Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to earn Avios when you fly United Airlines, a member of Star Alliance

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As there are four separate Avios loyalty schemes across the IAG airlines – British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus AerClub and Vueling Club – which each have their own partners, you would expect some oddities to turn up.

This is one of the biggest ones.  Bizarrely, Aer Lingus AerClub lets you earn Avios when flying United Airlines, which is a member of the competing Star Alliance.

Earn Avios flying United Airlines

United Airlines of the US is a long-standing Aer Lingus partner.   Under the old Gold Circle loyalty programme – before Aer Lingus was bought by IAG – it was possible to credit United Airlines flights to Aer Lingus.

To be honest, I was expecting this feature to go away when IAG bought Aer Lingus, closed the Gold Circle scheme, launched AerClub and adopted Avios.  I was wrong.

United Airlines remains an Avios earning partner

As you can see from this page of the Aer Lingus website, United Airlines remains a partner.  

You can earn Avios points in AerClub when you credit United Airlines flights at the following rates (click to enlarge):

Aer Lingus Avios earning on United Airlines

The % figures are based on the number of miles flown.

As you can see, whilst the figures for Business Class are worse than you’d get from a British Airways flight (BA flights earn 150% or 250% of miles flown), the Avios you earn in Economy Class are competitive. BA flights earn earn Avios at the rate of 25%, 50% or 100% based on fare class.

If you have British Airways status then these numbers will look less attractive because you won’t be getting a status bonus from United.  However, if you have no BA status and are flying to North America on an economy ticket, you are unlikely to be worse off (albeit you earn no tier points) by flying on United and earning Avios in AerClub.

You cannot use a British Airways Executive Club number.  You need to join AerClub and move the Avios across to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’. We explain how ‘Combine My Avios’ works here.

Where does United fly in summer 2023?

As far as I can tell, United is currently flying from Heathrow to:

  • Boston (routes closes October 2023)
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Newark
  • San Francisco
  • Washington DC

From Edinburgh you can fly to:

  • Chicago
  • Newark
  • Washington

From Heathrow these are, of course, routes where British Airways and its partner American Airlines operate too. If United is substantially cheaper, however, it is an option if you still want Avios and are willing to sacrifice tier points. From Edinburgh this is a way to earn Avios to the US on a direct flight.

PS.  It is no longer possible to redeem Aer Lingus miles for United flights.  This would have been very interesting indeed.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 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 – 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 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

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.

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 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 (11)

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

  • Loz says:

    Interestingly, it looks as if star alliance business redemption fare class “I” is a avios generator on Aer Lingus. Does anyone have any experience about whether that actually tracks in practice?

  • Stian says:

    It’s apparently also possible to earn United miles on Aer Lingus. Those don’t expire so could be a better option for people without BA or Aer Lingus status.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      This is correct. But the value of United miles was recently gutted.

  • Truth Truth says:

    Is it possible to transfer United miles over to Aer Lingus?

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      No. You choose to collect either United miles or Avios. And they are not exchangeable

  • Frances Morris says:

    I did business United to Edi – Newark and back, managed to obtain the inbound points. But because the outbound flight was diverted to Shannon then cancelled, the outbound points were not allocated, battled for months between them and Aer.. gave up.
    Also took 7 months to get the cancelled flight compensation. This year I’m flying via London so I don’t have to use United.

    • Andrew. says:

      If you don’t like United, you can still fly transatlantic direct from EDI on Delta, Air Canada, Westjet and Virgin.

  • Peter says:

    So you can jet around the US on United and earn Avios? Or is this limited to transatlantic flights?
    If you can, then it’s an interesting intra-US Avios earn option beside American and Alaska!

  • Mr Benjamin Murphy-Ryan says:

    Big fan of United Polaris J from LHR to SFO – lounge at SFO is up there with the best, and whilst normally prefer BA/AA the routing tends to be cheaper

  • Paul S says:

    Do you have to join United’s club to be able to transfer points to Aer?

    Was there an answer to using United internally?

    • Rob says:

      You can’t transfer United miles to AerClub, you simply give a Lingus number instead of a United one and the Avios get sent automatically.

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

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