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How does the BA upgrade voucher from Barclays Avios Rewards work?

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How does the upgrade voucher issued by Barclays Avios Rewards work?

We are dedicating a lot of space this week to the new Barclays Avios Rewards scheme from Barclays Premier Banking.

Our overview of Barclays Avios Rewards is here. Our Q&A with Barclays Premier is here.

The key website page you need on the Barclays site is this one.

Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher reviewed

Ignoring the generous 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus for new Barclays Premier customers, and ignoring the Avios you earn for taking out other Barclays products, Barclays Avios Rewards works like this:

  • you pay £12 per month
  • you get 1,500 Avios per month
  • you get an BA upgrade voucher every 12 months

Today we are looking at the upgrade voucher and how it works.

How does the Barclays Avios Rewards British Airways upgrade voucher work?

The full details are on this page of ba.com. If there is any divergence between that page and what I write below, trust ba.com.

Put simply, you receive a voucher which can be used to upgrade ONE return Avios flight for one person, or TWO one-way Avios flights – or half of a return flight – for two people

It is important to note that this voucher structure is not new. Lloyds used to issue a similar product on its Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards, which are no longer available to new applicants.

If you had the Lloyds vouchers, I think there are two key differences here:

  • the Barclays voucher is NOT lost if you need to cancel your flight – you get it back to use again, like a BA Amex companion voucher
  • you cannot use it for a one-way flight TO the UK – all flights must depart the UK

Rather than cutting and pasting 33 bullet points from ba.com, I have broken down the key items in various categories.

Remember that no-one will receive one of these vouchers until at least February 2022 so there could still be changes.

When do I earn a Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher?

You receive your voucher in your British Airways Executive Club account within five working days of making your 12th monthly Barclays Avios Rewards membership payment.

Additional vouchers will be issued every 12 months as long as you continue to be a Barclays Avios Rewards members.

You will be able to see your vouchers online on the same page of ba.com which currently shows your British Airways American Express companion vouchers.

Who can use the voucher?

This is important. The voucher is semi-transferable.

Whilst the flight must be booked from the account of the person who receives the voucher, the flight can be booked for anyone. The usual restrictions apply if you are in a British Airways Executive Club Household Account.

Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher reviewed

What do I pay when I use the voucher?

Let’s get one thing clear. THIS. IS. NOT. AN. UPGRADE. VOUCHER.

I call it an upgrade voucher. Barclays calls it an upgrade voucher. Lloyds used to call it an upgrade voucher. It is NOT an upgrade voucher.

In practice, this is how it works.

You go to ba.com and book a flight using Avios. If you choose to apply the voucher, the Avios you are charged is the sum required if you had booked in the next lowest cabin on the aircraft.

Instead of an upgrade voucher, it is really a ‘book a flight but only pay the Avios you would have paid if you had booked in the next lowest cabin’ voucher. This isn’t very catchy, so we pretend it is an upgrade voucher.

This DOES make a difference, because:

  • the taxes and charges due are the taxes and charges of the higher cabin, since that it what you are booking into (this bit should be obvious), and
  • you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin, only in the higher cabin (this bit is NOT obvious)

You are NOT booking 2 x World Traveller Plus seats on Avios and then upgrading them using the voucher. You are booking 2 x Club World seats on Avios and using the voucher to reduce the cost of the Avios component to that of the next lowest cabin.

Let me repeat – you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin. You DO need Avios availability in the cabin in which you intend to fly.

Hope that’s clear …..

What are the restrictions on what flights I can book?

  • You can only book British Airways operated flights, with a BA flight number. This includes the City Airport flights operated by BA CityFlyer.
  • You cannot use the voucher to book with Qatar Airways, American Airlines etc
  • You cannot use the voucher on franchise partners SUN-AIR and, in South Africa, Comair
  • All flights must depart from the UK
  • The voucher is only valid on Avios flights. You cannot use it to upgrade a cash flight.
  • You cannot book in First Class. The highest upgrade you can get is to fly in Club World / Club Europe, paying the Avios required for World Traveller Plus / Euro Traveller.
  • The voucher can only be used on ‘full’ Avios bookings at the standard base price, in the same way that BA American Express companion vouchers work. You cannot choose a ‘sliding scale’ option of using more or fewer Avios than the base price in return for less or more cash.
  • You cannot use a Barclays Avios Rewards voucher in conjunction with a BA Holidays booking, in the same way that you cannot mix a standard Avios redemption or a companion voucher with a BA Holidays booking

Can I combine my upgrade voucher with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher?

No, not on the same ticket.

You also cannot use it with any other voucher. In reality, it may be possible to combine them with the vouchers issued to Gold Guest List members as these could be used with the old Lloyds vouchers.

Obviously a family of three could unofficially combine an Amex 2-4-1 voucher and a Barclays upgrade voucher on the same trip. Two seats could be booked with the companion voucher and the third seat booked with the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher. You would need to make two separate bookings to do this.

Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher review

Can I upgrade an existing Avios booking?

No.

This is an important restriction. You cannot book a World Traveller Plus ticket on Avios and then ring up BA to upgrade it to Club World if two Club World seats open up later. You would need to cancel the original booking and make a fresh one.

How long is my voucher valid for?

You must complete the outbound segment of your flight within 24 months of the issue date.

This is the same restriction that is imposed on British Airways American Express Premium Plus companion vouchers.

Can I have multiple vouchers?

You can only earn one Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher every 12 months. However, as you have two years to spend them, it is possible that you may have two in your British Airways Executive Club account at the same time.

Even if you have two Barclays Premier accounts (one sole, one joint), you can still only earn one upgrade voucher per year.

You CAN use two Barclays Avios Rewards vouchers on the same booking if you have two in your account.

Any further questions?

If you have any additional questions, please post them in the comments. We may be able to answer it based on our experience of how the Lloyds vouchers have worked in the past.

You can find out more about Barclays Avios Rewards, and how to open a Barclays Premier account, on this page of the Barclays website.

Comments (102)

  • Daniel says:

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but if I want to fly LHR-JFK-LHR, can I fly the outbound leg in W and the return leg in J and use the upgrade voucher just for the return leg?

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Nope. All journeys must begin in UK.

      • Daniel says:

        So even though it is a return ticket with the journey starting in the UK, it can only be used on the out bound leg?

      • Genghis says:

        So much certainty despite not knowing how it will work. No one will have a voucher for another year yet.

        The terms note, “Cabin Upgrade Vouchers can only be used for British Airways flight-only itineraries with departures from the United Kingdom”.

        If you book LHR-JFK-LHR per OP, this is still an ex-UK ticket and is still an “itinerary with departures from the United Kingdom”, so I don’t see why the voucher cannot be used on the return leg JFK-LHR. But I guess we’ll see in the fullness of time.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, as the ticket itself starts in the UK

  • Dwb1873 says:

    So still fighting for the limited reward seats – which were already challenging to get at times, even before the Nectar partnership.

    Better than nothing and 1500 Avios a month for £12 is good – but not if you can’t use the points of course.

    • KBuffett says:

      Agreed. I wonder what affect the influx of Barclays customers who move onto this scheme will have on the availability of reward flights. Did the loss of the Lloyds scheme result in greater availability?
      Do such BA scheme operate in other countries too?

      • Red Flyer says:

        With an income threshold of £75k I hardly think there will be an influx that impacts wider reward flight availability too much.

      • Rob says:

        You should be more concerned about the lack of BA flights to redeem on. Do you have any idea how much smaller the long-haul schedule is going to be without the 747 fleet?

        • yorkieflyer says:

          Yes, its proved tough to get reward seats long haul next Christmas for sure

  • Nicholas says:

    The monthly 1500 Avios isn’t very exciting given you’re paying 1 pence per Avios for these (£12 plus the £3 you lose from giving up blue rewards), so the voucher is the only real incentive. Great for a family of three though when combined with the BA Amex 241

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      And those who are single!

      • Alan says:

        Agree, Lloyds vouchers have been great for that. Also good if travelling with a friend but you’re leaving from different UK departure airports so have separate bookings!

  • Michelle says:

    If you qualify for the account on the gross pay but pay large AVC’s into a pension thereby reducing your net pay, can you still get a Premier account…rang Barclays yesterday but they didn’t seem to know

    • Rob says:

      I get a feeling you could (since you can show Barclays a pay slip with £75k on it) BUT you would need to have the correct amount flowing into your account, which might mean pushing an extra £2000 or so from a savings account into Barclays each month.

      I am guessing their systems are not very sophisiticated and they simply assume that anyone who has £4,500 (or whatever £75k nets down to) going in each month is OK to not be closed down, irrespective of where the money comes from.

  • Robert says:

    “Even if you have two Barclays Premier accounts (one sole, one joint), you can still only earn one upgrade voucher per year.”

    I’m reading this as YOU could only earn one voucher into your BAEC account (which makes sense) but, if the joint account is linked to your partner’s BAEC, could they earn a separate one (if they don’t have a sole account themselves)?

    • Red Flyer says:

      Yes – Barclays confirmed to me that my wife’s BA Exec account can be linked to the separate joint account I have set up alongside my personal one with them.

    • Rob says:

      Correct.

  • RTS says:

    Pretty good if you have a mortgage / BTL with Barclays. That’s another 700 a month!

    • Sandgrounder says:

      They have some very competitive mortgage deals at present, and overpayments are Bendy-friendly too.

      • Zoe says:

        When does Bendy friendly mean?

        • Zoe says:

          What not when!

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          😂

        • Mike P says:

          It means they accept payment by Curve with a credit card underlying which can offer the possibility to earn points from over paying the mortgage. Why people on here think it’s clever to talk in riddles is beyond me.

          • Sandgrounder says:

            It’s just funny now Mike P, that’s all. The cat hath long left the bag. I know humour goes over some people’s heads, very sorry if you were offended.

      • Andrew says:

        Wow. I am an occasional HFP reader and only finding out about Curve now.
        So if I understand correctly you pay through Curve and link Curve to an Avios earning or other points earning card. So my question is which points earning cards do you link it to? Am most interested in Avios or something transferable to Avios.
        Thanks in advance!

  • mzb says:

    A real shame about the starting from the UK restriction. My best use of the Lloyds voucher was into the UK (avoiding sky high taxes/fees)

  • Mike says:

    Disappointing that the voucher can not be used to upgrade to First Class – I hope that will change in the future

    • KBuffett says:

      I agree. I believe the Lloyds voucher could be used to upgrade to First.

    • Rob says:

      The same rule was in place for 5 years with the Lloyds vouchers.

    • Jonathan says:

      BA are massively shrinking their First capacity through the retirement of 747’s with 14+ F seats & replacing them with planes with no or 8 F seats.

      I think it’s fairly obvious which First passengers BA will be looking to wave goodbye to & it’s definitely not those paying full cash fares!

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