Why Avios are my favorite type of rewards as a South Florida resident – The Points Guy

As someone born and raised in New York, there's a lot that I miss about the Northeast. The fall foliage, the easy access to ski resorts, cold weather during the holidays (it's been 15 years and I'm still not used to wearing shorts on Dec. 25). However, one of the best parts of living in South Florida is how accessible the Caribbean and Latin America are.
And when it comes to loyalty programs, there's one in particular that has saved me thousands of dollars over the years when booking flights to these destinations (among others).
Here's why Avios are among my favorite loyalty program currencies.
I'm a huge fan of programs with transferable points. Specific airline and hotel loyalty programs can offer great redemption options, but they're inherently limited. Need to book a United flight? No can do with a bunch of American miles. Hoping to score a long-haul, international, first-class award ticket? Can't be done with Delta SkyMiles.
On the other hand, focusing on programs like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards allows me to wait until I have a specific flight need to convert those points into the currency I want.
And Avios are unmatched in this arena, as you can transfer points from all major credit card companies to at least one of the four airline programs that use Avios as a loyalty currency:
Remember that you can freely transfer Avios between British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Qatar — though the names on your accounts must match, and each must've been open for at least 90 days.
Even better? We often see transfer bonuses with these programs.
Of course, earning Avios is just part of the battle. Using them for maximum value is a whole other matter — and thankfully, I've been able to do just that.
I love visiting Europe over Thanksgiving, as we can escape the crowds that travel domestically and get to enjoy the array of Christmas markets that begin to pop up across the continent. And the most common way we get there is using Avios on Iberia.
Spain's national carrier offers a pair of daily, nonstop flights from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD), and from there, you can connect all across the continent. There are two great things about these flights:
For example, on off-peak dates, you can book MIA-MAD for just 21,250 Avios in economy, 31,750 Avios in premium economy and 42,500 Avios in business class.
Adding a connecting flight can cost as little as 4,500 additional Avios, depending on your destination and the class of service.
We've used Avios in this fashion multiple times, and you can now book this award with the same minimal taxes and fees through British Airways as well.
But it isn't just Iberia flights that offer terrific value.
American Airlines has a major hub at Miami International Airport (MIA), and this gives me a plethora of nonstop flights to destinations across the Caribbean and Latin America. And as long as American releases saver-level award space, I can use British Airways Avios for those tickets.
In the last year, I have booked the following itineraries:
In all three cases, I found at least three seats to book for me, my wife and my daughter. Plus, booking through British Airways required fewer Avios than I would've used when booking directly with American, and the taxes and fees were identical.
For example, my flights to St. Croix would've been 25,000 American AAdvantage miles per person. However, I used a transfer bonus to book them for just 15,000 Capital One miles, saving me nearly $1,000.
And my flight from Turks and Caicos would've been 30,000 AA miles for all three of us.
However, I could use just 22,500 Avios for the flight by booking through British Airways.
This one-way flight would've cost $690.15 for all three of us, so when you remove the taxes and fees, I got a value of 1.9 cents for my Avios — well above TPG's valuation.
But there's one final element that makes this even more attractive.
When American launched Loyalty Points last year, I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if I could qualify for status with minimal flying. And sure enough, I was able to earn AAdvantage Gold status without taking a single American flight. (I've since bumped myself to Platinum Pro as a result of American's most recent status challenge.)
Thankfully, using Avios for American-operated flights doesn't exclude me from using the perks of this status.
In the past, I would book these awards through British Airways, and after they were ticketed, I'd call American and ask them to switch the loyalty program on my reservation to AAdvantage. However, my colleague Senitra Horbrook pointed out that you can delete your BA number during the booking process, allowing you to add your AAdvantage number to the reservation online, without a phone call.
Now, I can use my Platinum Pro perks like free Main Cabin Extra seats and additional baggage allowance.
However, there's another important piece here for those with an American credit card who don't have status. When you're flying domestically, you (and up to eight companions on your reservation) enjoy a free checked bag. However, note this restriction of the perk:
Without your AAdvantage number on the reservation, you'd be subject to the normal checked bag fees on domestic flights.
Related: These 27 credit cards can get you free checked bags
I'm an equal-opportunity traveler when it comes to my loyalty programs, but flexible currencies are my favorite. And when it comes time to transfer them to partner airlines, I frequently find myself using Avios as a South Florida resident. Whether it's booking Iberia flights to Europe or American flights to the Caribbean, I continue to get immense value from this currency.
If you're looking to up your travel rewards game in 2023, double down on programs with transferable points — and you too could find similar utility with Avios.
For rates and fees of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.
For rewards and benefits of the Bilt Mastercard, click here.
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