Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.

Avios wing 9

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.

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.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (38)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Neilc says:

    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?

    • John says:

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

      • Trevor says:

        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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • Polly says:

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

    • Zoe says:

      If you try to log in using your normal Avios Username you are redirected to the UK site.

    • Nick. says:

      Raffles has clearly opened up an account. That’s how he knows and that’s how he’s got the screen shot. I might open one as there’s nothing to lose.

  • Zoe says:

    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.

    • Trevor says:

      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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • James67 says:

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

    • John says:

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

      • John says:

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

        • Trevor says:

          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.

        • Rob says:

          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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • John says:

    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…?

  • Trevor says:

    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.

  • Nick says:

    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…

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