Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How can you maximise the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher?

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Last month, Barclays Premier Banking launched a major partnership with Avios to create Barclays Avios Rewards.

You can learn all about Barclays Avios Rewards in this article, which also covers the application criteria for Barclays Premier. The Barclays Avios Rewards website is here.

Barclays Avios Rewards

In simple terms:

  • membership of Barclays Avios Rewards costs £12 per month
  • you receive a monthly reward of 1,500 Avios
  • you receive an annual British Airways upgrade voucher, letting you upgrade a return Avios flight for one person or two one-way flights for a couple

We wrote this detailed guide on how the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher works so I won’t cover that ground again today.

Today, I want to look at how to maximise the value of the voucher.

How do you maximise the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher?

The sensible answer, of course, is ‘to go somewhere you really want to go’.

After all, the ‘best value’ Avios redemptions based on points needed per mile flown include Abuja, Jeddah and Kuwait. It doesn’t encourage many HfP readers to holiday there.

That said, I have come up with six points to consider. Before I start, we need to look at the Avios redemption table for British Airways flights:

British Airways one-way Avios reward flight prices (plus taxes, fees and charges)
Zone Distance Economy Premium Economy Business Class First Class
Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak Offpeak Peak
1 1—650 miles 4,750 5,250 8,500 9,750
2 651—1,150 miles 7,250 8,250 13,500 15,750
3 1,150—2,000 miles 9,250 10,750 17,750 20,750
4 2,001—3,000 miles 10,000 12,500 20,000 25,000 31,250 37,500 42,500 50,000
5 3,001—4,000 miles 13,000 20,000 26,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 68,000 80,000
6 4,001—5,500 miles 16,250 25,000 32,500 50,000 62,500 75,000 85,000 100,000
7 5,501—6,500 miles 19,500 30,000 39,000 60,000 75,000 90,000 102,000 120,000
8 6,501—7,000 miles 22,750 35,000 45,500 70,000 87,500 105,000 119,000 140,000
9 7,001+ miles 32,500 50,000 65,000 100,000 125,000 150,000 170,000 200,000

Remember that you cannot use the Barclays Avios Rewards voucher to upgrade from Business to First, so we won’t be touching on that.

Your voucher will save you between 7,500 and 120,000 Avios

It’s a huge gap, so choose how you use your annual voucher wisely.

The smallest saving of 7,500 Avios is a return Business off-peak short-haul flight to Zone 1. You pay 9,500 Avios instead of 17,000.

The biggest saving of 120,000 Avios is a return Business off-peak flight to Zone 9, where you pay 130,000 Avios instead of 250,000.

In reality, most people will end up somewhere in the middle. Your Barclays Avios Rewards voucher will save you 40,000 Avios on a peak day return Business flight to New York for example.

Even the worst redemption isn’t actually that bad

Even if you do end up blowing your voucher on the worst possible redemption – Business Class to Amsterdam, off peak, saving 7,500 Avios – you’ve still done OK.

At a notional value of 1p per Avios, you’ve saved £75. It’s not a bad return on your annual £144 fee for Barclays Avios Rewards, given that you’ve also earned 18,000 Avios on top.

You also get a lot for the upgrade if you don’t have British Airways Executive Club status – lounge access, fast track security, business class check-in, guaranteed empty middle seat, free drinks including champagne onboard and a free meal.

On a mid-range redemption, you’ve ‘saved’ £400

As I said above, a ‘typical’ redemption (peak Business class return to New York, Dubai etc) saves you 40,000 Avios when you use a Barclays Avios Rewards voucher.

At a notional 1p per Avios, your Barclays Avios Rewards voucher has saved you £400-worth of points.

Remember that, now an Avios can be transferred into 0.8p-worth of Nectar points, a voucher which saves you 40,000 Avios can be treated as saving you £320 of real cash. You can convert the Avios you saved into Nectar points of that value.

The one you didn’t spot – you save MORE Avios when you travel off-peak

Because of the odd way that the Avios redemption chart was drawn up, your Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade vouchers gives you a bigger saving on off-peak dates.

For example, Heathrow to New York in Club World business class, return:

  • off-peak dates cost 52,000 Avios with the voucher, saving you 48,000 Avios
  • peak dates cost 80,000 Avios with the voucher, saving you 40,000 Avios

Don’t forget that taxes and charges are based on the cabin you fly

If you are using the Barclays Avios Rewards voucher to reduce the Avios cost of the cabin you normally travel in, you will pay the same taxes and charges as you would expect. The voucher gets you an Avios saving but you still pay the taxes and charges of the class you fly in.

If you normally travel in Economy and are using the voucher to treat yourself to Premium Economy, or normally travel in Premium Economy and are using the voucher to fly in Business Class, you will have a higher taxes and charges bill than usual.

There are two reasons for this:

  • Premium Economy attracts the higher level of Air Passenger Duty (up to £166 return) whilst Economy attracts the lower level
  • British Airways adds additional surcharges of its own on Avios redemptions which increase by class flown

Upgrading from Premium Economy to Business beats Economy to Premium Economy – despite an identical Avios saving

Ignore all the numbers. At the end of the day, you want the best flying experience possible.

Using the Barclays Avios Rewards voucher ‘saves’ you the same number of Avios whether you use it to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy or from Premium Economy to Business.

Upgrading from Economy to Premium Economy is, however, a relatively modest change. Wider seat, bit more leg room, but that’s about it. You’ll be on the hook for a big jump in Air Passenger Duty and you don’t even get lounge access.

Upgrading from Premium Economy to Business IS a huge jump. Lounge access and a fully flat bed (with a door, if you get Club Suite) IS a massive difference.

To maximise the ‘value’ of your voucher, ignore the Avios saving and focus on the value of the experience. This means, if you can, using your voucher for an upgrade to long-haul Business.

‘Maximising’ your voucher could also mean, for example, saving the voucher for a flight where you know BA has a decent lounge on the return, or for a short-haul flight which departs at the right time to get breakfast or dinner rather than a snack. It’s about more than the absolute number of Avios saved.


Making the most of your Barclays Avios Rewards voucher means looking at both the Avios you need, the Avios you save and the cabin experience you will end up getting.

For a solo traveller, the sweet spot is probably a return upgrade to Business Class on a 10-12 hour flight (eg US West Coast) flying off-peak. 65,000 Avios + taxes and charges for a return flat bed flight to San Francisco can’t be beaten.

For a couple who can use a Barclays Avios Rewards voucher to upgrade one leg each when both travel together, the sweet spot is potentially using the voucher for the overnight leg of a flight where one direction is a day flight.

New York is the obvious example here. Off-peak, 52,000 Avios per person plus taxes and charges would get both of you Premium Economy outbound and Business Class inbound. You may find Premium Economy totally fine for the day flight out, but you would get the flat bed for the night flight on the way back.

Whether you save the minimum 7,500 Avios or the maximum 120,000 Avios, the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher can deliver good value.

The Barclays Avios Rewards website is here if you want to learn more.

Comments (64)

  • Erico1875 says:

    When did the Zone 1, 2 and 3 Avios go up?
    Peak pricing RFS I thought zone1 was 4500 and 9000 , zone 2, 7500 and 15000 and zone 10000 and 20000.
    Or is it to do with the RFS fees?

  • BS says:

    Sure with all the stories of Barclays freezing accounts for making bank transfers of very modest amounts for AC account with a minimum income of £75k, I am not touching this with a barge pole.

    • Alan says:

      Yep they do seem to be extremely OTT in the closures due to transfers – I do lots of them with my main accounts, it’s not exactly unusual!

  • Jonathan says:

    Such blatant white privilege and arrogance in this sentence. “ include Abuja, Jeddah and Kuwait. It doesn’t encourage many HfP readers to holiday there “

    • BS says:

      Please. Being HFP, it is likely as much a comment on the availability of free-flowing alcohol. But it could similarly be a point that their authoritarian regimes of 2/3 of those, oppressing women, gays, minorities, and liberties might not make for the best holiday destination for the majority who read this site.

      • Rob says:

        Er, no, it’s the fact that only 3,000 UK residents went on holiday to Saudi Arabia in 2015 vs 8.5 million to Spain.

        • super white says:

          facts don’t care about Jonathan’s feelings.
          anyhow, how does Jonathan assume that HFP readers are white?
          Answer = his own white privilege!

    • Nicholas says:

      It’s just a fact. Facts can’t be racist.

    • Harry T says:

      The trolls are awake early, keen for another week of rustling jimmies.

    • Erico1875 says:

      Look on the bright side Jonathan .
      At least you will have no problem with availability when you book your next 3 holidays.

    • Gavin says:

      Not possible (or wasn’t till recently) to visit Jeddah as a tourist

    • Rhys says:

      When was the last time you or someone you know went on holiday to those places?!

    • Scott says:

      Have you been to any of these places? I’ve been to all three and really wouldn’t go back to any out of choice, so perhaps less of the virtue signalling please

      • Rob says:

        Link (XLS)

        This spreadsheets shows UK visitors to EVERY country in the world, near enough, for 2015.

        Kuwait is 128th with a whopping 3,000 UK visitors in the whole of 2015. Nigeria is 79th with 23,000 UK visitors. Saudi is 103rd with a grand total of 8,000 UK visitors.

        Strip out ‘friends and family’ trips and the number of holidays is even lower.

    • Mike says:

      How about one just takes the comment at face value; very few people would go on holiday to Kuwait, however, lots of people go to Dubai including Rob. They are both Arab destinations but only the latter is a holiday one. No need to accuse people of made up things like “white privilege”.

    • Patrick Cold says:

      I thank God that I am not possessed of a mind inclined to type this sort of nonsense at 6.30 in the morning.

    • illuminatus says:

      OMG, it seems the left extremists are here too now…

    • bafan says:

      LGBT 🏳️‍⚧️ people are banned from most of these places – please stop exercising your heteronormative privilege over us assuming we can visit those places.

      See it’s easy for all of us to virtue signal, isn’t it. I’m happy HfP isn’t trying to normalize those regimes and assume we can all / would visit.

      • Rob says:

        That’s not why I’m saying no-one goes there! I am saying no-one goes there because, literally, almost no-one goes there – and I showed you the stats earlier.

        • bafan says:

          I know. I was being disingenuous to make the point about being offended about absolutely nothing 😉.

  • Mark says:

    Really like this product from Barclays. Very useful if you want to fly 3 people club, 2 using a 241 and one using the Barclays upgrade voucher.

    • Tim says:

      It would have to be two separate bookings to do this but it’s what I’m planning to do as a family of 3.

      • Laineyling says:

        Same here other than the impossibility of finding 3x club tickets to south east Asia. Anyone expecting to increase number of flights to sg/bkk or reinstate kl? I’m looking out for travel next April.

  • John Pagani says:

    Could we please have an article on the redemption process. On the matter of racism, I acknowledge Jonathan’s remarks, I didn’t feel the comment had a racist edge to it however, I’m sure it’s something Rob will take on board. I have always found HFP an fully inclusive site who’s primary focus is to inform, not offend its readers.

    • Rhys says:

      We don’t know how the redemption process works because nobody will have a voucher until March 2022!

    • Rob says:

      No-one will get a voucher until February 2022 so we don’t know what the process will be.

      • Brian says:

        It’s highly likely to be similar to the old Lloyds vouchers, which was very easy.
        They might have to do some work to either turn the old functionality back on for UK users, or integrate the booking into BAEC.
        It was a case of clicking a radio button to use the voucher on the old, there was an option to upgrade 2x people one way, or 1x person return. It was very similar to using the BAEC vouchers.

        • Alan says:

          Although only worked for point to point – those travelling from outwith London always had to call and book.

  • Matt's Planet says:

    Great analysis Rob. As a data point, I worked for Barclays 25 years ago and had a “staff” tag on my account deep in the bowels of the system. I was already a Premier customer, but couldn’t join the Avios scheme until someone had found and eliminated that hidden staff tag, which took over a month. Have now received the 2,500 bonus avios and I assume the first monthly chunk will turn up after a month of membership. All quite annoying. Not perhaps a great data point, but a data point nevertheless!

    • PlaneSpeaking says:

      I had problems too – the system wouldn’t link my account to my BAEC account due to an IT glitch and like you, this took a month to resolve as well. It’s fixed now but it still asks me to link my account each time I login even though it’s already linked. Barclays admit they were running before they could walk with this promotion but with a Barclays mortgage as well as the main account, I’m very happy with my 2,200 Avios a month!

      • Alan says:

        Yep I’ve still got that bug on mine. Points seemed to go across OK though at least.

    • BuilBackBetter says:

      Doesn’t the staff tag get you some benefits which you might lose now?

      • sloth says:

        it used to years ago – any ‘supposed’ benefits now are negligible

      • Andrew says:

        Mine does. More than a decade on and I’ve just had a letter out advising updated charging structures for certain services, with the phrase “as a colleague, you continue to be exempt from the annual service charge”.

        Took them 8 years to switch off the staff mobile…

        • Genghis says:

          My boss apparently made a PPI claim against them (and won) after he had (mis-)sold himself his own mortgage with PPI.

    • Matt's Planet says:

      I’d asked them probably every 5 years whether they needed to turn this staff functionality off and they always said it made no difference. Until it did make a difference, of course! Never consciously used a staff benefit and indeed I never knew what they were!

      • DeB20 says:

        As a Barclays Wealth customer, I have yet to receive any details of the Avios offer. Doesn’t appear in the app either.

  • Zumi says:

    thanks rob/Rhys for this ‘spending’ article, is there any ‘how to maximize earning’? like a couple joint account/household that will generate multiple vouchers. or this programme is simply designed on Invidivdual basis? Thanks

    • Rhys says:

      Individual basis – although a couple could both apply to Premier/Avios Rewards and both get vouchers (if you both qualify under the criteria)

      • Rob says:

        What Barclays implied to us was possible was this:

        1-joint account, with the low/no earner being nominated for Avios
        2-sole account for the high earner

        This would allow you to get two vouchers per year off just one £75k salary.

        • Nadeshka says:

          We have this set up now after opening an additional account, so yes they are allowing it.

          No issues opening the second (solo) account and first month’s points arrived fine.

    • Andrew says:

      Not sure if it will work, but in certain circumstance if you are a professional, most banks will happily provide you with two different accounts. (Apologies for gender and lifestyle assumptions before Jonathan has a tantrum.)

      Prof Zumi MaidenName
      Mrs Zumi MarriedName

  • Gary says:

    Does the application need to be in joint > solo sequence as suggested, or can be the other way?

    • Rob says:

      Whether you’d get the 25k for a 2nd account, irrespective of order, is unclear – probably best to assume not. I doubt it makes any difference re being able to register for Avios Rewards.

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