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.
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:
…. 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:
…. 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:
…. 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.
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.
- 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 (June 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
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
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 £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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
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
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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.