A Hack to Transfer Amex Points to British Airways at Better than One-to-One

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. That off-peak award on Iberia metal is one of the most underappreciated sweet spots in the hobby, especially when coupled with this transfer bonus. Availability is only so-so (gets very good at times, a dearth at others) but it translates to 35.5K MR points for a LAX-MAD one-way in business (flat-bed, all-aisle access), or 28.5K MR points for JFK-MAD – the kind of deal that shouldn’t last too long. And there are regular transfer bonuses from MR to BA or IB avios.

  2. I don’t see 7.5 K miles on Alaska for economy awards. Have tried short hops (Boston to NYC) and medium trips (Norfolk to Philadelphia). Do you have confirmation from Alaska about lower level awards? I only see 12.5 K.

  3. @Steve – This is using your BA miles to fly Alaska. So, something like PDX to SFO should be 7500 BA miles on Alaska. I believe you need to call to book Alaska flights using BA miles though.

  4. Yeah, but 1:1.2 is still a pretty lousy value, esp when there are so many better ways to obtain avios than Amex.

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