The British Airways ‘double Avios’ Gold Priority Reward saga continues
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If you have British Airways Executive Club Gold status, the ‘Gold Priority Reward’ was one of the most valuable but least known perks.
Last November we ran an article proclaiming the death of the Gold Priority Reward, because of changes in the way BA was pricing them.
After publication we were told that this wasn’t true, and that it was down to badly trained agents. Even BA CEO Sean Doyle got involved, bizarrely, when a HfP reader challenged him about this at a ‘meet the manager’ session.
Based on reader feedback last week, however, it seems that BA has now doubled down and issued a memo to call centre agents to stop them booking Gold Priority Rewards at the favourable rate.
If confirmed, this would mean that the value in this reward has now officially gone. You will struggle to find situations where you would want to use it, although there is the odd exception.
Let me explain …..
What is an Avios ‘Gold Priority Reward’?
British Airways always did a bad job of communicating Gold Priority Rewards to its Gold members.
Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios. The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.
You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher or a Barclays Upgrade Voucher.
Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.
There is some further information on the BA Gold benefits page here.
There is one other rule. You can’t use a Gold Priority Reward on a BA CityFlyer service which means all of the short-haul services from London City Airport. This is because, technically, CityFlyer is a separate business inside British Airways and not treated as part of the ‘mainline’ operation. It isn’t clear if the new Euroflyer operation from Gatwick is included.
There never was any value in using a Gold Priority Reward for a long haul flight. Let’s take one of my regular family runs to my sister-in-law in Dubai. Four Club World tickets on a peak day, including one on an Amex 2-4-1, cost 360,000 Avios. Using a Gold Priority Reward, it would cost a crazy 960,000 Avios for four people – plus the standard taxes. You wouldn’t have caught me doing that in a hurry.
Gold Priority Rewards could be a good deal for short haul
For short-haul European bookings, these rewards did have some use. Let’s take my standard run to Hamburg to visit my parents in law.
Under the old pricing system:
- A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day was 9,750 Avios + £35 taxes
- A Gold Priority Reward would cost me 19,500 Avios + £35 taxes
Importantly, you can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as standard Avios seats open up.
Let’s look at the costs here. If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight. This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average. Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.
You’d be looking at £250 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy. Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and you would be saving £215 by using 19,500 Avios to book a Gold Priority Reward.
You are getting over 1p per Avios in this scenario, which is our target. More importantly, you are locking in a hard cash saving and you get to travel on the exact flights you want.
What went wrong with Gold Priority Rewards?
A couple of years ago, British Airways added the option to use lots more Avios but pay only £1 of taxes when booking a reward flight. This is the default pricing option that ba.com now gives you.
This is a truly terrible deal. My personal view is that BA is making a mistake here, because most people are more Avios constrained than they are cash constrained. There is no point saying how wonderful it is to pay just £1 in taxes and charges when the Avios component is ludicrous.
Using the Hamburg example above, you can – for Economy – choose to pay for a return flight:
- 19,500 Avios + £1 or
- 9,750 Avios + £35
…. or various other options inbetween.
Why would you use an extra 9,750 Avios to save £34 when – in the worse case scenario – those 9,750 Avios are worth (x 0.8p) £78 of Nectar points to spend at Sainsburys, Argos or at eBay.co.uk?
Gold Priority Rewards are now priced off the £1 rate
When BA introduced flights with £1 of taxes, some agents in the call centre would use the higher pricing when you tried to book a Gold Priority Reward. Others would use the ‘standard’ rate with £35 of taxes.
Last November we had a run of readers claiming that, however much they begged, BA was insisting on pricing a Gold Priority Reward off the £1 price.
This means, if we stick with the Hamburg example, a Gold Priority Reward in Economy would cost you 39,000 Avios + £1 per person.
You can’t use a British Airways American Express companion voucher, so you’d need 78,000 Avios for two people. To Hamburg, in Economy.
You’d need a pretty big microscope to see the value in that deal.
Are these deals actually dead?
We’ve been wrong about this before, of course. After our November article, I continued to hear about people who had managed to get an agent to book one, albeit after a lot of wrangling.
In the last week, however, two readers have told me that – despite speaking to multiple people and getting supervisors involved – it couldn’t be done.
Importantly, one reader was told that a memo had been circulated to call centre agents forbidding them from booking Gold Priority Rewards at the old £17.50 / £25 rate for short haul.
What is the best use of Gold Priority Rewards now?
The Gold Priority Reward may be dead, but the corpse is still twitching slightly.
The best use of Gold Priority Reward flights is for ski resorts at February half term. We have done this a number of times over the years.
This is what is costs to fly to Salzburg for February half-term in 2023, assuming you want well-timed flights travelling Saturday to Saturday which is what ski hotels usually insist on:
It’s still a great deal to pay 39,000 Avios plus £1 in taxes and charges to avoid paying £1,001 per person for an Economy flight. It arguably justifies a push for a Gold card on its own if you are getting close.
With this rare exception, for most people, most of the time, the value in the Gold Priority Reward seems to have gone.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2023)
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 with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express 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 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 American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
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.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable 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 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) 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.