There is only one thing that keeps the American Express Membership Rewards program in the travel mileage game - transfer bonuses.
For US residents who don’t travel all that often, partner options are not nearly as good as the Ultimate Rewards program. Also, the Ultimate Rewards credit card sign up bonuses are usually better.
But there is one way that the American Express Membership Rewards program shines. Occasionally (and I wish I could quantify that better for you), they will offer a bonus on points transfers.
American Express Membership Rewards Limited Time Transfer Bonuses
British Airways Avios 40% Transfer Bonus
1,000 AMEX points becomes 1,400 Avois.
The last time there was a transfer bonus to Avois, it was a 50% bonus. However, there has been a drought of transfer bonuses so there is something about this to get mildy excited about.
The biggest question is - should I transfer points speculatively?
In other words, if I don’t have a trip planned, should I go ahead and take advantage of this bonus? In my case, I avoid high fuel surcharges. Some of the better American Express Membership Rewards partners have fuel surcharges. Thus, in my opinion, the two viable options are Delta and British Airways for flights.
To answer the question, yes, I would transfer American Express Membership Rewards points on speculation.
With one major caveat.
You must understand the advantages and disadvantages of the Avios program. The biggest disadvantage is that you don’t want to use Avois for long flights as there will be a high Avois cost. Also, British Airways is infamous for their excessive surcharges for award bookings. I’d personally avoid ever using them to fly to Europe.
The biggest advantage of the Avois program is that they are ideal for short haul flights. A few good ways to use the miles (aside from domestic US short flights) is last minute flights, flights from west cost to Hawaii (12,500 Avois one way), and Boston to Dublin (12,500 Avois one way).
Transfer bonuses in this post are expired.
There are Avois gems, but you need to be smart enough to use Avois correctly.
This bonus is valid till September 27th, 2012.
Virgin America 30% Transfer Bonus
There’s not much here that I find very worth while.
Their normal transfer rate is 200:100, but with this promotion, it jumps to 200:130.
In addition to the pretty poor transfer rate (even with the bonus), Virgin America is known for some pretty steep surcharges on award tickets.
My advice – pass unless you were already, for some crazy reason, thinking about transferring from American Express Rewards to Virgin America.
This bonus is available through September 2nd, 2012.