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Newbie to Avios and BAPP – best use of potential Avios points?

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  • omariqy

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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