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 from credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a special sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(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)

  • 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

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