Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: beat AwardWallet’s price hike, £1500 UK to Sydney or Melbourne flights still bookable

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News in brief:

Last chance to beat AwardWallet’s sharp price hike

There is only one miles and points tool that I use every day – and have done for a number of years – and that is AwardWallet.

AwardWallet allows you to store the log-in and password details for pretty much all of the loyalty programmes you are in. It isn’t just travel, either – Nectar, Boots Advantage, Tesco Clubcard, Harrods Rewards …. they cover over 680 programmes from across the world.

Across their entire membership, they are tracking over 93 BILLION miles and points.

You can store programmes for various different people inside one AwardWallet account. When I log in, I see over over 60 different accounts across my family.

You can sit and back and do nothing with AwardWallet if that is how you want to play it. Once a week, AwardWallet will automatically log in to each of your programmes and update your balance. It will then send you a weekly email with all of your balance changes.

For the more obsessive, like myself, you can log in to AwardWallet and simply click ‘Update’. AwardWallet goes off and updates all of your ‘active’ balances immediately (it takes 3-4 minutes to check my active ones). On a PC you can leave it running in another window.  Even faster is the impressive app.

If you are not already a member of AwardWallet, you can sign up for free here.

From 1st February, AwardWallet will be increasing the charge for its premium service from $10 per year to $30 per year.  Premium members get the expiry date of their points tracked and email warnings sent out if miles are heading towards expiry.  The app also runs faster as it searches for multiple results in parallel rather than one scheme at a time.

If you upgrade to AwardWallet Plus before 1st February you will be grandfathered onto the ‘$10 per year’ plan for life.

If you have a free AwardWallet subscription I would recommend paying $10 to upgrade to Plus NOW.  You may or may not find the added benefits useful but you have a year to decide before your next $10 is due and you will have secured yourself grandfather rights to the $10 fee.

For clarity, if you are currently on Plus due to redeeming a free code then you will NOT be grandfathered onto the $10 plan.  You need to pay $10 before 1st February to push out the expiry of your current Plus membership by 12 months.  You don’t lose anything as they simply add 12 months to whenever your trial period was due to end.


Malaysia Airlines £1500 Sydney / Melbourne deal still available

The Qatar Airways sale may finally be over, but the other exceptional UK travel deal at the moment is still bookable until 31st January.

Via Expedia, you can book London to Sydney or Melbourne in Malaysia Airlines business class for just £1,500 return.

To get this price you MUST book a ‘flight and hotel’ package.  If you select the cheapest hostel option for just one night (select ‘I only want a hotel for part of my trip’) it will cost exactly £1,507 for one person to Sydney.  You do not need to stay in the hostel and your return flight will not be cancelled if you don’t turn up.

Remember that Malaysia Airlines is a oneworld alliance member so your flights earn Avios and British Airways tier points.  Australia would be 600 tier points return (140 + 160 + 160 + 140) which is a BA Silver card, albeit you’d still need to have flown 4 BA flights in your current card year before you were upgraded.

Between London and Kuala Lumpur you will get an A380, with an A330 onwards on most routes.  The A330 business class seat is the latest version and has some very attractive solo window seats as the seating plan on this page of the Malaysia website shows.

Bangkok, Phuket and Bali are also available for around £1,100 return.  You may want to try other Asian destinations too.

Pop over to Expedia and have a play around.  It is VERY easy to find dates later in the year.  You must travel by 26th November 2017.

best credit card to use when buying flights

How to maximise your miles when paying for flights (July 2024)

Some UK credit cards offer special bonuses when used for buying flights. If you spend a lot on airline tickets, using one of these cards could sharply increase the credit card points you earn.

Booking flights on any airline?

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold earns double points (2 Membership Rewards points per £1) when used to buy flights directly from an airline website.

The card comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points. These would convert to 20,000 Avios or various other airline or hotel programmes. The standard earning rate is 1 point per £1.

You can 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

Buying flights on British Airways?

The British Airways Premium Plus American Express card earns double Avios (3 Avios per £1) when used at

The card comes with a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Avios. The standard earning rate is 1.5 Avios per £1.

You do not earn bonus Avios if you pay for BA flights on the free British Airways American Express card or either of the Barclaycard Avios Mastercards.

You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

30,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

Buying flights on Virgin Atlantic?

Both the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard and the annual fee Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard earn double Virgin Points when used at

This means 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 on the free card and 3 Virgin Points per £1 on the paid card.

There is a sign-up bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points on the free card and 18,000 Virgin Points on the paid card.

You can apply for either of the cards here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Comments (81)

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

  • Stephen says:

    The Malaysian deal is a superb one, although I can only get the £1.5k price to work (with one night accommodation) for a maximum stay (outbound/inbound date) of 3 weeks. It seems that this appears to be part of the deal/offer as no matter what outbound date I put in through Expedia, as soon as I select one nights accommodation too, it greys out the return flight date options greater than 3 weeks time. Ideally I’m looking for a 4 week stay in Australia mid Steptember through to mid October. Unless anyone has found a way around this? Thank you.

  • Trev says:

    “if you are currently on Plus due to redeeming a free code then you will NOT be grandfathered onto the $10 plan” – not from my experience, if you subscribe before the 1st Feb you will be charged at $10 from when your code expires.

    Quote from the email I received:

    “Thank You!
    You have successfully scheduled to pay $10 for Order ID: XXXXXXX,
    Your Order
    AwardWallet Plus yearly subscription 1 year, starting from 26/01/2018 (payment was scheduled, not yet processed)”

    • TimS says:

      What I Rob is trying to make clear is that if you are currently only on the Plus plan due to a free code, you won’t move on to the grandfathered rate *unless you pay for a $10 subscription prior to 1/2/17* (which is what you did and what Rob is encouraging people to do.)

      • Trev says:

        You don’t actually pay before 01/Feb if your code doesn’t expire until after that but you DO need to subscribe before then is perhaps what should be made clearer

    • Stuart says:

      I am a little confused by this wording, I read it as – don’t wait for the redemption of the code to end before paying ?
      I have just logged in to AW to upgrade/set up a subscription, the page states $30 with a $20 discount as an early supporter, so my question is – will this be the $10 per year option ?

  • Concerto says:

    I’ve always been reluctant to join AW because so far I have managed fine and I have never been hacked. Now, I’m sure AW is fine, but this version of the Internet is such crap technology that you can never be completely sure. Think I’m going to struggle on the way I am!

    • Rob says:

      Here is the gamble you take:

      Risk that AW gets hacked and that your points are spent AND USED (ie a flight flown, not just booked) in the 24 hours before AW notices your balance has changed


      Track your own balances and risk that, say, someone hacks your IHG account which you only check once a month and where the hacker has had plenty of time to book and stay.

      • Andrew says:

        If someone hacks your IHG account I’d expect IHG to put things right no matter how long it took to spot since they’d be to blame. If someone hacked AW and took all your points I’d expect IHG to be distinctly unsympathetic since you’ve given your credentials to a completely unknown third party.

        I have a free AW account and love the convenience of it but I probably should really close it. Security wise it’s a ticking timebomb. Hacking AW would be more lucrative than hacking an average bank and at least you’d expect to get your money back if your bank account was compromised. AW make no such guarantees and the airlines, hotels and shopper loyalty schemes are unlikely to help either.

        • Rob says:

          But AW has an option to store all your data locally on your computer if you prefer – but this means you can’t update it on the go via your phone.

          I am far happier seeing my balances twice a day vs leaving them unmonitored but I see both sides. Their security is very strong, if you are techy minde there is a full breakdown of what they do (none of which I understand) on their site.

          • Andrew says:

            I am indeed techy minded and although their website makes it sound impressive any level of security is meaningless unless backed up by a guarantee. AW’s T&Cs go out of their way to excuse themselves from any liability:


            Vulnerabilities have been discovered after years in very well established security protocols and will be again. Ultimately AW themselves have the ability to view completely unencrypted copies of all of their users’ logins (they have to to be able to log in and check balances). More than an outside hack the real risk is a rogue employee.

            AW is a great idea but users should be aware that there’s a very small chance they could lose thousands of pounds worth of points with no hope of recompense.

          • Rob says:

            But that dislaimer is meaningless, because the company couldn’t afford to recompense people in the wake of a massive hack (how much money do you reckon they make at $10 per premium user per year?!). Would you be happier if they promised to cover all your losses, even though the fact they made such a promise would mean then would be forced to declare insolvency – as they would be technically insolvent due to the liability – as soon as they had a breach?

          • Aeronaut says:

            @Andrew… I agree this is the risk one takes with AwardWallet.

            But it’s also the risk one takes using a password manager such as LastPass, which is something that more and more security bods seem to be suggesting that regular internet users do.

            (I’ll add that I haven’t taken an in-depth look at how LastPass manages matters compared to AwardWallet… am still at the stage of thinking I should get round to using LastPass, but I haven’t yet knowingly suffered a hacked account so the motivation is perhaps lacking…)

      • Brian says:

        I don’t think anybody would be stupid enough to hack a miles account and use the miles for stays or flights. They’d go for things like Amazon gift vouchers – instant redemption type things that can be spirited away into the ether without trace.

        • Andrew says:

          Several hacks of BAEC have been reported where avios have been used for hotels in Russia and elsewhere

        • Craig Bell says:

          I use both LastPass to store ALL my passwords and now I use AW too and again store my loyalty passwords there too. I use two-factor authentication on both accounts, it’s going to be difficult to hack my LastPass and AW accounts and using LastPass as my primary password keeper ensures each of my 200+ online accounts has unique complex passwords.

          • zsalya says:

            Two-factor authentication is definitely stronger, but is not necessarily going to stop a rogue employee, or a hack which has extracted all the security information at whichever end.
            When using the internet, it’s not your actual finger/iris sent for matching – it’s the digital version of it which can be mimicked.

            I conclude that the whole idea of storing passwords centrally is a flawed concept.

          • Rob says:

            …. as is keeping them on a sheet of paper in your desk though!

      • Alan says:

        Also worth reminding everyone to turn on two-factor authentication for your AW account to make it even less likely to be hacked! Wish Amazon UK had this (US does), but I’ve got it active on Google, MS, Dropbox, FB, AW, etc. – minimal hassle for a good extra amount of security.

  • Frenske says:

    $30 per year!!! And I found $10 a bit too steep for bit of tracking of points.

  • Mike says:

    You don’t need to pay $10 now. Just subscribe. The article is wrong.

    BTW I can see little point in two people having paid for accounts. One is fine for a couple, unless I am missing something? Am I correct?

    • TimS says:

      One is fine for a whole family if you like! I track all of my household’s accounts throuhg my one awardwallet subscription.

      • Rob says:

        The article is correct as far as I know:

        The free version of AW will remain free (but I expect them to reduce functionality to make people trade up)

        The paid version will cost $30 per year rather than $10

        If you move to Paid by 1st Feb you retain the $10 plan for life

        However, moving to Paid by using a 6 month free trial code does not count. To get the grandfathered rate going forward you must pay $10 by 1 Feb. Anyone on a free trial of Paid gets a 1 year extension to their current expiry date so they don’t lose anything.

        • Temp says:

          Hi Rob, when I try to upgrade (on mobile) it directs me to paying £3 via the Google Play store. Do you know what will happen in this case?

          • Liz says:

            When I upgraded a few weeks ago it automatically took me to iTunes so I paid that way – cost me £3.99.

          • Rob says:

            No idea, sorry. I presume it works as that sounds roughly like $5 for 6 months.

        • Aeronaut says:

          “If you move to Paid by 1st Feb you retain the $10 plan for life”

          Obvious point perhaps, but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it lasting in perpetuity. That’s no reason not to go for it of course.

          • Rob says:

            I agree. The point still stands, though, which is that you won’t be worse off by spending $10 this week and could potentially – over a number of years – make a decent saving.

        • Jon says:

          Hi Rob, I think I must be missing something – just downloaded AW and appear to be on a three-month Plus trial, but can’t find anywhere that would let me subscribe / pay, only an “Upgrade using a coupon” option on the web site (but not on the app). Any ideas? Thanks.

          • Anne says:

            Same here. I appear to have automatically been given a plus account after registering, as there’s a ‘plus’ banner in the top left corner. I can’t find any way to subscribe/pay, I just see the “free upgrade coupon for first time users” box.

          • Anne says:

            Ah, just found it when I look at my profile.

  • PB says:

    I can not see how you would get 160 tier points for KUL_SYD ?

    • Neil says:

      You don’t. You get 160 for London to KUL and 140 for KUL-Sydney. So 600 for the return.

  • Steve says:

    I find AW a pain to use, so stopped,

    It has constant problems logging into some accounts, and can’t do captcha. I am hoping that new Bink app keeps improving. It is already better at getting my avios balance than AW is.

  • Mark says:

    O/T I completed 4 stays using my Barclays Hilton CC at Hilton properties but didn’t recieve my 2500 points bonus , who do I chase Barclays or Hilton ? Anybody know ?

    • scott says:

      They take an age to come and for me they tracked on stays 14-18 with the card so totally off base when it should have been 1-4.

    • mark2 says:

      I had a very long battle with both but was determined to get them. It took a long time (but I am retired) and got points and compensation from both in the end.

    • Liz says:

      Our first one tracked straight away – the other 3 we had to chase up – I did it via secure message with Barclaycard – we ended up getting 20000 HH pts in the end so worth pursuing.

    • Tom says:

      I received the 2500 for stay number 1 and stay number 3, but not stay number 3 – currently lodged with HH via the Diamond line and awaiting response.

      • Alan says:

        In general my previous experience was that you’re better to chase via Barclaycard as they tend to be more generous with compensation 😀

    • Calz says:

      I had this problem with stay number one but stay two posted the following day after check out. After 8 weeks of waiting on stay one I contacted Barclaycard. They said they couldn’t help and I would have to contact HH to chase the points. They agreed it wasn’t clear who to chase and without me asking, awarded me £25 credit on my card for my time (fair play Barclaycard, a very nice gesture). I then chased HH via their online chat. They opened up a case and it was appalling service. They said I had paid with cash and wasn’t eligible. I had to send them my credit card statement and they finally agreed their system had logged it incorrectly. 2,500 points were promised and a reference number given…but had to chase again, I then got the same story that I had paid with cash and they had no notes under my reference number. As I was getting upset they lodged the points that evening but called it a “one-time exception”. I still didn’t think this was right but decided not to fight further as I got the points. took far too long to sort

    • Alan says: your best route IME

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