Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How can you maximise the Barclays Avios Rewards upgrade voucher?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Earlier this year, Barclays Premier Banking launched a major partnership with Avios to create Barclays Avios Rewards. You can earn 43,000 Avios in your first year!

We are looking at the key features of the account again in a series of article over September and October. You can learn all about Barclays Avios Rewards in this introductory article, which also covers the application criteria for Barclays Premier.

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.

Barclays Avios Rewards

In simple terms:

  • you receive a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios
  • 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:

Avios redemption chart

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.

Conclusion

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 or apply.

Comments (23)

  • Kath says:

    Can you use a 241 and this voucher in the same booking (eg for a family of 3 – two to redeem business and the third to redeem premium and upgrade)?

    • Lottie says:

      we always used one companion voucher for me and my son and the Avios upgrade voucher for my husband. It couldn’t be done on one booking, not sure if it’s changed, so if we didn’t want to pay seat selection fees we had to log in at the same time 24 hours in advance to get seats together ( only one of us had silver) . Linking the bookings didn’t always seem to work.

    • Anna says:

      We’ve done this a few times with the Lloyds voucher, never had a problem getting seats together at check in but you do need to pick a route where you’re fairly sure that 3 award seats are going to stick around in the inventory while you make both bookings.

  • Matthew David Bell says:

    Some good points here.

    Does anyone know how long they take to issue 25,000 bonus Avios?

    I’ve completed my full switch to Barclays Premier and just paid my fourth fee installment and received my 1,500 monthly avios.

    • Amy C says:

      Yes, yours should be soon then. Mine was after about 4 months.

    • MD says:

      Mine posted together with my 5th monthly installment of avios. A few other people have mentioned the same, although most people seem to get it with the 4th installment strangely. You should be fine next month.

  • Wally1976 says:

    Any news on something from Barclays for those of us on lower salaries?

  • Gustavo says:

    Voucher would be valid for a couple of years, so would combining two work for a couple so that you upgrade both legs? Or can you only redeem one voucher per flight?

    • Rob says:

      Presumably you can combine because, if not, you would simply book each person separately and upgrade both tickets that way.

  • Oliver says:

    Very important point is to always check the cash price of the Club World fare.

    If the cash price is low (generally less than £2k for Club World), then you’re often better off paying the cash fare and saving your voucher for a time when cash prices are silly high. Remember to factor in the Avios you’ll earn on the cash ticket and to some degree the Tier Points.

    • Oliver says:

      E.g New York on a Peak date = 80,000 Avios (£800 worth) for Prem Economy. Taxes would be around £500 I’m guessing, so £1,300 total value. You might get lucky and a cash Club World ticket on your dates is ~£1,600 and you’d probably earn around 10,000 Avios back!

    • Doug M says:

      Whilst I agree somewhat with your point you can’t gloss over cancellation for a few quid with a very restricted cash ticket. BWC has changed the dynamics if you’re happy with a voucher, but that won’t last forever. Cheap cash tickets Vs. Redemption is not a like for like.

    • Qrfan says:

      It’s not just club prices you should check. I’ve had great value out of buying a cash premium economy ticket and upgrading with avios. Since the cash premium economy ticket already includes increased APD and higher surcharges the cash element to upgrade often isn’t that much, and the avios required isn’t huge either.

      • Oliver says:

        Be very careful with using Avios to upgrade a cash ticket; I had one to Nairobi a few year back and needed to change the date or cancel, and basically BA call centre told me I would loose the Avois used to upgrade!

        • Qrfan says:

          With most sale fares you’d lose all your cash if you cancel so can’t really see why you’re any worse off losing some avios on the upgrade part…

    • Craig says:

      Depends how many vouchers you have!

  • Kath says:

    Great, thank you!

  • Blair says:

    I find it hard to extract great value from this voucher based on potential pricings. I still find the Aer Lingus AerClub elite tier upgrades better cost savings for me. Decidedly achievable to trigger and ample seats.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.