How I Got Over 8 Cents Per Point With Avios — Reader Success Story

Sep 28, 2017

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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how points and miles have helped them get where they want to go. Each week I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own award travel success story, email it to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader David, who used British Airways Avios to book a last-minute award an American Airlines. Here’s what he had to say:

I needed to book last-minute tickets from New York to Washington, D.C. at very specific hours. The cheapest non-stop option on Google Flights was on American Airlines for $915 round-trip. That was quite steep for such a short flight, especially given that I needed to buy two tickets!

Despite the fact that AAdvantage MileSAAver awards have been sparse lately, I decided to give American Airlines a shot and see if I could use miles. To my surprise, I found MileSAAver availability for the two of us on both flights. I was thrilled!

I was about to book the round-trip for 15,000 miles each when I noticed the $75 per person close-in booking fee. I don’t have status with American Airlines and was unable to have the fee waived, but that led me to start looking at other partner options to book this trip. That’s where things got interesting.

Amex was offering a transfer bonus to British Airways, so I was able to convert 21,500 Membership Rewards points into 30,100 Avios. I was then able to book the same flights on American Airlines with no close-in booking fees. Accounting for everything, I used 10,250 Membership Rewards points plus $11 per person to book tickets that cost $915. At almost nine cents per point, that’s a great redemption.

I would never have been able to get through all of this without being an avid reader of TPG, so thank you for all the great content you put out.

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You don’t have to use AAdvantage miles to book awards on American Airlines.

One benefit of airline partnerships is that you can take advantage of favorable award rules while avoiding unfriendly ones. American Airlines and British Airways charge the same amount for saver level awards on David’s route, but booking with Avios saved him $150 in fees. That’s a great example of how the frequent flyer program you use to book a flight doesn’t necessarily have to belong to the airline you want to fly.

Transfer bonuses offer another easy way to maximize points. Dave’s timing was fortuitous, but Amex, Citi and SPG all offer bonuses regularly — that’s one major advantage those programs have over Chase Ultimate Rewards. I generally recommend waiting to transfer points until you have plans to redeem them, but when a lucrative bonus comes around, you should consider transferring speculatively.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank David for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.

Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions at the top of this post). Feel free to also submit stories of your most egregious travel mistakes. In either case, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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