Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Save on BA short-haul flights by throwing in a car or hotel on top

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Reader Theo recently emailed me to explain how he had saved a decent amount on a weekend break in Rome by adding a car to his booking via ba.com.  Similar savings can be made by throwing in a hotel.

The key point is this – you don’t need to collect the car, you don’t need to stay in the hotel.  Nothing bad will happen to you.  British Airways will certainly not cancel your flight home.

The reason this works is that BA has a separate ticket class which can only be accessed when it is packaged with a car or hotel.  If the price gap between this ‘secret’ ticket class and the cheapest tickets offered to the public is big enough, large savings can be made.

Here is an example.  I didn’t ‘fix’ these results by picking the best example I could fine – this is the first one I tried.  Note that I did this experiment on the March 10th so these prices may not be available now.

Flight only, British Airways to Rome, 8th to 10th May:   £501 for two people

Screenshot below.  The flight price is high but I have picked the perfect Friday AM / Sunday PM economy flights to maximise your weekend away.  Note that the same flights are used in all of the examples below.

Flight only 2

Same flights but add in the smallest car which you do not bother to collect:  £412 for two people, saving £89

Car and flight 2

You also receive 824 bonus Avios when you take this option, on top of the usual Avios earned.

Same flights but add in the cheapest hotel which you do not bother to use:  £487 for two people, saving £14

Hotel 2

You also receive 974 bonus Avios when you take this option, on top of the usual Avios earned.  You could even stay in the hotel if you wanted – or, of course, pay a little extra and get somewhere smarter or more central.

An extra bonus

The £501 cash price I quoted for this trip in the first example was based on ‘hand baggage only’ fares.  As well as no suitcase, these fares no longer allow you to select a seat.

If you book a ‘flight and car’ or ‘flight and hotel’ package, you are actually sold a standard flight ticket which includes luggage.  If you have British Airways status, this ticket would also allow you free seat selection which you cannot now get with ‘hand baggage only’ fares.

The lesson is clear – next time you book a short-haul flight on ba.com, make sure you compare the price with a car or a hotel included.  You might actually save money!


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 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 BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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 BA Amex American Express card

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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of 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 card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (37)

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

  • Alan says:

    Some nice deals there – do you know if these are all ex-London only, Rob, or have BA for once realised they have potential customers elsewhere in the UK? 😉 I’ve looked at some of their deals before but certainly the weekend ones only seemed to let you look at ex-LON

  • Ian says:

    Does this only work for international flights? I’ve just tried a dummy booking on a domestic flight and, although the car hire cost was ridiculously cheap (£25 for 3 days), it was still resolutely showing a Hand Baggage only allowance for the flights.

  • Mikee says:

    Heathrow to JFK 20-23rd April in Economy, with out car £1200, with car £615

  • Tim says:

    The ability to choose seats on a non-HBO fare applies to all regardless of status. It is just that those with higher status can choose earlier. But a non-status passenger can still choose at checkin unless they are on HBO fare.

  • C77 says:

    It’s also worthwhile checking flight+car/hotel when purchasing long haul midweek seat only fares where by default you will only be eligible for the fully flexible Y/W fare. WT and WT+ have worked in the past for me in this way.

  • Irons1980 says:

    But important to note, you won’t earn status / points on the hotel stay if it’s part of a chain and you do choose to stay in the hotel

    • Peter Taysum says:

      Would it not give points with Hilton as they are a BA partner?

      Cheers, Peter

  • tony says:

    Probably worth adding that this isn’t unique to BA either. For many years travel agents like Trailfinders have offered Inclusive Tour or “IT” fares. They can offer you a cheaper price for the flight if you take some ground arrangements from them, although every fare seems to be different – some you just need to book a hotel for a couple of nights, with others you have to have a car for the entire duration etc.

  • RT says:

    Doesn’t work for LCY to EDI! 🙁

    • tony says:

      I’ve found for Scotland, taking the last flight from Gatwick then a late afternoon return to city can be a complete bargain! You get the whole thing for less than just the flights and no need for a taxi to the airport at sparrow’s fart. ..

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

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