Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

I test out spending Avios on duty free at Doha’s Hamad Airport – and you can win my purchases!

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As we covered on HfP a few weeks ago, you can now use your Avios to pay, in full or in part, for purchases at virtually every shop and restaurant at Doha’s Hamad International Airport – over 170 of them.

In a radical move which is a global first, Qatar Airways will now award your Avios on cash flights TWO HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE – allowing you to spend them in Doha during your transit.

Qatar Duty Free use Avios

When I was in Doha recently to see the Privilege Club team, I had the chance to try this out. Qatar Privilege Club gifted me some Avios and I used them to buy some goodies on the way back.

We’ll be giving them away in a HfP reader competition very soon – keep a look out!

How do you spend Avios at Qatar Duty Free?

This entire process requires you to have Avios sitting in a Qatar Privilege Club account. Even if your British Airways account is linked to a Qatar Privilege Club account, you still need to physically transfer them across if you wish to spend them in the airport.

This HfP article shows how to link your Qatar Privilege Club and British Airways accounts.

Full details are on this page of the Qatar Airways website.

Avios from your flight now appear at check in

To receive your Avios at check in before your flight, you need to be crediting your Qatar Airways flight to a Qatar Privilege Club Avios account. If your flight is being credited to a British Airways account, the points will turn up a few days later as they do now and so won’t be available to spend immediately.

One interesting possibility here is to use the Avios earned on your first flight to upgrade your onward leg after your stopover.

It does genuinely work. This is the SMS I received whilst sitting in the Qatar Airways lounge at Heathrow:

Earn Qatar Avios before departure

…. and indeed they were there.

This really is an incredibly slick process, and you can only dream of the day that British Airways could set up something like this. Of course, it helps when the airport, the duty free operation and the airline are under the same ownership.

Spending Avios is simple

The process for spending your Avios is simple. Most shops have a sign like this:

Spending Avios at Qatar Airport Doha Hamad duty free

…. but even if they don’t, it is highly likely that they are taking part.

When you come to pay for your items, you simply scan your boarding pass. The cashier will instantly see how many Avios you have in your Qatar Privilege Club account, and you can choose to use some or all of them towards your purchase.

(If you are crediting your flight to British Airways Executive Club or another programme and your Qatar Privilege Club number is not on your boarding pass, you can show your Qatar Privilege Club membership card on your phone instead.)

You have to click an on-screen confirmation:

Spend Avios in Qatar Duty Free

…. and you’re done. As you can see, I spent 63,663 Avios which covered 100% of the cost of my purchases.

You earn Avios on Qatar Duty Free purchases too

You earn Avios in the same way – scan your boarding pass to bring up your Qatar Privilege Club account number, or have your membership card scanned.

If you part-pay with Avios, you earn points based on the cash element you pay. If you pay with 100% Avios, as I did, you don’t earn any Avios back.

For security reasons, Avios can only be redeemed from an account which matches the name on the boarding pass.

What is the Avios earn and spend rate at Qatar Duty Free?

The spend rate is not fantastic, to be honest.

You will get 0.65 US cents per Avios redeemed, which is currently 0.54p. $1 is currently fixed at 3.64 Qatari Riyal.

This is weaker than transferring your Avios to Nectar and spending them in Sainsburys, Argos or at eBay.co.uk.

It is, however, a very easy way of spending them.

To be honest, the target market here is less the hardcore HfP Avios collector and more the casual flyer.

Imagine that you check in for your Business Class flight and get a notification – as I did – saying that you now have, say, £35-worth of Avios credit which you can use during your transit.

It is a fairly compelling offer, especially as it allows the occasional flyer to burn 100% of the Avios from their flight during the flight itself. No more sitting around with an orphaned balance which may never be redeemed.

It is also a great way of getting new members involved in the loyalty scheme, especially as research shows that members become more loyal after a successful first redemption.

The Avios earning rate on purchases at Qatar Duty Free is 1 Avios per 5 Riyals (£1.08). These need to be credited to a Qatar Privilege Club account but can be easily moved over to a linked British Airways Executive Club account.

Exclusive Avios products will soon be coming to Qatar Duty Free

In order to encourage people to spend Avios in Qatar Duty Free, it is in the process of arranging a number of ‘Avios exclusive’ products.

Imagine if Dior (a random example which I’m making up) produced a limited edition bag which could only be bought in Qatar Duty Free and could only be purchased with Avios. This is seen as a way of tapping into the large Avios balances that many people, especially Qatari nationals, hold but rarely use.

Using Avios at Qatar Duty Free

You also get a Qatar Duty Free discount when using Avios

You will also get a discount on your purchases at Qatar Duty Free when you pay with Avios.

You save:

  • Burgundy members: 10% discount (this is the ‘no status’ level you get for signing up)
  • Silver members: 15% discount
  • Gold members: 15% discount
  • Platinum members: 20% discount

Factor in the discount on top of the 0.65 cents per point redemption rate and it looks a lot more interesting.

The discount only applies to purchases in the main duty free store and not to purchases at branded retailers or food and beverage outlets, although you can earn and spend Avios at virtually all outlets in the terminal.

If you are passing through Doha on a flight soon, it is worth signing up for Privilege Club membership and paying with Avios at duty free purely for the discount.

If you aren’t concerned about earning British Airways Executive Club tier points from your flight, you might as well credit it to your QPC account and benefit from the instant crediting of your Avios too.

Get 4,000 Avios for joining Qatar Privilege Club and taking one flight

Qatar Airways is still offering a sign-up bonus to new members of Privilege Club. Via this link you will receive:

  • 2,000 bonus Avios if your first credited flight is in Economy
  • 4,000 bonus Avios if your first credited flight is in Business

If the bonus credits along with the Avios from your flight, you would have an extra 2,000 or 4,000 Avios of credit to spend at duty free during your transit. I’m not sure if this is the case however.

A competition is coming soon

So, what did I buy that cost me 63,663 Avios? (We had to keep under the UK Duty Free import limit of £390, of course.)

You’ll find out in a day or so, when you’ll have a chance of winning my purchases.

You can learn more about earning and spending Avios at Hamad International on the Qatar Airways website site.

Thank you to the Qatar Duty Free team for showing me around, especially VP Thabet Musleh.

PS. I finally got one key question answered during my tour of the airport. I was wondering what the official name is for the huge yellow bear which dominates the central area of the terminal. “The bear”, I was told.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (July 2024)

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

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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

30,000 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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

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

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (33)

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

  • Amy C says:

    Damn, spent £593 there on Monday, I asked the cashier if I could earn Avios on purchases and was told no. 😠

  • Youngtraveller says:

    The bear made me giggle. I probably won’t be using avios there but will see could be interesting.

  • James says:

    I once spent 790 avios on a BA plane buying a chocolate muffin. I think it was a bad redemption (approx £2.50 onboard) but the process was fairly easy.

    • Andrew J says:

      Indeed, so I’m confused by the above statement that we could only dream of the day BA could set something like this up. They have managed to link the EC accounts to a third party retailer to redeem Avios for purchases. Sounds pretty similar to what’s been done in Doha.

      • BJ says:

        I think the reference was more generally in relation to Qatar taking initiative and delivering results in a simple, efficient and effective way through systems and IT. Only problem I have with this is that IME Qatar Airways app and website is the worst IT of any airline I’ve ever used except JAL. I have found it neither intuitive nor reliable. To be fair though I have had zero problems with it in the last year with everything relating to making my booking and managing them working smoothly so I hope that continues and earlier issues encountered have mostly been resolved. By contrast, I keep reading here about BA IT issues but I’ve never had a problem with it except when it just hasn’t worked at all. However, it too is far from the best I’ve used. For example, in last month I’ve made both cash and reward bookings via Bangkok Airways and Alaska Airlines; both were massively simpler and faster to use, and much better presented than either Qatar or BA. I think the best experience is delivered where airlines ( and trains etc) keep things simple and avoid trying to be too ambitious.

  • Andrew J says:

    As the shop in the picture above is Hamleys, my guess is that it’s a yellow bear that you bought?

  • RobH not Rob says:

    Can you earn avios on spends in any of the airport stores or just the Duty Free store ?

    I’m there tomorrow.

  • Sam Wardill says:

    do you get awarded the Avios for onward connections from Doha prior to departure to Doha?

  • BJ says:

    Personally I’m not at all excited about redeeming avios for duty free but suspect it will be very popular amongst those not so seriously into the loyalty game. However, what I do like here is that Qatar Airways are awarding avios before departure, and that they can be used for or towards onwards upgrades. I think that’s fantastic so top marks due to Qatar Airways for making this possible. A nice touch to put your purchases up for completion, now everybody will be curious to know what you bouggt 🙂

  • Manya says:

    It’s a great idea but will your casual business class flyer/non points enthusiast actually have notifications turned on for Qatar airways to know of the points awarded?

    Given number of apps I have I pretty much have all notifications turned off.

    • Reney says:

      I guess it depends on how they group notification choices. If it is either have notification or not, and other types of notification include gate changes and flight delays then I am going to guess most people want them turned on. If it is just notifications on rewards then maybe not.

    • Blenz101 says:

      They will see Avios earn / burn at the point of sale and their balance displayed will include the points for the flight they are about to take.

      • Rob says:

        Likely if you’ve done online check in etc you would have the app with notifications on.

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

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