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British Airways changes the small print of its Economist subscription offer after we call it out

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Last Saturday I did an article on the new British Airways promotion for The Economist.

As I wrote at the time, it appeared to be very generous.  This is what was offered (click to enlarge):

Economist Avios offer

It implies that you were getting 1,200 Avios for taking out a 12-week £12 trial subcription to The Economist.   Given that British Airways ran such an offer in 2018, albeit with a slightly smaller bonus of 1,050 Avios, I wasn’t surprised to see this deal.

Except that when you clicked through to the application page here there was some cunning small print:

“In order to qualify for the Avios in this 12 week offer, the Eligible Customer must maintain a subscription for at least six months (26 weeks).”

You were NOT getting 1,200 Avios for spending £12.  You actually need to remain a customer for 26 weeks, which would have cost you:

  • £12 for the first 12 weeks
  • £44 for the next 13 weeks
  • £44 for the next 13 weeks (to get you over the 26 week threshold)

This was a total cost of £100 for which you will receive just 1,200 Avios.  This was a terrible incentive, especially compared to normal Economist offers for buying a full year subscription.

In my article last Saturday I said that I thought there may have been an error, although it did say clearly in two places that you needed to remain a subscriber for 26 weeks.

British Airways and The Economist have now changed the rules of this offer.  Don’t get your hopes up:

“In order to qualify for the Avios in this offer, the Eligible Customer must maintain a subscription for at least two quarters (25 weeks).”

The subscription period has been shortened by one week.  This is significant, to be fair, as it means you now get the bonus after two payments:

  • £12 for the first 12 weeks
  • £44 for the next 13 weeks

This is still a bad deal compared to the usual Economist subscription deals.  You are spending £56 to get back 1,200 Avios which remains a poor incentive.

This is the new ad on which no longer mentions £12:

New Economist Avios offer

The terms and conditions have also been updated on

  1. This offer is for new subscribers only and to be eligible for this offer, subscribers must be a member of British Airways Executive Club Programme.
  2. Eligible members will collect 1,200 Avios for a Print, Digital OR Print AND Digital subscription.
  3. This Avios offer from 1 February 2019 until 31 March 2019 will only be available in the UK.
  4. To sign up, Eligible Customers must visit the dedicated webpage and click on ‘Subscribe now’, choose the subscription type (digital and/or print) and enter the 8-digit, British Airways Executive Club membership account number.
  5. Avios will be awarded to your account within 28 days.
  6. After 12 weeks, pay £53 per quarter thereafter for the Print & Digital option or £44 per quarter thereafter for the Print or Digital options. In order to qualify for the Avios in this offer, the Eligible Customer must maintain a subscription for at least two quarters (25 weeks). This subscription is non-refundable, except if the customer is a resident in the EU, in which case the customer may cancel the subscription in the first 14 days and get a refund for any part of your subscription that has not already been delivered (for the print element) or published (for any digital element) before it is cancelled.
  7. Avios are issued and redeemed in accordance with Avios Terms and Conditions.

If you are looking to take out an Economist subscription I would wait until this offer is replaced in April or look for a deal with another partner which is more attractive.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 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. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

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The Platinum Card from American Express

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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.

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.

  • TripRep says:

    No bits, so an OT here (not sorry Jules)

    Virgin launch Tel Aviv

    • Julian says:

      The important thing though is that you have remembered my objection to the OT posts and my name, even though I don’t know who you are 🙂

      Also I’ll allow you the new Virgin Tel Aviv route as it seems like the just kind of helpful piece of information I would expect from a TripRep. Its only the constant posts about how to best churn someone’s next Amex card application that really wind me up.

      By the way where is Genghis? I don’t seem to have seen a post from him here in ages…….

      • Mark2 says:

        How gracious.
        The way to churn Amex cards is clearly set out in their Terms and Conditions.

      • Genghis says:

        I’m around. Been lurking more recently. I’m only really interested in discussions of good offers, travel destinations etc. There’s not been much recently. Meaningless chatter (like this post itself, but in response to you) don’t really appeal.

        • Julian says:

          Still love to know what software you use that lets you know when your name is mentioned here within about five minutes of the person doing so making their post about you…….

        • Hirohito says:

          I know the software but I’ll wait for a post on the subject before commenting further, to avoid more OT’s.

        • JackSep says:

          A quick OT. Where’s the best place to post OT’s?

        • Shoestring says:

          On today’s Bits thread and if there’s not one today, anywhere, with the prefix ‘O/T’

          DON’T post it on a previous day’s Bits thread or nobody will ever see it

      • C5 Clive says:

        OT: What’s the best way to churn my next Amex card application? Do people wait exactly 6 months or a while longer just to be safe?

      • DollyP says:

        O/T @Julean What was your objection to the OT posts? I can’t remember.

        • Julian says:

          Obviously that its far more useful for the comments on a specific topic related article by Rob or his staff to only relate to that particular article.

          I have no problem with people wanting to discuss other issues each day but Rob should provide a place for them that doesn’t obstruct and pollute meaningful discussion below his own topic related articles,.

          I am completely opposed to Rob’s encouragement of people constantly churning Amex cards because the scale of it that this site encourages is obviously unsustainable and will sooner or later lead to the practice being banned just as happened with Rob and others constantly mentioning individual products in Tesco stores offering disproportionate numbers of Tesco Clubcard points did.

          • Rob says:

            There are no articles on churning on here Julian. You must be thinking of other sites.

        • Mark2 says:

          @Julian If churning is banned surely you will be pleased?

        • Hirohito says:

          Churning has already been outlawed in the US. There’s been talk of it here, Rob’s encouragement is just ensuring the process gets pushed through at the earliest opportunity. Hopefully I can get a few last churns in before the hammer comes down.

        • Dominic says:

          One of the issues of you remove OT posts / move them elsewhere is that each article will receive far fewer comments. This would presumably have a negative impact on HfPs advertising space, as perceived engagement would fall.

          • Rob says:

            Correct. You can fake anythjng these days – page views etc – but you can’t (easily) fake 300 comments per day.

      • the_real_a says:

        This drivel is now getting ridiculous.

        • Julio says:

          I agree. This drivel about churning needs to stop.

        • Dan says:

          I think Julian is being a little OTT here, but agree with his sentiment. Much better to have a forum where questions about churning can go, and free up the threads for more on topic comments.

          I don’t really see much difference in the libel situation rob referred to yesterday, between these comments and a forum, other than there might be more threads to monitor

        • Russ says:

          Dan, I don’t think what your suggesting is tenable given HFP’s cohort.

        • riku2 says:

          there should be a button to mark a comment as “off topic” and then a choice on the website whether you want to see all posts or just the ON TOPIC ones. The scroll wheel on my mouse gets too much use scrolling past the “OT no bits today” type of comment.

        • Jonah says:

          The OT “issue” could very easily be resolved if there was always “Bits:” in front of one of the three daily articles and then there was a gentle nudge to post OTs there. There’s no real housekeeping as far as the comments are concerned. As for the point on churning – you can’t stop people talking about churning so you’ll just have to live with it Julian. There are no articles on churning as such but it really does make up a lot of the comments, it’s rather the point of the site.

  • Peter K says:

    This is such a poor offer it makes you wonder why they’ve even bothered with it.

    • Callum says:

      Because it’s meant to prod anyone thinking about signing up who haven’t, not be a way to buy Avios!

    • Lady London says:

      And now British Airways / Economist promoters have even confirmed their sneaky sneaky sneakily presented promotion was intentional ! they’ve just made a minor change to it, and left the sneaky bit pretty much in place. What a pity.

      I did a brief stint with the ASA and pretty sure avoiding reasonable complaints that could have been made to the ASA, was the reason they made the small change. But left the substance in place, as it was, as deceptively (apparently) as they still could.

    • Jk says:

      In Australia the offer is $45 for 12 weeks and get a… (drumroll) free notebook 🤔

      • Shoestring says:

        Anybody who wants the 12 week trial for £12 without the onerous condition, you can get it for 60 days minimum and 1000 Avios equivalent just by shopping around

  • marcw says:

    Has anyone noticed the massive devaluation in Avios & Money? Not a good deal anymore in ET/WT/WT+

    • Shoestring says:

      OK on my ET route to the place in the sun – true, has been devalued (on the only day I checked!) from 0.8p to 0.802p but I can live with that 🙂

      My fount of everlasting Avios @0.8p stays in place lol

      • Peter K says:

        As I only value avios at 0.5p each I wouldn’t bite at that but as always value is in eye of the beholder.

        • Shoestring says:

          I always get way more than 1p value/ Avios so I always save good money

          If value on offer is less than my expectation (about 1.2p), I save my Avios for later and use cash

        • Rob says:

          I would be wary of paying much more than 0.66p but I am averaging 1.15p over the last 7m redeemed.

      • Doug M says:

        This is where you pay with Avios but reduce it with cash in effect buying the Avios? Is there a point at which you’d think I have enough Avios I’d sooner burn them than part with cash?

        • Shoestring says:

          Sure – there won’t be a BAEC version of Zeek but there could easily be a devaluation

          I’m not an ‘earn & burn’ type as not *that* concerned

        • Julian says:

          Presumably anyone who have 5,000,000 Avios or more and who constantly picks up more on long haul BA flights paid for by their business is very keen to burn them at every possible opportunity before the next big BA devaluation makes them have even less value.

        • Julian says:

          Its easy to get 4p to 5p per Avios or more if you book last minute on European routes where BA jacks up the cash fares in Economy and Club to totally extortionate levels in the last 24 hours or so before departure.

          As to whether you would have ever bought those fares with cash at the very last minute is another matter but basically some people do so BA is in the business of ripping off people who miss their flights (which it is now much easier to do with BA since they now close their flights knowing several passengers have still not arrived at the gate on a similar ruthless basis to Ryanair), who are bereaved or who need to travel urgently at the last minute on business. Last minute BA ticket costs short haul are often 2 to 3 times the level charged by Easyjet or Ryanair on the same route.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Julian – I tend to book @ T-355 or close to 355, admittedly I factor in a few suitcases as we always seem to need to move a pile of things out to our place in the sun – then get the empty suitcases back again – so these are not usually HBO fares but with 1 checked bag, nowadays they come in £19 more expensive than HBO

          HBO fares @T-355 are so cheap these days, even peak (we always fly peak), I probably wouldn’t achieve 1p of value/ Avios if I were comparing cash HBO fare to Avios redemption value

        • Callum says:

          Julian – if you’re going to throw childish hissy fits about people talking about off topic things, STOP TALKING ABOUT OFF TOPIC THINGS.

  • MDA says:

    OT: emirates offering a fast track to silver for 300 usd

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

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