Chase extended its British Airways partnership in May 2015 and a month later American Express announced you’d no longer be able to transfer Membership Rewards points 1:1 into British Airways come that fall. Presumably the British Airways-Chase deal precluded other card products from having 1:1 earning with BA.
British Airways First Class
Of course, British Airways became a less valuable program in April 2015. And then, once we thought the bloodshed was over, they came back and announced that 4500 Avios awards were going away for North American itineraries.
Now American Airlines and Alaska Airlines economy rewards start at 7500 points one-way. That’s still useful, of course, though American offers 7500 mile one-way awards on flights under 500 miles.
American Airlines Economy
All that said, there’s a workaround to still transfer points at better than 1:1 from American Express to British Airways through December 15 if you want to top off a British Airways account with additional Avios.
American Express is offering a 50% bonus on transfers to Iberia Avios through December 15. That makes American Express – Iberia transfers 1:1.2.
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.
For the transfer to succeed 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.
- 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.