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50,000 POINTS BONUS: How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

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On Monday, Barclays launched an exceptional sign-up offer on the two new Avios-earning Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards.

The Avios Plus Mastercard now offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 within three months. The free Avios Mastercard offers a sign-up bonus of 10,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 within three months.

You can apply for the Barclaycard Avios Plus credit card here and the free Barclaycard Avios credit card here.

These are very, very good products with everything you could ask for, and are easily (in my view) the most attractive Visa or Mastercard credit cards in the UK. You get:

  • a huge (until 30th May 2023) sign-up bonus which the majority of HfP readers will qualify for
  • a very high Avios earning rate
  • an annual BA cabin upgrade voucher for hitting spending targets
How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

Every HfP reader in the UK should seriously consider applying for one of these cards. If you already have one, see if your partner is keen.

In this article, I want to explain how the cabin upgrade voucher works and who will benefit the most from it.

Before I talk about the cabin upgrade voucher, let’s summarise the two new Barclaycard Avios credit cards:

The free card: Barclaycard Avios

The representative APR is 28.9% variable.

The benefits are:

  • A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of 10,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 in three months – this is a special offer until 30th May 2023
  • You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent
  • No annual fee
  • You earn a British Airways cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £20,000 in a card year

You can apply here.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

The paid card: Barclaycard Avios Plus

The representative APR is 78.9% APR variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 28.9% variable.

The benefits are:

  • A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of an astonishing 50,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in three months – this is a special offer which runs to 30th May 2023
  • You earn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent
  • You earn a British Airways cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £10,000 in a card year
  • You receive discounted access (£18.50) to airport lounges via DragonPass

There is a £20 per month fee (reduced to £15 for customers who hold Barclays Avios Rewards via a Barclays Premier current account via a £5 monthly cashback credit)

You can apply here.

Note that the fee is paid monthly and you can cancel at any point. You may also be offered the chance to downgrade to the free card via the Barclaycard app, but this is not guaranteed.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

How does the cabin upgrade voucher from the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard work?

The full details are on this page of If there is any divergence between that page and what I write below, trust

Put simply, you receive a voucher which can be used to upgrade ONE return Avios flight for one person, or TWO one-way Avios flights – or half of a return flight – for two people

These are the same vouchers that are issued by Barclays Avios Rewards to holders of Barclays Premier current accounts. For clarity: it IS possible to earn TWO cabin upgrade vouchers each year, with one from Barclays Avios Rewards on the current account and the other from a Barclaycard Avios Mastercard.

Rather than copying and pasting 37 bullet points from, I have broken down the key items in various categories.

When do I earn a Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cabin upgrade voucher?

You receive your cabin upgrade voucher in your British Airways Executive Club account within five working days of hitting your annual spend target.

This is:

You can earn a new voucher each card year as long as you hit the spend target.

If you upgrade or downgrade your card during the year, your spend target is reset to zero. It is possible to earn multiple vouchers per year if you upgrade or downgrade after earning one. However, Barclaycard does not guarantee that the option to upgrade or downgrade will be shown to you in the Barclaycard app.

You will be able to see your vouchers online on the same page of which currently shows your British Airways American Express companion vouchers.

Who can use the voucher?

This is important. The voucher is semi-transferable.

Whilst the flight must be booked from the account of the person who receives the voucher, the flight can be booked for anyone. The usual restrictions apply if you are in a British Airways Executive Club Household Account – ie the flyer must be in your Household Account or on your Friends & Family list.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

What do I pay when I use the voucher?

Let’s get one thing clear. THIS. IS. NOT. AN. UPGRADE. VOUCHER.

I call it a cabin upgrade voucher. Barclaycard calls it a cabin upgrade voucher. It is NOT a cabin upgrade voucher.

In practice, this is how it works.

You go to and book a flight using Avios. If you choose to apply the voucher, the Avios you are charged is the sum required if you had booked in the next lowest cabin on the aircraft.

Instead of a cabin upgrade voucher, it is really a ‘book a flight but only pay the Avios you would have paid if you had booked in the next lowest cabin’ voucher. This isn’t very catchy, so we pretend it is a cabin upgrade voucher.

This DOES make a difference, because:

  • the taxes and charges due are the taxes and charges of the higher cabin, since that is what you are booking into (this bit should be obvious), and
  • you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin, only in the higher cabin (this bit is NOT obvious)

You are NOT booking 2 x World Traveller Plus seats on Avios and then upgrading them using the voucher. You are booking 2 x Club World seats on Avios and using the voucher to reduce the cost of the Avios component to that of the next lowest cabin.

Let me repeat – you do NOT need Avios availability in the lower cabin. You DO need Avios availability in the cabin in which you intend to fly.

Hope that’s clear …..

A note on Avios pricing

When you book an Avios redemption on British Airways and some partners, you are offered 5-6 pricing options, each with a different combination of Avios and cash.

When you use a Barclaycard upgrade voucher on, you are offered – with no alternatives – the ‘most Avios, least cash’ pricing option.

This is OK on long haul flights, since this is almost always the best value option. It is an issue on short haul redemptions, where the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option – usually with a cash option of just £1 – is usually not the best value. There is no way of swapping to one of the other pricing combinations.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

What are the restrictions on the flights I can book?

  • You can only book British Airways operated flights, with a BA flight number. This includes the City Airport flights operated by BA CityFlyer.
  • Flights with a domestic connection cannot be booked online due to restrictions. You need to call.
  • You cannot use the voucher to book with Qatar Airways, American Airlines etc
  • You cannot use the voucher on franchise partner SUN-AIR
  • You can use up to two upgrade vouchers per booking
  • All flights must depart from the UK
  • The voucher is only valid on Avios flights. You cannot use it to upgrade a cash flight.
  • You cannot book in First Class. The highest upgrade you can get is to fly in Club World / Club Europe, paying the Avios required for World Traveller Plus / Euro Traveller.
  • You cannot use a Barclaycard Avios cabin upgrade voucher in conjunction with a BA Holidays booking, in the same way that you cannot mix a standard Avios redemption or a companion voucher with a BA Holidays booking

Can I combine my cabin upgrade voucher with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 companion voucher?

No, not on the same ticket.

You also cannot use it with any other voucher. It may be possible to combine them with the vouchers issued to Gold Guest List members as these could be used with the old Lloyds vouchers – I’ve not heard of anyone trying it yet.

Obviously a family of three could unofficially combine an Amex 2-4-1 voucher and a Barclays upgrade voucher on the same trip. Two seats could be booked with the companion voucher and the third seat booked with the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade voucher. You would need to make two separate bookings to do this.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

Can I upgrade an existing Avios booking?


This is an important restriction. You cannot book a World Traveller Plus ticket on Avios and then ring up BA to upgrade it to Club World if two Club World seats open up later. You would need to cancel the original booking and make a fresh one.

How long is my voucher valid for?

You must complete the outbound segment of your flight within 24 months of the issue date.

The expiry date is the same, irrespective of whether you earned your cabin upgrade voucher from the free or the fee Barclaycard.

Can I have multiple vouchers?

If you have a Barclays Premier account, you can earn an additional cabin upgrade voucher via this route.

You may also have multiple vouchers in your account because of the 24 month validity period.

You CAN use two cabin upgrade vouchers on the same booking if you have two in your account, to upgrade both legs of a return flight for two people.

You can take bonus Avios instead of an upgrade voucher

As of earlier this month, Barclaycard is giving you the option of taking a 7,000 Avios bonus instead of an upgrade voucher.

You can select your preference in the Barclaycard app. You will get the voucher by default if you do not make a choice. You can change your choice as often as you want up to the day before your voucher is issued.

You will not be able to exchange vouchers already issued.


As you can, the cabin upgrade voucher you could earn from the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is very powerful. It could easily save you 50,000+ Avios on a long haul business class redemption. It is especially valuable for solo travellers.

The application form for the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard (10,000 Avios bonus) is here.

The application form for the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard (50,000 Avios bonus) is here.

To learn more about the cards, read our Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card review here and our Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card review here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (32)

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

  • Tariq says:

    Thanks for making the lack of value in using the voucher for short haul much more explicit in the new version of the article.

  • Lesley says:

    I have a Barclaycard voucher but when I login to my BA account and select book using Avios and use the voucher the only options that come up are economy and premium economy. I want to select business class (which I know are available on my dates) and then only use the number of Avios for a premium economy ticket. Has anyone managed to use an upgrade voucher?

    • Rob says:

      What happens if you select PE and ‘use a Barclaycard voucher’? Do you see the Club availability?

      • Lesley says:

        I’m trying to get 2 return Avios flights London to Newark. When I select PE (without selecting the Use Barclays upgrade button) I get Club options but then my return journey shows as PE when I want to return Club, using the required amount of Avios. When I try again using the “use Barclays upgrade voucher” the option to select outbound/inbound disappears and Club is no longer an option in the drop-down menu. If I select PE I get a message that I don’t have enough vouchers 😡I think the best way forward will be to book the two tickets separately.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Me too. Useless voucher

  • Judge says:

    Do you need to still hold the card at the time of travel – like the BAPP vouchers, or can you earn the voucher, close the card and still use the voucher within its 2 year expiry date?

    • Rob says:

      No need to keep the card.

    • Gordon says:

      You don’t need to hold onto the BAPP for taxes once the voucher is in the bank, you can pay with any Amex. CS will try to convince you otherwise?

  • Fred says:

    Is there any ‘benefit’ of adding an additional cardholder to Barclaycard ‘world elite’ ? (eg Amex usually offer 3000 Avios)

  • PH says:

    This voucher isn’t interesting to me because of the need to use the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option. I’d never drop 120K Avios on a WTP return to the East Coast to be ‘vouchered’ up to CW when my sweet spot is booking CW for ~£1,800 + 50K Avios.

    I suspect I’m in a minority with how I use the scheme though. I’m happy to pay £2-3K for long haul CW returns. I don’t mess around with ex-EU, and often the best way to get in this price range is to book ‘least Avios, most cash’ redemptions, sometimes topping up the Avios needed further by buying them (especially during % bonus sales). I do this pretty regularly so don’t sit on huge Avios piles.

  • Mark W says:

    How longcafter cancelling a previous Bcard Avios can you apply again and get the bonus?

    • Rob says:

      24 months if it was an Avios one, 6 months for another Barclaycard.

      • Twister says:

        So I closed my Barclaycard avios plus last year October, guessing I’m not getting any bonus points? I should have read the comments before applying. ****** ***** *****

  • Chris R says:

    On the cancelling and adding a voucher option, any idea if I do this via calling, can they guarantee that I won’t lose the avios seats? Worried that I do this and the seats aren’t rebookable

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

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