How to Transfer American Express Points to Avios
Regular readers will know that we’re big fans of all things Avios and all things American Express Membership Rewards. Today we’ll be taking a look at how to transfer Amex points to Avios as well as some of the risks associated with undertaking speculative Amex to Avios conversions.
As we highlighted within our recent article on the value of an American Express Membership Rewards point by transferring Amex points to British Airways Avios you’re likely to generate excellent value for each point used. In fact, besides redeeming for Radisson points, as long as you fly a couple of times a year, converting American Express points to Avios is likely to be the best use of your Membership Rewards (MR) points.
You can read about how Hannah and I recently earned enough points in a year from 3 American Express credit cards to redeem 2 First Class British Airways flights here. Whilst this may not necessarily provide the best value per point (don’t get me wrong it’s still a great deal) this once in a lifetime experience has to be one of the best uses of Avios points. Also included within our review is a step-by-step guide as to how you, too, can earn enough points for a First Class flight…
Let's break this post down...
Amex to Avios Transfer Time & Regular Redemptions
Before we provide a step-by-step guide on how to transfer American Express points to Avios, I thought I’d address the following commonly asked question:
“Should I regularly transfer Amex points to Avios to avoid missing out on a possible Avios redemption?”
Unlike transfers of MR points to Virgin and Delta (which are virtually instant) the Amex to Avios transfer time is stated to be 3 working days. As such, considering whether to hold points as Membership Rewards or Avios is a very important question.
In reality American Express to Avios transfers tend to take less than 3 working days, with most completing between 24-48 hours. However with only a limited number of Avios reward seats available on each flight, this delay could be the difference between either booking that reward redemption trip of a lifetime or not!
However on the flip side, regular readers will know that I’m strongly of the opinion that a flexible reward scheme, such as Membership Rewards, provides a considerably higher points value than a less flexible equivalent.
With an Amex to Avios transfer ratio of 1:1, you’d be forgiven for thinking that both have the same value. In actual fact, the potential to use an American Express Membership Rewards point for various other redemptions should mean that it is worth more than 1 Avios point.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at whether it makes sense to regularly transfer Amex points to Avios and in particular some of the risks of doing this…
Unfortunately like most loyalty schemes, frequent-flyer schemes aren’t exempt from devaluations. The most recent Avios devaluation has just been announced and whilst full details have not been made available, it’s expected that from 30 May 2019 oneworld redemptions using Avios will be significantly more expensive. As a result the value of each point redeemed on a oneworld flight is likely to fall. As such you may have been better off transferring your MR points directly to the oneworld airline of choice (if they’re one of American Express’s 14 airline partners).
Whilst this example doesn’t affect redemptions on British Airways flights, there have been similar instances in the past where the number of Avios required has increased significantly – often with no notice! Holding points as Membership Rewards points acts as a hedge against such devaluation risks.
As we’ll cover later in this article, another reason you may want to avoid undertaking regular transfers of Amex points to Avios is to avoid missing out on an Amex Avios transfer bonus. Whilst these are less likely in the UK, US residents generally benefit from annual transfer bonuses to encourage conversion of Membership Rewards to Avios. With bonuses of up to 40%, you could be missing out on a significant uplift. Read on to find out more.
Step-by-Step Guide – Transfer Amex Points to British Airways
Let’s take a look at how easy it is to transfer American Express points to Avios with this step-by-step guide. For those that don’t already have a British Airways Executive Club account, you can sign up for free here.
Step One – Log into your American Express account and then select to use your points – found here.
Step Two – From the Membership Rewards page head to airline partners found under the travel tab.
Step Three – From the airlines page simply choose to transfer points to your British Airways Executive Club.
Step Four – If you haven’t historically connected your British Airways Executive Club with American Express, you’ll need to enter your details including frequent-flyer number, address and email address. Note that the names on both your Amex and Avios accounts will need to match, otherwise the transfer will be declined.
Step Five – The final step to transfer American Express points to Avios is to simply enter the number of points you’d like to transfer across and then verify by entering the codes on the back and front of one of your American Express cards.
Amex Avios Transfer Bonus
I thought it may be helpful to briefly touch upon some of the recent Amex Avios transfer bonus promotions available to both US and UK residents.
The most recent direct American Express to Avios transfer bonus was back in August last year, where US residents received a 40% bonus on all Amex points to Avios conversions. US residents ordinarily receive a rate of 1:1 which was increased to 1.4 Avios for every 1 MR point redeemed. This conversion bonus is generally run on an annual basis (although not guaranteed) and as such US residents may want to hold off transferring Amex points to Avios until August if they possibly can.
Unfortunately this promotion is rarely, in fact never, repeated in the UK. The only bonus available to UK residents with an American Express would be for holders of the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (reviewed here). If you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points earned with the card in increments of 60,000 points, you’ll receive a further bonus of 5,000 Avios.
Thrifty Points Tips
As we mentioned earlier, it’s only possible to transfer Amex points to Avios if the name on both accounts is identical. This means that you usually wouldn’t be able to transfer Amex points to someone else’s Avios account.
However there is a way round this. By adding a supplementary credit card to your Amex account in the name of another person, you can transfer American Express points earned in one name to a British Airways Executive Club in another name.
Where this is particularly useful is if you’re looking to redeem a 2-4-1 voucher and it makes sense to pool all your miles in one account…
Best way to Earn Membership Rewards & Avios Points
Most Avios newbies will sign up to the free, Avios-earning British Airways American Express credit card (reviewed here). This is usually a massive mistake.
This is because the (free for the first year) American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) provides a sign-up bonus which is double that of the BA card (10,000 compared to 5,000) when you hit a spending threshold in the first 3 months. You’ll receive a similar ongoing earning rate of 1 point for every £1 spent as well as 2 complimentary airport lounge passes (only with the Gold card). You can increase the sign-up bonus to 12,000 points using this link.
For those who travel regularly, whilst the American Express Platinum Card comes with a whopping annual fee of £575 pa, this cost can be offset by the numerous benefits. The card offers a market-leading sign-up bonus of 30,000 points which can be increased to 35,000 points using this link. Read our review here for the full benefits and learn why, for some, paying the annual fee may make sense…
The final option for earning Avios would be the British Airways Premium Plus Card (reviewed here). Whilst the card offers a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios points this isn’t my most valuable benefit. If you’re able to spend £10,000 in a calendar year you’ll receive a companion voucher which allows the holder to redeem 2 reward flights for the price of 1. If used correctly this could be worth well over 100,000 Avios! Read how we combined the companion voucher with the Gold card to earn enough points for 2 First Class flights in our recent article found here….