Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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.

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.

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.

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.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2024)

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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

40,000 bonus 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

Huge 30,000 points bonus until 12th May 2024 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.

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 sign-up 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 (385)

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

  • Andy says:

    They are still on the BA website, so you’re OK for now.

  • zark says:

    Rob and comments suggest that the Lloyds upgrade voucher will only be redeemable by calling, rather than using it on-line. Problem for me is thay I tend to use it at t-355 days, booking on-line at midnight/1 AM.
    Avios call centre is not open then, so certain scarce business redemptions will become inexcessible.
    Rob, am I right?

    • Doug M says:

      Do you use it for two one way upgrades, else I don’t get how you do it at t-355 because of the return.

      • zark says:

        Yes, two o/w upgardes – for instance Rio to London or Hong Kong to London as both eliminate most of BA’s fees (which Hfp still calls ‘taxes’….)

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Currently Avios.com will allow you to make a one way booking for two at full Avios online for the cabin you require upgrade for then ring in first thing in the morning when the Avios call centre opens and they’ll apply the voucher and credit the value of the upgrade points back. Apparently BAEC is allowing something similar on Amex 2 4 1,s currently effectively treating such as two separate bookings so perhaps they will be equally flexible

    • Anna says:

      How have you managed that? Every time I’ve tried to book 2 x one-way online I’ve got a message saying I have to call them!

      • zark says:

        A bit irrelevant now, if we won’t be able to book Avios.com redemptions on-line.

        With the Amex 241 through BA.com you can book outbound on-line using the 241 & grab the return without using the 241 voucher (it can’t be done) and call when BA call centre is open and they can usually link the bookings.

        With a ‘unified’ platform the question is : If I book a one way Avios redemption in business on-line, using BA.com, will Avios.com agents be able to apply the upgrade voucher to the booking , refunding the Avios savings ?

        • Doug M says:

          So these methods both required an excess of Avios to allow the bookings prior to any reduction?

        • Anna says:

          You’ve totally confused me now, are you talking about the 2 4 1 or the upgrade voucher? I’ve been told several times that the upgrade voucher can only be redeemed for 2 x one-way by phone.

          It does sound as though they are not going to transfer the IT to use the upgrade vouchers online which perhaps suggests it’s not going to exist in the long term?

        • Genghis says:

          I’d be interested in the answer to this question for the Amex 241. I find this method invaluable in booking at t-355 as it allows me to quickly go back to bed.

        • Lev441 says:

          The workaround may be booking at t-355 on BAEC and within 24 hours cancelling (the cool off period) and rebooking on phone using the voucher. This is what I’ve done a couple of times

        • Lev441 says:

          Every time I’ve done that the reward seats have gone back on to the system but it’s a gamble…

    • roberto says:

      Correct , you will be 7+ hours too late as often these prime niche award flights will be taken online at midnight/1am unless the Avios team becomes a 24hr operation

      • roberto says:

        That is using the Lloyd’s voucher where you have to call. There was some talk about automating two people one way but like most things it never happened.

  • Doug M says:

    Please please on the Apple stuff. I’ll lose a lot of Avios opportunities if the Apple option goes. They regularly do specials at 8/GBP and unlike many of the partners pay on time and what they said it would be. Are you listening hotels.com and Hilton, on time and what they say.

  • Anna says:

    CSR said they will all transfer over to BA, Ghengis, but I recommend screenshots of your account in case they disappear!

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    No mention of whether Iberia is moving to the Avios platform?

    • Rob says:

      I think they will do BA first although, frankly, the Iberia IT is so bad it would be good to leave it behind. Would that see the end of lower IB taxes and greater availability for their own members?

      • xcalx says:

        “Would that see the end of lower IB taxes and greater availability for their own members?”

        You thought not when I asked the same question when news of the combined platform first broke. Has something changed? I hope not as a regular user of Iberia Avios.

  • jkay says:

    Hi Rob, apologies in advance if my question sounds rudimental. As an Irish resident I have been accummulating Avios (for purchases made in Ireland – e.g. BOI and Supervalu) in my AerClub account and then transferring them via Avios.com to my BAEC account. Would you know if this means of combining Avios will still be possible once the changes have taken place?
    Thanking you in advance

    • Rob says:

      Still possible, not a problem.

      • jkay says:

        Super, thanks

      • Shazza says:

        I have a UK address but somehow my avios account got linked to. Aer Club. Will I still be able to transfer to BA after the changes? Thanks

    • Tim says:

      The changes do seem a bit odd. Launching AerClub in a way which makes use of Avios.com was, I had assumed a test bed for combining BAEC and Avios onto the Avios platform. Seems like now it is the Avios platform which is going, but as jkay says if Avios.com is going to remain for Aerclub then what is the point of merging Avios with BAEC? And if Avios is going completely will that not force Aerlingus customers to use BAEC and remove the possibility for Ireland-specific marketing?

  • Nick says:

    I am a bit confused. These vouchers are not given out on a discretionary basis. Providers of certain credit cards (not Avios themselves) offer them to incentivise customers to spend money on their credit cards. If you have a product that offers an upgrade voucher or companion voucher and you meet the spending thresholds then you will received the voucher. It sounds like the card you had didn’t offer the voucher – they are not turning their nose up at you. If you are looking to earn avios fast, then you are certainly in the right place- this site provides fantastic guidance on how to generate a very healthy haul in no time. For example, you could get 22,000 relatively quickly through the Amex Gold, which may be better than trying to earn that many through ongoing spend on the Lloyds cards.

    As regards future value of the points: I think saying they will be worth nothing is an overstatement, but I would certainly agree with the basic premise that these things generally (only?) devalue over time, and “earn and burn” is a far better strategy than trying to save them up over a number of years for a big redemption.

  • Nick says:

    Ignore – this was supposed to be in response to Andy’s comments.

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

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