Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Reminder: quick summary of the April 28th Avios changes

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

There are only nine days to go to book your flights before the big Avios devaluation kicks in.

I wrote a series of ten articles starting here which explain, in worrying levels of detail, exactly what will happen.  For everyone else, here is a reminder of the key changes which are coming your way in terms of Avios redemptions (there are also changes to Avios and tier point earning rates which are in the articles above):

British Airways 350 2

Economy (Eurotraveller, World Traveller) redemptions are NOT increasing in price.  Because of the new ‘off peak’ and ‘peak’ redemption schedule, some economy rewards will actually get cheaper on off-peak dates.  If you only redeem for economy tickets, you have nothing to worry about ….

…. unless you live in the regions.  BA currently includes domestic connections to Heathrow for free on European redemptions.  Manchester – Heathrow – Nice is charged the same as Heathrow – Nice.  For new bookings from April 28th, you will be charged additional Avios for Manchester – Heathrow.  This will DOUBLE the cost of some European redemptions for regional flyers and the minimum increase will be 9,000 Avios + £35 return.

If you redeem in premium cabins, you have a LOT to worry about.  The biggest devaluation is in Club World (long-haul business class) where redemptions on peak dates will cost 50% more.  Dubai, for example, jumps from 80,000 Avios points return to 120,000 Avios points.

Club World redemptions on off-peak dates (which include every Tuesday and Wednesday) increase by ‘only’ 25%.  However, ALL redemptions on partner airlines will be at peak pricing, whatever day of the year you fly.

In terms of percentage rise, the cost of upgrading from World Traveller Plus (premium economy) to Club World (long-haul business class) is hit even harder.  Whilst the cost varies by route, the number of Avios required for upgrades will rise by 240% in some cases!  A World Traveller Plus to Club World upgrade from London to New York, one way, will jump from 10,000 Avios points to 24,000 Avios points when travelling on an off-peak date.

British Airways lets you book Avios redemptions 355 days ahead.  This means that – if you book on the last possible date on April 27th 2015 – you should see availability through to April 17th 2016. 

As Easter is earlier in 2016, you should be able to lock in all of your trips until and including next Easter at the old rates.

British Airways will let you change the dates of any Avios booking without repricing.  If you know you want to go to New York this year but don’t know exactly when, it may be worth booking approximate dates and paying the £35 change fee later.  This would let you lock in the current pricing.

You cannot change the passenger name, however, nor can you push the date further forward than 12 months from the date you booked.

I will obviously be devoting a lot of space to these changes after implementation day, including a full rewrite of our massive Avios Redemption University series.  This will probably be published in the last week of May when I am in Singapore.

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 (62)

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

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    While us East Coasters has a lot less time to book before the East Coast Rewards devaluation kicked in on 1st March. I still don’t know how the press (with a few notable exceptions) never picked this up, as it was an excellent scheme being turned into useless, whereas the Avios changes, bad as they were, at least still leave a decent scheme for frequent travellers.

    The East Coast Rewards petition is basically there so we have something public we can point at when they say that they listen to customers. If you could sign it then it would help show that we do value a decent loyalty scheme

    The thing was, if Virgin Trains weren’t so clueless about loyalty schemes, they would have adopted a scheme like East Coast Rewards on the west coast too as soon as the contract with Nectar expired. They would have been in a prime position to market themselves to customers who were upset about Avios and maybe won some over to the train. Instead they move East Coast to Nectar so BA is still the most rewarding way between London and Scotland.

    • Frenske says:

      If you decide between plane and train based on the reward scheme rather than price, availibility, comfort, convenience than you must be seriously addicted to points. 😀

      On the serious side the East Coast rewards was ridiculous generous (something like 20% in value). Shame it is gone, but I can understand it.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        The scheme didn’t need to be killed, it was profitable and we had proof (as East Coast was government owned it was subject to the Freedom of Information Act). We found out that the money they made on additional sales to other operators was enough to cover the cost of providing rewards.

        A sensible company would have refined the scheme for their needs rather than scrapping it.

        I can’t see any logic at all in Nectar:
        – FirstGroup already offer it, so anyone who cared would be booking through them already (unlike Virgin, First give points on all purchases).
        – Nectar may run promotions that make the train less attractive. The current 10x offer on fuel makes driving more rewarding than getting the train.
        – Even without taking into account recent Sainsbury’s cutbacks Nectar scored lower than Tesco in every rewards category we tested.

        So to put pressure on East Coast to bring back rewards all you need to do is:
        – Book tickets elsewhere, especially the third party ones, but as their own tickets only have a 2% online discount now I’m moving all bookings away. They earned 5% commission on these bookings, as there’s no incentive to book these with them any more then a drop in sales may make them reconsider.
        – Make sure at a very minimum you’ve emailed VTEC expressing your dissatisfaction
        – Other ideas:

  • Tim Millea says:

    I cannot understand the rationale in devaluing a loyalty scheme. Surely, it is the worst move a company can make – to entice their best customers into a scheme, get them earning points then devalue them?

    I wonder if the cost of Avios to the likes of Tesco has also gone down and if, therefore, we may see the return of generous conversion bonuses in the future, or better still, a permanently higher conversion rate.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      I don’t think BA handled the situation the best, but certainly better than Virgin Trains East Coast.

      At least the BA move doesn’t really affect the high value spenders too much and some would say it’s just BAEC returning to its roots. At one time the cheapest tickets earned nothing.

  • Jason says:

    I think 355 days ahead takes you to April 16th 🙁
    Due to a leap year!

  • Mycity says:

    Hi, here’s a question, what Avios will be charged in this example

    Fly Man to Mia, however I want a stopover in London so fly Man to Heathrow on a Monday (peak) but then Heathrow to Mia on a Tuesday (off peak) will I be charged peak or off peak Avios. Same effect the other way ie Man to Heathrow on a Thursday (off peak) then Heathrow to Mia on a Friday (peak)

    Any ideas anyone

    • Kev says:

      Mycity, just speculating here, but as you can still get free domestic connections when redeeming LH, it may be that the redemption rate is that of the day of the LH flight. Not seen anything about this.

      • JQ says:

        Do you still get free domestic connections when you are stopping in London for more than 24 hours?

        • Rob says:

          Yes. No-one has mentioned that ending – although, on a long-haul, it will increase the taxes as you will be paying the domestic Air Passenger Duty.

      • Mycity says:

        It will be interesting to see what happens, there may be times when you need an overnight to ensure you get the morning flight from Heathrow. It would make sense the redemption rate is the same as that of the LH flight.

    • Rob says:

      I reckon you are charged based on date of long haul but we may need to wait and see.

  • Colin mackinnon says:

    I have a 241 booked edi-Lhr-kul at 355 days out but no return availability cropped up a month later. (So I booked home on Qatar)

    If I availability opens up on ba, will I pay new or old rates to add to my 241.

    Or if I book a BA return on any available date, at today’s avios rate, can I cancel just the return part even after flying the outbound?

    • Angela says:

      I’ve done exactly the same thing one way 241 out Edi-Lhr-kul on ba and home via Singapore on Qatar.
      Did this for the first time this year and can only say that we found Qatar far superior in every way
      If I hadn’t had a 241 would have been Qatar both ways

      • Tim says:

        Angela (and Colin), how did you manage to use your 241 on non-BA metal or are you paying full Avios for the return? My understanding was such that 241’s could only be used for BA flights and not One World aircraft?

        • What's the Point says:

          I think she means that she only used the 2f1 on the outbound, and paid full Avios for the Qatar return

          • Polly says:

            Colin and Angela, did you book the return parts of your tickets on Qatar as part of your 241, or did you pay full QR avios each for the return leg? It would be useful to know if we can’t get back on BA with our 241 we could book it on an alternative routing. Anyone know if this is possible.?

          • Colin MacKinnon says:

            Hi, booked out on BA with 241, paid regular Avios/taxes on QR for return.

            So, if we cancel QR when/if BA availability turns up, we save some Avios (thanks to 241) but pay more in taxes, but save the DOH in-airport hotel stay for the nine hour lay-over.

            Or we go Phuket to HKG, HKG-LHR on Cathay and LHR-EDI on BA. Nice long flight on CX, and no hotel bill, but the hell of LHR and still no 241. And back home the same time as QR.

            Or we finally get KUL, or SIN to LHR-EDI on BA with 241 – but maybe upgrade to F since CW is so [email protected]

            To be frank, the 241 is a bit of a mixed blessing. .(apart from the £150 a year!)

            A good fare ex-DUB to North America beats any Avios deal. To the mid-far-East then there are great sales on QR. South America and it is IB – their business class is the business.

            That leaves BA for South Africa and the Caribbean – where fees are fair enough when you can get a direct flight from LON. But even then IB do great off-peak deals to Panama, Costa Rica, Havana and Miami. All they need is SJU back and it would be perfect!

    • Mycity says:

      I suspect you would pay the new rates but may be wrong. I got lucky with my 241 Man to Singapore out and out of the blue a KUL to Man came up, keep looking as seats do come up unexpected.

    • Rob says:

      You need to do the latter. You can make changes to dates after flying the outbound, not sure about cancellations.

  • dac says:

    Anyone else seeing delays in getting Amex MR points transferred to avios at the moment? Worried ba are purposely delaying until after 28th.

  • MoNkEyMaN says:

    Has anyone any experience of booking for a yet to be born and hence un-named infant? I would like to make a redemption booking for early next year, but one of the passengers will be my child which is due around the end of April. I cant see my wife appreciating me popping out of the labour ward a few minutes after the birth so I can make a booking at the current redemption rates.

    • Rob says:

      Infants only cost 10% of the miles and 10% of the taxes. The saving will be pretty low so I’m not sure its worth the trouble doing it now.

      Some discussion here –

    • signol says:

      With a paid for flight, I was advised to book just the adults, and after the baby is born, phone up and add them to the booking.

    • sn1ke says:

      I had exactly this scenario at the end of last year. We were travelling abroad for a family wedding in December, and my wife was due in Oct/Nov.
      I booked our flights using a 2-4-1 voucher (in F), and then needed to book our baby (who hadn’t yet been born). BA advised that they couldn’t book in an un-born infant (after all, they would need a DOB), but to call up after my wife had given birth (not immediately after!), and then add the child to the booking. As the baby didn’t require a seat, there wouldn’t be any issue with availability.
      GGL Customer Service did add a note to my booking to say that we’d be adding a baby on to it, just so that whoever looked at the booking would be aware.

      So that’s what we did, and it went without a hitch (though there were issues with getting the bassinet seat, which managed to get sorted out in the end)

  • What's the Point says:

    Massive issues trying to book a non-BA redemption yesterday at Kept saying that this part of the site was not working.
    Maybe it was a heavy traffic day?

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.