Chase extended its British Airways partnership two years ago and the very next month American Express announced you’d no longer be able to transfer Membership Rewards points 1:1 into British Airways.
So for the past two years we’ve had 1:0.8 transfers — except for a Membership Rewards transfer bonus last summer and a transfer bonus to Iberia which would then allow you to transfer onward to British Airways.
British Airways First Class
I assumed at the time that the British Airways-Chase deal precluded other card products from having 1:1 earning with BA. However, it may just have been a function of increased cost for the miles since the BA co-brand also reduced earning from 1.25 miles per dollar down to one.
Now the British Airways transfer page shows 1:1 transfers again as the norm with no indication of a bonus. I’ve reached out to American Express for further confirmation that this is intended as an ongoing change. Update: See below — American Express confirms.
Of course, British Airways became a less valuable program than it used to be. And then, once we thought the bloodshed was over, they came back and eliminated 4500 Avios awards for short haul North American itineraries.
So now American Airlines (when you can find any saver space) and Alaska Airlines economy rewards start at 7500 points one-way for flights up to 1150 miles. That’s still useful, of course, and better than American’s new 7500 mile one-way awards on flights under 500 miles.
American Airlines Economy
I find British Airways awards best for short haul awards, including short haul business class, outside the United States. And I love them for upgrading business class stackable sale fares to first class.
I would not make speculative transfers, however, since transfers are instant (so there’s little reason to) and once British Airways parent IAG figures out how to roll up all the Avios programs into one there’s a reasonable chance they devalue again.
Update: Here’s what American Express shares,
• Today, two of Amex’s Membership Rewards airline transfer partners, British Airways and Iberia, are increasing the transfer ratio for their rewards program, Avios. The transfer is increasing from a 5:4 to a 1:1 transfer ratio.
• With this update, Amex’s Membership Rewards program now offers the most 1:1 airline transfer partners – 11 in total.
• Membership Rewards now also offers Card Members the opportunity to transfer points to 21 reward program partners, which is more than any other U.S. credit card rewards program.