Effective this Thursday, October 1, 2015, 250 Membership Rewards will transfer to 200 British Airways or Iberia Avios. That’s a 20% reduction of the current 1,000 Membership Rewards to 1,000 Avios transfers.
This is a huge blow to Membership Rewards. It still has great 1:1 transfer partners like Delta, ANA, Aeroplan, and Singapore, but this majorly hurts the value of its best oneworld transfer partner.
In the past we’ve seen transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards to Avios like this year’s 40% bonus. I don’t know if this reduced transfer rate between Membership Rewards and Avios signals the end of those. A 40% bonus on the new transfer rate would mean 250 Membership Rewards transferred to 280 Avios, which is 12% better than 1:1.
Other Bad News for Earning Avios
This worsening transfer rate from Membership Rewards isn’t the only bad news we’ve gotten about earning Avios this year. Chase also changed the British Airways Visa to only earn 1 Avios per dollar spent, down from 1.25 per dollar, another 20% drop in rates for earning Avios.
Chase Ultimate Rewards earned on the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preffered still transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.
Avios are good for short, direct, economy awards on partners without fuel surcharges like airberlin; Niki; and American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines within the Americas including Hawaii. The number of Avios for Business and First Class awards rose sharply in April, but that affected very few high value awards. Here are the basics of Avios, which every American frequent traveler should understand. Here are all the 12,500 Avios awards from the mainland United States to Hawaii.
Should You Transfer Your Membership Rewards to Avios Before Thursday?
It’s a tricky question with a lot of things to consider, so there is no definitive answer that covers everyone.
You’d hate to transfer 200,000 Membership Rewards to Avios only to see a big Avios devaluation (unlikely to happen for the next year or two in my opinion because we just saw one) or to see a big transfer bonus that brings the transfer rate above 1:1 (your guess is as good as mine about whether this will happen.)
I value Membership Rewards higher than Avios because of their flexibility–they can be Avios if those are the best miles for an award or Singapore miles if those are best or Delta miles, etc. So I am disinclined to send Membership Rewards to Avios this week to beat the devalued transfer ratio, however I understand if you look at the same facts and come to the opposite conclusion.
Hat Tip Travel with Grant