What do you need to know about the closing of the Avios Travel Rewards Programme?

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Starting on Monday, avios.com (as opposed to British Airways Executive Club) is emailing members that the avios.com platform running the Avios Travel Rewards Programme is to be wound down.

You will no longer be able to have an avios.com account.  All Avios account balances for UK members will be transferred to a British Airways Executive Club account, with new accounts opened where necessary.

This is a massive process, with 2.4 million avios.com account holders impacted by the closure.

EDIT:  Avios has given me this telephone number – 0344 49 333 49 – for anyone who wants to discuss any aspect of the closure and their accounts.  This avoids having to use the 0844 number on the website and is charged at standard rates.

Avios Travel Rewards Programme changing

Why is avios.com closing?

The reason – which is not in the Avios email you will receive – is that IAG is moving to a ‘one Avios’ platform.  I understand that the avios.com website will remain and it is where ALL members of any Avios-based loyalty scheme (except perhaps Meridiana) will go to redeem their miles.

avios.com will be just a platform – it will no longer be a stand-alone scheme in which you can hold an Avios balance.

The other reason it is happening is failure.  Avios was meant to become a stand-alone ‘coalition’ (as we call them in the trade) loyalty programme, like Nectar.  Ironically, of course, Nectar has also just thrown in the towel and been sold to Sainsbury’s.

This was never going to work.  For Avios to succeed on its own, it had to offer valuable rewards to people across the UK.   With British Airways remaining a London-centric airline, that was always going to be hard.

Avios DID have partnerships with other airlines.  Unfortunately Monarch went bankrupt and Flybe, with its own financial problems, changed its route network every ten minutes.  Aer Lingus added a few more options but Avios wanted ludicrous sums in taxes and charges.  Air Malta and Aurigny were little known redemption options and in any event were pulled in early 2017, as were Eurostar redemption options.

The killer blow was doubling the cost of BA short-haul redemptions in 2015 – previously regional connections to Heathrow were free.  It made no sense at all for someone in Newcastle to pay 18,000 Avios plus £70 in taxes to fly to Nice via Heathrow.

There were two other issues:

Tesco has been playing down the role of Clubcard, with big reductions in the number of promotions available making it harder to run up large balances to convert to Avios

The new EU credit card fee rules, combined with Amex’s withdrawal of the licence it gave Lloyds, meant that the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card was on borrowed time

The bottom line is that there was little benefit in anyone outside the M25 collecting Avios via avios.com if they were not a frequent flyer.

Avios Travel Rewards Programme closing

Will I lose out when my account at avios.com closes?

No.

The only possible issues are:

some partners who are only on the avios.com platform may disappear if they do not want to transition to being BA partners (some may not be able to due to conflict with existing BA partnerships)

moving Avios from Iberia to BA may get harder, as ‘Combine My Avios’ rarely works when you try it.  Most people end up going Iberia to avios.com and avios.com to BA, a route which will now close.

the little-known ability to slash the taxes on Aer Lingus redemptions by calling BA and using Avios sitting in BAEC may disappear

When is avios.com closing?

At some point between 21st May and the end of July, your avios.com balance will be moved to a British Airways Executive Club account.  You can access virtually the same redemption options, at the same prices, via BAEC.

If you don’t want to do this – and I can’t think of a good reason to refuse – you can fill in a form on avios.com to opt out.  This must be done by 20th May.  You will have six months to use your points before your account is closed.  The opt-out period lasts 30 days.

What is happening to the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards?

They will continue for now, although they will remain closed to new online applications.  You will need to call to use your upgrade voucher.  The same goes for those with the old TSB Avios cards.

Avios told me today that the Lloyds agreement is ‘multi year’ and will continue.  This implies either that they will keep it closed to new online applications but let it run on for some time for existing cardholders OR there is a medium term plan to launch a new Visa / Mastercard product.

Avios travel rewards programme avios.com closing

How will I collect Avios from Flybe in the future?

Flybe its launching its own Avios-based loyalty programme which will run on the Avios platform.  It will be very similar to the Aer Lingus and Vueling schemes.

Avios told me today that this will launch ‘in 2018’ but is not imminent.

Will estore continue?

Yes, via ba.com.  Some retailers may be withdrawn because they will conflict with BA’s commercial arrangements with other partners.

What happens if I auto-convert Tesco points to avios.com?

All is fine, they will automatically be redirected after the closure of avios.com.

I have an avios.com Household Account.  What happens when that is shut down?

There is guidance here.  The account will be split equally unless you tell them otherwise (you can ask for one person to get 100% of the points).  If any of the Avios accounts are linked to Aer Lingus or Vueling then there may be issues as these will not be transferred to BA.

What is happening to Avios South Africa?

Nothing.  That programme will remain open.

Conclusion

There is nothing to worry about from the closure of avios.com and the UK Avios Travel Rewards Programme.  The end result may even be a cleaner, easier to follow Avios landscape.  It is not, repeat not, a hidden devaluation!

More information can be found on ba.com here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Hi, I was hoping someone could help me. Myself and my partner have been saving avios since we discovered the site 2 years ago, we have finally saved enough between us to go somewhere long haul and I have also qualified for 2x avios flight upgrade vouchers which i want to use in one go. On 1 April my partner transferred all her amex points to BA and then went to open an avios account so that we could link them to use the upgrade voucher and there is no way to register anymore. Is there any other way to combine our points because It seems really unfair that they’ve done this without any notice and pretty much prevented me from using my upgrade vouchers.

  2. I spoke to Avios yesterday in regards to the Lloyds upgrade voucher and using them with points going forward. They mentioned that i need to have the relevant points in the avios account to use with the upgrade voucher. They also mentioned that the Lloyds voucher will still be able to be used with them going forward. However, when reading on their website, it mentions that any unspent avios after 6 months of closure will be lost. ” You can choose to opt out and not move to the British Airways Executive Club. But please note you will need to spend your Avios within 6 months of opting out. After 6 months, any unspent Avios will no longer be available. ” So what does this mean for the upgrade vouchers? How are we meant to use them if we can keep points with Avios.

  3. I am not sure if this has already been covered but I have received the email from Avios.com. It states that my Avios points will be transferred to a new BAEC account for me. This BAEC account will be created for me automatically. BUT I already have a BAEC account.
    My question is, can I insist my Avios points are transferred to my existing BAEC account?

  4. Quick question. I am trying to setup a family account so I can pool my points with my wife at this stage. I can’t seem to find the option on the Avios.com site. It would allow me to use a Lloyd’s voucher before we are transitioned. Can anyone else see that option. There was a comment above that new accounts can no longer be created so I wonder if they have taken away both options.

    • Just contacted them. Apparently it is no longer possible to create a family account, but they will let us split our payment between accounts if we do it over the phone. That seems like a lot less hassle than my original plan.

  5. Big Dave says:

    no one seems to answer this one properly – the problem is with the BA familiy accounts
    otherwise IB to a normal BAEC should work though we know it can fail

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