If you had British Airways Executive Club Gold status, the ‘Gold Priority Reward’ was one of the most valuable but least known perks.
For a couple of years it wasn’t clear whether British Airways had de facto killed it or not. Some call centre agents would still book them in a way that made sense, whilst others would not.
With staff training now presumably complete, since I haven’t heard of anyone getting around the new rules for at least six months, the value in this reward has now officially gone – with one exception.
Let me explain …..
What is an Avios ‘Gold Priority Reward’?
British Airways always did a bad job of communicating Gold Priority Rewards to its Gold members.
Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY British Airways flight using Avios. The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.
You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher, a Barclays Avios upgrade voucher or a Gold Upgrade for One or Gold Upgrade for Two voucher.
Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.
There is one other rule. You can’t use a Gold Priority Reward on a BA CityFlyer service which means all of the short-haul services from London City Airport. This is because, technically, CityFlyer is a separate business inside British Airways and not treated as part of the ‘mainline’ operation. The new BA Euroflyer operation from Gatwick IS included so push back if an agent refuses to book one.
Gold Priority Rewards could be a good deal for short haul
For short haul European bookings, these rewards did have some use. Let’s take my standard run to Hamburg to visit my parents in law.
- A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day used to cost 10,500 Avios + £35 taxes and charges, which means ….
- ….. a ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 21,000 Avios + £35 taxes
Importantly, you can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as standard Avios seats open up.
Let’s look at the costs here. If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight. This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average. Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.
You’d be looking at £250 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy. Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver Reward Flight Saver charge and you would be saving £215 by using 21,000 Avios to book a Gold Priority Reward.
You are getting 1p per Avios in this scenario, which is our target. More importantly, you are locking in a hard cash saving and you get to travel on the exact flights you want.
What has gone wrong with Gold Priority Rewards?
A few years ago, British Airways added the option to use lots more Avios but pay only £1 of taxes for short haul flights. This is the default pricing option that ba.com now gives you.
This is a truly terrible deal. My personal view is that British Airways made a mistake here, because most people are more Avios constrained than they are cash constrained. There is no point saying how wonderful it is to pay just £1 in taxes and charges when the Avios component is ludicrous.
Using the Hamburg example above, you can – for Economy – choose to pay for a return flight:
- 19,500 Avios + £1 or
- 10,500 Avios + £35
…. or various other options inbetween.
Gold Priority Rewards now price off the £1 rate
When British Airways introduced flights with £1 of taxes, some agents in the call centre would use the higher pricing when you tried to book a Gold Priority Reward. Others would use the ‘standard’ rate with £35 of taxes.
Those days are now gone. All call centre agents will now price a Gold Priority Reward off the £1 price.
This means, if we stick with the Hamburg example, a Gold Priority Reward in Economy would cost you 39,000 Avios + £1 per person.
You can’t use a British Airways American Express companion voucher, so you’d need 78,000 Avios for two people. To Hamburg, in Economy.
You’d need a pretty big microscope to see the value in that deal.
Want to push the boat out and fly Club Europe? A Gold Priority Reward to Hamburg will now cost you 65,000 Avios plus £1, return. Bargain.
Don’t even think about using a Gold Priority Reward for long haul
There never was any value in using a Gold Priority Reward for a long haul flight but now it has just got silly.
In late 2022, British Airways extended ‘Reward Flight Saver’ to long haul too. The ‘taxes and charges’ element was reduced to fixed rates, starting at £350 return in Club World.
Let’s take one of my regular family runs to my sister-in-law in Dubai. The base rate for a Business Class seat on Avios is now 180,000 Avios plus £350.
Want to use a Gold Priority Reward? You are looking at 360,000 Avios plus £350, return. For one person.
A family of four would be looking at 1,440,000 Avios + £1,400 to fly to Dubai in Club World, return.
Is there any value, at all, left in Gold Priority Rewards?
The Gold Priority Reward is dead, but the corpse is still twitching slightly.
The best use of Gold Priority Reward flights is for ski resorts at February half term. We have done this a number of times over the years.
This is what is costs to fly to Salzburg for February half-term in 2024, assuming you want well-timed flights travelling Saturday to Saturday which is what ski hotels usually insist on:
It’s still a great deal to pay 39,000 Avios plus £1 in taxes and charges to avoid paying £730. It arguably justifies a push for a British Airways Executive Club Gold card on its own if you are getting close.
With this rare exception, however, for most people most of the time, the value in the Gold Priority Reward has gone.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.