How I saved nearly 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards thru Bonus Transfer Offers

How’s your summer? Mine has been crazy. We just got back from Japan in late Spring, and most recently, we also spent over a week in Hawaii (Kauai) around the 4th of July.

How we booked six FREE tickets to Hawaii for the 4th of July (worth over $4000)

My travel calendar had been going nuts since. I had also booked three big trips. Crazy!

We booked two ANA first class tickets to Japan ($35K value) using points!

How we booked 7 FREE round trip tickets to the Philippines for the holidays

How we booked a trip to Bali for free (using points)

A few days ago, I was asked how we travel for nearly free knowing that I have a big family. Just like with everything else, the bigger the number, the bigger the expense and that is very true when it comes to traveling. As much as possible, I try NOT to use cash, and would rather resort to using all the points I’ve earned to get us places.

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Here’s one great way of stretching our points. Typically, the points that I have with Chase or American Express, when transferred to airline partners, the typical transfer is a 1:1 ratio. In plain English, my 1 point with Chase or American Express, gets 1 point value when transferred to their airline partners. Every now and then, we see the bonus transfer offers.

What is a Bonus Transfer Offer

Instead of getting it’s typical 1:1 transfer ratio, bonus transfers increase the possibility of earning additional points. I took advantage of these bonus transfers and here’s what I did:

American Express Membership Rewards 40% Transfer Bonus to British Airways

With British Airways, I’ve booked and flown:

  • Los Angeles to Hawaii  – many times to Maui, Kauai, Big Island
  • Sydney to Melbourne
  • Hong Kong to Taiwan
  • Lima, Peru to Cusco

However, I did not take advantage of any bonus transfers with most of these trips. For instance, for Hawaii, at the time, one round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Maui required 25,000 points from Chase or Amex that I had to transfer to British Airways. I transferred the exact required amount and did not avail of any bonus opportunities at the time.

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That all changed when I saw a deal that was promoted in the Fall of 2018. I’ve done many transfers to British Airways in the past, and they were usually in the 1:1 ratio. Having a 40% bonus is a big plus. For our most recent trip to Kauai (4th of July 2019), for my party of six, I needed 25,000 British Avios per person. Here’s what I wrote:

How we booked six FREE tickets to Hawaii for the 4th of July (worth over $4000)

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My family at the Kauai Coast Resort – July 2019

With a 1:1 transfer from Amex to British, that means, I needed 150,000 Amex Membership Rewards. But because of the 40% bonus transfer offer, I only transferred 107,000 from Amex to British.Screen Shot 2019-01-26 at 3.04.49 PM

This transfer got me to 149,800 Avios, still 200 short, but I had a little bit of Avios remaining on my account which got me to the required 150K.

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Lumahai Beach

So what? What does this all mean? In the long run, I used less points. I saved 42,800 American Express Membership Rewards, I could use those for future travels.

Now for the good news. For a limited time, this 40% bonus transfer deal is back. This deal is good through October 1, 2019.

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Image courtesy of American Expres

What you need to do to transfer points from Amex to British Airways?

  1. Before transferring, make sure that you find the flights that you need.
    1. You can check directly over at the British Airways website, or
    2. Call British Airways directly
  2. Make sure you have an American Express account/s that earn Membership Rewards. Not all Amex cards earn such reward. For me, I get these rewards from my Platinum accounts (personal and business), Amex Gold, Amex Everyday Preferred, and Amex Blue Business Plus.
  3. Join British Airways Avios Executive Club – this is free. Why do you need to join? This is the account where you will end up transferring your points to.
  4. Go to you American Express Membership Rewards account and link your British Airways account.
  5. Once linked, you can transfer points from Amex to British Airways
  6. Once you find the flights and # of seats that you need, you can begin the transfer process

Note: Once you transfer to British Airways, there’s no undoing the transfer. You can’t transfer these points back to American Express should you change your mind. So make sure that you’ve got plans to use your points.

Image courtesy of American Express

American Express 30% Bonus Transfer to Virgin Atlantic

In June 2019, I came across yet another bonus transfer offer. This time, it was from Amex to Virgin Atlantic. I wrote about this booking.

We booked two ANA first class tickets to Japan ($35K value) using points!

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19 members of my family conquered Japan in 2019

For this trip, I took advantage of 30% bonus transfer offer from American Express to Virgin Atlantic, and was able to book two first class tickets via ANA.

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Limited time bonus transfer offer from American Express to Virgin Atlantic. Image courtesy of American Express.

What’s the “so what?” I needed 220,000 points, but because of the 30% bonus transfer, I only had to transfer 170,000, and I earned 51,000 as a result of that bonus transfer. That was enough to get me to the 220K needed to book two first class round trip tickets to Japan.

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Worth $35,000!!! What???

Yes, if I paid for this trip in cash or not using points, it was worth close to $35,000. Insane. But thanks to my points earned with my credit cards, I didn’t have to pay anything close to that.

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Image courtesy of ANA

Which credit cards got us FREE tickets to Japan, Hawaii, and beyond

I wrote different entries on How We Travel for Nearly Free, and most recently, I updated my favorite travel credit cards. However, there was always one card that stood out, perfect for a lot of those who are just starting out.

As I mentioned before from our last trip to Japan, it was thanks to points earned with our Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here).

We used 37,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, easily earned when you apply for those credit cards and when Chase awards you the sign-up bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here) is a perfect starter card. With its 60,000 bonus points, those points alone have gotten us two tickets to Hawaii, just as an example. The sign up bonus alone can be worth as much as $1,000 or more in travel.

– 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus after $4,000 in spend in the first three months (as of April 2019 – this is subject to change)
– Points are transferable to:

  • Hotel Partners
    • Hyatt
    • Marriott
    • IHG
    • Ritz-Carlton
  • Airline travel partners
    • JetBlue
    • United Airlines
    • British Airways
    • Southwest Airlines
    • Singapore Airlines
    • Flying Blue
    • Virgin Atlantic
    • Aer Lingus
    • Iberia

– Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal
– Primary rental car collision damage waiver
– Earn 2X points on all travel and dining
– $95 annual fee (as of April 2019 – this is subject to change)

If I were just starting out in earning miles and points, I suggest starting out with this card.

You can also earn these Ultimate Rewards from other Chase credit cards such as the:

The points earned with Chase are one of my prized points-earning possessions. They’ve allowed us travel to many parts of the world for nearly free.

For this latest trip to Japan where we will be flying first class, I give credit to points earned with our American Express Cards. Nancy and I took advantage of the 100,000 points sign-up bonus with American Express Platinum cards, and we signed up for the other cards that offered lucrative sign ups. Follow the links to the cards, and know that in order to get the bonus points, you have meet the required spending. Some of these cards also have annual fees:

 American Express Platinum (personal)

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards

American Express Business Platinum

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards

American Express Blue Business Plus

  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards

American Express Everyday Preferred

  • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards

Learn more about the cards, their benefits, and requirement by clicking on the links above. Any questions, just ask.

Image courtesy of American Express Business Platinum

 

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