I strongly believe that anyone in the UK who doesn’t have a British Airways Executive Club account for earning Avios points is missing out. Here’s a brief starter guide on why you should consider collecting Avios, and how to start doing so easily.
Avios points are a versatile way of getting more value from your holidays and making your trips more rewarding. In addition to redeeming them for flights (paying just taxes, fees and airline surcharges) you can also use them for money off your flights, hotels and car hire.
What are Avios?
‘Avios’ is the name of the rewards points currency you can earn through the British Airways Executive Club, which is the frequent flyer programme of British Airways
How do I collect Avios?
By far the easiest way of saving your earnt Avios points is through a British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) frequent flyer account. If you haven’t already got a BAEC account you can open one here.
There are other programmes through which you can collect your Avios (such as Iberia Plus and Air Lingus AerClub), but I find them to be less user-friendly and less versatile. You can, however, transfer your Avios points relatively easy between these programmes. Furthermore, I find that it’s far easier to redeem Avios through the BA Executive Club, and also to open a household account to pool your family’s Avios. I’m therefore going to focus on the British Airways Executive Club in this post.
Can I only earn Avios on British Airways?
No. Avios points are also the rewards currency for Iberia, Flybe and Aer Lingus, as well as smaller airlines including LEVEL and Air Italy. However, you are not limited to earning Avios on just these airlines. Flying on other airlines within the ‘oneworld’ airline alliance (such as American Airlines, Qatar or Cathay Pacific) can also earn you Avios when you add your BAEC number to your booking.
Are there other ways of collecting Avios besides flights?
There are many ways of collecting Avios besides flying. In fact, I’ve probably earnt the majority of my Avios through ‘non-airborne’ means… Read on to find out how to get Avios points quickly.
My top ways of collecting Avios points (in no particular order):
- Credit Cards
- Cashback websites
- Tesco Clubcard Points
As I alluded to above, you can earn Avios points on a range of airlines. The majority of tickets – including sale or discounted fares – are eligible for earning points. Generally speaking, flexible tickets and tickets in premium cabins earn more Avios than discounted economy tickets. In order to claim Avios for your flight, you simply type in your British Airways Executive Club membership number at the time of booking or check-in.
The oneworld airlines also allow you to claim Avios for flights you’ve flown in the past few months. British Airways lets you claim Avios for flights flown in the past six months (or three months if you flew prior to joining BAEC). For more details on how to claim missing Avios, visit the British Airways web page here and scroll down to ‘Claim missing Avios’
2. Credit Cards
In my opinion, credit cards are the best way of earning Avios points quickly. Through a combination of signup bonuses, everyday spending and referring friends and family, you could easily accumulate the Avios points required to book your first redemption flight to Europe or abroad.
You may wonder how credit card companies can afford to give away airline loyalty points so generously, as I did when I started collecting Avios. Remember that they are huge financial institutions with multi-million or even billion pound profits annually. A proportion of their credit card customers run a balance on their card, which they have to pay interest on. This interest offsets the cost to them of giving away Avios. Furthermore, Amex and other credit card issuers charge the merchant higher transaction fees compared to debit cards. To some extent this also facilitates extra credit card benefits such as loyalty points.
However, I believe that it’s very easy to earn tens of thousands of Avios without having to pay an extra penny compared to your usual day to day spend. Let me give you a worked example, using the British Airways American Express Credit Card:
Signup bonus: The British Airways American Express Card has no annual fee and offers a bonus of 5,000 Avios for new card members who spend £1,000 within the first three months of taking out the card. This signup bonus is increased to 6,000 if you are referred by an existing card holder such as myself (please get in touch if you are interested in a referral).
This card has a representative APR of 22.9%, and so it’s important to ensure that you are able to pay off the balance in full each month in order not to accrue extra interest charges.
Everyday spending: The British Airways American Express Card gives you 1 Avios point for every £1 you spend on the card. If you are able to channel all your everyday spending through this credit card, you could soon be earning significant amounts of Avios points without spending anything extra than you normally would. Furthermore, if you reach £1,000 within 3 months (that’s an average of £333.33 per month) you get an additional bonus of 5,000 Avios (or 6,000 if referred by someone).
Referrals: For every person you refer to the BA American Express card, you earn 4,000 bonus Avios (up to 90,000 a year through this route).
Many hotel loyalty programmes allow you to convert the points that you have earnt in their currency to frequent flyer points of a range of loyalty schemes including British Airways Executive Club. Here are some of the participating hotel schemes:
- Hilton Honors: 10,000 Honors Points to 1,000 Avios
- IHG Rewards Club: 10,000 IHG Points to 2,000 Avios
- Marriott Rewards: anywhere from 2.8 points to 5 points per Avios, depending on how many you convert
- Accor Hotels Le Club: 4,000 Le Club points to 2,000 Avios
4. Cashback websites
I recently wrote about how you can earn cashback on all your everyday spend using cashback websites such as TopCashback. You can opt to convert your TopCashback earnings into Avios points (at a rate of 1p = 1 Avios), with occasional conversion bonuses offered throughout the year.
To put it briefly, TopCashback provides links to all the major online retailers, and if you use their link to visit the retailer’s website before making a purchase, they pay you cashback on your purchase as either a fixed amount, or a percentage of your purchase price. I recently earnt £80 for taking out a sim-only mobile contract, and additionally got 15% cashback on my recent hotel purchase through ebookers.
Chances are, of the recent sites you’ve bought from online, they were all probably listed on TopCashback, and you could have earnt cashback (and hence Avios) from those purchases! Furthermore, you can effectively ‘double-up’ on Avios from just a single purchase by (1) clicking through TopCashback, and then (2) making the purchase on an Avios-earning credit card. That way, you can earn Avios through cashback and again from the credit card!
After credit cards, cashback websites are probably the second biggest source of my non-airborne Avios. In the time i’ve been using TopCashback I’ve earnt the equivalent of 150,000 Avios in cashback, just by clicking through to retailers I was intending to purchase from anyway via my TopCashback account. You can sign up for a TopCashback account here.
5. Tesco Clubcard Points
This is pretty straightforward. If you’ve got a Tesco Clubcard you can earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 you spend at Tesco, and 1 point per £2 you spend on fuel. Each Clubcard point is worth 1p. Every £2.50 you’ve earnt in Clubcard points (or 250 points) can be exchanged to 600 Avios points.
Tesco Clubcard also run occasional bonuses where they give you a certain percentage extra points on top of whatever you’ve converted. You can register for Tesco Clubcard here.
There are umpteen ways of earning British Airways Avios points in the UK, and many of these don’t even require you to set foot in an airplane. So vast are these different methods of earning Avios, that I would say I’ve earnt more of them on the ground rather than in the air!
Given that most of your daily activities (such as your online shopping, filling up your tank and buying lunch) can earn you Avios without you needing to do anything more than swipe a card or make an extra click, your perfect holiday could easily come sooner than you think.
I would strongly recommend creating a British Airways Executive Club account to start collecting Avios straightaway if you haven’t already done so. I would also recommend considering some of the options above for collecting Avios in the UK.
I hope you found this post useful. If you did, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues using the links provided. If you have any other ways of earning free or cheap avios, do share them in the comments.
- The information provided above is the personal opinion of the author, and should not be construed as financial advice. It is your responsibility to ensure that the product referred to above is suitable in your circumstances.
- The British Airways American Express Card has a representative APR of 22.9%. Applicants must be 18 years old or over, UK residents and approval is subject to status.