Avios changes 1: understanding the new tier point rules
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The changes to, and devaluation of, Avios / British Airways Executive Club announced yesterday are hugely complex. In this 10 part series, spread over a number of days, I will look at all the key issues to help you decide how badly impacted you are.
Key link: ‘Club Changes’ page on ba.com
Here are the other articles in this series you may have missed:
2. Understanding the new earning rates
3. Understanding the new spending rates
4. What is an Avios point worth after April 28th?
5. Exploiting the ‘no repricing on date changes’ rule
6. Why are off-peak upgrades now more expensive than peak?
7. Save 43% of your Avios on long-haul redemptions if you fly Iberia
8. Partner redemptions may be cheaper if booked on iberia.com
9. What will happen to airline partner earning rates?
10. Are you a winner or a loser overall?
There are three moving parts – changes in tier points, Avios earning and Avios spending. Each of you is impacted in a different way. If the bulk of your Avios points come from American Express and Tesco, for example, the earning changes are less important. Someone who earns all their Avios from business travel will be less concerned about changes in the value of an Avios (as they all came as a free by-product) but may worry more about their BA status.
This article will look at changes to British Airways tier points.
The first point to note is that the current thresholds remain unchanged. Bronze is 300 tier points, Silver is 600 tier points and Gold is 1500 tier points.
There are two changes to the tier point structure.
The first is that the London City to New York JFK ‘all business class’ service will no longer earn First Class tier points. This is an acceptable change – it was brought in as a promotional device when the route was launched and, to be honest, I don’t think anyone expected it to last this long.
The second is that the cheapest economy seats (Q, O, G fare buckets) will only earn 25% of the standard tier point rate instead of the current 50%.
I genuinely struggle to see the logic behind this. A London-Manchester flight will now earn just 5 tier points each way for the lowest priced tickets! A return economy flight to Johannesburg will earn just 35.
BA seems to believe that making someone fly 18 round-trips in economy to Johannesburg in order to earn a Silver card for lounge access is reasonable. I don’t.
Luckily for the regular London to Manchester flyer, you won’t have to do 120 segments to earn Silver because the ’50 flights to earn Silver’ rule still exists. So why cut the tier points in the first place?
If you thought these changes were purely about cutting BA’s Avios liability, the tier point changes make no sense.
For a very large number of travellers – those who are obliged to book the cheapest possible economy ticket – they will never be able to achieve BA status again. Remember that there is nothing that these people can do about it. Your employer will never sanction the cost of a more expensive ticket in the same travel class just to earn some more tier points.
We then come to Priority Pass, Lounge Club etc.
The lack of a third party lounge in Terminal 5 always seemed to be a benefit for BA. I’m not sure that is still the case.
Stansted is about to get a (presumably very smart) lounge in the main building to replace No 1 Traveller. Gatwick has an excellent No 1 Traveller lounge in both terminals. All of these are Priority Pass lounges. On long-haul, there are EXCELLENT Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 2 (Plaza Premium) and Terminal 4 (SkyTeam). I haven’t been in the Servisair Terminal 3 lounge so cannot comment on that one. Switching to a competing airline in a different terminal is a way to get lounge access back.
If you know that you have no chance of achieving BA status on your ‘economy only’ flying pattern, defecting to easyJet or Ryanair and convincing your employer to spring for a Priority Pass – easily offset by the flight savings – is not a bad option.
Complaining to your employer that you don’t want to fly a certain airline because it awards fewer miles is never going to get you far. Complaining that you cannot work properly in the airport because you will no longer be able to retain Silver status for lounge access is a different matter.
One way around the tier point changes is to credit your flights to another oneworld airline and gain status with them.
I will take a look at some of the options over the next few weeks. The downside is that you will end up with your miles being credited to that programme as well – although as an economy-only flyer you won’t be sacrificing much.
Click for the next article – understanding the new earning rates
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2023)
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 Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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 famous annual 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
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
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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 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.