Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use British Airways Holidays to avoid paying for your flight until 3 weeks before departure

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If you’re ‘not the sort of person who books package holidays’, you may have given BA Holidays a wide berth.  It would be a mistake.

BA Holidays has three unique benefits.  Positive changes during coronavirus have made these benefits even more valauable:

It allows you to book flights today but not pay the majority of the cost until 3 weeks before travel

It turns non-refundable flights into up to 90% refundable flights (all you lose is your deposit if you cancel)

It gives you extra Avios on top of the Avios you already earn for the flights and the credit card spend

There is also a potential fourth benefit:

Booking via BA Holidays may actually be cheaper than bookings stand-alone flights

Let’s look at how it works …..

Book your next flight by just paying a deposit

British Airways Holidays has a very generous interest free payment plan.  You pay a deposit when you book.  You only need to pay the balance within three weeks of departure.

The deadline used to be five weeks before departure.  During coronavirus, this has been reduced to just three weeks.

It is VERY easy to turn a potential ‘flight only’ booking into a qualifying BA Holidays booking.

All you need to do is book using the ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ options on ba.com.  You need to add some accommodation or car hire to your stay.  Adding a car is the easiest option unless you actually need a hotel too.

BA Holidays can save you money too

An added benefit of doing this is that it can save you money.  You will often pay less for a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ booking than just for the flight.  This is because British Airways sells you a different – cheaper – sort of flight ticket (don’t worry, you still get Avios and tier points) which is made exclusively available to travel agents.

Even if the price is the same or is marginally more expensive, you may feel that it is a price worth paying to give yourself what could be a substantial period of interest free credit.

It should make your non-refundable flights up to 90% refundable ….

You are also building in an element of flexibility, since you could potentially cancel your booking and forfeit your deposit.

The BA Holidays website says this is possible:

“In most cases, the deposit amount is not refundable in the event that you decide to cancel your booking”

This is substantially better than having to cancel non-refundable flights where you will get nothing back.  Do read the small print carefully during the booking process though.

Of course, at present, the British Airways ‘Book With Confidence’ guarantee negates this benefit, since a flight-only booking can be cancelled in return for a Future Travel Voucher.  Once these vouchers stop being available – and BA is keen to stop them as soon as it feels it can – the BA Holidays route will again become an alternative option.

How it works

There is a special page on the BA Holidays website here which expains how the ‘paying with just a deposit’ scheme works.

Your ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car hire’ booking is confirmed as soon as you have paid the deposit.  The amount will be:

  • Package value £300-£999 – pay £150 deposit per booking
  • Package value £1000-£2999 – pay from £300 deposit per booking
  • Package value £3000-£3499 – pay from £400 deposit per booking

I’m not sure what the ‘pay from‘ element represents.  I am guessing you need to pay the higher of a percentage or the cash element listed on larger bookings.

Your balance is not due until three weeks before departure.

Alternatively, you can by pay instalments at any point up to three weeks before departure.  This is another benefit – you can split the cost across numerous credit cards if necessary, unlike a straight ‘flight only’ booking.  You can also time your payments to maximise credit card sign-up bonuses or annual spend bonuses.

An Avios bonus

By booking a ‘flight and hotel’ or ‘flight and car’ package with BA Holidays, you get an extra bonus.  You receive 1 Avios per £1 for your booking.  This is in addition to the Avios from the flight and from your credit card spend.

You can learn about collecting Avios on BA Holidays bookings on their website here.

Are there any downsides?

Some, yes:

Flights booked via BA Holidays do NOT qualify for On Business points in the BA small business scheme.

You also do NOT get the 24 hour ‘cooling off period’ for free cancellation that BA offers for flight only booking.

The BA Holidays site is here if you want to find out more.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 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 BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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 BA Amex American Express card

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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of 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 10,000 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 card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

(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 (73)

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

  • Shamrock says:

    Rob, I tool advantage of the BA 50% less Avios deal last year to go First Class to Dubai. Due to travel end of May (after the 17th). What happens if the restrictions extend beyond the 17th. Will BA just give me a voucher for the booked Avios (approx 60k) points and Cash amount? OR will they give me a voucher for a 1st Class flight to Dubai for a later time? Thanks

  • Neil says:

    Forgive my ignorance of this subject, If I was to book a hotel for one night at the airport (I live local to ABZ so unlikely to actually use it) or hire a car for one day and no show would my flights be at risk of cancellation?

  • Carlita Adler says:

    Well… That’s an interesting way of putting it

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

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