Chase extended its British Airways partnership back in May and then in June American Express announced you’d no longer be able to transfer Membership Rewards points 1:1 into British Airways October 1. Presumably the British Airways-Chase deal precluded other card products from having 1:1 earning with BA.
It’s a far cry from a year ago when transfers were still 1:1 and American Express ran transfer bonuses on top.
British Airways First Class
Of course, British Airways became a less valuable progam back in April. And then, once we thought the bloodshed was over, they came back and announced that 4500 Avios awards are going away for North American itineraries effective February 2, 2016.
At that time American Airlines and Alaska Airlines economy rewards will start at 7500 points one-way. That’s still useful, of course, though starting March 22 American will offer 7500 mile one-way awards on flights under 500 miles.
American Airlines Economy
All that said, there’s a workaround to still transfer points 1:1 from American Express to British Airways through December 31 if you want to top off a British Airways account with additional Avios.
American Express is offering a 25% bonus on transfers to Iberia Avios through December 31. That makes American Express – Iberia transfers 1:1.
You can transfer points between British Airways and Iberia Avios accounts. Your Iberia Plus account must be 90 days old before you can move points out of it. Your British Airways account must have earned at least 1 point to transfer into it. Provided you already have an Iberia Plus account open you’re able to transfer in time to still issue 4500 point one-way awards in the US before that option disappears February 2.
For the transfer to success the name, email address and date of birth should be identical in your British Airways and Iberia accounts. I’ve had more success with the ‘combine my avios’ option on the Iberia website than at BA.com.
Points in Iberia accounts can be useful in their own right.
- With the Iberia award chart for 8 months of the year — during ‘off peak’ travel dates — Boston/New York – Madrid roundtrips cost 68,000 points in business class and Chicago/Los Angeles/Miami-Madrid roundtrips cost 85,000 points in business class. (You can book Iberia awards one-way at half the cost of roundtrip, partner awards are roundtrip only.)
- Iberia doesn’t add significant fuel surcharges onto awards on their own flights.
- Once British Airways increases the price of one-way awards on American short-haul flights, booking a roundtrip that’s under 500 miles each way will cost 12,000 Iberia Avios vs. 15,000 British Airways or American points.
But if you do have American Express points, and you want them in your British Airways account, moving them to Iberia first may be your answer.