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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?

I want to spend some time over the next fortnight looking again at the new Barclays Premier and Barclays Avios Rewards partnership, so you can see if it is worth signing up.

When we first covered this in March, it was being slowly rolled out. Barclays Avios Rewards is now fully up and running and Barclays is now allowing you to open a Barclays Premier account online – click here.

There is a 25,000 Avios bonus for signing up.

Our overview of Barclays Avios Rewards is here. You can sign up on this page of the Barclays Premier website.

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, 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.

How to apply

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 (40)

  • Jon says:

    So practically speaking, for something like a peak Caribbean redemption in CW it’s 50,000 Avios saved as you pay only WTP+CW redemptions. Plus 1,500 Avios per month. That’s 68,000 Avios a year for 144 quid which seems a good deal and probably even offsets the horror of Barclays customer service. And some of that 144 quid is saved in lower fees for WTP outbound versus CW.

    • Genghis says:

      “ saved in lower fees for WTP outbound versus CW”
      You pay CW TFCs if you’re flying in CW

  • Mike says:

    Rob – any idea how many new Barclays Premier accounts / existing Barclays Premier customers switching to Avios rewards rather than blue rewards that HFP are responsible for generating – must be fair few – it is the only way I (and my work colleagues and friends) found about it, not through any other media or Barclays advertising

    • Rob says:

      No. We took a flat fee for March and April because they couldn’t track it.

      • Tom1 says:

        I find it incredible that Barclays cannot track incoming clicks through to new accounts !

  • Chris says:

    Tempting but I know Barclays Customer Service is shocking. What is their Premier CS like?

    • Ian says:

      I’ve always found them efficient, friendly and helpful. They’re also UK based.

      • EvilGazebo says:

        Counterpoint: the app is unusably hopeless. I kept my Starling in anticipation of this and will be running back into their arms as soon as my 25k posts. Shame really, I think it’s a good product otherwise and I’d like the voucher but I do everything via app so that’s what matters to me.

        • Jon says:

          Curious what sucks about the app? I personally just use my First Direct banking app for looking up transactions and making faster payments. Anything else, I download CSV files for offline analysis as I want to be in control of that data

          • E says:

            Never had any issues with their app which I quite like actually. Also their call center is UK based and you can typically get to them in less than 2 mins calling through the app without any verification codes being requested over the line.

        • Ian says:

          I’ve used the app for years without any issues. I can do all my banking in the app and have never had any problems. Exactly what do you want the app to do that it can’t?

          • EvilGazebo says:

            Main thing is that I’ve never had a single push notification. Not one. Plus it’s buggy, can be slow, I literally had to reconnect my BA account about 10 times (seems more stable now tbf), other services often error “please try later”, etc. The UX is a mess, it’s totally unintuitive to use, it promotes services that you then drill down about three levels until you are told they aren’t actually being sold at the moment.

            I’m probably being a bit harsh but coming from Starling it is all just a bit painful.

  • Memesweeper says:

    Reading the T&Cs :

    Clause 5 seems to rule out booking an outbound online and adding a return later through the call centre. Remains to be seen if that’s enforced.

    10 & 11 allow for booking with higher Avios and reduced TFCs. This will no doubt be disallowed by the IT system (a similar contradiction exists in the T&Cs versus the IT programming reality with the Amex companion voucher).

  • David says:

    Just out of interest how many people travel alone for leisure?
    I would guess a lot of people who have Premier would be going with their partner.

    Thus it seems a shame to restrict it to one-way flights for two people. If the Amex voucher offered the 2-4-1 one-way only for two people I think I wouldn’t bother with it.

    The oddity is that redemptions have a step up in value; Club World is much better than Club Europe due to longer flights and flat beds.

    Thus I can’t see why it wasn’t done that the rewards could have been either a CE return flight for two people, or a CW one-way. It makes no sense to redeem this voucher for a European flight unless you are out of options/Avios and time is running out.

    I think a good article idea next would be how to get Avios. If you have this and a 2-4-1 and want to maximise the value, you’re probably looking at spending a six-figure sum of Avios a year.

    Yet Avios seems much harder to earn nowadays for me anyway and the dribs and drabs mean that by the second year of this scheme I will have the vouchers, but likely not the Avios to spend them unless I could find ways to get 100,000 Avios in a year – so that is a bit of a deterrent. I don’t believe buying them makes much sense at current prices especially compared to the cost of an ex-EU (which also gains Avios back).

    • Andrew says:

      There’s more than one kind of “alone” for leisure though.

      I travel with a mate, he’s based Edinburgh, I’m based in the South East. We book flights independently, and often travel on different flights based on cost. So we fly “alone”, but travel together.

      For those of us who sometimes travel for work, it’s not unusual for a friend or partner to also travel to take advantage of the free accommodation. My last visit to DC was for that very reason. She had a week of conferencing, I had two days in the Newseum, and miles of urban exploring on foot.

      In these circumstances, solo offers are much more useful than couple offers.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Family in Colorado. Wife and I fly out, she stays on longer.
      So 241 only good for outbound, so we tend to do ex-EU for cash.
      This would suit us fine.

  • Mikeact says:

    Shame it’s not open to lesser mortals.

  • P4D says:

    Sounds like open jaw is not likely to be possible(?). Must be a simple return from the same destination and back to the uk?

    • Memesweeper says:

      Can you book open jaw on BA.com? If yes, my hunch is the voucher will work.

  • Paul says:

    Looking at the two vouchers, two people and a return flight scenario…
    I can book two people with one voucher out from the UK – no problem. But when I have two vouchers (Mar 2023 I guess), can anyone guess whether I can use the second one for a booking for two back from the US? Does booking a return still count as trip from the U.K.? I am assuming (a) booked at the same time and (b) there are reward seats, of course.

    Overall, although I’m signed up for this, I think I’m struggling to see the actual use and value of the BRUV.

    • Rob says:

      I am guessing that as long as you have 2 vouchers in your name them you’ll be able to do this. Logically it will be made possible because huge numbers of people, given the 2 year validity, will end up in this boat.

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