Starting tomorrow, October 1st, the ratio to convert American Express Membership Rewards points into British Airways Avios will increase from 1000:1000 to 250:200. In other terms, transferring the same 1,000 Membership Rewards Points will only net you 800 British Airways Avios starting tomorrow (10/1). It is important to note that the transfer ratios from Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1) and Starwood (1:1, could be 1:1.25 if done in 20,000 mile increments) remain unchanged and are obviously more favorable going forward.
This is an unfortunate devaluation for me as my main use of American Express Membership Rewards points were transfers to British Airways for short to medium length flights on American Airlines domestically or the Caribbean. I’ve been struggling with how many, if any, points I should transfer over before the ratio changes as between my wife and I we are sitting on close to 400,000 Membership Rewards points. I’ve also transferred MR points to Delta and even Hawaiian (though that won’t happen again) in the past so I’m not totally dependent on using them for British Airways. Furthermore, there are additional partners such as Singapore or Air France where I could see myself transferring a fair amount of points for a premium cabin award in the future.
My real hesitation for transferring points now is I lose the one aspect of these points that make them so valuable and that’s the flexibility component. Membership Rewards points can be used for flights across all 3 major alliances + several independent carriers (JetBlue, the Virgin family etc) so I’m struggling with the idea of tying up a good amount of these points for a very specific use – American Airlines flights either domestically or to the Caribbean. On the flip side, I don’t think I’d want to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or Starwood points over unless I needed to top off my account for an award flight. I use all my Chase UR points for Hyatt/United redemptions since there is no other feasible way to obtain a mass amount of points for those two programs. For Starwood, I’ve been using points for transfers to Alaska Airlines or for hotel stays at mid-tier Starwood properties which can represent a great value.
In the end, I decided to transfer a very small amount of my overall MR balance to British Airways. My wife just picked up the 100k British Airways Avios offer and combined with our existing balance of Avios, I decided to “top off the account” so I would have enough Avios to cover several roundtrip flights on AA. The amount transferred was less than 5% of my MR balance so not a huge number but enough to make me feel comfortable based on my projected future travel needs with Avios. In the event I need more Avios down the line, I can always hope for an Amex transfer bonus, dig into my Chase or SPG stash or if those aren’t realistic options just bite the bullet and transfer points at the devalued ratio.
It’s not such an easy call to speculatively transfer points without an actual use for them so I’m curious is anyone making a speculative transfer today ahead of the deadline?