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  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, 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.

  • flood says:

    The Mrs and I jumped on about half a dozen long weekend packages using BA flight + hotel over the last 18 months or so. Some very good value to be had. Only niggle is regarding the “bonus” avios that BA advertise prominently with these packages: I’m yet to have these post automatically. They require numerous emails and/or calls and much frustration. In my experience if you don’t chase, you will not receive these bonus avios. Would be interested to hear if others have had a similar or different experience

  • Fenny says:

    That’s lovely as long as you’re flying with someone else. All of BA’s holiday deals seem to be priced for 2 people. I’ve yet to find any way of getting the same price for one person, as the hotel bill is halved in the per person comparison to make it look better.

    • Irons1980 says:

      You just select a flight for 1 person – hotel rooms are usually charged on a per room basis, not a per person anyway

      • Fenny says:

        I tried various combinations of hotel and car hire, but none of the flights are any cheaper for a single person. Single person flight £122. Single person flight plus car hire £188.

        Yes, rooms are charged per room, so the headline rate of £X pp means that it’s more if you’re a single traveler, as the room charge is split in half.

        • Irons1980 says:

          I think the point is that on occasion it’s cheaper – for example, I have had return flights to Amsterdam coming in at £300+ but when booking with a hotel coming in at around £250 or at least the same price as the flight alone (thus saving me the hotel night)

          It doesn’t always work – it’s best to try it when flights are coming in particularly high for a destination you are interested in, especially midweek for business trips.

  • Thunderbirds says:

    This feature of BA ticket classes has been around for some time. In fact when making a booking like this in Club Europe + Car to Malaga or Gibraltar it was possible (Winter 2013/2014) to end up with ~12,500 Avios (with Silver) for £285 which was nice earner for Tier and Avios. The change to 2 Avios per £ (rather than a straight 5,000) and Silver downgrade from end of April just shows how much the develauation has been.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, that flat bonus on 5,000 Avios for any BA Holiday booking was a good one – albeit rather too generous!

      • Thunderbirds says:

        I agree it was generous, but the devaluation of the holiday bonus is what pushed me to switch to Monarch on those routes. Monarch Gold still gives extra legroom seats free. Again a long way from when Monarch Gold used to have extra legroom, preferential check-in and boarding, meal, lounge access and newspapers included. No longer, but usually a lot cheaper than BA for those not needing a connection. How things change.

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

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