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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.

ZAR2

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.

Comair

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 ba.com 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.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (November 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 10,000 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.

  • Roger says:

    When Avios SA was discussed on FlyerTalk a couple of months ago – http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1501066-introducing-avios-south-africa.html – 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 avios.com if required.

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

  • Brendan says:

    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

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • Michael says:

    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.

  • Jamie says:

    do you know if there is anyways to book club class flights departing from a regional airport via avios.com? 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……

  • 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?

    • Rob says:

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

      • Trevor says:

        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.

  • 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.

  • pauldb says:

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

  • mangrove says:

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

    • Trevor says:

      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!

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