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How can I avoid Avios fees, taxes and charges?

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Can you book Avios flights without paying huge fees for taxes and charges?  It isn’t easy, but there are some options open to you which I want to discuss in this article.

You can’t defend the level of charges on Avios tickets booked on British Airways.  A Club World business class ticket on Avios to the United States now comes with taxes of around £650 return.  Even worse, as this HfP article shows, taxes on long haul Economy tickets can now be as high as a cash ticket!

This is how to avoid high taxes and charges on Avios flight booking redemptions:

(Click on the links to be taken to longer articles which explain the topic in far more detail than I can give in this summary)

How to spend Avios without paying taxes

Option 1:  stick to short-haul redemptions

British Airways caps the taxes on short-haul flights at £35 return in Economy and £50 return in Club Europe / Business.  This makes short haul redemptions one of the best ways to use your Avios points.  Learn more about Reward Flight Saver here.

Option 2:  start your long-haul flight in Jersey or Inverness

OK, this isn’t convenient for most people.  However, there is no UK Government Air Passenger Duty from Jersey or Inverness which means a taxes and charges saving of up to £165 on a long-haul business class flight, connecting in London.

How to redeem Avios without paying high taxes

Option 3:  book your long-haul redemption on Iberia and not British Airways

BA’s sister airline Iberia offers very low taxes and charges.  A business class flight to New York from Madrid will have taxes of around £170 compared to £650 on British Airways from London.  You need to book this via Iberia Plus – don’t try to book Iberia via ba.com or you will pay more.  This article explains how to redeem Avios on Iberia flights.

Option 4:  book your US / Canada flights on Aer Lingus and not BA

Taxes and charges on Aer Lingus Avios redemptions are also very low.  Annoyingly you cannot book these online via ba.com which means calling the BA Executive Club call centre to check availability.  This article explains how to redeem Avios on Aer Lingus.

How can I avoid Avios fees?

Option 5:  redeem on a BA partner and start your flight outside the UK

You don’t just have to redeem your Avios on British Airways.  You can use any of the partner Avios airlines.  Take Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific for example.  Fly from Heathrow to Hong Kong on Cathay and taxes are high.  Fly from Amsterdam or another European airport served by Cathay and you will save.

The British Airways partner which serves the most European city is Qatar Airways, and you can connect via Doha to pretty much anywhere.  This article explains some tricks for reducing the cost of Avios redemption on Qatar Airways.

Finnair has also substantially reduced taxes on redemptions, and the airline is a good choice for Asia due to its strong route network.  Taxes can be as low as £30.

Option 6:  redeem Avios for domestic flights in the USA

American Airlines is a British Airways partner.  You will pay virtually no tax on Avios redemptions on American as long as the flights are domestic.

Option 7:  redeem Avios for domestic flights in Japan

The same point applies to JAL (Japan Air Lines) and its domestic services in Japan as this article explains.  You should also find other Avios partners with low taxes on domestic or regional flights in their home regions.  This article shows how to redeem Avios on Alaska Airlines in the US with very low taxes.

I hope this article has given you a few ideas, and convinced you that you don’t need to pay heavy taxes and charges to get good value from your Avios.

(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works.  You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )

(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.9 million monthly page views.  Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios?  Click here to read our latest news storiesclick here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.)


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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. 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.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

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 (SPECIAL OFFER) 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 Visa card

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 good bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These are available 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.)

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