With British Airways’ huge devaluation six weeks ago, British Airways is no longer a good place to credit flight activity. And it’s no longer a good program for premium cabin long haul redemptions.
Short Distance Rewards are Great With the British Airways Program
The miles are worth much less than before, except for one thing — short distance non-stop awards.
Flights of 650 miles or less remain just 4500 points each way in economy. Flights up to 1150 miles are just 7500 points each way in economy. And business class is double that.
- DC-Chicago on American and DC-New York LaGuardia on the US Airways Shuttle represent great deals at 9000 miles roundtrip. New York – Toronto at 9000 points each way for business class (free checked bags) is a great deal, too.
British Airways points have been exceptionally easy to get because they transfer from both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. American Express has even offered frequent transfer bonuses for moving points to BA.
American Express is Devaluing British Airways Transfers
Unfortunately, via Travel with Grant, starting October 1 the transfer ratio for American Express to both British Airways and Iberia (whose points transfer to British Airways) will drop to 5-to-4. It will take 250 Membership Rewards points to get 200 British Airways or Iberia points.
American Express has several other airline transfer partners that aren’t 1-to-1, but they’re more oddball types of currencies — JetBlue, El Al, and Virgin America.
It will be interesting to see as well whether American Express is able to offer transfer bonuses to British Airways in the future, which could effectively bring them back to full value transfers (or better) for limited periods of time.
My Guess is Chase Transfers Will Remain One-to-One
Last month Chase announced an extension of its British Airways relationship, and confirmed that also meant a continuation of transfers of Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways.
I presume the re-upped British Airways relationship came along with higher cost of points for Chase, which is why they reduced earnings from 1.25 points per dollar to 1 point per dollar.
I’d imagine that American Express will see a higher cost of points as well starting in October. It’s also possible that the new Chase contract requires that other card issuer products not be able to earn 1 British Airways point per dollar. It will be interesting to see whether Starwood is forced to devalue British Airways transfers as well.
Given Chase’s larger relationship with BA they may be buying the miles more cheaply than American Express is. And their co-brand British Airways card still earns 1 mile per dollar. All Chase transfer partners currently transfer 1-to-1 so it would be a huge departure if they devalued Ultimate Rewards transfers to BA. Thus my guess is that Chase transfers remain at ‘full value’ while American Express transfers devalue.
American Express Announces a New Poor Transfer Value
Travel With Grant also points out that you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Plenti at a ratio of 500 Membership Rewards to 400 Plenti. Plenti points are worth a penny apiece. So that’s a valuation of 0.8 cents per Membership Rewards points. Pathetic.