Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What can you learn from Qatar Privilege Club’s shock 40% mileage devaluation?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Last week Qatar Airways announced some changes to Qatar Privilege Club to take effect from 27th May.  There was a downside – the addition of booking fees on redemptions, and what looked like it could be an upside – more status points for premium tickets.  It was nothing that I felt needed covering on HfP, given that most Qatar Airways flyers in the UK credit to British Airways Executive Club.

Midnight on the 26th May came, the Qatar Airways website went down for a short period and then it came back.  And the changes were stunning.

Virtually all Qatar Privilege Club redemptions on Qatar Airways have increased in price by roughly 60%, more in some cases.  With no notice at all.

Qatar Privilege Club devaluation

To quote an ex-UK example from Flyertalk, a one-way Economy ticket from London to Bangkok has gone up from 37,500 miles to 62,750 miles.  British Airways would require 19,500 Avios off-peak and 30,000 Avios peak.

And you need to pay the new booking fee too ($25 per sector in Economy, $50 per sector in Business).

This is a stunning devaluation.  Even with advance notice it would have been shocking, given that it impacts both Economy and Business.  To devalue your stack of miles by 40%+ with absolutely no warning though …..

What can you do?

Not much, unfortunately.  If you had a stash of Qatar Privilege Club miles and were hoping to use them for Qatar Airways tickets, you are in trouble.

The only upsides are:

partner airline redemptions are unchanged – these were never great value but now look good.  This is a distance based award chart (click to see it) and in some cases you should find that redemptions on oneworld airlines such as BA, Cathay Pacific, Qantas etc are cheaper than redeeming on Qatar Airways.

regional redemptions are reportedly unchanged, eg Doha to Oman, Iran

you can still transfer Qatar Airways miles to Le Club AccorHotels at the rate of 4,500 miles = 1,000 Accor points (=1,000 Avios or a €20 Accor voucher) although there is an annual calendar year cap of 100,000 miles.  If your Qatar Privilege Club miles now seem useless, this is a way out.

upgrade prices seem to have come down on some routes (although the number of QCredits required to upgrade has generally gone up)

If you have any Qatar Airways flights booked which you were planning to credit to Qatar Privilege Club – although I admit that is unlikely for most HFP readers who would be crediting to British Airways Executive Club – I would recommend looking for another oneworld frequent flyer programme.

Qatar Privilege Club devaluation

How can you protect yourself from a situation like this?

Devaluations like this, with no notice, are unbelievably rare.  If something on this scale does happen, it is usually linked to something niche such as the transfer rate from the main scheme into a partner scheme.  Accor and Radisson Rewards are both guilty of slashing their airline transfer rates with no notice.

Massive devaluations WITH notice are NOT unbelievably rare.  Avios increased peak-date Club World tickets on many long-haul routes by 50% back in 2015, remember.  The only ‘upsides’ were that off-peak dates only went up by 20% and that World Traveller (economy) redemptions got cheaper in some cases – but remained bad value in most cases.

I think Hilton Honors moved its top category from 50,000 points to 90,000 points in one move too, a few years ago.

There is no easy way to avoid being hit by this.  Two ways of minimising risks are:

Spend as you earn.  You may think that saving up your miles for retirement is a good idea, but it isn’t.  Whilst I am critical of schemes with harsh mileage expiry rules, such as Etihad Guest and Miles & More, they do at least force you to spend them before they are devalued.

Focus on convertible currencies where you can.  This means primarily American Express Membership Rewards points but also Starwood Preferred Guest hotel points (convertible to 30 airlines, which should still be OK post the August merger with Marriott Rewards) and HSBC Premier credit card points (convertible to four airlines).  None of these three schemes has ever devalued its conversion ratios although Amex has stopped doing transfer bonuses to airline partners.  The Tesco Clubcard credit card, which currently has a 1000 point (2400 Avios) sign-up bonus, also gives you the option of using points for Avios or Virgin miles or Uber credit or many non-travel items.

The benefit of ‘convertible currencies’ is that you don’t need to move your points until you are ready to spend them.  You won’t get caught out by building up a stack of points in one airline or hotel scheme to see the rug pulled out from under you.

On the downside, cards with convertible currencies are often less generous than dedicated airline or hotel cards.  There are exceptions though – the Amex Rewards Credit Card is free and earns 1 point per £1 which can be transferred to BA but also many other partners.  The free British Airways American Express just earns 1 Avios per £1.  Unless you are churning other Membership Rewards cards, ARCC is clearly better.  It is also worth noting that the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard is more generous than the Mastercard element of the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card.

None of this will help if you were sitting on a six-figure Qatar Privilege Club account balance on Saturday night and woke up yesterday to find it worth 40% less.  Although, as Qatar Privilege Club has not actually told its members about the devaluation, it is more likely that you were still in total ignorance until you read this ……


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2022)

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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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

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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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 card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

(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)

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

  • Robbo says:

    Hav you noticed that QR doing this all coincides with the agreement with US to have an open book policy. They are being exposed for the liars and frauds they are. Al Baker should be in jail. Unfortunately I have placed most of my flights wth Qatar the past 3 years. Around a million miles in that time. I have 770,000 points in my account. So I have been well and truly fucked over by these Middle Eastern recalcitrants.

    • Doug M says:

      So your transacting with liars and frauds as you describe them hasn’t worked out well for you. I guess there was no way to see that unhappy end.

    • Rob says:

      Running a loss leading airline as a way of national promotion is a time-honoured strategy. And often works.

      Qatar is struggling now due to the ME blockade which has also killed a lot of long haul traffic, eg U.K. to Dubai.

  • ADS says:

    The annual accounts for Qatar Airways up to 31st March 2017 show the value of unredeemed frequent flyer points dropped from 552m QAR the previous year to 514m QAR (106m gbp). I would expect frequent flyer liabilities to increase in an airline which increased headline revenue by 10% – so that’s a bit odd.

    The income recognised from the redemption of frequent flyer points increased from 165m QAR to 184m QAR (38m gbp) – which is only in line with headline revenue increase. I guess that means that quite a few frequent flyer points expired without being redeemed !

    It will be interested to see whether this devaluation is mentioned as a post balance sheet event – and whether a value is included !

  • James says:

    I have 600,000 and thought I’d just hang them over to Accor. Nope; the 100k limit was a surprise 🙁

    • Axel H says:

      Open up another Accor account and give it a few weeks to settle then transfer over 2nd batch

  • Clive says:

    OT but also a major concern is the change in SPG BRG terms just announced. New SPG rules now mean no BRGing a flexible rate against non flex. Thanks Marriott

  • Nick says:

    It does reveal the dilemma involved in this game though. Rob – rightly – advocates storing points in convertible currencies… but many (most?) of us are reliant on sign-up churns to earn the points in the first place, so have to empty and close our MR pots every few months. Which builds piles of points that could be hit at any time. How many of us are willing to ‘pay’ the insurance premium of not churning to keep a MR stash? Not me, that’s for sure – but my Avios pot is still rising and I’m not sure whether I’ll use them before it explodes……

  • david says:

    quick unrelated question – when should a Marriott rewards platinum chase be finished by – I guess August 1st – but should it be sooner ?

    • Rob says:

      My personal view is that I want the account definitely Plat on 1st which means finishing a good 7-10 days earlier for the last stay to post and the upgrade to process (and for any necessary chase-up to be done).

      A big of jiggling means I will actually manage mine on 6 weeks so it should be Plat by mid June. This will also let me match to SPG Plat for a 2-night stay in July.

      • DAVID says:

        I think mine will be done by mid July – I want to book the very cheapest nights at the Leeds Marriott (£62 a night)- I park in car park opposite on the way home with 30 mins free parking while I check in!
        Its not just the cost of the hotel – ideally it shouldnt cost you anything to get there and not inconvenience your life in anyway.
        The sad thing is that so far the room I haven’t stayed in has been upgraded to a suite everytime- part of me wants to pop in for the free breakfast on the way to work ! It just goes to show how worthwhile the current gold level is.
        The check out function on the app makes me feel much happier – always felt wrong not checking out !

        • Crafty says:

          Why aren’t you having the breakfast? It’s on the way!

          • Rob says:

            I went back to the Hilton Park Lane for breakfast last week on the way to the HFP office 🙂

  • HAMBA says:

    i had been expecting a big devaluation… based on the generally tightening of upgrades and decent offers.

    i continue to expect a devaluation for ihg – i know there were minor changes made but if they devalue it according to the hilton model it could be damaging. i prefer not to say why i expect this..

    • guesswho2000 says:

      I’m not convinced you could devalue IHG much further, there’s not really much to enhance away.

      • David says:

        Indeed, I remember 30k a night for ICs!
        Sadly I also remember thinking I’d rather stay at the CP and save 10k.

  • tominoz says:

    Has any other Qatar Privilege Gold/Plat members noticed that all the award upgrade rates have been increased when using Q credits as well?..eg MAN – BKK very recently was 40 Q credits to upgrade econ to biz, but now its gone up to 46. As there is no other way to earn Q credits apart from getting them at Tier renewal (40 and 60 respectively for Gold and Plat), then the 40 Q credits for Gold now becomes hugely devalued……upgrade now only poss MAN – DOH for 28 Q credits, leaving you with a useless 12 Q credits. Its not just miles that have been hit…..they are even hitting their top tier members full on. Time to switch loyalties I think.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.