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Yesterday I posted about the value you can receive by purchasing points and redeeming them on a route from NYC to Montreal or Toronto. While that was just one example, it can be done for many other domestic US routes. Redeeming your British Airways Avios points on a US domestic American Airline short-haul flight only requires 9,000 points + $5 roundtrip.
While I typically do not recommend purchasing points, there are some instances where it can actually save you money. This method is really catered towards those who DO NOT have Avios points (or Ultimate Reward/Membership Reward points to transfer), as this approach is not some amazingly cheap way to obtain them, but for your personal situation could provide much value.
Assuming award availability on American Airlines, you are able to fly roundtrip on a non-stop short-haul flight (typically 650 miles or less) for a fixed cost of $178. You can use the British Airways calculator to see the number of miles needed between two city pairs. If it tells you 4,500 points (one-way) that means it is a short-haul flight and will work for the steps I am about to describe.
So how can one go about this? (note: some of these steps are a repeat of yesterday’s post)
- Step 1: As you may or may not be aware, British Airways has acquired the airline British Midland International (BMI).
- Through June 30, 2012, you can purchase BMI miles with a 20% bonus.
- You are able to purchase 8,000 BMI miles + 1,600 bonus for £111GBP (giving you a total of 9,600 miles).
- As of today, June 14, £111GBP = $172.84.
- Step 2: Starting July 3, 2012, you will be able to transfer your BMI miles to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 rate.
- This means that the 9,600 miles you purchased from Step 1 will transfer over to 9,600 British Airways Avios points.
- Step 3: Use your British Airways Avios points to book on partner airline American Airlines.
- Once the miles have transferred over to British Airways (post July 3rd), book your roundtrip short-haul flight which requires 9,000 points + $5US.
- This will give you 600 points left over in your account.
This means that your total cost is $177.84 ($172.84 from purchasing the miles from BMI + $5 for the taxes/fees). Keep in mind that award redemption flights are capacity controlled and there is an opportunity cost since you are not earning when burning. An example of where this will save you some money is from Northwest Arkansas Airport (XNA) to Chicago (ORD). This route will cost you over $400 roundtrip, but is considered a short-haul award when using your Avios points. Buying and redeeming points will save you over 50%!
Since you are limited to purchasing 20,000 BMI miles per calendar year (plus any bonus), this will only allow you to purchase and redeem for two non-stop short haul flights.
Some things to know when purchasing BMI miles:
- Price includes a £15.00 transaction fee, however, GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents
- You can only buy and/or receive a combined total of 24,000 miles per calendar year (this includes bonus miles)
- Purchased miles are not refundable and are applicable towards all Diamond Club awards.
- Purchases by new members with less than 14 days tenure will be subject to review so please be advised that it may also take up to two business days for your newly purchased miles to be available for an online award booking. –> to avoid this, create an account NOW as you will still have time to take advantage of the bonus before June 30, 2012
- A confirmation email will be sent to you to confirm the transaction is completed.