GREAT DEAL: 40% Transfer Bonus Membership Rewards to Avios

Through October 1 you’ll earn 40% bonus points when transferring Membership Rewards to either British Airways or Aer Lingus Avios.

That means 1,000 Membership Rewards = 1,400 Avios.

This deal comes around once a year, presenting an excellent opportunity to save points on awards in and between various parts of the world. There are two major components of British Airways Avios to note:

  • they are distance-based miles
  • British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Avios awards when flying a partner airline that charges them

When Redeeming BA Avios is a Good Idea

In General

British Airways Avios are very valuable for short, direct* flights without fuel surcharges, like on:

  • American Airlines within the Western Hemisphere
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways within Europe
  • all LATAM international and some domestic
  • Qantas domestic
  • S7

Read Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: British Airways Avios to learn more.

*British Airways Avios awards price per segment, so they get expensive quick with connections.

To Hawaii in American or Alaska Economy

For just 26,000 Avios and $11, you can fly roundtrip on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines planes in economy from the West Coast to Hawaii. Thanks to competition from Southwest, American and Alaska have both launched new routes to Hawaii, leaving us with many direct options. Below are the possible routes.

 Honolulu, Oahu (HNL)Kahului, Maui (OGG)Kona, Big Island (KOA)Lihue, Kauai (LIH)
AnchorageAlaskaAlaska*
ChicagoAmerican*
DallasAmericanAmericanAmerican*
Los AngelesAmerican & AlaskaAmerican & AlaskaAmericanAmerican
OaklandAlaskaAlaskaAlaskaAlaska
PhoenixAmericanAmericanAmericanAmerican
PortlandAlaskaAlaskaAlaska*Alaska*
SacramentoAlaskaAlaska
San DiegoAlaskaAlaskaAlaskaAlaska
San FranciscoAlaskaAlaskaAlaska
San JoseAlaskaAlaskaAlaskaAlaska
SeattleAlaskaAlaskaAlaskaAlaska

*Seasonal

With the current transfer bonus, you could convert 19,000 Membership Rewards to 26,600 British Airways Avios (transfers must be in increments of 1,000) to book yourself a roundtrip to Hawaii if you live in one of the cities listed above. That’s a great deal.

Other Sweetspot Awards

If you live in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, or Minneapolis, you can fly to Dublin on Aer Lingus for only 26,000 BA Avios roundtrip if you travel during Aer Lingus’ off-peak dates.

One of my favorite Avios redemptions is 42,500 points and no fuel surcharges–they’re illegal departing Brazil–in Iberia Business Class between São Paulo and Madrid. An excellent addition to a round-the-world trip, you could currently book it at an incredible price tag of 31,000 factoring in the transfer bonus.

 Over 10 hours in Business Class for 31k points + taxes? Yes please. And when you look at other award prices between Southern South America and Europe, you’ll see how good that is in comparison.

Don’t Forget the Recent (Minor) Devaluation of Partner Awards

At the end of May, British Airways increased their award prices to fly partner airlines. Here is the current partner chart (for flying a single partner):

Thanks to Flyertalk contributor KARFA  for aggregating this chart.

BA Avios award prices flying their own planes, Iberia, and Aer Lingus did not change. There is a set of prices to fly during off-peak travel times….

Miles flown Economy Premium EconomyBusinessFirst
Up to 650 4,0005,7507,75015,500
651 - 1,1506,5009,50012,75025,500
1,151 - 2,0008,50012,75017,00034,000
2,001 - 3,00010,00020,00031,25042,500
3,000 - 4,00013,00026,00050,00068,000
4,001 - 5,50016,25032,50062,50085,000
5,501 - 6,50019,50039,00075,000102,000
6,501 - 7,00022,75045,50087,500119,000
More than 7,00032,50065,000125,000170,000

…and a set of prices to fly during peak travel times.

Miles flown Economy Premium EconomyBusinessFirst
Up to 650 4,5006,7509,00018,000
651 - 1,1507,50011,25015,00030,000
1,151 - 2,00010,00015,00020,00040,000
2,001 - 3,00012,50025,00037,50050,000
3,000 - 4,00020,00040,00060,00080,000
4,001 - 5,50025,00050,00075,000100,000
5,501 - 6,50030,00060,00090,000120,000
6,501 - 7,00035,00070,000105,000140,000
More than 7,00050,000100,000150,000200,000

Whether travel dates are peak or off-peak is not necessarily determined by British Airways. Whether or not your award flying British Airways/Iberia/Aer Lingus falls under peak or off-peak pricing is determined by the airline you fly, not the airline who’s points you’re redeeming. Each airline has different peak and off-peak calendars.

  • Iberia’s peak/off-peak calendar
  • Here is Aer Lingus’ peak/off-peak calendar
  • I can’t outright link to British Airways’ peak/off-peak calendar, but if you search for any award booking on ba.com, you can see it (two months at at time) for almost a year out. On the right side of the award search results screen it should say, “Show peak and off-peak periods for British Airways” and British Airways will be linked. Clicking the link will take you to the calendar.

Want to Redeem Iberia Avios?

Unlike most frequent flyer currencies, you can transfer freely between British Airways Avios, Aer Lingus Avios, and Iberia Avios as long as you follow these stipulations:

  • Both accounts must have been open and had at least 1 Avios in each for three months
  • Account information must match

There are various circumstances in which using Iberia Avios is advantageous…

  • Fuel surcharges are much lower when redeeming Iberia Avios on Iberia flights as opposed to British Airways Avios.
  • You can redeem Iberia Avios on American Airlines flights (but not Alaska–they’re not partners). The price of an Iberia Avios award depends on the total distance flown, not the distance of each segment flown like British Airways Avios. They are not priced per segment so you are not penalized for connections. So if you’re taking a short trip but it requires a connection, an Iberia award will probably be cheaper. The only downside is that when redeeming Iberia Avios on American Airlines, you must book roundtrip awards as no one ways are allowed.
  • For any of the dates not highlighted in red on these calendars, you can fly Business Class between New York, Boston or Chicago and Madrid on Iberia for only 34,000 Iberia Avios or between Miami or Los Angeles and Madrid for 42,500 Iberia Avios. With the current transfer bonus that would only cost 25,000 Avios or 31,000 Avios respectively.
  • Iberia has different peak/off-peak travel dates (that dictate the Avios price to fly on British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus) than British Airways and Aer Lingus

When to Transfer to Aer Lingus Avios

I can’t find a reason to specifically redeem Aer Lingus Avios over British Airways or Iberia Avios in terms of saving points or cash. In fact, it looks disadvantageous in some circumstances where Aer Lingus charges more taxes/fees. I’m overlooking something, let me know.

The one positive of booking with Aer Lingus Avios is that you can book Aer Lingus award space online through their website as opposed to having to call in, which is necessary when redeeming BA Avios on Aer Lingus flights. Ba.com does not display Aer Lingus award space.

Speculative Transfers

Check Travel Plans

Go through your travel plans to see if and when Avios redemptions would benefit you. I wouldn’t transfer a bunch of points without any plans, but if you’re on the fence and have some solid ideas for them, do it.

On Oahu. Transfer your Membership Rewards to Avios for a dirt cheap redemption to Hawaii!

Need to Cancel/Downgrade a Card

Canceling a Membership Rewards earning card will cause your points to expire, and sometimes downgrading will too. If you’re on the verge of cancellation or a downgrade, park the points in your BA Avios account.

Timing

Neither British Airways nor Aer Lingus Avios collect last minute award booking fees. 

Transfers from Membership Rewards to BA Avios as well as Aer Lingus Avios are typically instant.

Bottom Line

Through October 1 you can turn 1,000 Membership Rewards into 1,400 Avios. This 40% transfer bonus represents huge savings, so check out your travel plans and whether or not Avios are good play for you. And remember that you can transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios as long as both accounts have been open and had at least 1 Avios in each for three months and their account information matches.

Usually this annual transfer bonus lasts for a month or less, so it’s great to see that window extended to two months. Are you going to transfer your Membership Rewards to Avios? If so, what’s your plan for them?