How to pay just £26 instead of £35 for your Reward Flight Saver redemptions!

A couple of months ago, the Avios rewards programme launched in South Africa.  I didn’t write anything about it, because it didn’t seen relevant.  However, it did give us the Avios / Facebook game a few weeks ago, which was playable by UK residents until Avios restricted it!

The Avios South Africa programme works in the same way as the UK one.  There is a petrol partner (BP), a credit card and a supermarket partner (Pick’n’Pay).  You can redeem for BA flights, both on BA and BA’s South African franchise partner, Comair, in the usual way.

Here is the key thing to know.  As far as the Avios computer is concerned, the UK and South African programmes are the same.  There is no restriction on transferring Avios points from Avios South Africa to British Airways, or vice versa.

Why would you sign up for the Avios South Africa programme?

Because ….

You can book the standard range of British Airways flights via the Avios South Africa website …

Charged in South African Rand …

At a very favourable rate ….!

Take a look at the following screenshot.  It shows London to Paris, booked via Avios South Africa.


As you will see, the tax figure is ZAR 440.  This is equivalent to £26.  It would cost £35 if booked via Avios UK.

If I had run the same search for a business class seat, the tax would have been ZAR 640.  This is equivalent to £38, instead of the £50 charged by Avios UK.


This also works with Comair.  Comair is a South African airline which operates as a British Airways franchise, flying BA-painted planes with staff who wear BA uniforms.  You can book these flights on and you can earn and redeem Avios on them.

The most common reason for flying Comair is to get from Johannesburg to Cape Town.  It is difficult to get Avios redemption seats from London to Cape Town, so you will often find yourself doing London to Johannesburg and then Johannesburg to Cape Town on Comair.

The other route you might book is Johannesburg to Mauritius, if you can’t get a direct BA flight.  The full route network is here.

You can book the South African routes using Reward Flight Saver, in the same way as you would book a European redemption.  However, the cash payment required is higher.  Johannesburg to Cape Town, for example, costs 15,000 Avios return + £56 in economy and 30,000 Avios + £64 in business.

However, if you book via the Avios South Africa programme, the cash price is lower.  Avios South Africa charges 15,000 Avios + ZAR 700 (£42) in economy and 30,000 Avios + ZAR 800 (£48) in business.

The two hurdles to jump

Obviously this is not a life-changing saving, but on the other hand there is no point throwing money away!

The first thing to note, though, is that you will need to give a made-up South African street address to open an Avios South Africa account.

The second issue is that, in order to be able to book Reward Flight Saver flights, your account will need to ‘earn’ 1 Avios.

Luckily, Avios has solved this problem for you!  About a week after signing up for Avios South Africa, you will receive an email with a short questionnaire attached.  Answer the few questions, and you are immediately awarded 150 Avios.  This will ‘activate’ your account and make you eligible to book Reward Flight Saver tickets!

(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. What if you need to make any changes? I just called yesterday and upgraded some outbound economy seats to business as availability appeared (already had inbound) – assume this would be tricky with the SA account?

    • Not booked via before. Is it very difficult / impossible to make changes or cancel online?

      • You can do nothing – not even see your booking – online. Need to call for changes/cancellations, and there’s a normal rate number on

        Can’t see why this would be any different or more difficult if booked on Avios SA.

    • Yes it would. Plain vanilla redemptions are the best way to go here.

  2. Can we not just log onto their site anyway and book? How did you even get the screenshot? Polly

  3. Does their exchange rate give savings on taxes on long haul redemptions? This would also generate overseas credit card spend. Need to be registered to check.

    • I also already have an active Avios SA account, so just did the search for you/everyone.

      LHR-CPT ret 10/06/14-18/06/14 (when there is direct availability both ways so costs 50k Avios):
      Booking on Avios UK: £397.25 = R6,356
      Booking on Avios SA: R6,730!

      So, oddly, it is more expensive to book via the Avios SA site at the current exchange rate! I’d expect the extras to be charged/converted at the current FX rate, so surprised at this result.

      The benefit for the RFS charges is due to them having setup Avios SA earlier in the year when the FX rate was £1:R12.50, so they must have fixed the current RFS fee at that level. Since then, the ZAR has weakened considerably to £1:R16.47 (today), hence the saving at current rates.

  4. vindaloo says:

    Good spot, Raffles! Would BA Gold Card holders using this scheme be able to get the additional availability in Economy that they are afforded when booking through BA?

    • Sinizter says:

      Very doubtful unless Avios UK show this extra availability.

    • No. You don’t get it via Avios UK either.

      However … Avios does have more economy short-haul availability than shows to Blue or Silver cardholders. Just less than you see as a BA Gold.

  5. Missing something here. How do I transfer the avios between schemes? Cannot recall SA scheme on combine my avios.

    • Don’t you just sign in as usual on BA? Or aviosZA should let you combine to BA and IB like aviosUK

      • Actually, doesn’t BA want the addresses to match? Need Raffles’ input!

        • You simply choose Avios as your CMA partner, and supply your Avios SA credentials. You need to have amatch of 2 out of 3 details, so as long as your D.O.B and email match, you’re fine and it’ll let you login, and away you go.

          Therefore to transfer from Avios UK to Avios SA, you need to go via BAEC in a 2-step process.

        • No. I actually did the Avios Suitcase SA game via an Avios SA account and moved the Avios OK. I also moved the 150 Avios from the questionnaire to BA.

    • As I wrote in the first part of the post, the Avios computer treats both programmes as the same. Go to Combine My Avios on and input your Avios SA number and it works fine, as long as your non-address info matches.

  6. You also need to enter your passport details, which I am guessing need to be real? Does ask you to enter API or is that done on the airline site…?

  7. Avios UK doesn’t ask for passport details when creating an account (remember, a partner can even create the account for you). Avios SA on the other hand does, so supply – why would you give a fake? Rules in SA must be slightly different for creating accounts such as this, hence the requirement. Redemption rules are different too, i.e. if you transfer from Pick n Pay to Avios SA, you have 7 days to change your mind and transfer your points back (some redemption inter-partner laws)! In the UK, once points are transferred, there’s no going back.

  8. Thanks Raffles!
    I thought about doing this but wasn’t actually sure how it would work, so this is great.
    The main reason being that I am a dual passport holder (GB & RSA) with a property in CPT. So I’m thinking about applying for the Avios SA credit card. 1 mile per R10 which is about 1 mile per 70p…
    Very tempting and think it could be a great way to earn Avios quickly…

  9. When Avios SA was discussed on FlyerTalk a couple of months ago – – the last thing on my mind was cheaper RFS. 🙂

    I was interested in the Pick’n’Pay earning rate of 1 Avios per 8 Rand, so about 2 Avios per £ at today’s rate. It wouldn’t work for me as I would need a real SA address both for Avios SA and P’n’P. I suspect somewhere along the line they would mail membership cards and/or marketing information. Easier for those with family or a business address in SA, of course.

    The passport/ID info for registration is something typical of SA. People need to complete this in far more situations than in the UK. I regard it as one of those annoying things you have to put up with, like ‘Picture ID’ in the US. 🙁

    The FT thread I mentioned suggests that SA Avios can be combined with BA Avios and IB Avios directly, and hence to if required.

    Presumably RFS reservations can be entered in Manage My Booking at for seat selection and the like, just as I do with redemptions.

  10. Seems to be variable taxes and not fixed. For instance I searched BHD-LHR one way and the taxes came to £33 (£17.50 with RFS) and BHD to MIL return with a ‘free’ connection in LHR came to a whopping £230 of taxes. Not seeing any benefit. Maybe only works from LHR

    • You have not yet earned 1 Avios in your Avios SA account.

      You therefore do not qualify to book Reward Flight Saver tickets, which is why the system doesn’t show them to you.

  11. Could this just be because Avios SA are using an out of date FX rate? 18 months ago 1 Rand was worth approx 0.08p but now it buys nearer 0.06p. The Rand has fallen in value by almost 50% against the pound in the last 2.5 years.

    The other alternative is that perhaps Avios SA didn’t yet impliment the recent increase from £27 to £35 for reward saver bookings.

  12. do you know if there is anyways to book club class flights departing from a regional airport via Normally I would transfer my avios over to BAEC to do it, however, we now have a household account which makes it more complex. I would like to be able to book a ticket in CE vi the site from MAN to VIE without having to call them up! Anyone know if there is a way of getting around this? If only I lived inside the M25……

  13. guesswho2000 says:

    You can transfer from Avios SA to BA now, but if they cotton on and block it, you may be left with Avios stuck in this account…doubtful many would put a huge amount in it from their BAEC account anyway, but may be worth considering?

    • Except … the ability to transfer to BA is a stated benefit of the Avios SA programme ….

      • Except … the ability to hold more than one Avios account is specifically not allowed:

        B.2.2 Multiple Membership is not permitted and each Member must maintain only one account. In the case of duplication of Membership, all Memberships (other than the first Membership approved by us) will be cancelled. Any duplicate Points will be cancelled.

  14. Mike turnbull says:

    Not sure if Avios will start checking up on us…to keep the UK prying eyes out of it, I might move a chunk to Iberia and use them with SA.

  15. Avios (UK) mail out paper confirms when you book. Would SA do the same, and get suspicious when the mail gets returned?

  16. mangrove says:

    Has anyone already successfully booked flights using RFS on the avios website (SA)?
    I’m still waiting for the questionnaire, though.

    • I have! Sorry, meant to update you all on that.

      A week or more ago I transferred the outstanding avios required to my SA account from baec and booked a RFS return for 4. It cost £110 rather than the £140 it would have cost if booked locally, and after the initial confirmation email containing very little of use, I later received an email with a PDF attached – the paperwork that you would normally receive via snail mail here (and why don’t they email it here?). It was simple to add the booking via ref to my baec account and import into award wallet. So, all set!