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

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 (June 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

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 £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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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

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.

  • Liam says:

    Did you point out the “do you really wantS to redeem” mistake on the payment terminal to them?

  • Alan says:

    Good idea for some I’m sure – personally I find duty free just that annoying bit to get through in between security and the lounges!

    I did like the idea of ‘literally physically’ moving virtual Avios – had visions of printing them out and posting them 😜😂

  • Gringo says:

    I recently flew on Qatar, booked by my corporate travel agent. Is there a way I can credit my points to my BAEC account or do I have to first set up a Qatar account to then transfer to BAEC?

  • AndyGWP says:

    “This is seen as a way of tapping into the large Avios balances that many people, especially Qatari nationals, hold but rarely use.”

    Wouldn’t it be better that these points were sat in a Qatari nationals account ‘unspent’, than being exchanged for goods / services at a cost. Or do I recall they are seen as some sort of liability on an IAG spreadsheet when unused? Can you advise please? 🙂

  • swifty says:

    lets hope it was a nice handbag or purse, or perhaps a key chain or a mini broach/pin, I wait for the competition with bated breath!!

  • TGLoyalty says:

    Erm was there actually any point of stick to the £390 when this isn’t for personal use but rather being used for business use for which there is not duty free allowance

    Sorry I’m on a train and got nothing better to do 😂

  • harley says:

    Any idea on exclusions (e.g tobacco) assume cannot use or earn

    • harley says:

      Answered my own question from the terms

      Exclusions as of 24 January 2023:

      Paying with Avios

      Läderach Chocolate, Pandora, Coffee Shop Company, Del Monte, Evergreen, Starbucks, Safran & Caviar, Asia Street Cooking, Burger King HMS, Comptoir Libanais, Costa Coffee Airside, Costa Coffee Cart, Costa Coffee Cart 2, Costa Coffee Landside, Costa Expansion, Dosa Factory, Eat Greek, Enoteca Giardino Wine Bar, Giraffe, Grab & Fly, Grab & Fly Bus Gate, Great Eastern Market, Harvest Market, Hermes, Jones The Grocer Express, Jones The Grocer Social, KFC HMS, La Terracotta, Le Petit Belge, Motta, Limit Sarayi, Spizzico, The Burger Federation, Vit, and Wagamama.

      Earning Avios

      Electronic products, gold, and tobacco products are excluded from earning Avios.
      The following stores are excluded from earning Avios: Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Gucci.

  • Tony says:

    I haven’t managed to link by BA account to Qatar Privilege club, throws up an error prob due to middle name, details are same on both sides. I am in Doha at the moment flying back tomorrow, anyone know if there is a Privilege Club customer service at Hamad International Airport where I could maybe ask someone to sort it out and manage to link accounts?
    I have a household account, is that an issue by any chance?

    • QFFlyer says:

      HHA isn’t an issue, OH and I are in a HHA and have both linked to QR Privilege Club fine. Can’t help with the rest, sorry.

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

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