TPG reader question: Can I check points prices with BA or Virgin before transferring my American Express points?

Mar 20, 2022

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a weekly column to answer your credit card, points and miles and general travel questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguyuk, message us on Facebook or email us at ben.smithson@thepointsguy.co.uk.


Membership Rewards, the points currency of American Express are possibly our favourite type of points here at TPG U.K. This is because they are enormously flexible — you can transfer them to a wide range of airline and hotel partner loyalty programmes when, and how you want to. This means you might redeem them through the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme one day, and the Emirates Skywards programme the next.

Related: The ultimate guide to UK American Express Membership Rewards

Why might you want to do this? One single programme might not fly to every destination you want to travel to. Also, you might have to look to other programmes if you can’t find the availability you want easily.

You can keep your Membership Rewards in your American Express account to transfer when you need to, but you’ll want to make sure you are transferring them to the correct programme as the transfers cannot be reversed.

That brings us to this week’s TPG reader question of the week.

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I want to check how many points plus money I need to book a flight on BA or Virgin before I add my Amex rewards points to either of my accounts. Is there a site where I can do this from? The BA site only tells me what I can do with my existing points balance and Virgin the same.

Bob, TPG Reader

First, it’s great that Rob is thinking of this before transferring his Membership Rewards points to become British Airways Avios or Virgin Atlantic Points. As the transfers are not reversible, it would be awful if he transferred his hard-earned Amex points to either programme and then discovered there were no seats available where and when he wanted to travel.

The great news is that it is very easy to check how many points + pay he will need before transferring. Even better, he can also check availability on the exact dates and routes he wants to travel on. He could use a platform like SeatSpy which I use regularly — this will show the points needed, approximate taxes, and how many seats are available on each route and day.

Related: The easiest and quickest way to find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic award seats just got even better

Screenshot from SeatSpy

Alternatively, he could run some searches on BA or Virgin’s own sites which will give him up to date results of availability, and the points plus fees, taxes and surcharges required. Don’t worry if you get any warning message that you don’t (yet) have enough points in your account to complete the booking — you can easily and quickly transfer them from Membership Rewards once you find the seats you want, and are happy with the price.

Screenshot from British Airways Executive Club

Best of luck on your travels Rob!

Featured image by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.