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A few days ago, I posted an article to remind everyone that American Express was offering a 40% bonus for another 10 days. Within an hour I received an email from a reader asking:
Wondering if you can help me? I was approved for the American Express Gold Card (READ MORE) when the increased welcome bonus was 50,000 points. I met the spend threshold and now have 57,223 total Amex points. You wrote an article about using British Airways miles to fly on American Airlines planes, and if I understand it correctly, I should be able to use my Amex points to do that, right?
I responded immediately and after a few back-and-forth emails, I had all the details.
The reader explained that she was originally from the beautiful island of Bermuda, had been living in the New York City area, and had not seen her family in a years. She, simply, wanted to return home and gave me these “prerequisites”…
LOCATION: NYC (JFK/EWR/LGA) – Bermuda (BDA) Roundtrip
DATE: Over the Christmas holiday if possible
LENGTH OF STAY: 10 days (but prefer to be back in NYC for a New Years Eve party)
AIRLINE CLASS: Economy
Note: It’s worth noting that she is more interested in making her miles stretch as far as possible so flying economy was fine.
BOOKING AWARD TICKETS
When it comes to points and miles, it’s all about maximizing earning opportunities. For example, earning a welcome bonus from a credit card and then extracting even more “value” from those points by using a transfer bonus is an AMAZING strategy.
Additionally, she was flexible with dates and her prerequisites were fairly minimal so I knew we would be able to find something so let’s go step-by-step…
Step #1: Does American Airlines fly to Bermuda?
Keep in mind, the ultimate goal is to take advantage of this transfer bonus from American Express…
In other words, for every 1000 Amex points that you transfer to British Airways, you will see 1400 miles in your BA account. It is definitely possible for the reader to take advantage of the transfer bonus, however, the biggest question is “Does American fly from NYC to BDA? If not, it would be a waste of time to transfer points to BA for this specific redemption.
With a simple google search, I confirmed they fly to Bermuda.
STEP #2: How much is American Airlines charging (in cash) for our expected dates?
Attempting to book a flight with miles during a busy holiday can be difficult but not impossible. During the Christmas holiday, American Airlines was charging, approximately, $600+ roundtrip if I paid with cash (I mean…a credit card).
I randomly selected 12/19/19 – 12/31/19.
STEP #3: How much is American Airlines charging (in points) for those same dates?
I searched the same dates from the photo above and found plenty of economy award availability…
Note: We are looking for “sAAver” level tickets which means Oneworld alliance partners (e.g. British Airways) should be able to book these tickets. For example, there is no sAAver availability on the 20th of December hence the box is not highlighted in green.
After a few clicks, I was shown the final price (miles and taxes) that American Airlines requires for this roundtrip:
STEP #4: Now, how much is British Airways charging (in points) for those same dates?
I logged into my British Airways account and after a few clicks:
British airways is charging 12,000 points less to take THE EXACT SAME FLIGHT.
IT GETS BETTER
Do you remember the transfer bonus that we mentioned at the beginning of the article? We haven’t applied it yet so let’s do a little math…18,000 ÷ 1.4 = 12,857. You can only transfer miles is batches of 1,000 so we’ll have to transfer over 13,000.
WOULD YOU RATHER?
I love this game! Here are the options, would you rather pay:
American Airlines $661.02?
American Airlines – 30,000 miles + $129 or;
British Airways – 13,000 miles +$129 for the exact same flight?
BOOKING THE TICKET
It was now time to book the actual ticket. I contacted her with my findings, she transferred 13,000 points from her Amex account to her British Airways Avios account, and with the 40% bonus, Amex deposited 18,200 Avios into her British Airways account.
Transfer times vary depending on the bank and specific airline but in my experience transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to British Airways have been instant. And in this case, the points transferred instantly also.
How Do I Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points?
You can kickstart your points earning by signing up for an Amex card. A couple of cards stand out for me.
- The Amex Gold Card (READ MORE), which gives you 4x points per dollar spent on dining and groceries. You can also pair it with the;
- Blue Business Plus Card (READ MORE), which is a no-annual fee card, that gives you a flat 2x points per dollar spent for all purchases.
These cards give you a fantastic return on everyday spend. However, if you’re a big spender, the Platinum cards (READ MORE) may be a better fit. Currently, you can earn a total of 100,000 Membership Rewards points if you sign-up for the Business Platinum Card.
I wrote this article because I think it further underscores the value of miles and points in helping fuel your dream trips.
As a reminder, British Avios is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy Points. Amex and Chase points, generally, transfer at a 1:1 ratio but as you can see, with the Amex transfer bonus, you can get even more value. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a ratio of 3:1.
With this transfer bonus from American Express, she was able to book a roundtrip ticket during a busy (and expensive) travel season for just 13,000 Membership Rewards points and $129.32.