Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forums Payment cards American Express Newbie to Avios and BAPP – best use of potential Avios points?

  • omariqy 34 posts

    Hi guys

    Bear with me as I am a complete novice to this all. I have recently signed up for the 70k Avios bonus for both me and the wife. So we should have 140k total in 3 months time. At present we are debating what to do thereafter. We could easily spend £10k each on our respective cards based on expected spends for the house and holidays. Therefore, conceivably we could end up with c180k worth of Avios points and 2 companion vouchers by the end of the card year. We are a family of 5 – 2 adults and 3 children aged between 2 and 8. A few questions:

    1. Given our family size – does it make sense to carry on to get the companion vouchers and pay the £250 fee each
    2. If so – what would be the best way to maximise the points and vouchers we may end up with? Is 180k enough or would we need to build up more?

    I am slightly concerned that as we have 5 in our family then its that much more difficult to make full use of the vouchers and find the seats we need etc.

    The Savage Squirrel 599 posts

    Welcome omariqy

    First thing is to assess how frequently you travel. One of the most useful features of the BAPP voucher is that it has 24 month expiry. This means that when your 2nd year voucher hits you have the option to fly 4 of you on two vouchers generated by just one card – all on a single booking – so first of all consider whether 2 cards serves your purposes.

    The BEST way to “maximise” points/vouchers is to go somewhere you really want to go. Don’t get too hung up on how many Avios your voucher has saved; short-haul is a very valid use. However if you really want to maximise then we’re talking long-haul business travel.

    It’s perfectly possible to travel as a 4 or 5 or even 6, all on Avios, despite BA only releasing two guaranteed seats per plane. If you really are after maximising via long-haul, you’re not going to get to ultra-popular destinations like Sydney or Male, but if maximum value long-haul is your aim then you can often find 5 or 6 seats available with a good choice of dates on not-so-touristy 2nd-tier US cities (think Houston or Atlanta rather than Orlando or San Francisco), to South America or to India. Getting a Seatspy subscription will allow you to see exactly what’s available around given dates – the more flexible you can be the better your chances. Good luck!

    How many Avios is “enough” depends on where you want to go. Here’s a guide to Avios costs at the bottom. Prices are one-way. To take all 5 of you long haul business-class, all on Avios seats, to somewhere like Brazil or West Coast USA, using two 2-for-1s is going to take a little under 500,000 Avios, so some saving needed, but flying to Venice or Tenerife you could do at least twice already in Club Europe with the points/vouchers you’ll get over the next 13 or so months.
    The choice is yours….

    https://www.headforpoints.com/2022/06/03/how-many-avios-do-i-need-to-fly-to/

    omariqy 34 posts

    Welcome omariqy

    First thing is to assess how frequently you travel. One of the most useful features of the BAPP voucher is that it has 24 month expiry. This means that when your 2nd year voucher hits you have the option to fly 4 of you on two vouchers generated by just one card – all on a single booking – so first of all consider whether 2 cards serves your purposes.

    The BEST way to “maximise” points/vouchers is to go somewhere you really want to go. Don’t get too hung up on how many Avios your voucher has saved; short-haul is a very valid use. However if you really want to maximise then we’re talking long-haul business travel.

    It’s perfectly possible to travel as a 4 or 5 or even 6, all on Avios, despite BA only releasing two guaranteed seats per plane. If you really are after maximising via long-haul, you’re not going to get to ultra-popular destinations like Sydney or Male, but if maximum value long-haul is your aim then you can often find 5 or 6 seats available with a good choice of dates on not-so-touristy 2nd-tier US cities (think Houston or Atlanta rather than Orlando or San Francisco), to South America or to India. Getting a Seatspy subscription will allow you to see exactly what’s available around given dates – the more flexible you can be the better your chances. Good luck!

    How many Avios is “enough” depends on where you want to go. Here’s a guide to Avios costs at the bottom. Prices are one-way. To take all 5 of you long haul business-class, all on Avios seats, to somewhere like Brazil or West Coast USA, using two 2-for-1s is going to take a little under 500,000 Avios, so some saving needed, but flying to Venice or Tenerife you could do at least twice already in Club Europe with the points/vouchers you’ll get over the next 13 or so months.
    The choice is yours….

    https://www.headforpoints.com/2022/06/03/how-many-avios-do-i-need-to-fly-to/

    That is great thank you. On your first question, I suppose we could cancel her card after she gets the 70k and pay the pro-rata rate. However, my thinking is that even for the second voucher in the second card year I would end up paying two lots of £250 and we could easily achieve the two vouchers on two separate cards for the same fee but just in one year. Does that make sense? Sorry I may not have explained it that well.

    The place we would likely go with the kids is Dubai. So if I have read that link correctly then we could go there for

    1. 156,000 AVIOS (52,000 x 2 plus 2 companion vouchers plus 52,000 points for one of our children) = Premium Economy Off Peak
    2. 250,000 Avios (100,000 x 2 plus 2 companion vouchers plus 100,000 points for one of our children) = Business Off Peak
    3. 78,000 Avios (As above) = Economy Off Peak

    Adjust for peak accordingly (no idea what they class as peak and off peak).

    What the taxes/fees likely to be? If they are the same then is it worth just saving up to go business rather than economy even though it’s a lot less points?

    Sorry for all the questions but hopefully that all makes sense?

    Omar

    aq.1988 484 posts

    Yes, if you’re willing to keep both cards open, then it may be better to try to earn both in 1 year. But, just bear in mind, that when you redeem the vouchers, you will have to make 2 separate bookings.

    For option 2, it would actually be 300k avios.

    However, those avios rates are actually out of date, as BA recently introduced RFS into long-haul, which basically means more points are required, but taxes are less too. I think you can still select the option to pay fewer avios, and more taxes if you don’t have enough avios.

    You can do dummy bookings on your BAEC account to work out what the taxes would be for your family; whether you use vouchers or not, the taxes would be the same.

    But, off the top of my head, the highest avios/lowest cash option with RFS, Economy (Y) return for 1 adult would be 50k plus £100, PE is 85k plus £280, and Business (J) would be 160k plus £350.

    I know you don’t have a lot of avios, so would have to pay more in taxes, but it wouldn’t be a good use of your vouchers to go in Y, given that you would have paid £500 for the cards to earn the vouchers. If you were willing to go in Y, you could downgrade to the free card, and earn the voucher at £12k spend, which is limited to Y only, but it only has 12 month validity. And the £3k spend you make before the downgrade would count towards your £12k target, rather than have you restart at £0 when you downgrade.

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    With 5 of you you’ll need the extra award availbility granted by the new companion voucher (plus some of the standard seat allocation) or pay for one ticket (or book some of the family on a BA holiday).
    Dubai is very popular, especially in the school holidays, so you will need to hone your strategy. Have a good read of this site about things like booking at T-355, the conditions attached to extra availability seats from the vouchers, and how to get best value travelling with a family/several other people.
    Most people do end up getting the redemption they want eventually, but flexibility is crucial in this game and if you are restricted to specific dates you would be well advised to have Plans B and C to hand in case you can’t get your first choice!

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    BA guarantees to release 4 business and 8 economy seats on each flight at T-355. There are usually 2 premium economy seats made available on long haul routes, but this isn’t guaranteed – a few routes get more than this but you can’t count on it.

    omariqy 34 posts

    Yes, if you’re willing to keep both cards open, then it may be better to try to earn both in 1 year. But, just bear in mind, that when you redeem the vouchers, you will have to make 2 separate bookings.

    For option 2, it would actually be 300k avios.

    However, those avios rates are actually out of date, as BA recently introduced RFS into long-haul, which basically means more points are required, but taxes are less too. I think you can still select the option to pay fewer avios, and more taxes if you don’t have enough avios.

    You can do dummy bookings on your BAEC account to work out what the taxes would be for your family; whether you use vouchers or not, the taxes would be the same.

    But, off the top of my head, the highest avios/lowest cash option with RFS, Economy (Y) return for 1 adult would be 50k plus £100, PE is 85k plus £280, and Business (J) would be 160k plus £350.

    I know you don’t have a lot of avios, so would have to pay more in taxes, but it wouldn’t be a good use of your vouchers to go in Y, given that you would have paid £500 for the cards to earn the vouchers. If you were willing to go in Y, you could downgrade to the free card, and earn the voucher at £12k spend, which is limited to Y only, but it only has 12 month validity. And the £3k spend you make before the downgrade would count towards your £12k target, rather than have you restart at £0 when you downgrade.

    Thanks all for your help.

    I imagine it will take us a fair bit of time to get to c300k Avios points and from what you say we probably need more than that to do business class. So not sure if paying £500 in fees are worth it. Will look at a few dummy bookings and see how many premium economy flights we can get. We may just end up both getting the sign up bonus and spend a few years on the free card building up points with maybe the odd occasional bonus round to top up.

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    You can see avios availabilty on SeatSpy, it will give you a good idea of how many PE seats you’re likely to get on a particular route without searching each individual date. Just looking at DXB, dates when there are more than 2 tend to be outside school holidays as BA knows it can sell those seats for cash to families with school age kids. You can tell from the chart when the holidays are as in the cooler months there are weeks with little to zero availability as it gets snatched up as soon as it’s released!

    So if you look at December next year there’s just a big hole where the Christmas holidays are 😂

    omariqy 34 posts

    You can see avios availabilty on SeatSpy, it will give you a good idea of how many PE seats you’re likely to get on a particular route without searching each individual date. Just looking at DXB, dates when there are more than 2 tend to be outside school holidays as BA knows it can sell those seats for cash to families with school age kids. You can tell from the chart when the holidays are as in the cooler months there are weeks with little to zero availability as it gets snatched up as soon as it’s released!

    So if you look at December next year there’s just a big hole where the Christmas holidays are 😂

    Thanks. We are quite lucky that our Feb half term seems to be different to most other places. The other school holidays we can be flexible a few days each side if need be.

    AJA 1,127 posts

    Also bear in mind that your 140k Avios from the sign up bonuses on each card will be in separate BAEC accounts so in order to spend it all on using one voucher you would need to set up a Household account which has both positives and negatives.

    Re each holding two BAPP cards I think it’s worth it if you are able to spend £20k per year and can afford the £500 annual fees for holding two cards. You will have two vouchers which if you time the spending on each card well means you could have a fair gap between the voucher expiry dates allowing you to use the second voucher while spending £10k to earn another voucher potentially resulting in always having 2 vouchers in hand. TMy OH and I each hold the BAPP so earn two vouchers in a year so have two holidays a year on Avios + voucher effectively spending the same Avios as we would for just one holiday.

    The other point to bear in mind is that in order to use 2 vouchers for 4 people on the same booking you have to hold both vouchers in a single name – you can’t combine your voucher and your wife’s voucher on the same booking though you could have two bookings for the same flight ie you and one child on your voucher and your wife and a second child on a second booking using her voucher. It might also be difficult to snag all 4 CW seats via two bookings. You have a further problem in that you have a 3rd child that you need to buy a ticket for. I am not sure how you would achieve that unless you buy a cash fare for one of the children but there are issues with children on single bookings.

    Overall though I think if you can spend enough to hold the BAPP card and can generate a decent pot of Avios you should get value out of the cards.

    louie 138 posts

    One possible advantage of having vouchers in two names – albeit your children are probably too young – is that you could split your seats over two cabins if there was no availability for all of you in one cabin or you didn’t have enough Avios. For example, you and one child in premium economy and your wife and the other two in business. You’ll be split over two rows minimum or across an aisle anyway and it might actually be easier to manage young children in PE as you are a long way apart in business if in a club suite plane.

    omariqy 34 posts

    Thanks for the replies. We have a household account set up already – What are some of the negatives? We can be flexible on travelling dates I am sure. Even if we ended up using them in premium economy for all of us are Louie says splitting us up – it could still work. 5 is an awkward number but we could make it work.

    Sorry dumb question – assume I can pay off the card purchases as I go along and still qualify for the bonus. I.e. I’ve just paid £1,200 for a hotel. I can pay that off using my bank account but it still uses up £1,200 of the £3,000 spending target? Right?

    aq.1988 484 posts

    Yes, you can pay off your card as you go along, and it will count towards your spend target.

    If your HHA is with you and your wife, I don’t see any negatives to it. Its usually only a problem if you add people that make redemptions as it will use your points as well as their own. There is always the risk of divorce, death, disagreement, etc.

    In response to one of your earlier comments about struggling to get to 300k points, you can use fewer points and more cash, but it might not be great value.

    The easiest way to make a lot of points quickly is to refer other people for cards. If you haven’t already, you can even each add a supplementary card to your account and get 3k avios each.

    You must use the link below:
    https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/benefits/supplementary-cards/

    Lastly, there’s a Barclaycard card that also earns avios which you might want to check out

    omariqy 34 posts

    Hi guys

    Well 4 months later and both me and the wife have spent £10k on our respective cards thanks to regular spend and one-off large house renovation work for the in laws that we used our card for. So we now have 170k points and two companion vouchers expiring at the end of May 2025. Are we ok to cancel our cards now and get a pro-rata refund? I am in two minds whether to subscribe for seatspy and see what we can get with the points/vouchers that we have or to try and beef up the points. Places we would like to go would be Dubai, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, US or Brazil. We are happy to go premium economy but obviously would love business class. Even if we did one of the journeys economy and the other business. Anyone have any tips on what to do or how to beef up the points given we have both had the BAPP cards?

    Thanks

    Omar

    jay1804 9 posts

    If you can hit spend targets quickly, another option is to get the Amex Platinum card using your wife’s referral link current offer is 65k MR points.

    zapato1060 718 posts

    Hi guys

    Well 4 months later and both me and the wife have spent £10k on our respective cards thanks to regular spend and one-off large house renovation work for the in laws that we used our card for. So we now have 170k points and two companion vouchers expiring at the end of May 2025. Are we ok to cancel our cards now and get a pro-rata refund? I am in two minds whether to subscribe for seatspy and see what we can get with the points/vouchers that we have or to try and beef up the points. Places we would like to go would be Dubai, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, US or Brazil. We are happy to go premium economy but obviously would love business class. Even if we did one of the journeys economy and the other business. Anyone have any tips on what to do or how to beef up the points given we have both had the BAPP cards?

    Thanks

    Omar

    Hi Omar, If you have both of your 241s in your BA account then yes you could cancel if you wanted.

    You have 170k. how about Sao Paulo with Iberia off peak rtn from MAD in Biz for only 85k. And because you have the new style 241 then that will cover 2x of you for 85k and £400 approx in taxes/fees. Youd still have 85k left and another 241. There was talk of Iberia re-opening up their Tokyo route on which was 100k return from MAD (I think!) and you could use your last 241 on that. Thats 2 off your list. Good luck.

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    You’re spoilt for choice with the US, Dubai and Japan get booked up quite fast, especially at peak periods. If you don’t manage to boost your avios balance, you could still use both vouchers for business class (at least one way), as you get a variety of avios/cash options to choose from when you make a booking. The best thing is to do a few practice bookings on ba.com to look at pricing and availability.

    omariqy 34 posts

    Thanks all. We are happy to go off peak if needed. I forgot to mention there is 5 of us – 2 adults and 3 children (aged 7,4 and 2). We have 2 241 vouchers – i.e. 4 people.

    zapato1060 718 posts

    Thanks all. We are happy to go off peak if needed. I forgot to mention there is 5 of us – 2 adults and 3 children (aged 7,4 and 2). We have 2 241 vouchers – i.e. 4 people.

    Ummm on IB it’ll be a problem as they only rls 2x J biz seats per flight. So it could be 2x in biz, rest in premium economy to Sao Paulo. 4x on 241s. And one full point paying prem eco/eco. Or wait and collect more avios. You could also use new style 241 with BA to Europe or eco to the USA for 26k off peak with Aer Lingus from Dublin.

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    Another complication is that you will need to make 2 separate bookings with your companion vouchers if they are in different BAEC accounts. Also, if pou out 3 of you on one booking, you won’t get the extra availability unlocked by the new voucher. You’ll need to make sure there’s availability for a 3 and a 2 before you start the booking process, as I’m not sure if you can book separate tickets for very young children these days.

    If finances permit, you can use 1 voucher for 2 of you then book a BA holiday for the other 3 which might give you a cheaper car and/or hotel option.


    @zapato1060
    – does IB even release reward seats in PE?

    zapato1060 718 posts

    @NorthernLass. Yes but only 2x released as per J and they are great metal especially on A350.


    @Omariqy
    Off-peak eco (42.5k) Prem eco is 63.5k and full flat seat 85k from MAD-GRU btw. You could get you all on same plane but in a mix match of seats.

    omariqy 34 posts

    @NorthernLass. Yes but only 2x released as per J and they are great metal especially on A350.



    @Omariqy
    Off-peak eco (42.5k) Prem eco is 63.5k and full flat seat 85k from MAD-GRU btw. You could get you all on same plane but in a mix match of seats.

    Thanks. We have 2 separate 241 vouchers on mine and my wife’s account. However, we have a family account so does that mean we can use it on the same booking?

    Destination airports we are considering:

    1. New York
    2. Dubai
    3. Kuala Lumpur
    4. Tokyo
    5. Rio
    6. Canada (not honed down where to go)
    7. San Fransisco
    8. Doha

    We would be happy to have 2 of us business class and 3 premium economy or just do one way business class and the other way economy. I reckon we can get 200,000 Avios points plus have 2 241 vouchers by the time we book.

    omariqy 34 posts

    If you can hit spend targets quickly, another option is to get the Amex Platinum card using your wife’s referral link current offer is 65k MR points.

    Sorry I missed this. Am I likely to get accepted considering I have just had the BA card? Does it have to be via referral link? She doesn’t have a Platinum card

    NorthernLass 8,287 posts

    You’re technically eligible but Amex has tightened up acceptance criteria recently so you’d have to apply and see what the response is. (Also see the separate thread on this for more info). Best done via referral to maximise points.

    But bear in mind @zapato1060’s point about the chances of getting 5 seats in premium cabins on IB. You’d have a much better chance on BA.

    omariqy 34 posts

    You’re technically eligible but Amex has tightened up acceptance criteria recently so you’d have to apply and see what the response is. (Also see the separate thread on this for more info). Best done via referral to maximise points.

    But bear in mind @zapato1060’s point about the chances of getting 5 seats in premium cabins on IB. You’d have a much better chance on BA.

    Thanks will more than likely use BA and search for seats via seatspy

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