Effective immediately, Membership Rewards will be increasing the transfer ratio when you convert points into Avios, the currency of the British Airways Executive Club. This is actually a restoration of the original 1:1 transfer ratio (250 Membership Rewards points = 250 Avios). Not long ago Amex had devalued this particular program by changing to to a 5:4 ratio (250 Membership Rewards points = 200 Avios). (HT to Doctor of Credit and View from the Wing)
The same change affects transfers to Ibera Plus, which also uses Avios even though it’s technically a different program. (I know, so confusing.)
Membership Rewards is my second-favorite loyalty program owing to the large number of transfer opportunities to other airlines, many of which you can’t find with my favorite (Ultimate Rewards). That means you can earn points with an Amex credit card and wait until you find the award space you need, and maybe also take advantage of the lower prices that some programs charge for the exact same award. After all, most Americans aren’t likely to be collecting Asia Miles of Flying Blue miles.
American Express is also taking this opportunity to promote Membership Rewards as having “the most 1:1 airline transfer partners — 11 in total.” That’s completely irrelevant. Would you accept a 1:1 transfer of U.S. dollars for Mexican pesos? Not a chance. The quality of the transfer partner matters, and you should never something a good deal just because the transfer happens to make the math simple.
The fact is, there are lots of transfer partners I wouldn’t choose even if the rate doubled. But the British Airways transfer ratio was particularly weak, and even at 1:1 I would want to consider my options. It’s not outright awful. Avios is a great program for transferring points if you want to book nonstop awards on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, as well as some other trips in regions with low taxes and fees. But I would look for other options before transferring my Membership Rewards points to book a first class ticket on British Airways itself.
I suspect that the move to a 5:4 ratio saw a steep decline in the number of transfers made, enough that the executives got together and realized they made a mistake.