‘Miles and points’ for the solo traveller – should you have a different collection strategy?

How should your miles and points collecting change if you are a solo traveller?  I thought it was worth updating this article which I originally ran in 2013.

Whilst Head for Points generally treats the 2-4-1 voucher from the British Airways American Express card as the greatest thing since sliced bread (and it is – here is the maths to prove it) it would have been pretty useless to me in my youth.

I did a lot of solo travelling before I settled down, and a 2-4-1 voucher isn’t much use there.  Despite having a family I still do the odd solo leisure trip, often when my wife takes the kids to spend time with my parents-in-law.

In general, whilst you won’t necessarily get any value from the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, the solo traveller has an easier time with the ‘miles and points’ game than a couple, and a far easier time than a family.

Solo traveller

Things that benefit the solo traveller:

The fewer award seats you want, the easier it is to get them. 1 is easier than 2 is easier than 4.  And, unless you work in education, you are unlikely to be tied down to school holidays when seats are harder to find.

Some airlines restrict the award seats they release. Etihad and airberlin, for example, generally restrict business class rewards to two per flight, at least initially.  British Airways only opens up two Club World seats 355 days from departure, although they will generally open up more as the months pass.  A family can never guarantee that BA will open up 3 or more premium seats, however.

It is easier for a solo traveller to get an award seat using ‘easy’ miles, generally from credit cards. Take, for example, the current Virgin credit card deal.  Take out the free card and the £140 Black card (you can have both) and you’d get 35,000 miles for free.  That gets you a fair bit of the way towards a one way Upper Class ticket to the US East Coast and enough for an off-peak Upper Class one-way to Dubai or India.  You would have enough for a Premium Economy return ticket to the US East Coast, India, Middle East or Caribbean off-peak.  A couple would still have been substantially short.

A solo traveller will find it easier to arrange their schedule to maximise their points earning and burning (and in particular minimise their airport taxes). Ever tried telling a girlfriend that you need to change your hotel three times during a week because you want to maximise your bonus points? Or that she is flying to New York via Berlin to save tax? And if you’ve got family, don’t even think about it, at least whilst your kids are small.

A solo traveller may also be willing to compromise slightly on airline or hotel quality to maximise points. Last time I was in Munich – alone – I stayed at the dowdy but functional Holiday Inn on the edge of the city, on points. Had my wife come as well – and especially if the children were there – I would have felt that we should stay somewhere nicer and more central which would probably have involved paying.

Things that count against the solo traveller:

You don’t have a partner who can also obtain credit card sign-up bonuses

You don’t have a partner who can help boost your ‘household income’ to improve your chances of being accepted for credit cards (American Express likes to look at household income)

You don’t get any favours from the hotel reward schemes – a room for one person costs the same number of points as a room for two. That said, you get an easier time than a family, as suite redemptions using points are rarely available.  You can request two connecting rooms but in my experience it is 50/50 whether you actually get them when you check in.

You get no benefit from the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher and feel very grumpy that other people get two Avios flights for the same number of points that you are using for one.

Different credit card options

If you are a solo traveller, there are two credit card benefits which could have been designed with you in mind.

The first is the Lloyds Avios Rewards card. I examined the upgrade voucher in detail here. For £7,000 of spending, you receive a voucher which allows you to book an Avios seat on British Airways for the miles required for a cheaper cabin. Club World costs World Traveller Plus mileage, World Traveller Plus costs World Traveller mileage, Club Europe costs Eurotraveller mileage.

For the single traveller, this is more useful than the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

Virgin also offers a similar voucher via its MBNA credit cards. The White card (review) and Black card (review) both offers vouchers, when you spend enough, which allow you to book Premium Economy redemptions for the same miles as Economy.

There is no easy answer as to whether solo travellers come out best overall or not – but by carrying the right credit cards and exploiting the right opportunities, you can tilt the odds in your favour.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Bits: how to pre-order your BA duty free, 180 Avios for giving Tesco your insurance details
Bits: last call for Etihad credit card sign-up bonus, other deals ending Wednesday
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Comments

  1. Harry K says:

    Sorry if this is really obvious but does this mean I would have to open and credit to an Avios account rather than my usual British Airways account?

    How would this work if I used this card just to trigger the voucher but then only had say 10,000 Avios in this account but then 100,000 in my British Airways account? Or can Avios be transferred between them?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep you will have both an Avios.com and BAPP account. I would also open up an ubereats account and earn a mile if you haven’t already.

      You can freely transfer Avios between the 3 to pool them in one account for a redemption.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        That meant to say BAEC not BAPP. Damn auto correct

        • Harry K says:

          So if I have BA Gold, I would always use my BA account number in any flights I book but use my Avios.com number purely for the purposes of collecting the Lloyds points? And once the voucher is ready to be used, I can transfer the relevant amount to my Avios.com account and redeem it from there, utilising the voucher?

          Does this have any affect on my BA.com account or any 2-4-1s I have from my AmEx PP card? Or are the two offers totally separate?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yep that’s exactly right.

          Nope no affect on the 2-4-1’s they are totally seperate

        • Genghis says:

          To add as well, Harry K, if you’ve not done so already open an Iberia Plus account (and credit something to there to you can transfer points away from there; easiest is 1k MR points from Amex). Similarly to avios.com, points can be transferred between them. If an Iberia Plus offer comes along, you can then pounce (in terms of spending or redeeming)

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I did actually mean iberia not ubereats

  2. Could someone please check the Ambassador Certificate’ rate for Koh Samui for 2 Nights starting 12th Jan 2018 or is there a way i can do it ? .

    Would like to see if its worth me joining and using the free night certificate.

    Thanks in advance

  3. its seems you cant use the Certificate at Samui as its doesn’t show the AMB Rate for this hotel .

    Are some hotels excluded ?

    • They are not meant to be – whether the hotel has deliberately or accidentally not loaded AMB rates is the question.

      • They emailed me to say there allotment is full not sure how this can be true for the whole of 2017 and 2018 up to 1 year in advance .

  4. I still have the old Lloyds duo cards. If I cancel these do I have to wait to apply for the avios reward card?

  5. BA have for the last few years ran a promotion in December for late travel over the Xmas and New Year period and the price for 2 in Club matched that year, ie; 2 club tickets for £2,014 in 2014. Luckily for us single travellers, and very fairly, we were allowed to buy 1 ticket for exactly half the offer price for 2 people.

    However, last year, 2 tickets for £2,016 was altered for single travellers and i think the price was something like £1,200 for 1 club ticket, so we were discriminated against for being a single traveller.