Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to get cheaper Avios flight redemptions to the Middle East by exploiting the 3,000 mile rule

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When you redeem Avios on a British Airways partner airline, the points cost of your flight is based off a separate pricing chart.

This is it, as from June 2019 (click to enlarge):

Reward flight prices on BA partner airlines (plus taxes, fees and carrier charges)
Zone Distance Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class
1* 1—650 miles 6,000 9,000 12,500 24,000
2 651—1,150 miles 9,000 12,500 16,500 33,000
3 1,150—2,000 miles 11,000 16,500 22,000 44,000
4 2,001—3,000 miles 13,000 25,750 38,750 51,500
5 3,001—4,000 miles 20,750 41,250 61,000 82,500
6 4,001—5,500 miles 25,750 51,500 77,250 103,000
7 5,501—6,500 miles 31,000 62,000 92,750 123,750
8 6,501—7,000 miles 36,250 72,250 108,250 144,250
9 7,001+ miles 51,500 103,000 154,500 206,000
* zone 1 does not apply to internal flights in North America
North America 1—650miles 7,500 15,000 30,000

It is marginally, but only marginally, more expensive in terms of Avios than redeeming for a British Airways flight.

Because it is driven by distance, and because the gap between Avios pricing bands can be substantial, there are often good savings to be made if you leave the UK to start a redemption.  As an added bonus, you will save on long-haul premium cabin Air Passenger Duty too.

Before we go on, you should note that – as you won’t be flying British Airways if you start a redemption outside the UK – you hit two problems:

  • you will be charged peak Avios pricing every day, as off-peak pricing only applies to BA flights

If these are not problems for you, read on.

I thought I would focus on the Qatar Airways flights to Doha today as an example, in case you are thinking of slotting in a quick break before the weather in Europe improves.

However, even if you have no interest in a Qatar Airways trip to Doha, the same principles can be used with other Avios partners.  For example, Cathay Pacific redemptions to Hong Kong require fewer Avios from some European cities because it pushes you into the lower price band.

Going back to my Middle East example, the good news for Avios collectors is that:

  • Qatar Airways is a British Airways Avios earning and spending partner
  • Qatar Airways now flies to pretty much everywhere in Europe 
  • Qatar Airways has an excellent reputation for its premium cabins
  • Qatar Airways releases at least FOUR business class seats per flight

There is, of course, a big downside.  Due to the continuing blockade of Qatar by the UAE and others, it is not possible to (easily) connect from Doha to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc.  If you follow the tips in this article, you will be holidaying in Doha.  It IS still possible to fly to Oman on Qatar Airways from Doha.

Heading to the Middle East, the key cut-off point is 3,000 miles:

  • 3,000 – 4,000 miles (which includes the UK), a Business Class return to Doha is 124,000 Avios return on a partner airline
  • below 3,000 miles, a Business Class return to Doha is 77,500 Avios return on a partner airline

Here is a map showing you a 3,000 mile radius from Doha:

Any Avios redemption on Qatar Airways booked from a city inside the red line to Doha will price at 77,500 Avios return instead of the 124,000 Avios it would cost from London.

Here are some Qatar Airways departure cities that are close to the red line and which are in most cases easily accessible from UK regional airports, as well as Heathrow:

  • Berlin
  • Budapest
  • Copenhagen
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Gothenburg
  • Helsinki
  • Kiev
  • Milan
  • Munich
  • Nice
  • Pisa
  • Prague
  • Rome
  • Vienna
  • Warsaw
  • Zagreb
  • Zurich

Here is an example of business class pricing to Doha, return, using Avios:

  • Frankfurt to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £448
  • Copenhagen to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £442
  • Rome to Doha, Business Class – 77,500 Avios + £400

If you REALLY want to do it on the cheap, try starting in Turkey.  Istanbul to Doha is under 2,000 miles so the Avios pricing is:

  • Istanbul to Doha, Business Class – 44,000 Avios + £252

It is important to check the aircraft type.  Qatar Airways is using short-haul planes on some niche European routes, although most of them still have flat bed seats.  From the cities above you will get a long haul aircraft, except for Istanbul where one of the daily services seems to be an A320.

The taxes are not cheap, unfortunately.  Whilst you will be saving a lot of Avios, you won’t be saving much on the taxes once you’ve added in the cost of getting to your starting point.

If you are interested in this idea, I suggest doing an open-jaw trip.  Fly out of one European city and back to a different one.  Tack on a bit of sightseeing in both.  This gives you two mini-breaks either side of your Middle East holiday, as well as saving you a lot of Avios.

You can learn more about redeeming Avios on airline partners in our beginner’s guide to spending Avios points here.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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

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 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 (204)

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

  • Anuj says:

    Off topic
    One of my Amex offers has been saved to my card twice under saved offers, how likely is it I’ll get the money back twice?

    Other question, what would be the max amount to top up revolution with ihg monthly, and is this still not charged a cash advance fee?

  • Shoestring says:

    Life in Cornwall – forced to get inventive if you want to turn a penny or 2:

    Borrow a boat, get the migrants back to jolly old Cornwall, hope nobody is watching you get them from your boat into the back of an old mate’s van, head up the motorway as they like Birmingham.

    Proper job.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      We watch the same news SS. What they didn’t factor into their plans that the public were watching & reporting them.

  • Shoestring says:

    Well – Birmingham Airport- pretty good airport for arrivals, I give it the Shoestring seal of approval.

    I had to take a Jimmy Riddle & I got perplexed by the loo sign which also said ‘Wudu’! So I asked one of our friends mopping the floor what it means. Call me stupid but I never met that term before. And I got to nearly 60 without meeting it.

    A wudu is the safe/ clean place a Moslem brother carefully washes their hands before the call to prayer.

    So now you know!

    as to why I never saw this in London LHR, I don’t offer an opinion or venture to know.

    • Shoestring says:

      It sort of said: ‘Toilets/ Wudu’

      I was thinking: what language is wudu = toilets?

      and why do we need it in Birmingham Airport?

      • BJ says:

        It’s a ritual washing room to prepare for prayers.

      • Callum says:

        Birmingham has an enormous Muslim population so it makes sense for that to be prominently signposted.

        So does London of course, but proportionally it’s much lower. Though apparently T4 in Heathrow has equivalent facilities.

        FYI – I’d imagine (and hope) most people wouldn’t care as long as there’s no bad intent, but it’s not very nice to call them Moslems any more – the Arabic meaning is an “evil and unjust person”. I do know you grew up with that being the normal name for them, so no judgement here!

    • Stu N says:

      It’s dreadful for departures but I agree arrivals experience is fine.

  • Secret Squirrel says:

    Anyone else not had transactions update today on IHG accounts?
    Usually as I spend, it shows up as pending immediately – not today?

    • Leigh says:

      All my IHG premium card transactions today are showing as pending (last transaction was about 30 minutes ago).

    • RK says:

      I am the same, missing pending IHG transactions.

  • Don says:

    Any data point for Revolut on VISA?

    They’re so confusing on the chat. Told tonight that 6012 is working again for MasterCard. Really?

    But on their own support forums there’s the boilerplate message excusing the change.

    I’ve contacted Barclaycard to tell me what my charge will be when it comes off pending.

    • Ricatti says:

      What I don’t appreciate is an inability for card issuer to tell you important detail, until transaction “clears” to statement.

      It is not like merchant’s authorisation is done with an unknown MCC.

  • eli says:

    Finnair from HEL to TLV is 1744 miles yet 13000 avios. why would that be?

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

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