As we have covered on HfP in the past, the taxes on Avios redemptions from the United States to the UK are a lot higher than the taxes for a return flight from the UK to the US.
It isn’t clear why British Airways has chosen to add substantial extra surcharges to reward tickets issued in the USA which will be the case for any ticket starting there.
It is possibly to stop American Airlines frequent flyers using their AA miles to book BA reward seats (AA members tend to redeem only with AA transatlantic, as there are NO surcharges added to tickets). It is also possible that it is done to offset the inflationary issuance of Avios – we have seen 100,000 Avios sign-up bonuses on US credit cards in the past.
Anyway …. there has been a shift. In recent weeks, British Airways has sharply reduced the taxes on one-way ECONOMY Avios tickets which start in the US.
Here are the taxes for a one-way off-peak World Traveller / economy redemption from New York to London (click to enlarge) – £75:
…. and in World Traveller Plus (£203):
…. and in Club World (£504!):
,…. and in FIRST (£664):
As you can see, the tax on the World Traveller / economy ticket is now actually reasonable. It is so low that it is potentially worth considering redeeming Avios rather than booking a cash ticket.
Now, I know that most HfP readers do not like redeeming in Economy. I also know that virtually all flights from the US to the UK are overnight flights, which makes Economy even less bearable.
However ….. there are things to think about here.
Take New York. There are two day flights from New York to London. The 07.55 from JFK lands at 19.45, whilst the 10.25 from JFK lands at 22.10.
Economy for a relatively modest transatlantic flight during the day may be worth considering given the savings. We’re comparing 13,000 Avios + £75 in taxes and charges (Economy one-way, US to UK) to 50,000 Avios + £504 in taxes and charges (Club World one-way, US to UK). That is, however you cut it, a substantial difference.
I don’t normally recommend day flights from the US because you either ‘lose’ a day of sightseeing or, put another way, you are paying for another hotel night. The sums above may change your mind though if you would be willing to fly back in Economy on a day flight.
Of course, you could argue that you could travel outwards on a day flight too, and make a substantial saving in both directions. That is a very fair point. I am just flagging this as another option to bear in mind, especially if you are low on Avios and can only afford Club World in one direction.
PS. There are other ways of travelling to the USA whilst paying virtually nothing in taxes and charges.
The smart money redeems Avios on Iberia via Madrid (see this article) or on Aer Lingus via Dublin (see this article) where the return taxes and charges in Business will be around £175 and £75 respectively. Paying £670 to British Airways in charges for a Club World return to New York is a bit nuts if you have the time to take a leisurely route.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.