines I would pick to transfer to before British Airways. In other words, I prefer to keep my Starpoints and Ultimate Rewards for redemptions other than Avios.
Future Transfer Bonuses
American Express has frequently run transfer bonuses in the past from Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios. The last big bonus came towards the end of last year and gave a 40% increase in points. I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar bonuses return in the future, although they won’t be nearly as good. A 25% bonus for example would only get you back to the 1:1 ratio, but I do believe that will happen at some point.
Chase 100K British Airways Avios Offer
Chase has temporarily increased the offer on their British Airways Visa Signature card to 100K Avios after $20K in spend. While the spending threshold is high, this is a way to grab a nice chunk of Avios without needing to transfer over your Membership Rewards points. I analyzed the offer in depth when it came out last week.
I still have about 80K Avios sitting in my account from last year’s 40% bonus. For our upcoming trip to Hawaii, I think we are going to use Avios to fly back to L.A. from Maui, so I think I’ll transfer over a few thousand in order to preserve my Ultimate Rewards for other purposes. As with anything, it is a delicate balance and the goal is to keep flexible points as flexible as possible.
As for the 100K credit card offer, I am still on the fence about it, although I have not applied for a Chase card in quite some time due to having a high number of cards and their general tightening. While I don’t think both my wife and I will get the BA card, I’m leaning towards one of us applying. The $20K spend isn’t too much of an issue for us, otherwise I wouldn’t even consider it.
While American Express Membership Rewards will no longer transfer to Avios 1:1 as of tomorrow, I am hopeful that future bonuses may bring the ratio back to at least that. If you have a need for Avios over the next 6-9ish months, you may want to formulate a plan. The one good thing about Avios is there are about a million ways to get them, so this is a blow, but not a huge one.