Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earn Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles at Duty Free with Instamiles

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A few weeks ago a reader (thank you) sent me an email to ask “Do you know that Instamiles has added Avios and Virgin Flying Club as partners?“.

I didn’t, because I had never heard of Instamiles.  Even odder, a search of the entire Flyertalk discussion database – 27 million posts – does not bring up a single mention of it.

This is how it seems to work.  Instamiles, a French company, runs via a smartphone app which signs contracts with major duty free operators to entice you into their stores.  The way it does this is by offering you a bribe of frequent flyer miles to check out the prices of various goods.

The parent company, Hi Duty Free, runs an online service which links up shoppers looking to buy specific duty free items which frequent flyers passing through specific airports.

This is their Heathrow home screen:


Here is a typical task I got:


I would earn 250 Avios or Virgin miles by taking and uploading a photograph of any product from Shiseido, La Prairie, Clarins, Philosophy Coty, Estee Lauder or L’Occitane, along with a second photograph showing the price tag.

The app only works at selected airports.  The only participating airport in the UK is London Heathrow.

Other participating airports are New York JFK, Shanghai, Singapore, Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, Geneva, Beijing, San Diego, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Dubai, Frankfurt, Nice, Lyon, Sydney, Toulouse and Brussels.

Some tasks are broader, for example this one just required a picture of any high value leather, watch or jewellery product:


I gave it a try at Heathrow last week.  I felt a little self concious taking the required photographs, to be honest.  You take the first photograph of the item and then need to wait a few seconds whilst it uploads before you can take the price tag photograph.  Because the photos upload immediately, you need to be logged in to airport wi-fi or have roaming enabled on your phone when outside the UK.

You need to earn 2,500 miles before they are transferred across.  So far, I have been credited with 1,500 miles from my photographs taken last Tuesday – they credited seven days later.  This is despite the fact that their website states that tasks will be validated ‘within 72 hours’.

I should have received 2,000 miles and not 1,500.  I don’t know if another 500 will appear later or if they have disqualified my 500 mile ‘take a photograph of some jewellery’ task – although the task remains greyed out in the app and was completed as required.

I was able to complete another task in Dubai last Friday and that should earn me a further 500 miles.

Apart from Avios and Virgin, supported airline programmes are:

  • Flying Blue
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Turkish Miles & Smiles
  • THAI Royal Orchid Plus
  • TAP Victoria
  • TAM Fidelidade
  • South African Voyager
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Korean SKYPASS
  • JAL Mileage Bank
  • Emirates Skywards
  • China Airlines Dynasty
  • Asiana Club
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Aeroflot Bonus
  • Aeroplan
  • Jet Privilege
  • China Southern Sky Pearl Club
  • China Eastern
  • Asia Miles
  • Delta Skymiles
  • Etihad Guest
  • United Mileage Plus
  • Miles & More
  • American AAdvantage

As I haven’t yet received all the miles I am expecting – or had them successfully transfer to my Avios account – I cannot yet recommend Instamiles as something you should try.  I am simply telling you about my experiences so far.  I will do an update if / when the final miles I am due appear and I am able to do a transfer them across to British Airways.

You can find out more about Instamiles on their website here.

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 (26)

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

  • Waribai says:


    Slightly OT. A friend has just applied for the BA Amex but does not have a BA exec account. I am guessing BA will create a new for them. How will they find out the details of the account? Will they receive something in the post from BA?


    • Peter K says:

      I believe he needs to open one himself!

    • Rob says:

      This is never a great idea because it can weeks, if ever, to find out the account details (BA does not send out Blue cards now). You should always open the loyalty card first!

      Best thing to do here is to open a BA account now and ring Amex to add it once the card has arrived and before the first set of miles are sent over.

  • Pawel says:

    Today morning was 11 offers at LHR now when I,m at T2 only 3 from T5

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Interesting find. I’m at T5 on Sunday and will give it a go.

  • Instamiles-free points for taking photos in Duty Free says:

    […] for fairly simple tasks. QF SQ BA and more. Accessible airports too. Not tried yet but will do. Earn Avios or Virgin miles with Instamiles Reply With […]

  • TigerTanaka says:

    You could have some real fun with this if you worked in an airport shop.

  • @mkcol says:

    Worth checking well in advance. If the airport you’re flying through is not on the list then you can email them to add it.

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

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