Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Stuffed #1: How British Airways sharply devalued Avios for members outside the UK and US

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We’ve now had a bit of time to digest the changes to long haul Avios pricing on Wednesday.

As more examples come to light, it is clear that this is a major devaluation.

It has been disguised by giving a (roughly) 15% discount to UK members who use an Amex 2-4-1 voucher and who can afford to use the maximum number of Avios. Strip these people out and there are some serious underlying issues.

I will run through them over the next few days. The biggest problem is that anyone not based in the US and UK has seen an increase of up to 92%, more usually 45% to 60%, for long haul redemptions.

HfP is, of course, a UK site with an 80% UK readership. This 80% figure holds across all platforms – the site, our email list and social media. Another 10% is from the US.

What wasn’t clear to us on Wednesday is what has happened to people based outside the UK and US. Long haul Reward Flight Saver is not available outside these countries.

The ‘top’ RFS price is the new Avios ‘base’ price

There is one thing you need to know which wasn’t obvious when the changes were announced. The ‘headline’ RFS price is now the BASE Avios redemption price.

Let me explain what I mean.

On Tuesday, the base price for Club World to New York, for an off peak return, was 100,000 Avios + £850.

On Wednesday, the base price for Club World to New York, an off peak return, changed to 160,000 Avios + £850. There was a whopping 60% increase in the number of Avios needed.

However, if you live in the UK or US and qualify for Reward Flight Saver, you will pay a reduced rate of 160,000 Avios + £350. You can choose other combinations, including the old price of 100,000 Avios + £850, if you wish, so you don’t need to be worse off.

What happens if you don’t live in the UK or US?

Let me show you. Here is the New York booking I discussed above, booked via an account which doesn’t qualify for long haul Reward Flight Saver:

How does 160,000 Avios + £850 for a return off-peak Club World flight to New York sound?

If you live in France, Germany, Dubai, Singapore, Spain, whatever …. you’re in big trouble. British Airways has hung you out to dry. There is no way for you to qualify for long haul Reward Flight Saver because it is only available to people who live in the UK or US.

(Well, you could change the address on your BA account. This would block you from holding any local BA financial products, however, and you can’t swap your address back for six months.)

Some examples from Germany

If you can read German, or are happy to use Google Translate, this article from German site meilenoptimieren.com gives other examples.

For example, priced using a German BAEC account:

  • Economy one-way from London to New York on Tuesday: 13,000 Avios + €318
  • Economy one-way from London to New York on Wednesday: 25,000 Avios + €318
  • Business one-way from London to Dubai on Tuesday: 60,000 Avios + €540
  • Business one-way from London to Dubai on Wednesday: 90,000 Avios + €540
  • Business return from London to Miami on Tuesday: 137,500 Avios + €985
  • Business return from London to Miami on Wednesday: 200,000 Avios + €985

These three examples represent an increase of 92%, 50% and 45% respectively.

UK and US residents can also lose Reward Flight Saver pricing

Even if you do live in the UK or US, you can still come a cropper.

I admit that it is unlikely for HfP readers, but any Executive Club member who fails to earn an Avios in a 12 month period loses the right to Reward Flight Saver. There are plenty of UK and US members who are also now facing a 45%-60% rise in long haul premium cabin redemption pricing.

There are other articles to come next week which will look at how BA has stuffed people with ‘old style’ 2-4-1 Amex vouchers and how it has increased fees or – where blocked by law – the Avios required from low tax departure points.


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 (200)

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

  • Robert says:

    What’s the best use of a 2-4-1 voucher now, still long haul in CW or F if it still exists? DXB and JFK have zero availability before April so need to find a good alternative destination to use the voucher thanks

    • Rob says:

      Old or new voucher? New voucher has virtually unlimited space due to the extra CW availability esp if you start from the regions. Even Sydney is no problem.

      • Robert says:

        Unfortunately it’s an old one, was mainly keen to try the Chelsea Lounge and the T5 arrivals baths after reading about them here.

  • Kwab says:

    Hi,

    Just picked up on your comment there Rob? Would this be the same for Tokyo? Availability is so hard to find. Does hopping on from say Jersey or Edinburgh increase the availability? Thanks

    • Rob says:

      With a new 241 BAPP voucher you will see substantially better Club reward availability from outside London, yes.

      • Robert says:

        I’ll be travelling from NCL or EDI so that’s good to know, at least for my new vouchers, but got until 2024 for those ones, it’s just this old one expiring in April thanks.

      • K says:

        When using new style 241, Why does starting from NCL ( or EDI etc ) open up availability that doesn’t exist if starting from LHR ? Haven’t seen actual logical rationale for this supposition?

        • Robert says:

          I’m not sure, not heard of it before, certainly going to look into it now though.

    • Robert says:

      Hi, thanks for responding. We’ve luckily already got Tokyo locked in on a different voucher so that’s sorted. I haven’t checked for West Coast USA yet, might give that a look. I know BA have added some new destinations which may have first cabin, thanks for any help.

  • Jim Lovejoy says:

    I’ve got a question and 2 comments.
    September my wife and I got off peak award Lisbon – Seattle. Economy to London, Business London to Seattle. I know it’s not apples to apples but Business Lisbon to Seattle was 148.5K for 2 plus about $325 each and now it’s 210K for 2 plus about $325 each. So, the question, did they misquote the cash price because we were starting in economy or is there really a huge devaluation if you’re starting outside of England?
    Next the comments: Firstly I’m looking at Lisbon to Seattle for comparison. I’m seeing first going for less than Club World. (110k each Club world with the same cash price). That’s got to be messed up IT which they’ll fix once they notice.
    Second, it looks like the best price for these flights starting outside London is buying down avios by one step. For 85.64 pounds I can cut avios by 16.75K.
    This is from the US site and given BA IT it may different for those signing in from the UK, but it seems interesting.

  • Jim Lovejoy says:

    Oops that’s supposed to be 110K Club World vs 105K First with the same Cash supplement.

  • David says:

    Look like RFS is available in Belgium!
    BRU-LAX: 210000 Avios + €451
    LHR-LAX: 180000 Avios +€450

    + more princing options

  • Aardvark says:

    I manly use my yearly 2-4-1 voucher to fly yearly to Capetown.
    Bus out, Premium back (both Off Peak)
    I know the old cost because I have a booking for this Jan £1291 for 95000 Avios
    After the recent changes I made a record of the new prices, it was £1360 for 95000 Avios, so not too bad!
    However, now for the same trip it is £ 1,856 for 95000 Avios, so a almost a £500 increase!

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

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