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 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 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:

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.

Comments (200)

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

  • Niklas Smith says:

    Does the same apply to short haul Reward Flight Saver (i.e. within Europe)? Is that also only available to UK and US residents? And have base Avios prices for short haul redemptions changed?

    • riku says:

      RFS is still available on short haul flights in Europe for me (my account is not in the UK/USA). The avios price did not change either.

      • marcolau says:

        Same for my Hong Kong-based account. Short-haul RFS is fine.
        Though I must say the implementation was already a mess back then, as it took months before my account was finally given options under the new rate structure

  • Neal says:

    After handing out Avios like candies through Barclays etc and introducing the Avios subscription service, I predicted there will be a devaluation coming soon. Here we go. All my redemptions so far are either LCY RFS or HKG-LHR-HKG

    Time to cancel the BA Amex card…

    • Andrew says:

      Ironically it’s the markets where Avios wasn’t given away in their hundreds of thousands that have been hit the worst.

  • patrick C says:

    Well i used my last 241 voucher and i don’t think I will get one again.
    I guess they are purposely guiding foreign members to fly qatar instead.

  • Neal says:

    Rob, there is an easy way to check old Avios pricing by using seatspy. Just click on any date showing availability a table will then pop up with the old Avios pricing.

    • Rhys says:

      We have a whole table with all the standard Avios pricing! What we don’t have is the different options you are presented with, ie. more Avios/less cash and vice versa.

  • riku says:

    I think BA have assumed that people living in mainland Europe would book a flight from their home country to LHR in conjunction with the LHR-USA flight, not just book LHR-USA. When connecting in the UK there is no APD and a redemption like this (connecting in LHR) is several hundred euros cheaper than just LHR-USA (avios is higher though, to cover the short haul connecting flight).
    Should everyone booking just LHR-USA get a choice of RFS and Europe-LHR-USA never qualifies for RFS? It’s not what BA have decided to implement.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      It does seem a bit of a strange analysis to do given as you say if you’re living in Germany or France or Italy you’d more then likely want to book a trip originating from your home country to avoid things like not having your bags checked through on separate bookings.

      And how does the “live in” work? If you live in the UK what sort of pricing would it be for a DUB-LHR-USA trip. RFS or not RFS.

    • HAM76 says:

      The difference is actually not that great… HAM-JFK booked on one ticket is 191,250 Avios + 710.47€. Booked separately I pay 190,000 Avios + 853.90€. A saving of 1,250 Avios and 143€. That’s not worth the hassle dealing with bags, missing connections and a possible over night stay at LHR twice.

  • Dev says:

    This will be a problem for non-UK/USA addresses as earnings of Avios will go down with the new revenue model. BA, to capture the connecting non point-to-point traffic, have to offer competitive fares against home carriers and this creates a double whammy. Lower earnings + higher Avios requirements

    At least with FlyingBlue, where revenue earning is already in place, I can upgrade on the day of departure and pay the entire sum with FlyingBlue miles (albeit at not so great rates).

    If BA move towards this model, I would make peace with this devaluation.

    • Jack says:

      Time they scrap the ridiculous idea of a revenue model for good no airline has done it properly even Iberia in the same company messed it up

  • davidn says:

    On the point “any Executive Club member who fails to earn an Avios in a 12 month period loses the right to Reward Flight Saver” I’m wondering how this will affect the two children in our household (account) if they don’t fly an avios-earning flight for that long. They don’t have a credit card 🙂 and while I remember an article on HfP about spending 1 Avios via BA Shopping (or something) to maintain a BAEC account, this is different?

    Maybe it doesn’t matter if the person booking the flight has earned? Unless adding their BAEC number to future bookings will somehow disqualify the RFS.

    • David says:

      Person booking the flight is all that matters.

      You still need to worry about avios expiry at 36 months, unless someone in the HHA has status

    • HAM76 says:

      That’s been my situation for years… In fact, since I haven’t been flying BA through the pandemic, I suddenly wasn’t eligible for RFS last year. A quick minimum transfer from my Amex to my BA account fixed that. I booked our flights with RFS pricing for all of us and Avios where deducted proportionally to their balances.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      BA store counts and anything else that counts as activity to maintain your account will count for RFS. There’s no difference.

  • Paul says:

    I gave up my BAPP card in August after having one since they were introduced. The sweet spot for Avios was 2010 to 2015 and I cannot recall a time when I could not get 4 premium seats, often in F without having to book 355 days in advance and at 1am.
    Now F are impossible and club requires booking at stupid o’clock a year in advance, and the cost is simply mad.
    There are other options as I have recently discovered. I had a return to SYD booked for January which I have had to change. With less than 36 hours notice I was able to book a one way in J to SYD for the equivalent of 90,000 plus €167. I paid to come back and arrived home yesterday. Every non BA flight was on time, there was no dramas, bags arrived in less than 20 minutes and catering was excellent. In comparison my flight to my EU starting point was late and the bags took more time to be delivered than the flight took from LHR. There was no catering.
    People need to vote with their feet!!

    • NigelthePensionerr says:


    • Neal says:


    • JDB says:

      I think that’s a rather negative take. We too have had the BAPP since inception, earning two vouchers a year. We have never had to make the midnight call and while nowadays we aren’t looking to redeem on the most popular routes in school holidays (or too many popular routes at all) we still always go in F when that cabin operates which sadly it doesn’t any longer to CPT or EZE. We also go to the destinations chosen by us, not Avios availability as some suggest. BA’s punctuality is about average amongst European flag carriers. Our F flight back from MEX arrived a few minutes early at the weekend, 5 minutes through passports, luggage on the belt when we got downstairs. Of course it doesn’t always like that, but more recent experiences good and LH, for example, is no better.

      • jj says:

        Totally agree with JDB. Paul – you may be accurately describing your use case, but many of us have different priorities and, for me, these changes are significantly positive taken together. I can’t imagine using my Avios on most long haul routes without a 241 as cash bookings are usually better value. The RFS changes improve the value of a 241, and the Iberia changes open up a large number of interesting new destinations.

        Avios availability is good on almost all the routes I want to use, perhaps because I can’t imagine anything worse than a fly-and-flop trip to an international resort hotel in the Maldives. And Avios earning routes are wide open through a range of channels.

        In this Exec Club year, my family will take 14x CE redemption lights and 2x CW redemption flights. Every flight was on exactly the day and to the destination that I wanted. I’m happy.

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

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