Over Easter, I will be answering a number of the reader questions that were submitted via this article. If you didn’t take part this time, don’t worry as I will be re-running this feature in the Summer. Feel free to expand on or critique my answer using the Comments section below!
Today’s question is from Danielle who asked:
“I have just signed up to the Virgin Flying Club airmiles as they were offering bonus points of you had a Clubcard. I currently have about 19,000 miles and need 38,000 to travel to Chicago in July.
My partner has just signed up to Avios and seems to think its a better deal with the Clubcard. What I want to know is whats better, Avios or Virgin airmiles? If you are only collecting miles via a Tesco Clubcard?”
For Danielle’s benefit, I have found a more male-focussed picture to accompany this article rather than the usual Virgin picture I use!
To be honest – in general – Avios are a more flexible currency than Virgin Flying Club miles. Your partner is right to that extent. For example:
You can redeem for European flights with Avios, which need only a small number (from 9,000 Avios return + £30 tax) which makes them ideal target redemptions for a Clubcard holder
BA has a wider long-haul network than Virgin
BA has a wider network of partner airlines than Virgin, especially now that Virgin has announced it will not be joining the SkyTeam alliance just yet
You can redeem Avios for hotels or car hire at acceptable rates (0.6p-ish per Avios)
So, if I was building up a pot of airline miles via my Clubcard points with no particular goal in mind, then I would definitely want to be in Avios. Virgin may have a higher conversion rate (250 miles vs 240 Avios per £1 of Clubcard vouchers) but that is not enough to win me over.
However, in your case, it is different.
You have a specific destination in mind, and of course there has been a 50% bonus on Tesco to Virgin transfers in recent months. On that basis, it doesn’t make much difference which way you went.
That said, you will find – when you come to redeem – that if you had used Avios to Chicago on Aer Lingus via Dublin, or on airberlin via Berlin, your taxes bill would have been lower than redeeming on either BA or Virgin.
(Want to boost your Clubcard points? Click here and scroll down to the Clubcard logo to see our list of current promotions.)