Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

For Rip Off Britain viewers …. an introduction to Head for Points

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I am appearing on Rip Off Britain on BBC1 this morning, doing an (unpaid and unofficial) PR job on behalf of Avios.  If you’ve visited Head for Points after seeing me on the programme, I’d like to say Hi and point you towards a few good starting points.

Head for Points is the UK’s largest frequent flyer website with 1.2 million monthly page views.  Our daily articles are a must-read if you collect Avios points or other frequent flyer or hotel loyalty points.

If you sign up for our emails or visit the site daily, you will be surprised by how much you can learn and how quickly the quality of your travelling improves.  Your miles and points have real value and you owe it to yourself and your family to get the best possible value from them.

For Avios beginners:

There is a lot of information on Head for Points, which reflects the complexity of most airline and hotel loyalty schemes.  We try to break through the noise by serving up the most important travel loyalty news of the day in our three daily articles, all of which are published by 6am.

If you want to learn more about spending Avios points, a good place to start is a series of articles we call ‘Avios Redemption University’.  These articles are being updated during January 2018 but note that some still date back to 2015 – please check the information in those before relying on it.

The beginners guide to redeeming Avios (updated 2018)

The secrets of Reward Flight Saver (updated 2018)

How to upgrade with Avios (updated 2018)

How and when to use ‘Avios and Money’ (updated 2018)

Understanding BA and household accounts (updated 2018)

How to earn and use your BA Amex 2-4-1 companion voucher (updated 2018)

Is it worth using Avios for hotel redemptions? (old)

What is the cheapest way to buy Avios points? (updated)

Using Avios for non-stop flights from UK regional airports (old)

Low tax long-haul Avios redemptions on Iberia (old)

Saving tax on US and Canada redemptions with Aer Lingus (old)

Redeeming Avios for low tax US domestic flights (old)

Using Avios for tax-free flights on Alaska Airlines (old)

Saving tax on Asian redemptions with Cathay Pacific (old)

How to earn and redeem Avios points with Flybe (old)

For ‘advanced’ Avios collectors:

If you already have a decent understanding of the Avios scheme, there is still a lot for you on Head for Points.  Take a look at these eight Avios collecting and spending tips.  I am 99% certain that you won’t be familiar with all of these, however experienced you are.

Click through the links in the headlines if you want to know more about any particular statement.

So …. did you know …..?

… that you can get 20,000 Avios points quickly, and for free, by signing up for the FREE American Express Gold charge card?

Most people know that American Express issues an ‘official’ British Airways card.  Few people know that points from its Gold card can also be transferred to Avios at 1:1 – and that the Amex Gold card has a ludicrously generous sign-up bonus.  Find out more here.

… that the tax on Iberia redemptions is 60% lower if you transfer your Avios to Iberia Plus and book via their website?

Iberia Plus does not charge the full range of airport taxes and fuel surcharges imposed by

Let’s look at Madrid to New York in Business Class, return. Iberia, when you book on, will charge £159.

A BA redemption from London to New York (via on a BA plane) on the same route in Club World costs £502 in taxes and charges! That is, by any stretch, a big difference. It makes it well worth heading to Madrid to start your trip if you are price conscious.

More interestingly, if you try to book the Iberia Madrid to New York flight on using BA Avios, it will charge you £361 of taxes! This is for the SAME Iberia flight which costs only £159 of tax on using Iberia Avios.

that the Iberia Plus redemption chart has certain quirks which make some redemptions exceptionally cheap?

The Iberia Plus chart is in this article.  It is ALMOST the same as the BA chart, but not quite.

The difference is most pronounced in Band 5.  Business Class flights on Iberia to Band 5 (which includes New York) are 68,000 Avios return off-peak and 100,000 Avios peak.  British Airways redemptions in Band 5 are 100,000 Avios return off-peak and 120,000 Avios peak.

Would you buy a separate ticket to Madrid if you could use 68,000 Avios and £159 of tax to fly to New York on Iberia compared with 100,000 Avios and £502 on tax with BA from London?

… that British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia have different off-peak dates which leads to arbitrage opportunities? 

British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus do NOT share the same table of peak and off-peak dates, especially around half-term school holidays in the UK.

You can see the 2018 peak and off-peak dates for BA and Iberia in this articleAer Lingus is in this article.

This means that New York in Business Class can be as low as 68,000 Avios return from Madrid (on an off-peak date) on the same day that BA wants 120,000 Avios return from London (because BA treats it as a peak day).

… that you can earn Avios when you fly on Emirates as long as you book a Qantas codeshare service?

I got my wife to test this out and it works fine as this article shows.

… that you can earn Avios when you fly United Airlines – even though it is a Star Alliance member – by crediting your flights to Aer Lingus AerClub?

I genuinely expected this feature to go away when Aer Lingus AerClub was launched but, for now, it is still there.

… that there is more Avios availability on Iberia flights if you move your points to Iberia Plus and book from there?

It isn’t clear why this is the case, but it is.  Don’t rely on what shows you if you want seats on Iberia.

… that Aer Lingus redemptions have lower taxes if booked via BA on the phone than via the site?

You can finally now book Aer Lingus redemptions online via  There is some jiggery pokery going on with the taxes, however.  If you keep your Avios in British Airways Executive Club and ring them to book – it can’t be done online – you will pay a lot less.

Make sure you read Head for Points regularly if you want to keep up to speed with tips like these.

Thank you for taking the time to visit the site today.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

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

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

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.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable 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 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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.

Comments (48)

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

  • Kathy says:

    Flew United last year to New York, and credited the flights to Aer Lingus as suggested. Still haven’t received any Avios for them. I am a bit sceptical that they’ll ever turn up, considering how many problems there were getting 250 avios out of them!

    • KevMc says:


      Me and my wife went on a return trip to Chicago in May 2017. I tweet Aer Lingus every few months to see if there is any progress on actually getting them credited, but they claim their systems cannot do it yet. If/when the system finally allows it, they will have a backlog of 12+ months, so I still wouldn’t expect them anytime soon (If at all).

      I would argue that they should a) stop advertising the fact that this can be done, and b) should stop people from putting their Aer Lingus number in to a United booking until it is sorted.

      …I wish I’d just credited them somewhere else now

  • HappyHarry says:


    You “pointed [us] towards a few good starting points” on Head For Points did you ?

    You are summoned for tea and biscuits with the Editor (biscuits will not be served) ! 🙂

  • Talay says:

    I think the people on here and the people who get caught out by things on such programmes live in worlds which never intersect.

    Some folk shouldn’t be given sharp objects.

    • Rob says:

      Look at the ‘buy Avios’ page on You can argue that the way it is written is aimed at the ‘non professional’.

  • Alex W says:

    HI Rob, curious to know if your TV fame gained you a decent spike in page views?

  • Steve R says:

    Just watched it .

    What i couldn’t quite work why would you spend £1600 on Avios. Surely it would have been cheaper just to buy an ordinary ticket.

    As you said Rob you have to be flexible. Man is our nearest Airport, but to use RFS for summer hols in Europe we have to fly fm LGW.

    Good excuse to return south & see family

    • Anna says:

      I also caught up with it this morning. He bought the avios because he thought he would get a good deal using them to reduce the price of his flights. He clearly hadn’t done any research or dummy bookings as this is never a great use of avios. As Rob pointed out, he would have been better using them for a redemption flight.

      I don’t think the programme is going to convert many people to the hobby – it made it look absolutely not worth it!

  • Graham Walsh says:

    What also doesn’t help is Avios advertising on the radio now too, get as many people with a credit card and then create disappointment.

    • Anna says:

      I really think you have to enjoy the hobby itself to be in it in the long term. It’s fascinating how people who clearly have shed loads of disposable income still delight in getting F or CW seats with avios and 2 4 1 vouchers as much as I do who wouldn’t be able to afford the cash prices!

  • Canuck says:

    Does anyone have a link to the show? iPlayer is country restricted so wondering if anyone has a link before I go getting a VPN.

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

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