Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earn free travel with the National Express loyalty scheme

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National Express has recently expanded its loyalty scheme to cover far more routes so we thought it was time to take a look.  If nothing else, you might use them on a regular basis to get to or from an airport.

To be honest travel by coach doesn’t seem too tempting – though when I came to London 7 years ago I took a bus from Hamburg to London simply because I wanted to bring more luggage than the airlines allowed.  It wasn’t a lot of fun.  Rob also speaks fondly of hours hanging around Digbeth during his student days ….

National Express loyalty reward scheme reviewed

A few weeks ago I got to ride a National Express coach once more when my flight to Luton was delayed and I missed the last train. The coaches have had an overhaul since I last took one with improved seats and air conditioning so the ride was rather pleasant – and not too long.

What I found out later is that National Express also has a loyalty scheme, which has recently been expanded with the addition of a lot more qualifying routes.

How it works

The National Express loyalty scheme is as straight forward as a coffee card and possibly more lucrative.

For every booking on one of the qualifying routes you will get one point.

Once you’ve made ten qualifying bookings, you get a free return trip.

How to get more than a 10% return on your spending

In theory this gets you a 10% return.  However, the trick appears to be to book a return trip as two separate bookings.  You will then receive two qualifying bookings towards your free return journey, which effectively means a 20% return.

Qualifying London airport trips include:

Gatwick to Bristol and Cardiff,

Heathrow to London Victoria, Cardiff, Southampton, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Chippenham, Cirenster, Gloucester, Swindon and Taunton,

Luton to eight stops within London

as well as various other routes within the UK.

The full list of routes included is here.

How to join

You must sign up for the National Express loyalty scheme (which has no name!) before making your first booking on this sign up page.

Once you’ve made ten bookings on qualifying routes with the same registered email address, you will receive a voucher code to use for your free return trip.

(Be very careful to use the same email address on every booking, because you cannot change it afterwards.  You won’t earn any reward points if the original email address used does not match your registered address.  Similarly, you cannot change your registered email address so do not use a company one unless you have good job security!)

Once you’ve earned 10 points, your free return trip must be booked on this special website.  Once booked, you can change the date on your free ticket for a £5 fee but cannot cancel it.

You can only redeem on one of the routes which allows you to earn points.

There is only catch which could prove troublesome.  Your free journey must be booked within 30 days of receipt of your free journey email voucher which itself will arrive a few days after your 10th trip is completed.  You do not need to travel within 30 days but you must book.

The only excluded dates for redemptions are bank holidays, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Comments (12)

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  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I used National Express for the first time ever a couple of years ago for the short journey from Manchester airport to Liverpool. I was very impressed by the coach. It’s a good alternative to train travel.

  • the real harry1 says:

    last time I used NE was in 2006 when I needed to get up to London (from Cornwall) to pick up my 4×4 which I had imported from NZ

    it was a thoroughly awful experience with terrible everything – seats, loos, rude people, smelly, noisy, no sleep

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I recommend you also keep well clear of all budget airlines, pretty much all of the Med, and economy longhaul.

      • the real harry1 says:

        no problem with 3 hrs cramped to get somewhere sunny on the cheap but this was more like 8 uncomfortable hrs including the middle of the night change, hanging about and stopping seemingly everywhere

        also no problem with LH economy (though it’s been a few years!) as I never had any problem sleeping after a few bevvies 🙂 – having said that, all my most recent flights we got bulkhead because of the kids so always plenty of legroom

  • Alex W says:

    I use national express a lot as it’s a great way to get from bath area to Heathrow and London. Much cheaper than the train (60% off helps!) and not much slower as you don’t have to change at Paddington.
    These days they have proper flushing bogs, better than your average airline khazi.
    Re: booking 2 one-ways, I think this will be more expensive than a return.

  • Fenny says:

    Seems like a very select geographical area. Living north of Luton doesn’t seem to compute! I no longer travel to the airport by coach, but have done Northampton to LHR on several occasions.

  • Concerto says:

    Amazing, didn’t know this existed. In the 80s and 90s I was a huge user of NEX as well as Scottish Citylink services. I was on them all the time during university times. There were a lot of private operators too, such as Cotters and Rapsons

  • Samuel Van Ransbeeck says:

    If you book through the Avios (or BAEC) website, you get 3 avios/£1. I suppose you can double-dip (getting NX loyalty and Avios)

    • Samuel Van Ransbeeck says:

      But these routes are severely limited. It would be worth it if it was networkwide, now it does not make sense to sign up for it.

  • Kaz says:

    I seen made explain about mess up on my booking from Birmingham coach station to Bradford still not had refund on my ticket yet! Not happy this.

  • Simon Schus says:

    I have regularly taken National Express between near Exeter and Heathrow airport, as well as from Bath to Heathrow several times – and from Leicester to Heathrow a few times too. Generally, I don’t look forward to the journey. However, the cost saving and the arrivals times suit fairly well especially for an early morning departure: I can pay around £15-£20 for a 4.5 hour journey to Heathrow rather than hiring a car, paying for my own petrol and parking, travelling the night before and booking a hotel, or flying to LCY (I didn’t mention the train because I know nothing of sleeper trains, and the day time trains often won’t get me to the airport in time for the flights). All-in-all, the experience can vary from very good to very cramped (and uncomfortable with either hot food or strong-scented sandwiches or fish dishes being eaten).

    My last trip was about 2 weeks ago to Heathrow, and it was fine apart from being a little cramped. I generally try to avoid taking the coach FROM Heathrow just because the bus station can be a little chaotic, and I’m often so tired that I am happy to grab a hotel – or I want to visit some friends nearby. instead. I did happen to take a MegaBus from London to Exeter recently and that offered a much more comfortable experience than the National Express (harder seats but the air conditioning was really powerful so that helped to avoid some scents from fish-based dishes).

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