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 (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 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.

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.

Comments (200)

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

  • Adrian Dubock says:

    I have accumulated Avios over a long time, and recently purchased Avios from BA, and then have had them unilaterally devalued by significant amounts. The Avios sale was on false pretences. Is there anyway to challenge its legality?

    • NorthernLass says:

      How was it on false pretences (unless there was a clause in the Ts and Cs guaranteeing no future devaluations, which is very unlikely)? It’s always been a risk buying avios as BA can and do change their award pricing structures at any time, it’s highlighted over and over on here.
      I was toying with the idea of signing up to the avios subscription but felt that a devaluation was becoming overdue, so didn’t, which I am now pleased about!

      • dougzz99 says:

        I think the changes to the vouchers, the means of earning substantial numbers of Avios, and the numbers required for a redemption are all far too fluid at the moment to be exchanging universally accepted cash directly for these junk currencies. I’ve never thought buying Avios a good idea outside of needing a few to top something off, but right now it’s never been a worse idea.
        I’m actually wondering if the £12 for 1500 I’m effectively buying from Barclays each month is worth it anymore.

      • Mark says:

        Yes, we’ve been sitting on quote a few – in large part from the Barclaycard recently plus things like the recent Economist offer and a fair few from Tesco Clubcard before BA ditched them. Shelling out a large chunk on an Asia trip next year, and most of the rest are either in Nectar points (transferred at 250:400), or held in unconverted Amex MR points. I’d also thought about the Avios Subscription but as you say the annual subscriptions particularly do come with a fair amount of risk.

        That said, the best deals (with BA at least) are now for those who have the most Avios to burn, and the ability to use the 2for1 on Iberia services is a big plus (presumably Aer Lingus as well, though I’ve never properly looked into EI redemptions). Having done very well out of Avios over the past 15-20 years I’m willing to accept a level of risk, but this kind of wide-impacting and no notice change isn’t great for confidence in the programme.

      • Littlefish says:

        There certainly used to be a clause in BAEC t&c about reasonable notice.
        It’s been honoured in its breach on multiple occasions.
        Anyway, if it’s still there ….

        • baVid says:

          26.1. British Airways and/or AGL may in its sole discretion modify, withdraw, amend or add to any Services or other offers or arrangements or impose any requirements or restrictions relating to the use of Services or Rewards. British Airways and/or AGL will give as much advance notice as practicable of such action to Members. Current information is set out on

          26.2. Examples of the action which British Airways and AGL might take under Clause 26.1. include withdrawing Services which British Airways provides itself (such as Lounges), modifying the right to earn or redeem Avios points including the rates of redemptions, amending or withdrawing Lifetime Status (such as Gold for life), the withdrawal of a Service (such as car hire) provided by a Service Partner or the withdrawal of Rewards. In addition, Service Partners reserve similar rights to withdraw, amend or add to Services or impose requirements or restrictions relating to them.

    • dougzz99 says:

      Anytime you buy miles/points you’re taking a big risk. If they’re for an immediate use, and the timing of purchase/delivery/booking works, then it can be a good idea. If you’re buying them speculatively it’s never a good idea. You’re buying a currency with limited use, and the value of which is entirely controlled by a single entity, in this case IAG/BA/Avios. They control both the currency, and where you can spend and at what rate. Cash cash cash.

    • Harry T says:


    • Blenz101 says:

      It’s like buying a gift card. The retailer isn’t obliged to hold their prices for good at the point your bought it.

    • Bob Bilby says:

      You’ve failed to appreciate every lesson of the loyalty game then.

      As a shareholder, however, thank you.

    • John says:

      It’s like me buying 5000 Ukrainian hryvnia for £100 last Christmas as I was planning to go this summer… (Worth about £130 at the time, technically still in “profit” at the interbank rate but who knows when it will be safe to go for fun)

  • Nick says:

    I kid you not, extension of RFS was supposed to be the ‘sweetener’ for an even worse change (that was meant to be this week but is delayed). Lots in BA and AGL genuinely thought it was a good thing. Beggars belief really how some think, they never ask the right people!

    • NorthernLass says:

      You can’t dangle that and not follow it through!

    • Rhys says:

      Do you mean revenue-based earning?

    • Dace says:

      I’ll take a guess that the pricing of Avios we’re seeing at the moment with RFS is either ‘off-peak pricing’ or it is ‘old pricing’ to be replaced with new rates.

    • dougzz99 says:

      I reckon it’s going to be minimum spend for status. If not now, soon.

      • meta says:

        Short-haul RFS is next for sure.

      • Jack Hodgson says:

        No it won’t ffs why would they do that ? Teir point earning is part of one world which is based on distance and cabin

    • Jack says:

      Which is what exactly ? nobody really know the revenue model will I suspect be scrapped as it completely should be

  • babyg says:

    Hurray, finally a travel blob/website where the writers didn’t drink all the BA cool aide and understand that not everybody resides in the UK/US etc. Wonder if it will move the needle within BA and create any updates/changes, probably not, but at least us non-UK based people can spend our AVIOS on non-BA flights, and now we can also use our 2for1s on non-BA too.

    • Rob says:

      We’ve not been paid by BA to be nice about the changes though.

    • Lady London says:

      No wonder BA doean’t do interviews.

      I am fascinated by @Nick’s comment above, and wondering just what could be the worae change that the avios people – AGL – also thought would be a good idea that is also gonna happen.

  • Paul says:

    I couldn’t see this mentioned already, but it appears that the old style Amex 2-4-1 (from a premium card) can only be used with the full Avios price for RFS (e.g. 160k Avios for a return from LHR to JFK).
    For the new style Amex 2-4-1 you can choose from the various Avios/cash options.

  • philco says:

    US based members have taken a hit with this change though on balance it isn’t that awful. Prior to this change I could book one-ways from non-US locations and avoid the higher US surcharges but now because my BAEC account is US-based I get to pay the higher US surcharges one-way from locations outside the US.

    In my limited testing for UK/EU that is a couple to several hundred dollars more. So effectively US members no longer have full access to the old pricing. We only have access to the old ex-US pricing. Clearly this change is a win for UK members since their rates are lower than ours.

    Also a huge hat tip for giving the cons as well as the pros. A few of the bloggers seem to be drinking heavily from the BA Kool Aid.

  • Dave Hughes says:

    Does the old Upgrade a premium eco cash ticket to business still work at the old rates? being from liverpool we have found great value in positioning to dublin on ryanair then done dublin – usa prem eco and upgraded the transtlantic legs with avios and small amount of cash? wondering what the avios cost is between the two.

    This will be the best way for Eu flights cost wise surely if the upgrade avios required hasnt changed (or the additional fees)

  • lee says:

    For them to treat people on the old voucher like this is just wrong .
    Is there any legal ground to dispute it or are they covered on terms and conditions ?

    • babyg says:


    • NorthernLass says:

      How are they treating you wrongly? The Ts and Cs are that you get 2 flights for the price of one lot of avios. It doesn’t say how many avios that’s going to be. It’s not as though the programme has been the same for the whole time the vouchers have been issued.
      If you get a BOGOF offer on any product, it doesn’t guarantee the price of the paid-for item, only that of the free one.

      • Lee says:

        As they are treating the old 2 for 1 vouchers totally differently to the ones issued after sept that’s how.
        Old voucher now means you have to pay extra avios and still pay the Old rate of taxes of around £850

        • Rob says:

          No, you pay the new rate of taxes – £350 – but you don’t get a choice. It’s tough if you don’t have the extra 60% Avios to hand.

      • Lee says:

        9 Dec 17:01
        Incoming communication from BA asking Rob, what numbers that would change the tone? 😋

        9 Dec 15:07
        I couldn’t see this mentioned already, but it appears that the old style Amex 2-4-1 (from a premium card) can only be used with the full Avios price for RFS (e.g. 160k Avios for a return from LHR to JFK).
        For the new style Amex 2-4-1 you can choose from the various Avios/cash options.

  • lee says:

    I will wait for Robs article as its all Quite complicated the implications of all these changes . Maybe I have read it wrong .

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