Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

FINAL WEEK TO BOOK: BA moves to ‘earn Avios based on your spend’ on bookings from 18th

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

You have just nine days left to book a flight on British Airways if you want to earn Avios based on your ticket class and flight distance rather than what you spend.

We knew this was coming – Iberia switched in November 2022. HfP had the world exclusive on this back in March 2018 when Alex Cruz discussed it in an interview.

Full details can be found on this page of the British Airways website.

British Airways claimed in the official press release that:

“This is a simpler and more transparent system”

This is not true, because earning is based on the fare you pay excluding third party taxes and charges – a sum which 99% of passengers don’t know.

In reality it represents a sharp cut in Avios earned for most people, except for those on higher priced, often fully flexible, tickets which are generally paid for by their employer.

The only upside for non-status passengers is that you will now earn Avios for money spent on seat selection fees and additional baggage fees.

However, to be fair, British Airways says in the press release that the change is being made as the result of customer feedback. You have only yourself to blame.

When do the Avios earning changes come into effect?

The changes kick in for tickets booked from 18th October.

Any travel booked before 18th October will earn at the existing rates, so you have just nine days left.

What is changing with British Airways Executive Club?

One selling point for the new arrangement is that it is simple. The number of Avios you earn per £ is based on your status in the British Airways Executive Club programme.

A base level Blue member earns 6 Avios per £1, whilst an elite member will earn up to 9 Avios per £1.

Take a look here:

Your elite status bonus has been cut

Part of the problem with the new structure is that it is alienating elite flyers by cutting elite bonuses.

Historically you received the following elite status bonus (based on miles flown):

  • Bronze – 25%
  • Silver – 50%
  • Gold – 100%

These will be cut for tickets booked from 18th October to:

  • Bronze – 17%
  • Silver – 33%
  • Gold – 50%

To be fair, the actual change will vary by cabin flown because the current elite status bonus does not apply to the cabin bonus. On the other hand, on a cheap short haul flight the majority of your earnings as an elite currently come from the cabin bonus.

A system so simple it is impossible to know what you earn

As happened with the Iberia changes, British Airways is basing your earnings on the NET cost of your ticket, after taxes and external surcharges have been deducted.

This makes it very difficult to know in advance how many Avios you will earn. Taxes and external surcharges make up a large part of the cost of an inflexible Economy ticket but only a tiny part of a fully flexible Business ticket.

For example, a £39 one way ticket to Manchester has a base fare, adding back the ‘carrier imposed surcharge’, of just £16.50. You will only earn Avios based on 40% of what you spend.

An £8,072 one way flexible business class ticket to New York has a base fare of £7,795. You will earn Avios based on 97% of what you spend.

It gets even more confusing ….

Tickets including those booked as part of a BA Holidays package will continue to earn under the current mileage- and cabin-based scheme:

“…. some tickets where the fare paid isn’t disclosed or isn’t available, including flights booked as part of a British Airways Holidays package, will continue collecting Avios based on a percentage of how many miles you fly and the cabin you fly in (no minimum Avios apply).”

Interestingly status bonuses will be cut compared to what you would earn now which is perhaps the clearest indication of what these changes are meant to deliver:

“Executive Club Bronze, Silver and Gold members will collect 15%, 30% or 50% extra Avios on top of the base flight award.”

British Airways to change how you earn Avios

What can I do if I don’t like these changes?

There is, of course, an easy way to avoid these changes – credit your flight to another airline programme.

The response of Qatar Airways here will be key. If Qatar Privilege Club continues to award Avios based on cabin class and distance, you may earn more Avios by crediting your flight to a Qatar account. It only takes a few seconds to move them back to British Airways Executive Club.

The issue is that you won’t earn British Airways tier points this way. If you don’t care – either because you’ve already retained status or know you’ll never manage it – then opening a Qatar Privilege Club account may be the way to go.

What is wrong with this model of earning Avios?

This model of earning miles has been used by other airlines and is generally disliked by flyers. This is because you are rewarding the wrong people most highly.

The people who are flying on £10,000 fully flexible business class fares to New York are the ones who are laughing all the way to the mileage bank. However, with few exceptions, these are corporate travellers whose choice of airline is made by their employer. You could give these people zero miles and it wouldn’t impact the money that their employer spends with the airline.

This earning model also excludes corporate rebates. Most big companies get a rebate from the airline at the end of the year if they hit spend targets. That £10,000 ticket? A chunk is likely to be repaid. This leads to an even bigger over-rewarding of people travelling on corporate tickets.

Similarly, it is the fullest flights which charge the highest prices. Because these flights are ALREADY full, it makes no sense to spend most of your loyalty budget rewarding the people who fly on them. Those seats would sell anyway, multiple times over. I don’t see anyone offering incentives to buy Taylor Swift concert tickets.

On similar logic, fares are higher on routes where there is no competition – but on routes where there IS competition, and where fares are lower, the lure of Avios is more important. Weirdly, you will now be rewarded more for flying expensive routes where only British Airways could get you there. You will earn fewer Avios on competitive routes where you can choose between carriers (because fares are lower) and more Avios on routes where only BA can you get there directly.

You can find out more about the British Airways Executive Club changes on its website here.

Remember that the changes kick in for flights booked from 18th October so you may want to consider locking in some future trips this week.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 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 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 £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. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) 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

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.

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 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 (68)

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

  • Novice says:

    @Rob, don’t you have any influence in the industry? I mean, it’s fine telling us what is wrong with this method but surely when you interviewed the boss himself, you could have said all this and tried to persuade him to see sense.

    • zapato1060 says:

      BA would have listened and it would have gone in one ear and out the other and/or pissing into head wind. This looks after IAGs coffers and thats just the way they like it.

    • JDB says:

      The whole industry is moving this way and while it doesn’t suit me personally I can understand why they are doing it and it makes sense. I don’t think there’s as much wrong with it as the article suggests and as a few comments suggest, many corporate deals don’t work as the article implies with the big rebate only being on residual fares paid (maybe only 25% of the total) whereas the core spend will be based on net fares for the busiest routes used by that corporate. There will be plenty of winners as well as users and probably not a great difference in the net Avios awarded.

  • Novice says:

    But who are the likely winners in this situation? I’m still confused. Am I right to assume that all business class travellers on any ticket including non flex are winners because they have still paid a lot?

    And, if you are flying on any other BA partner (excluding IB, AA)/ one world flight, how are you affected?

    • Rhys says:

      No, the winners are anyone who pays disproportionately more for their ticket, and typically that tends to be corporates.

      If you pay £10k for a business class return to New York you’ll be a ‘winner’ too!

  • MCM Or Bust says:

    “You have just nine days left to book a flight on British Airways if you want to earn Avios based on your ticket class and flight distance … ” … and actually want to fly British Airways.

    I, no longer, do. BA to me is merely a redemption airline. I have not bought or been bought a BA cash ticket this side of the pandemic and am now even less likely to do so.

    For the US, Virgin is a superior airline in both hard and soft product. South America is reached with Iberia (who aren’t great, admittedly, but more convenient). Middle East: take your pick. Far East: Cathay or via the Middle East. Within Europe, business class is basically Economy Plus which is rarely worth the money so again there’s enough competition not to bother.

    Obviously HfP’ers are not representative of Joe Public. Also, many would prefer status over a better individual flight (I certainly used to). And you can always find people saying “I’ll never fly Airline X again!”

    Well, I will – but not for cash alone. And, although I would like to see BA improve to change my mind, there’s enough choice if they don’t. Eventually, redemptions will become so expensive that it won’t make sense to fly BA then either, but at the moment every year or two I can throw some Avios at them to check out BA’s product … and so far be comfortable in my decision.

    • James C says:

      VS is not a superior airline and their alliance partner, Delta, even less so

  • Rabbit says:

    I have a corporate flight booked but likely need to make changes, if I do this after 18th Oct, will avios earning be via the new system, I assume so as it will require re-ticketing due to date change?

  • lumma says:

    I got an email yesterday saying it was the 10th anniversary of joining the Exec Club. I remember the early days of flying with BA from London (I moved down in 2013), free drinks and food in economy, central airports and you used to get over 1000 avios back on cheap flights to Spain. A couple of returns and you could get a “free” flight to Prague (well for £17.50).

    Back then you’d choose BA over EasyJet or Ryanair, even if it was quite a bit more expensive.

    • Londonsteve says:

      A decade later we’re in a totally different world. For me the sole attraction is being able to access the genuinely high quality lounges in T3 and the extra luggage allowance. If this ended, either because BA moved the flights to T5 or because status holders were no longer allowed more luggage, I doubt I’d ever fly with them again.

  • Steven says:

    It’s another nail in the BA coffin.

  • Wjs57 says:

    The real question for me as a recently retired and therefore solely leisure traveller who has always made good use of the Amex Companion Vouchers . I can’t get my head round how much of a difference this will make to my decision to keep the BA Amex card or not.

    • Rhys says:

      It’s just about earning, not spending. If you earn most of your Avios from Amex then it doesn’t matter. If you earn more points from actual flying then you might be more affected by the change.

  • Neil says:

    Let’s hope that, without lower Avios benefits to lock customers in, BA ups its game in terms of timekeeping, product quality, more responsive customer service and value for money on European routes. After years of being fleeced royally by BA, with none of the benefits BA hands out to corporates, this gold exec club card, business class, non-corporate customer has stopped flying BA and now enjoys the quality, efficiency, refinemed customer service and value for money provided by Swiss, Lufthansa and other European Star Alliance members. This change in the BA Avios policy, in favour of the corporate traveller yet again, merely reinforces my decision to look elsewhere.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.