Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How should you time your promotion to British Airways Silver status to maximise your benefits?

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Having status is good, but maximising the amount of time you will have that status is even better.

This article is based on a HfP comment last week.  At first I thought it was a statement of the obvious, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that it might have some value for many readers.

What we are looking at here is how to time your flights to ensure that you retain your Executive Club status for the longest possible period.

Can I get into a British Airways lounge with a Silver card?

Let’s remind ourselves of a few key rules regarding your British Airways Executive Club membership year:

All tier point years end on the 8th of the relevant month

You cannot – under any circumstances – change your British Airways Executive Club year end date (this is a major pain for couples, who can take identical flights only to find that only one of them earns status due to the way flights fall across membership years)

When you earn British Airways Executive Club status, you retain it for:

the remainder of your current membership year, and

all of the following membership year, and

until the end of the month following your tier point anniversary (so if your tier point year ends on 8th March, your existing status will continue until 30th April)

British Airways Executive Club has a GUARANTEED ‘soft landing’ – however few flights you take, you will only drop one level if you fail to retain your current status

We will look at this in a worked example below.

British Airways Executive Club status cards

How can you maximise your BA Executive Club status?

Let’s imagine that your British Airways Executive Club tier point year ends on 8th MayYou can’t change that so you need to live with it

If your goal is lounge access and free BA seat selection for as long as possible, your goal should be to hit Executive Club Silver status as soon as possible after 8th May.  This requires:

600 British Airways Executive Club tier points, and

four British Airways or Iberia one-way cash flights

The cheapest and most pleasant way, for most people, to earn 560 Executive Club tier points of the 600 you need would be a Qatar Airways business class flight to Asia.  As well as being cheap, this route has the advantage of getting you a holiday as well.

Any flight on a British Airways partner airline earns 140 tier points if it is over 2,000 miles.  Europe to Doha is usually over 2,000 miles in Business Class, as is Doha to Asia.  A return flight is therefore (140 x 4) 560 tier points.

There are cheaper options for getting 600 tier point.  Four weekend breaks in Club Europe on routes which earn 160 tier points like Helsinki or Malta would do it.  This is arguably less fun and certainly less comfortable than a Qatar Airways holiday.

Here is a good example, from Stockholm to Bangkok in Qatar Airways Business Class in mid May 2020 (in our example, our flyer has a BA year-end of 8th May):

Qatar fare example

The cost is SEK 16,125 which is £1,281, plus whatever it costs you to get to and from Stockholm.  I assume that you book a British Airways cash flight to do this.

On your return from your Bangkok holiday on 21st May, you would have:

560 British Airways Executive Club tier points from Qatar Airways

10 British Airways Executive Club tier points from your return economy BA flight to Stockholm and back

2 BA ‘qualifying flights’

You are NEARLY at Silver status, but not quite.  You still need:

another 30 tier points, and

another 2 British Airways ‘qualifying flights’

If you are not planning any long haul travel, the easiest way to get this is via a short haul flight.  Book one-way in Economy / Euro Traveller and one-way in Club Europe / Business.  This would get you another 45 tier points (5+40) and the extra two qualifying flights you need.

The cheapest option is probably a Gatwick flight (because Gatwick flights are cheaper than Heathrow flights) which could be as simple as flying to Amsterdam and back.

Let’s imagine that you achieve all of this by 30th May 2020.  Remember that your tier point year started on 9th May 2020.

When is the best time to earn British Airways status?

How long will my British Airways Silver status last?

You’ve done very well.  You will be Silver from:

late May 2020 until 8th May 2021 (your current membership year)

9th May 2021 until 8th May 2022 (your following membership year)

9th May 2022 until 30th June 2022 (your run-off period as Silver)

You then get your guaranteed soft landing to Bronze.  You will be Bronze from:

1 July 2022 to 8th May 2023 (your membership year)

9th May 2023 to 30th June 2023 (your run-off period as Bronze)

Only on 1st July 2023 will you drop back to Blue.

This means, if you time it right:

You have British Airways Executive Club Silver status for 25 months, from late May 2020 to 30th June 2022 (lounge access, free seat selection, priority security, priority check-in, priority boarding etc)

You have British Airways Executive Club Bronze status for a further 12 months from 1st July 2022 to 30th June 2023 (main benefit is free selection from 7 days before departure)

Your total cost to ‘earn’ this is probably around £1,600.  This is made up of the £1,281 Business Class return flight from Stockholm to Bangkok, an Economy return flight from London to Stockholm and a ‘one way Economy, one way Business’ return flight from, say, Gatwick to Amsterdam.

And, of course, you have had a Business Class holiday in Thailand and a long weekend in Amsterdam out of it too.

£1,600, spent once every three years, will keep you permanently in Silver or Bronze British Airways Executive Club status.  If you must have lounge access at all times, you are looking at £1,600 of expenditure – assuming flight prices remain unchanged – every two years.

This routine won’t suit everyone, of course.  However, if you enjoy Business Class holidays and enjoy British Airways lounge access and the other perks whenever else you travel, this is a good model to follow.  The key is timing it to trigger your Silver card as quickly as possible after the start of your membership year.

how to earn avios from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 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

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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 (199)

  • Steven says:

    Just a thought for an article Rob if it hasn’t already been covered – benefits of family members traveling with one person who has status and to what extent the benefits can be enjoyed by family members as well.

    Did have a look just now but couldn’t find an article covering this.

    • Rob says:

      Fair point but in many cases the rules are not written down. How many people can a Gold get through fast track security or get into the priority boarding line? It’s not stated.

      Only the First Wing in Terminal 5 has very strict (and enforced) rules, eg 1 guest per Gold member. Don’t pitch up there with your wife and two kids and only one Gold card. This is done because you get direct lounge access so they have to follow the lounge rules.

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Someone sanity check my approach?

    Currently AA Plat and been crediting to AA vs BA mostly because its AA metal I am usually on and that is the only chance of mileage award upgrades.

    Do about 5 returns TATL per year, generally in Y (and usually full flex)

    I can easily.use the AA miles I earn and top up with SPG (Sorry – Marriott) Amex

    OW status is useful on BA RFS flights in EU

    This year expect to so a minimum of two TATL returns and makes sense to use 241 – so no status but will be booking J/F anyway.

    Does this make sense?

    The only reason I can think it wouldn’t is if I’d have a shot at hitting a higher BA tier than AA, and could divert more flights to BA metal but I dont see as that is the case.

    Anyone any thoughts?

    • Shoestring says:

      what is the question?

    • Lady London says:

      Carry on doing what you’re doing and maybe save a bit of cash on the 241 by buying a level down and using avios to upgrade. To be safe do it all on the one day to make sure you get the availability. Depends on your route’s cash vs avios costs though. But if it’s BA transatlantic you will also benefit from doing this cashwise.
      As the cash copay to BA on an award ticket is now so high on transatlantic. Plus you get to earn unlike an avios Tim and the sums can balance out very nicely.

      Many more expert than me on here, though.

      • Lady London says:

        Tim–> ticket

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Thanks LL

        I’ll investigate the comparison on 241 vs upgrade… Also an option to do that with AA and ditch the BA component entirely I guess

        • BJ says:

          Some of the things that jumped out at me:

          1. Why on earth full flex Y; employer not allowing anything else?
          2. Based on old experience but I would imagine chances of upgrades and over booking incentives are still greater on AA.
          3. As AA platinum already it will take some doing to match that earning potential on BA.
          4. If RFS is a major incentive to focus on BA then it should be remembered that in many cases there are cheap cash alternatives outside peak holidays.
          5. 241 is orobably best thing left in UK loyalty schemes.
          6. How many miles you have now and his you redeem tgen wasn’t mentioned but I think it is key to your decision. Do you have enough to make you feel relaxed about diversifying into both schemes?
          7. Looks like you are based in UK so there are loads of opportunities to earn avios. So if you play the game well I see no reason why you should not continue as you have been while at the same time growing your avios balance via non flying opportunities.

  • KS says:

    I agree that if you’re going to get status, you might as well get it for as long as you can and I enjoyed reading the post. But…

    1. Unless I take my own food and sleep on the beach in Thailand, the £1600 hasn’t really bought me a holiday at all. It just got me (inconvenient but admittedly fancy for part of the way) flights there and back. Ditto for Amsterdam – though I don’t think there is a beach and if there was, I wouldn’t sleep on it in winter.

    2. I think that the benefit from the £1,600 definitely only works for two years. There isn’t much about Bronze that is attractive at all.

    3. More of a question for everyone else. Is it really worth that £800 a year to have BA Silver status (I speak from a position of some knowledge as I have been silver/gold for the past four years). All you really get is access to BA/partner (usually perfectly reasonable) Silver lounges, seat selection, quicker check in and some minor fringe benefits. The downside is that you only get those if you fly BA or other OW carrier. That cuts down your choice and might end up costing you more in the long run.

    If I was financing it all myself and not through company travel, wouldn’t I be better off paying the annual fee on an Amex Platinum (idea for next article perhaps)??

    • Jeff Linton says:

      That free extra bag is also very helpful.

      I have BA Silver and go on cycling trips/races abroad two or three times a year. BA treat the bike as the second piece of luggage and I don’t get charged anything. If it weren’t for these particular circumstances I doubt I would get anywhere near £800 worth of value each year. When the other half (no status, in terms of airline loyalty anyway haha) brings her bike too, she also gets the second bag free if I booked the flights for both of us so the stacking effect becomes really valuable.

  • Newtraveller says:

    How comes for the business class return trip you multiply 140 by 4 to get 560 instead of 2 which is the number of flights for the return journey.

    • Tats says:

      It is 140 points each way and not return

      • Newtraveller says:

        Yes, so it should be 280 points for the return but above its down as 560.

  • Team Plat says:

    An idea (no clue if it’d work or not):
    Cancel your BA Exec Club account citing GDPR or whatever (the same way some people did for the Iberia promo), so they delete all your details off their system and then sign up again at a time in the year when you want to align with your partner etc.?
    Bit extreme but maybe it could work…

  • Pedro says:

    This is especially useful for those outside the US without access to credit cards that will give you status. Now, can you do the same for *A Gold?

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