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How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

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In February 2022, Barclays launched two new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards.

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 great 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

Every HfP reader in the UK should seriously consider applying for one of these cards.

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

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

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 29.9% variable.

The benefits are:

  • No annual fee
  • A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of 5,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 in three months
  • You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent
  • 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 80.1% APR variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 29.9% variable.

The benefits are:

  • A £20 per month fee (reduced to £15 for customers who hold Barclays Avios Rewards via their current account)
  • A sign-up bonus for new Barclaycard customers of 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in three months
  • 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 can apply here.

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 ba.com. If there is any divergence between that page and what I write below, trust ba.com.

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 the outbound 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 cutting and pasting 37 bullet points from ba.com, I have broken down the key items in various categories.

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

The option to send your cabin upgrade voucher to your British Airways Executive Club account will appear in the Barclaycard app within five working days of hitting your annual spend target.

The spend target 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 ba.com which currently shows your British Airways American Express companion vouchers.

ANYONE can fly using your upgrade 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. Lloyds used to call it a cabin upgrade voucher. It is NOT a cabin upgrade voucher.

In practice, this is how it works.

You go to ba.com 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 it 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 ba.com, 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 combination.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

What are the restrictions on what 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 ba.com 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?

No.

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.

However …..

You can choose when your voucher is issued

This is a key benefit of the Barclaycard voucher over the British Airways American Express voucher.

Once you’ve hit the £10,000 or £20,000 spending target, you will be able to issue your voucher by clicking a button in the app. If you have not issued it by the end of your membership year it is done automatically.

This means that, if you don’t need your voucher immediately, you can delay issuing it and maximise the time you have to use it.

How do Barclaycard Avios Mastercard upgrade vouchers work?

Can I have multiple vouchers?

If you have a Barclays Premier account, which brings you a free Avios upgrade voucher every 12 months, you can earn an additional cabin upgrade voucher each year with the credit card. You are not restricted to one or the other.

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 7,000 Avios instead of an upgrade voucher

If you can’t make the upgrade voucher work for you, there is an alternative.

Barclaycard gives you the option of taking 7,000 bonus Avios instead of an upgrade voucher.

Most people will prefer the voucher, but you have the option. You make your choice in the Barclaycard app before your voucher is issued.

Conclusion

As you can see, the cabin upgrade voucher you will 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 (5,000 Avios bonus) is here.

The application form for the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard (25,000 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.


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

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 (108)

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

  • Duck Ling says:

    I wonder what the rationale is for not allowing the voucher to be used for a Club to First upgrade?

    • Rob says:

      It’s a bit picky I admit, esp given the lack of F availability. I would have allowed it personally, on the basis that a) few will do it due to lack of availability so the cost is low and b) it makes the voucher feel a lot more attractive.

  • Jim Nicholson says:

    I have 3 cabin upgrade vouchers issued in June 2022, August 2022 and June 2023, is there any way I can convert them to 7000 Avios as I am not going to be able to use them?

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

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