It was announced during the IAG half-year financial results presentation on Friday that Avios is launching a UK partnership with BPme Rewards.
I’m not sure if the IAG Loyalty team knew this was going to be announced or not. It hardly moves the needle in terms of exciting the financial community so there was no need to include it, and it has taken the wind out of Avios’s sails in terms of being able to do a big unveiling.
Petrol loyalty in the UK is a mess
Before we look at BPme Rewards, it is worth remembering that the UK’s petrol retailers have never managed to find a successful loyalty formula:
- BP withdrew from Nectar in 2019, launching BPme Rewards which did NOT allow transfers into any other points schemes (clearly that one didn’t work out)
- Esso withdrew from Tesco Clubcard in 2019 but then moved across to Nectar (and, confusingly, it continues to award Clubcard points at Esso garages which have a Tesco store attached)
- Shell closed Shell Drivers Club – which was an Avios partner – and launched Shell Go+ which is not points based
- Texaco withdrew from its Virgin Atlantic partnership
Why does petrol loyalty not work in the UK?
It’s hard to know why petrol loyalty schemes have never worked:
- Because it is a commodity product which people buy purely on price?
- Because the price is displayed in huge numbers at the forecourt, which makes it harder to convince yourself to pay more elsewhere for loyalty benefits?
- Because there is no ‘service’ element in buying petrol – you even pump it yourself – so what are you loyal to?
- Because the rewards are so poor compared to what you spend? You can’t blame the garages for this, though, because the majority of the price of fuel is tax and profit margins are very low.
- Because people buy purely on convenience to where they live / work / shop which trumps everything else?
- Because most people are spending their own money, not their employers, and are more concerned about total value (product price + loyalty benefits) than just the benefits?
Whatever the answer, will Avios and BPme Rewards be able to succeed where all the concepts I listed above have failed?
How does BPme Rewards work?
It’s worth noting that there is a 500 point bonus at the moment for registering. I obviously don’t know if this offer will go up or down or stay the same by the time the Avios partnership launches.
You cannot register on the website without first visiting a BP garage. You need to pick up a temporary card and then register online using the number on the card.
However, you CAN register instantly by downloading the BPme app to your smartphone. You receive the 500 points instantly.
To refer or not to refer?
You receive an extra 250 points if you are referred by a friend and add their referral code code during registration. Your friend will also receive 250 points. These points are not instant – you only receive them after your first BP transaction. My code is 000Q4QEC (three zeros and then letters). No-one can earn more than four referral bonuses per month.
As part of my research for this article, I signed up myself WITHOUT a referral and my wife WITH a referral.
I received the following new member offer worth 550 bonus points on my first four fills:
My wife, who was referred, did not get this. It is possible that, if BP isn’t forced to pay out 500 points (split between the new and referring member) as a referral bonus, it offers the new member this 550 points offer instead. The cost to BP is virtually the same either way.
You are probably better off not using a referral link unless the referral comes from another family member.
How do you earn BPme Rewards points?
The programme is easy to understand, which is good. Unfortunately, it isn’t exceptionally generous.
The ‘earning’ page of the website is here but you need to dig into the FAQ to find the details. You earn:
- 1 point for every litre of regular fuel purchased
- 2 points for every litre of Ultimate fuel purchased
- 1 point for every £1 spent in a BP forecourt shop
Some, but not all, fuel cards are exempt from points earning. You cannot earn in the shop if it is run by a major national brand eg Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons etc.
How do you spend BPme Rewards points?
200 BPme Rewards points are worth £1.
You can use your points to pay for fuel, car washes or BP store purchases, or redeem them for gift vouchers for retailers such as Amazon. You get the same 0.5p per point irrespective.
Is this good value?
No, which is why BPme Rewards has failed to gain traction.
A typical litre of unleaded fuel in the UK costs 127p at a supermarket and 130p at a branded garage. Assuming 130p per litre at BP, you are getting a return of just (0.5p / 130p) 0.38% of your spending.
With the best will in the world, no-one gets excited about a 0.38% return on their spending.
In a BP forecourt store, you are getting a return of 0.5% on your groceries based on one point per £1.
Not only are the rewards poor but there is no gamification element. It has the same structural issue as Nectar. Your points are worth the same irrespective of how many you have, and irrespective of where you use them.
How will BPme Rewards points convert to Avios?
1:1 is too generous – you would be ‘buying’ Avios for 0.5p each, compared to using your points for shopping vouchers. Such a transfer rate would require BP to take a financial hit to subsidise the Avios cost. It’s not impossible, however, if BP is keen to attract BA’s customer base which is likely to drive bigger cars and be less price sensitive than average.
2:1 is more obvious but this is possibly not generous enough. You would be ‘buying’ Avios for 1p each. It certainly isn’t terrible – Heathrow Rewards uses the same 1p conversion rate – but in the current climate I think BP customers may prefer 1p of cash to 1 Avios.
3:2 is probably the economic sweet spot but has the downside of being a bit clunky and harder for members to get their heads around.
What can you do now?
If you are not a BPme Rewards members, you might want to join now and lock in the 500 bonus points for registering. If there is a more generous offer when the Avios partnership launches, you can always abandon your account and open a new one.
If you are already a BPme Rewards member, do not redeem any points for now. Wait and see what the Avios conversion rate turns out to be. It is very likely that there will be some sort of launch bonus, so even if the deal is a bit ‘meh’ in the long term it may well be attractive for the first few weeks.
We’ll keep you in the loop with the Avios and BPme Rewards partnership as it develops.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
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:
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:
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.)