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 from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

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

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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)

  • Hingeless says:

    i’ll try it at Sydney on Friday

    • Hingeless says:

      Only 1 challenge available in Sydney, I’ll spend my time in the F lounge instead 🙂

  • Frenske says:

    Sounds like there is very little effort for so many points.

  • Talay says:

    I can’t imagine what the herds of commission hungry sales alligators and jackboot security will have to say about streams of HfP members scanning and photographing expensive items in duty free ?

    Rob, I think you may have unleashed the hounds !

    • Simon says:

      Will need to be careful most stores won’t allow or are against taking photos of the sales goods , especially in Asia , where it’s common customers take a photo and then get a item or copy made locally.

      • Andrew says:

        I think in this world of Instagram it’s quite common and acceptable to take pictures of products. I’m often encouraged to do so in Harrods when I’m considering an item.

      • Genghis says:

        “I just need to see what my wife / daughter / gran thinks of the item”

        • Anna says:

          I’m always doing that anyway for friends who want perfume and other goodies. I’ve got 3 trips through Heathrow this year and I also need to hit the £150 Heathrow Rewards spend x 2 so might see if I can incorporate this. Does anyone know where the Hi shop is in T5 and/or T3?

  • Frenske says:

    If you want to be sneaky and in Zaventem (Brussel): you can buy an Omega watch plus Delvaux handbag, take a picture of the receipt, submit to Instamiles and return the items. Should generate ~11000 Avios.

  • VJ says:

    OT: I’ve a spending target in hand (amex) and looking to buy a season ticket on TFL. Do any one know how advance I can buy and when it will hit the credit card statement.

    • Genghis says:

      You can buy a travel card to start in a month’s time IIRC. The spend will hit your statement in perhaps a couple of days’ time with the points posted soon thereafter.

  • @mkcol says:

    That’s handy as I have LHR & LAX coming up in my PTY TP run in a fortnight 🙂

  • Scottydogg says:

    Ive got Heathrow and Hong Kong airport in the next week . Ive just downloaded the app
    One of the ‘missions’ on my Heathrow one is to go into the Spa and take a picture of some travel cushion !

  • Anna says:

    This could be the new Pokémon…

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