Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: exclusive Avios hotel redemption deals, 50% bonus miles on Virgin West Coast, BA to Tehran

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News in brief:

Exclusive Avios hotel redemption deals

I have agreed with Avios that they will tip me off about their most aggressive hotel redemption deals.  You can book these hotels via using your points, but you can also pay in cash if necessary.

These are exclusive Avios deals and are priced at 40% – 70% less than you would pay on Expedia for the same hotel.  I was sent the comparison data but I won’t bore you with it.

If you are heading to any of the following places, it is worth pricing up these hotels on this weekend:

Hotel Mundial, Lisbon (4-star)

Nira Caledonia, Edinburgh (5-star)

Casa Nicolo Priuli, Venice (3-star)

1 Hotel South Beach, Miami (5-star)

The Crane, Barbados (5-star)

Virgin Trains

50% bonus Flying Club miles with Virgin West Coast trains

Until 3rd March, Virgin West Coast is giving a 50% bonus on Flying Club miles.  You will earn 3 miles per £1, instead of the usual 2.

This applies only to Advance tickets, but both East Coast and West Coast are included. You only need to book by this date, not travel.  The West Coast home page is here.


British Airways relaunches Tehran service

Finally, British Airways will resume flights to Tehran on 14th July.

It will begin as a six day a week service, increasing to a seven day service from the start of the Winter timetable.  It will use a four-class Boeing 777.

The problem with Iran, of course, is that you are no longer allowed to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme if you have visited the country.  This is likely to prove a stumbling block for many potential travellers.  I am assuming that BA cabin crew travel on business visas which, I think, exempt you from the US block.

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 (22)

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

  • Talay says:

    Regarding Tehran and the USA Visa Waiver Programme, could one not utilise the dual passport scenario or does technology these days mean that Iranian immigration (or airlines flying you to Iran) routinely report your whereabouts to the USA as a matter of course ?

    If so, then are we all being permanently tracked by the USA in case we later decide we wish to visit ?

    • John says:

      Wouldn’t try using a dual passport. The new Esta application includes questions about dual nationality. Took me much longer to fill in than before.

      If you’ve been to the countries concerned, you’ll have to apply for a visa or go to Canada instead (though they’ve just introduced Estas as well, although not so far with the Iran, Syria etc restrictions).

      • Talay says:

        UK residents can have two UK passports, useful for Israel / Arab countries and when applying for visas to countries where the application time is elongated and you need to travel prior to receipt of your original passport.

        I do not know about dual nationality requests.

        • John says:

          If the UK knows you have been somewhere (which they will do if you use this BA service), then the US knows. I suspect that in less than a year or so the US will be able to check this live when you apply for an ESTA. If you get into secondary when entering the US they will probably find out as well.

          I don’t think Iran reports anything to the US.

          There’s nothing to know about dual nationality requests except that the US asks you when you apply for an ESTA.

          If you want to be a liar and fraudster then do so by all means. Personally I am more inclined to visit Iran than the US nowadays.

  • Mike says:

    I’d have thought it’s more that BA crew have US Visas and so never have to use the ESTA system in the course of their work.

    • Jordan D says:

      Correct. Crew have a D type visa, so don’t use an ESTA for working to/from the US.

      However – there is a grey area whether they would then be in valid for an ESTA for personal travel because of a work trip to Iran.

  • Waribai says:

    I remember visiting Cuba in the 90’s before any thawing of relationships with the US. Immigration would stamp and staple a slip of paper into your passport. I imagine Tehran is similar?!

  • Eleanor says:

    Raffles, on the Avios hotel redemptions do you have the date range these deals apply? Very interested in Miami for November but it’s coming up at 60,700 Avios. Can’t see it on the ‘current offers’ page either.

  • IvoK says:

    Totally OT, and apologies if this has already been noted here, but it seems that all Aer Lingus flights operated by Stobart Air from regional airports are now available as BA codeshares from Specifically for me, and others in the East Midlands, it means it is finally possible to earn Tier Points out of EMA. Perfect timing for position for an ex-DUB HNL summer holiday that was booked last month for July/August.

    • Alan says:

      Agree – direct EDI-DUB now showing up on too, although pretty pricey – £100 one-way (seems to be base pricing over lots of days), when I paid the same but for a return flight including a bag! Also (as expected) not showing up as redemptions.

  • Tilly71 says:

    So I done a dummy booking for the Crane in June, no difference in the amount of Avios required to the same amount of days, same board in May?

    • Pr99 says:

      The article did not say the offer was only running in June. Just that Raffles was shown an example in June. Try looking at the value per Avios compared with or Expedia was quoted, can’t be bothered myself but you should be looking at value per Avios compared with price in an independent source to check if this is accurate and Avios has a special deal.

    • Rob says:

      Are you comparing it with Expedia pricing though? I can try to find the original email later.

  • Howard says:

    I am in South Beech for 3 nights in late September. Looking out for something nice.

  • harry says:

    4000 clubcard points with Tesco home & contents insurance, can’t find the link but reported elsewhere

    • harry says:

      Tilly71 says:
      6 February 2016 at 1:43 pm

      4,000 clubcard points for “new customers with a clubcard” with buildings and contents insurance with Tesco Bank. Not available online – have to call and quote ‘H4000GR’. Valid until 29th April 2016.

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

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