40% Bonus on Transfers from American Express to British Airways

I logged into my Membership Rewards account and saw the following offer this morning, when selecting British Airways I get Limited Time Offer 40% Bonus BA Miles! and mousing over reveals:

You can get 40% more BA Miles from British Airways just by transferring Membership Rewards® points to your British Airways Executive Club account now through March 31, 2011.

It’s restricted to ‘one bonus per cardmember’ so only your first transfer during the promotion period will earn the 40%. Choose your transfer amount wisely!

Transferring 72,000 Amex points to British Airways would yield enough miles for roundtrip business class on Cathay Pacific from North America to Asia, grab a free stopover in Hong Kong and travel as far as Bali. That’s a pretty excellent deal.

Things to keep in mind about British Airways, though:

  • You don’t want to ‘mix partners’. If you don’t live in a city where Cathay Pacific flies from, you’re not going to include a flight to that city on an airline like American or Alaska because more than one partner on a British Airways award causes the award price to shoot up dramatically.

  • British Airways award availability in premium cabins is excellent from the US to London, and from London to places like Africa. But they do add fuel surcharges onto awards, I recently ticketed US – Paris via London roundtrip in Business Class and the taxes and fees totaled about $575. Actually traveling back from the UK is about $150 more than that because of the UK premium cabin departure tax. But availability is excellent.

BA allows unlimited stopovers as long as you’re traveling in the same direction, most direct route. US to South America to Easter Island all on LAN could be done for just 80,000 miles roundtrip in business class. There are some nice award values out there.

Personally I view this offer as way more valuable than the 50% bonus on Delta which at least was stackable with a 30% transfer bonus on Delta for folks that had never transferred from Membership Rewards to Delta before. I’ll take a 40% bonus to BA over an 80% bonus to Delta any day.

Now, in the end I always like preserving my flexibility so I don’t transfer Amex points just because of most bonuses. But if you have a specific notion for how to use BA miles this is a great time to do so.

Note that the 40% bonus is for the US program, I don’t have an account with other country Membership Rewards programs but I do see a reference on Flyertalk to a 30% bonus from the UK program. I just can’t independently verify it.

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. […] And I do like my Membership Rewards points, especially for transfers: To Continental, which will hold Star Alliance awards when you don’t have enough miles in your account. Points transfer instantly, as well. This partnership ends September 30. To Aeroplan, because of their favorable award chart (e.g. 80,000 miles for business class from the US to much of Europe, or 120,000 miles for first class from the US to as far South in Asia as Singapore. Points transfer instantly. To British Airways, because of their 100,000 mile business class awards on Cathay Pacific from the US to Asia and the current 40% transfer bonus through March 31. […]


  1. the titile looks really mysterious… i just don’t get the point to transfer “from american express to membership rewards”.

  2. gastroGG: I think the title was meant to read “from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways Executive Club.” Gary, thank you for sharing this information and for all the other information you share… I always read your blog thoroughly!

  3. I know you really like the flexibilty of membership rewards.If you don’t have a use for the miles what bonus would it take for you to make a transfer.How about 30 or 40 percent to AC? Or are you never tempted?

  4. To help my colleague make a decision on whether to do the BA transfer vs. Delta transfer, can someone please provide your own value per BA mile? If one were to purchase directly from BA.com it comes in at 2.8c per mile, so that’s the ceiling. What do you feel is market value for 1 BA mile?

  5. For someone who’s a little new to all of this, why do you say that 40% on BA is “way more valuable” than 80% to Delta? Is it just about availability of rewards? I’m trying to figure out whether that thought would/should apply to someone like me, who lives in Atlanta and travels mostly domestically (though occasionally to the Caribbean).

  6. Thanks for the tip Gary! However, are you sure this is only for your first transfer? When I log in, they’ve changed the transfer ratio to 1,400 BA = 1,000 Amex. I doubt that the system is smart enough to revert back to 1:1 after your first transfer. Thoughts?

  7. I am in the early planning stages of a trip to Asia and i just researched a trip on Cathay in C yyz>hkg>sin and the total fees came to about $232 with $92 being BA fuel surcharge. Hmmm, flying Cathay and paying “BA Fuel Surcharge”??? Why dont they just call it a redemption fee????? At least it was less than the $550 they charge to fly on their own metal jfk>lhr!!

  8. Although Bali or Far East is good for 100K miles on CX using BA miles – it is exorbitant to fly to India – 160K Biz :(.

    – naroowal

  9. @The Points Guy — the T&C says the bonus can only be earned once. Now maybe that’s wrong. But until someone sends through a second transfer.. gets the bonus… and then others duplicate I’m playing cautious.

  10. @John Walker My frame of reference is wanting to be able to use my miles for premium cabin international travel. If you want to fly in the US in coach, I’d say the same is still true, because you can redeem BA miles on American which has far better availability than Delta. If you want to redeem for domestic premium cabin travel then no, because BA gets expensive for that.

  11. I transferred some Amex points to BA miles. It still shows the transfer ratio to 1,400 BA = 1,000 Ame after the transfer.

  12. Do other airlines ever offer lucrative bonuses like AmEx Membership points to DL and BA here? Anything with Continental before they end their relationship with AmEx?

  13. @JohnnieD, that fuel surcharge is actually from Cathay, and looks like a pretty good deal if you’re used to the fees that BA would charge on their own metal. Your other choice is to pay more miles for a ticket using AA miles and saving the YQ

  14. not quite 100% accurate. once you get into 1st class territory, AA is lower in miles and cost. BA 1 way = 25k coach, 50k business, 75k first to Asia w/ about $80 – $110 in fees. AA 1 way = 32.5k – 35k coach, 52.5k – 55k business, 62.5 – 67k first, with about $2.5 – $30 in fees.

  15. John Walker- BA redemptions for domestic AA first class are pretty cheap in my experience. I just redeemed a one way SFO-JFK in first and it was $2.50 in taxes/fees. With their Caribbean hub in Miami, I think you’d be better off transferring to BA over Delta.

  16. I’m trying to see if you can get an award flight on CX from NYC to BOM. The BA website only shows me BA metal. Is it possible to use CX to get to BOM over the phone? And how many miles do you think it would be?


  17. Hey Gary,

    Thanks for the tip! I HAD 58,000 Amex points that, with a little points advance, became the magic 100,000 BA miles. That means round trip from DFW to Nice Business Class in October. BA has excellent availability, too, as you note in your posts on BA.

    Another nice feature of BA Executive Club is the ability to mix miles with a copay. The BA website keeps offering me taxes+surcharges+no copay + 100,000 miles OR taxes+surcharge+copay + fewer miles OR taxes+larger copay + even fewer miles and is a better value than buying the miles directly from BA. Very nice feature, sorely lacking on AA (my usual airline and AAdvantage Lifetime Gold).

    Very glad I read your blog. I will be transferring more Amex points whenever BA has special offers.

  18. To get the stopovers you mention on a one way award, do you have to call ba to book award or is there a way to do this online? I can’t seem to find how to do this on the website. If you do call to reserve stopovers/award, don’t you have to pay increased fees? thanks for info and great website!

  19. @John– Using BA miles for a CX flight @ 100K for C is a deal that cant be duplicated by using AA miles. BTW in the breakdown of the fees for CX award using BA miles it is listed as BA Fuel Surcharge $92. Very reasonable compared to BA fuel surcharge via LHR on BA metal.

  20. British airway rewards next to useless i searched for a seat from July 28 to aug 4 (7days) anytime and could not find one seat………save your money

  21. I wanted to use miles to get a seat from dfw to cleveland
    any time between July 28 and aug 4 and could not find one seat.
    dapital one rewards are far far superior

  22. @martin meister there are first class non-stop awards on multiple flights each day, every day during your date range. August 1 I see seats via Chicago. And that’s just doing an online search with the Qantas award website, not looking for any unusual connections. If you’re looking at the BA.com site then please don’t rely on it, look up at aa.com and then call BA. But domestic short-haul really isn’t the best use of this opportunity in any case. Regardless, not sure why you’re commenting on a February post about an offer that has expired, especially when there’s a more current and more lucrative 50% bonus at the moment?

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