Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

RFS comes to Club World! Good news for most 2-4-1 holders, ‘neutral to bad’ for others (Part 2)

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This is the second part of our article about the extension of Reward Flight Saver to long haul Club World and World Traveller Plus Avios redemptions on British Airways.

Part 1 is here. In summary:

  • it is good news to MOST (not all) destinations if you have a new-style British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher AND a substantial pile of Avios
  • it is broadly neutral if you have a new-style British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher and only just earned enough Avios to book flights under the old pricing system (and for some destinations, it it worse)
  • it is broadly neutral if you do not have a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher (and for some destinations, it is worse)
  • it is bad news if you have an old-style British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher and have a low Avios balance, since you are forced into using the ‘more Avios and less cash’ option – you are not given a choice

Under no scenario can these changes be seen as a big win for all members in all circumstances.

British Airways reward flight saver avios

How has long haul Avios pricing changed today?

The easiest way to explain the impact of Reward Flight Saver on long haul Business Class and Premium Economy redemptions is by giving you a few examples.

These examples are all based on Club World, but the changes impacts World Traveller Plus too, as well as routes where it wasn’t already available in Economy.

New York with Avios

New York

The ‘headline’ price for a return off-peak Club World flight to New York is now 160,000 Avios plus exactly £350.

In reality, you can choose between:

  • 160,000 Avios + £350
  • 130,000 Avios + £640
  • 100,000 Avios + £850
  • 88,000 Avios + £1,240
  • 64,000 Avios + £1,480
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,790

Yesterday, you had the following options:

  • 100,000 Avios + £853
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,093
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,363
  • 65,000 Avios + £1,593
  • 57,500 Avios + £1,693
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,793

Which is best value here?

I have a rough and ready method of picking the ‘best’ Avios and cash mix, and that is to assume that an Avios is worth 1p.

If you DON’T use a 2-4-1 voucher:

Let’s look at the New York numbers again in that context. Firstly, let’s assume that you DON’T have a 2-4-1 voucher and you value an Avios at 1p:

New pricing for one person (Club World):

  • 160,000 Avios + £350 = £1,950 implied cost
  • 130,000 Avios + £640 = £1,940
  • 100,000 Avios + £850 = £1,850
  • 88,000 Avios + £1,240 = £2,120
  • 64,000 Avios + £1,480 = £2,120
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,790 = £2,290

Old pricing for one person (Club World):

  • 100,000 Avios + £853 = £1,853
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,093 = £1,993
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,363 = £2,113
  • 65,000 Avios + £1,593 = £2,243
  • 57,500 Avios + £1,693 = £2,269
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,793 = £2,293

As you can see, virtually nothing has changed.

The ‘Avios rich but cash poor’ benefit from being able to use more Avios and less money. However, the marginal cost of being able to do that is poor. You ‘save’ £500 in taxes by using 60,000 extra Avios – not a deal I would personally make.

For everyone else it is the same. Booking yesterday with a pot of 100,000 Avios required £853 of taxes and charges, and today it requires £850.

Of course, unless you need the flexibility that comes from an Avios ticket being refundable, none of these options offer great value versus a sale cash ticket to be honest.

If you DO have a 2-4-1 voucher:

Now let’s do it again assuming that you DO have a 2-4-1 voucher and that you value an Avios at 1p.

New pricing (1 x Avios @ 1p, 2 x taxes) for two people on a 2-4-1 in Club World:

  • 160,000 Avios + £350×2 = £2,300 (£1,150 each)
  • 130,000 Avios + £640×2 = £2,580 (£1,290 each)
  • 100,000 Avios + £850×2 = £2,700 (£1,350 each)
  • 88,000 Avios + £1,240×2 = £3,360 (£1,680 each)
  • 64,000 Avios + £1,480×2 = £3,600 (£1,800 each)
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,790×2 = £4,080 (£2,040 each)

Old pricing (1 x Avios @ 1p, 2 x taxes) for two people on a 2-4-1 in Club World:

  • 100,000 Avios + £853×2 = £2,706 (£1,353 each)
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,093×2 = £3,086 (£1,543 each)
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,363×2 = £3,476 (£1,738 each)
  • 65,000 Avios + £1,593×2 = £3,836 (£1,918 each)
  • 57,500 Avios + £1,693×2 = £3,961 (£1,980 each)
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,793×2 = £4,086 (£2,043 each)

It is clearly good news IF you have an American Express 2-4-1 voucher to burn AND you have 160,000 Avios to make the booking. Your booking has got around 15% cheaper when you look at the combined cash and Avios required.

If you only have 100,000 Avios in your account, nothing changes. You’re no better and you’re no worse off. Your 2-4-1 booking will still cost you £850 each in taxes and charges, plus 100,000 Avios.

I should also note that you will only see the sliding scale of pricing if you have a ‘new style’ (issued after 1st September 2021) companion voucher. Old-style vouchers will ONLY see the headline redemption price, so 160,000 Avios + £350 in this case.

Dubai

The ‘headline’ price for a return off-peak Club World flight to Dubai is also now 160,000 Avios plus exactly £350.

In reality, you can choose between:

  • 160,000 Avios + £350
  • 130,000 Avios + £640
  • 100,000 Avios + £850
  • 88,000 Avios + £1,240
  • 64,000 Avios + £1,480
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,790

Yesterday, you had the following options:

  • 100,000 Avios + £853
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,093
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,363
  • 65,000 Avios + £1,593
  • 57,500 Avios + £1,693
  • 50,000 Avios + £1,793

Again …. the ‘old’ pricing is still there (100,000 Avios + £850ish) but you now have the option to save £500 by using 60,000 extra Avios.

It’s not necessarily worthwhile doing this, as you’re getting well under our target 1p per Avios on a marginal basis, but the option is there.

With a 2-4-1 voucher, you get similar results to the New York example. If you are Avios rich then you will make a saving by using the maximum possible level, in this case 160,000 Avios. If you only have 100,000 Avios then you are no better off than you were yesterday.

Los Angeles with Avios

Los Angeles

The ‘headline’ price for a return off-peak Club World flight to Los Angeles is now 180,000 Avios plus exactly £450.

In reality, you can choose between:

  • 180,000 Avios + £450
  • 152,000 Avios + £680
  • 125,000 Avios + £840
  • 108,000 Avios + £1,300
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,700
  • 62,500 Avios + £2,000

Yesterday, you had the following options:

  • 125,000 Avios + £853
  • 112,500 Avios + £1,143
  • 93,800 Avios + £1,473
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,793
  • 70,000 Avios + £1,923
  • 62,500 Avios + £2,023

Again, the ‘old’ level of 125,000 Avios + £850 is still there if you want it.

You have the option of using 55,000 more Avios (total 180,000) to save £390 of taxes and charges. I really wouldn’t do that.

With a 2-4-1 voucher, you ARE better off by taking the 180,000 Avios option if you can (total of 180,000 Avios + £900 for two people) – but do you have 180,000 Avios to burn?

Barbados

The ‘headline’ price for a return off-peak Club World flight to Barbados is also now 180,000 Avios plus exactly £450.

In reality, you can choose between:

  • 180,000 Avios + £450
  • 152,000 Avios + £680
  • 125,000 Avios + £840
  • 108,000 Avios + £1,300
  • 90,000 Avios + £1,700
  • 62,500 Avios + £2,000

Yesterday, you had the following options:

  • 125,000 Avios + £718
  • 112,500 Avios + £1,008
  • 93,800 Avios + £1,338
  • 75,000 Avios + £1,658
  • 70,000 Avios + £1,788
  • 62,500 Avios + £1,888

This is more interesting. The introduction of RFS is a clear devaluation to Barbados even if you have a 2-4-1 voucher and even if you use the new maximum of 180,000 Avios.

Yesterday …. 125,000 Avios + £718.

Today …. 125,000 Avios + £840.

You’ve been legged over.

This next bit is important. You are still worse off even if you are using a 2-4-1 voucher.

Yesterday …. 125,000 Avios + £1,436 (total implied cost of £2,686 at 1p per Avios)

Today …. 180,000 Avios + £900 (total implied cost of £2,700 at 1p per Avios)

If you don’t have 180,000 Avios then you are VERY much worse off.

Yesterday …. 125,000 Avios + £1,436 for two people.

Today …. 125,000 Avios + £1,680 for people.

British Airways Reward Flight Saver changes

Two things to ponder …..

BA continues to misunderstand how redemption prices are perceived

This isn’t the first time I have written this, but it bears repeating.

Offering ‘more Avios, less cash’ is fine but should not be your headline message. It risks making the whole Avios scheme look out of reach for the majority of collectors.

Let’s look at Reward Flight Saver to Amsterdam for a return Economy flight:

Reward Flight Saver with Avios

BA thinks that this is really cool – just £1 of charges, plus 18,500 Avios. My best guess is that your average casual Avios collector looks at this and goes ‘WTF?’.

After all, a discount Economy one-way flight to Amsterdam earns just 125 Avios if you have no BA status.

You need to take 144 one way flights to Amsterdam to get one free return flight (well, with £1 of charges).

Is this really meant to make the Avios scheme look attractive?

Similarly, with this new pricing, British Airways feels that 160,000 Avios + £350 is a more attractive headline price than 100,000 Avios + taxes and charges for a Business Class flight to New York. I disagree. I think it makes the programme look out of reach for the majority of collectors.

The problem with one-way flights from North America has gone away

Potentially the biggest benefit from the changes today is one that most people won’t immediately spot.

The taxes and charges on a one-way Avios long-haul redemption are now half of the taxes of a return.

Whilst this was roughly always the case when flying east, once you adjust for UK Air Passenger Duty, it absolutely was not the case when flying to/from North America.

You will no longer pay a premium if you book your outbound and return flights to North America as 2 x one-way tickets rather than a return. This also makes it easier to mix and match carriers (perhaps one-way on Virgin Atlantic, one way on British Airways, or take a low cost carrier outbound on a day flight and use BA for a flat bed Avios redemption on the overnight back).

Conclusion

Based on my initial look – and I may refine my view in time – the simple conclusion to draw today is:

  • long-haul Business / Premium Economy Avios redemptions are now better value if you are using an American Express 241 companion voucher – but not on all routes (see Barbados) and ONLY if you are prepared to use the higher amount of Avios
  • long-haul Business / Premium Economy Avios redemptions are the same value – no better and no worse, in most cases – if you do not have an American Express 2-4-1 voucher or do not have enough Avios to take advantage of the new maximum Avios redemption levels
  • you may benefit from the taxes and charges figure being equalised in both directions if you ever book one-way flights from North America to the UK

We will clearly be returning to this topic, but I think there is enough here to be getting on with.

Be very clear, however, that this is NOT ‘good news for everyone’. In some cases it is ‘bad news for everyone’ as the Barbados example shows.


HFP-Barclaycard-Avios-Card

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 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.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus 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 card

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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus 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.

Comments (212)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Paul says:

    Cursory glance looks like this has gutted ex-EU – DUB-BOS CW off peak return now pricing at 190k + £702, or 123.5k + £1750.

    Not only is the Avios cost higher than previously compared to individual legs (117000 vs 123500 – anyone know why the extra 6500 is being added?), but charging full UK taxes / fees. A few days ago this was £561 or so taxes and fees.

    Super disappointing 🙁

  • Iain says:

    Will you automatically be offered RFS “pricing” when you select the option to use a 2-4-1 voucher ?

  • Anthony Heather says:

    Hi Rob, I have family in Costa Rica, and Reward availability on the Gatwick flights is next to non-existent. Paying a fortune to go this Christmas! Thanks to your great articles, and rapid updates, I have now been able to use Amex241 to go to San Jose, Costa Rica, via Iberia via Madrid, business. So many thanks. And a further advantage is that the taxes were “only” £1,052, rather than circa £1,700! I hate changing, but it’s worse going in economy, which trust me, on Iberia to Costa Rica, is not good!
    Another thing I wondered, shows 3 suitcases from Heathrow to Madrid but only 2 Madrid to San Jose. We often take 3 cases on direct flights, will 3 cases be allowed on the Iberia flight segments?

  • R.M says:

    On Monday 5th Dec I rang to change a CW avios ticket from MAD to YYZ thru LHR on 27th Dec ret 31st Dec same route. I changed the return to JFK to MAD 4th Jan instead. I was told £35 fee and minus £27.70 in taxes etc but they were unable to process it there and then. The agent added it to the existing booking fortunately and said BA would be intouch shortly. If I heard nothing call back in a couple of days. Got no email from BA and I could only ring back on Friday when they then wanted an extra 67500 avios( me knowing nothing about any changes) on top of the 150000 for peak time already taken.Some credit to BA and after my 2x 50 min calls (me sticking to the fact that the booking was done on Monday before changes – not my fault it couldnt be completed then) no extra miles taken for change. But 217500 miles now for the route is rubbish.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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