I am dedicating all three posts today to explaining the key features of the new Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards. Part 1 is an overview and Part 2 looks at the ‘no foreign exchange fee’ benefit. This part looks at the small print concerning the ‘upgrade’ voucher.
Apart from the ‘no foreign exchange fees’ benefit, the other radical innovation with the Lloyds Avios Rewards cards is the ‘upgrade voucher’.
Here is a summary of how it works:
Spending on both the Amex and the MasterCard counts towards the voucher
You can only earn one voucher per year
The flight which is upgraded must be in the name of the cardholder – this could be an issue if you hope to combine it with a BA Amex 2-4-1 for a family of three. Perhaps you should get the Lloyds card in your partners name?
You can only upgrade a British Airways flight booked with Avios (on avios.com, not ba.com) and not a flight booked with cash
You can upgrade an Avios ticket which has already been booked, but only as long as it was booked at avios.com (this last bit is guesswork on my part)
You will need to pay any additional taxes – Air Passenger Duty and BA fuel surcharges are higher for non-economy bookings
The voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. It is not clear if the outbound flight needs to be taken by this date, or if you simply need to book.
This is what the voucher does:
It allows you to upgrade either one return Avios flight or two one-way Avios flights by one class.
It is valid for either:
Eurotraveller to Club Europe
World Traveller to World Traveller Plus
World Traveller Plus to Club World
You cannot use it to upgrade a redemption from Club World to First Class.
Some aspects of the small print have not been spelled out yet. This is what we don’t yet know:
Must there be Avios reward availability in the class into which you want to upgrade? I assume yes.
However, these upgrades appear MORE restrictive. For a start, you cannot upgrade any flights from London City Airport. Will some flights not be upgradable even if Avios reward seats are available in the higher class?
Will you need to have Avios reward availability in BOTH classes? ie will there need to be award space in World Traveller Plus, even if your booking upgrades automatically into a Club World reward seat? If so (and this is likely to be the case) then it will be tricky to redeem. How often do you see award space in World Traveller Plus and Club World on the same flight?
I imagine that only existing flights booked via avios.com will be available for upgrade. If you have booked via ba.com I think you will be stuffed if you try to upgrade an existing Avios booking.
It is not clear if the upgrade voucher is returned if you cancel or change your booking. The 2-4-1 voucher on the old style Lloyds Avios cards was cancelled if you cancelled your flight.
It is not clear if you can combine the 2-4-1 voucher that comes with the Premier card and the upgrade voucher. Can you, for instance, book 2 economy flights to Marrakech for the Avios of one and also upgrade one of the legs to Club Europe?
The real winners with these vouchers, I think, will be solo travellers. It allows one person to effectively book a Club World redemption for the price of a World Traveller Plus redemption. This would save 25,000 Avios points on a flight to Los Angeles, for example. The British Airways Amex 2-4-1 voucher, whilst a fantastic tool, isn’t of much interest if you travel by yourself.
For couples travelling together, it is trickier to use but not impossible. There will be snags, however. A couple could book separately – one person booking in Club World, the other into World Traveller Plus but instantly upgrading. However, you would then be on separate tickets which means you may be seated separately.
Alternatively, you could book 2 x one way tickets in each direction, and upgrade one leg. This could be an issue on long-haul flights, where the fuel surcharge on booking 2 x one ways is often substantially higher than booking a return. This is especially true of flights to the USA.
Remember too that the upgraded flight must be in the name of the cardholder, so think about whether the Lloyds Avios Rewards card should be taken out in your name or your partners name.
The devil will be in the detail with these vouchers, though, and until people start to try to use them we probably won’t know exactly what restrictions are in place.
(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)