Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: SWISS sale, Star Alliance HEx upgrade, use Avios for Lapland!

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News in brief:

Decent SWISS sale out of Italy

SWISS business class and, in particular, first class has an excellent reputation.  I was one of the last people to redeem for Swiss First – here is my review – before they changed the rules and restricted to it Miles & More Gold and HON members.

Fares are available to pretty much everywhere except the US.  Bangkok, Delhi, Bombay, Hong Kong, Jo’burg, São Paulo, Singapore etc are included.

Two people must travel together.  You can fly from any Italian airport served by SWISS and open jaw tickets work, so you can fly back to a different Italian city if you want.

A typical return fare is €1,299 per person from Italy to Bangkok in Business.  First Class is an impressive, given the quality of the SWISS product, €2,500 per person.  Other destinations are a little higher but not much.  Johannesburg looks especially good at this level.

You must buy by 22nd May and fly before 28th February 2018.  Remember that you need to search for a price for two people on the SWISS website here.

Heathrow Express

Free Heathrow Express upgrade for Star Alliance Gold

I haven’t mentioned this for ages, so I wanted to remind you that if you have Star Gold status via any of the frequent flyer schemes in the Star Alliance, you can still claim a free First Class upgrade on Heathrow Express.

The link with the offers is here.

Note that in theory you must be travelling on a full-fare Standard Class ticket.  In reality, it seems that most train stuff neither know or care if you took advantage of a discount promotion when buying.


Finnair launching UK services to Lapland

If you’ve ever had a secret wish to visit Lapland, Finnair can make your dream come true this winter.  Even better, you can use Avios to make it happen.  This is an opportunity to try winter activities such as ice fishing, seeing the Northern Lights, skiing, husky safaris and reindeer sleigh rides.

The airline has announced a new route between London Gatwick and Kittilä.  This is in addition to the previously announced Gatwick to Ivalo service.

Flights will operate weekly between 12th December and 20th March.

An economy return to Kittilä will cost 20,000 Avios plus £96 tax – this feels a little pricey so do compare cash prices.  Business class is not available.

how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(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 (71)

  • DS says:

    Air Berlin fly to Arvidsjaur, Sweden from various places (possibly Birmingham? not a direct flight though)
    That is where many of the major car and tyre manufacturers do their winter tests.

  • Jamescg says:

    Apologies OT. A few days ago in a comments section someone helpfully posted a link for upgrading a Gold Amex to Platinum for 20,000 points. I have been unable to google a working link. Does anyone know one. Thanks!

    • Alex W says:

      Send Amex a secure message online.

      • BigDave says:

        you can select the nature of your enquiry about card upgrades on the secure messaging system but it fobs you off by sending you to the application pages and not letting you send a message – you have to spoof a general account enquiry and ask them in the body of the message

      • mark2 says:

        My wife has just got this upgrade but no mention of points on online account. Does this taje a few days?
        Also it happened a couple of days before the statement date and the statement shows a charge of £170 for ‘Supplementary Card Fee Assessed’. Is this in lieu of £450 annual charge or a mistake? When she cancels in July might she get a pro rata of £450?

        • Andrew* says:

          Did she apply for a separate for you in the application despite you already having a supplementary gold card on her existing PRG account?

          The existing supp gets upgraded automatically so requesting a ‘second’ supp becomes chargeable…

          Phone and cancel and they should refund the fee – although (not that I’m still very bitter 😉 ) I did get charged a day’s fee for the supp when the refund went through… 🙂

        • Carl says:

          I upgraded as well and no mention of points. I’ve got pending transactions on the card which should push me over the spending target. I’ll let you know tomorrow if the points point at that point.

        • JP says:

          I did the same you shouldn’t request another supp card when you already have a supp card with your gold card.

          • JP says:

            From the last time I did it it doesn’t say anything about the extra points and they just appear after the £1000 threshold is reached.

          • mark2 says:

            The ‘extra’ supplementary card has now arrived. Finger trouble on my part.
            I will cancel. Thanks for the help – it’s obvious now!

      • Jamescg says:

        Thank you very much.The link worked a treat!

  • Louise says:

    We went to Lapland via finnair a few years ago – but via Helsinki to Ivalo.

    Pleased there is now a direct flight to Ivalo and we would defiantly go back. Stayed in a great log cabin in Saariselka and saw the Northern Lights 3 nights

    • Mike says:

      Been twice – Saaraselka and Levi, both fantastic. Spent Hogmanay / New Year in Levi – best holiday ever. The kids will never forget it, neither will we. The late evening snowmobile forest tour was the highlight. Definitely worth a visit.

      • Genghis says:

        I’ve been considering a Lapland trip. Is it good for two adults or more of a “with kids” thing?

        • Louise says:

          We went as two adults, log cabin with wood burning stove and sauna. Duty free alcohol chilling in the snow outside. Saariselka has a long toboggan run too. Nightime snowmobile trip to see the northern lights.
          Didn’t do the night in the glass igloo as that cost as much for one night as our log cabin cost for 6 nights!

          We will go back with kids

        • JamesB says:

          Good for Big Kids too Genghis. Only downside is that after meeting Rudolph and friends you feel guilty about dinner.

          • Julian says:

            Alternatively anyone who fancies a northern lights trips (I believe late November is meant to be a particularly good time) rather than a lapland/santa trip may fancy taking a look at Norwegian’s new direct winter service from London Gatwick to Tromso Direct Outbounds on Monday (hand luggage only) from November onwards from £72.60 and returns on the Friday from as little as £31.50 (or £15 more each way for a hold bag and allocated seat with Low Fare+), Although to go out on a Friday and back on a Monday is going to be more like £200+

            I also can’t see why the cheapest return is less than half the cost of the cheapest outbound flight.

        • Ro says:

          Lapland is definitely a fantastic place to visit with your partner sans kids.

  • Michael says:

    We often complain about avios from FlyBe nor posting but a few days ago I got the points for two of my flights; one taken in June and one in August! I hadn’t even bothered to chase but at least I’m not up to date.

    • Olivier says:

      I flew only once with Flybe – that was last Wednesday and the Avios posted on Monday

  • John says:

    Anything to do with the end of AZ?

  • N says:

    OT headsup for anyone with expiring flyingblue points. I have 4.5k expiring in a few months and was clicking around trying to work out how to use them without spending them on tat from the flyingblue shop.

    You can redeem them at a pretty good rate with pointshound for discounts off cash rates at hotels.

    One check I did brought a nightly rate down from £105pn down to £69 + 2000 points per night.

    Not bad for points I’d written off the value of!

    • JamesB says:

      Good tip, thanks.

    • Mzungu says:

      Another useful factor might be that Flying Blue have just increased the validity of their points to 2 years (from 20 months IIRC), so that may help. It also applies retrospectively, which I didn’t expect.

      I have c18k points which were due to expire at the end of May, and no likelihood of taking a flight with them before September. The expiry initially still showed as end of May, so I messaged them, and they confirmed that I was OK until end of September. My account now shows end of Sept. (I don’t think this was due to messaging them), and I have a flight in Sept., so I’ll be in the clear for another 2 years.

  • Gavin says:


    It seems that PayQwiq is giving out more than 10x 50 clubcard points, I’ve just earnt my 11th lot of 50 points. Might be worth a few trips before the promotion ends

    • Scott says:

      Surprised to hear you’ve had your points credited. I’ve had none and an enquiry to Club card got the response that they would all be added in line with May’s end of period processing.

      • Crafty says:

        You’ve been shafted, mine always arrive shortly after the transaction

  • @mkcol says:

    KTT is a great wee airport, admittedly it’s a couple of decades since I went there – first on a travel agent’s educational for 3 nights with Inghams to visit Levi (where we stayed), Yllas & down to Santaland in Rovaniemi, then again the following winter for a week’s skiiing holiday again based in Levi with my boyfriend, best friend & my mum – so I can confirm you definitely don’t need to have kids with you to enjoy a holiday in Levi/Finnish Lapland as there is so many different non-skiing activities to do.
    I seem to recall it was only about 20 minutes on a coach from Kittila to Levi.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Agree with this. Airport is small so very easy to navigate. Transfer buses are there for plane arrivals and take you into Levi in 15-20 minutes. Very quick and easy. You can even buy your transfer tickets on the bus using a card.

      We spent Feb half-term in Levi. We flew Norwegian Gatwick to Helsinki and Helsinki to Kittila for about £200 return per person with checked bags each. Very enjoyable trip!