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Is Avios planning to end points expiry?

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Very few people lose their Avios via expiry. The rules are very lenient – you only need to earn or spend one Avios every 36 months, from any source, to keep your balance alive.

People may use the odd small balance but, by definition, any even half-serious collector will have activity.

However, Virgin Flying Club recently changed its policy. To coincide with the launch of the Virgin Group-wide Virgin Red scheme, the expiry rules were removed entirely. Your Virgin Points are now safe for life.

Is avios expiry about to end?

Is Avios about to announce the end of expiry?

I imagine that most of you will have been tucked up in bed on Friday night with the 91 tightly-written pages of IAG’s 2020 financial results (PDF).

For those of you who didn’t make it all the way to the end, there is an interesting note at the top of page 56. This is where you have the details about the accounting treatment of outstanding Avios.

To quote:

“Deferred revenue relating to customer loyalty programmes consists primarily of revenue allocated to performance obligations associated with Avios. Avios are issued by the Group’s airlines through their loyalty rogrammes, or are sold to third parties such as credit card providers, who issue them as part of their loyalty programme. Avios do not have an expiry date and can be redeemed at any time in the future. Revenue may therefore be recognised at any time in the future.

You need to remember that this is in the formal, albeit unaudited, financial statements. Every word has been gone over carefully. It would be surprising if it had slipped through by accident.

Let’s see if there is an announcement in the next few weeks.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 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 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

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up 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 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 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.

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

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 10,500 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

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 a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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 (45)

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

  • Ben says:

    “Every word has been gone over carefully.”

    Not sure about that, looking at the glaringly obvious typo.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    With a household account does activity in one underlying account protect against expiry in all accounts?

    • lumma says:

      It should for spending as it takes points from all accounts in a household. Earning I’m not so sure.

    • marcw says:

      No

    • ChrisC says:

      If there is an active silver or gold member then yes.

      From https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1481579-your-guide-household-accounts.html

      “Keeping Avios alive!

      If a Blue or Bronze member has had no activity in 36 consecutive months but they are part of an HHA which has a Gold or Silver member their Avios will be protected as long as there is an active Gold or Silver in the HHA. Other than that, make sure you keep an eye on this and ensure all accounts have some activity occasionally – of course, the easiest way to do that is a redemption due to the formula above.“

  • Matt says:

    I think what they are saying is that in accounting terms Avios don’t “hard” expire – Or at least you could not put a date on it. If you make any future Avios the original Avios expiry date is extended. This can keep happening so therefore in accounting terms you could not put an exact expiry date to write them off.

    • marcw says:

      That’s the way I understand it too.

    • Genghis says:

      +1. Nothing has changed. I believe breakage needs to be calculated under IFRS 15 but the most prudent approach is to assume no breakage.

  • HAM76 says:

    That’s not how I understand these sentences. Surely, all those Avios that IAG sold to Amex do not have an expiry date and can be issued by Amex at any time in the future. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Avios in our accounts won’t expire in the future.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Agree. Similar to point above.

      For accounting purposes they all go on forever.

      • Bagoly says:

        i.e. the point is that it is out of IAG’s control whether they expire (leave aside that no doubt they have reserved the right to change the workings!).
        The fact that the (in)actions of some collectors might cause expiry is not something you can rely on in your accounting.

        Expiry after 36 months of no activity seems fair enough – not least to handle collectors who have died, or curtailed activities to the extent that they no longer travel.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Exactly.

          Put simply the Burden of proof that there will be no liability after a certain period will be so higher that it’s easier to just treat every avios out there as a liability.

  • Susan says:

    Is this a change from previous financial statements? Could this just be a difference between the need to recognise that there is effectively an open-ended liability – a gazillion avios could be kept live for 20+ years by earning just a handful – and the terms applied in the scheme that you still need to earn that one, unlike say Accor where there is a hard time-limit for redemption. I may be talking bollox – it’s a very long time since I needed to remember that debits go on the left.

    • Bagoly says:

      Excellent question: Full Year Results 2019 p46, Note 21 has exactly the same wording except that in all three places it is “Avios points” rather than “Avios”.
      So the brand police got that far this year!

    • ChrisBCN says:

      Susan, excellent. Seems this is a non-story.

  • TeesTraveller says:

    Good spot to whoever noticed this. But why would IAG actually do this? Financially, there must be a nice little income stream coming in each year when the expired points drop off the balance sheet. OK it’s not cash but it still benefits the EBIT line.

    Maybe IAG have worked out that Mr & Mrs Smith get annoyed when the avios from their annual holiday expire and then book their next trip to Orlando with Virgin? Or just maybe points expiry is a nightmare to manage and it’s not worth the grief to antagonise customers and partners?

    • The real John says:

      If they take an annual holiday their avios would never expire.

      • TeesTraveller says:

        Ha, fair point! But you get my more general point about antagonising customers.

        • Chrisasaurus says:

          Customers that fly with you less than once in 36 months?

          Implication to me is they’re buying on price and will buy BA if cheapest, lost Avios or not

  • Mikeact says:

    What is the cheapest way on the BA shopping portal nowadays, to beat the 36 month deadline?
    I have two ancient HHA accounts that need refreshing once again.

    • Lady London says:

      Screwfix have credited my moribund avios account within 48 hours every time on 6-8 purchases this year and last year.

      • Martin Louis says:

        I did an Argos purchase on Friday and and email from BA Shopping in Sunday saying the points were awarded. Showing as Pending in my app at the moment.

        Interestingly I double dipped on this purchase as I linked my Argos account to my new Nectar card. On the sales invoice is said I would earn 5x the Nectar points for this transaction within 30 days. Nothing showing on the app yet.

        Actually I just realised I tripled dipped as I paid on my BA Amex card!

        • ChrisC says:

          Nector points from Argos won’t appear in your account – that’s both base and bonuses – until the returns period has expired for the items you bought.

    • Lyn says:

      AbeBooks – an inexpensive used book should do it. Not sure that the avios will post particularly quickly though.

    • BT0001 says:

      I bought 2 pizzas and a side from Pizza Hut and earned 88 Avios

  • TeesTraveller says:

    Ironically I just received an email from Iberia: “Don’t let your Avios expire. Make the most of them booking a flight before May, 31”

    My 186 avios will shortly be winging their way to BAEC.

    • The real John says:

      Be careful – after your IB account expires if you ever transfer avios back into IB from BA, the avios will instantly disappear, unless you have reactivated your IB account by earning some avios there

    • Lady London says:

      I wonder if Iberia will send me a “don’t let your -89,998 avios expire” this year.

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

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