Stuffed #1: How British Airways sharply devalued Avios for members outside the UK and US
Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.
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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 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 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.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points 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.