We’re in the midst of winter and many Britons are likely to have been daydreaming about a summer holiday since January.
Some, who play the Avios game, could be looking to earn enough air miles to pay – or part pay – for the next trip.
As a rule of thumb, the best way to earn points, the ‘currency of British Airways’, is through general credit card spending with cards provided by American Express or HSBC.
However, the airline has a number of bonus partner offers which allow travellers to bag more points without spending more than you usually would when sorting out your holiday.
Back-to-back: A holiday you’ve already booked or are about to book could help pay for the cost of another one with a few simple steps
The best example of this is that by purchasing flights with British Airways or 15 partner airlines, including American Airlines, Iberia, Malaysia Airlines Qantas or Qatar Airways, you will earn bonus air miles which can subsequently be put towards future flights.
You do not need to book these flights through British Airways’ website, you could use a website like Expedia, provided you have a British Airways Executive Club account, the part of BA which deals with reward flights and Avios redemptions, you can link the flight you’ve booked to that and earn the points.
If you book the flights using a credit card which gives you points for your spending, be that Amex’s Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card, BA’s own free or premium Amex card, or HSBC’s World Elite Mastercard, you can get the points from that spending added on too.
Some credit cards also give extra points when you put flights on them. The Amex Gold Card for example usually gives you one point for every £1 you spend, but this doubles when it comes to flights.
How many points you get for buying flights depends on the exact airline, but as a general rule it depends on how far you fly and what class you have booked.
For example, flying the lowest fare class in economy with BA would net you Avios points equivalent to 25 per cent of the miles flown.
A return flight to Prague from London Heathrow, for example, would earn you 159 points, and one to Rome 225.
The lowest far class of business class, meanwhile, would net you Avios points equivalent to 150 per cent of the miles flown, and first class 250 per cent.
You would thus earn 956 Avios flying to Prague in business, and 1347 flying to Rome.
If a BA economy flight to Prague hypothetically cost £100, and you paid for it using BA’s free Amex credit card which offers one Avios point for every £1 spent, you would end up with 259 Avios points for £100 of spending.
British Airways and its partner airlines – including American Airlines and Iberia – will give you air miles when you book flights with them. Here’s how much you’d earn flying to some destinations
BA’s partners American Airlines and Iberia work on a similar basis, with a slight variance on the percentages.
With American Airlines, you earn 25 per cent of the mileage in the lowest level of economy, 125 per cent in business, and 150 per cent in first.
London Heathrow to Miami return flying with American Airlines would net you 1106 Avios points in the lowest fare class of economy, 5531 in business, and 6638 in first.
Iberia meanwhile offers 25 per cent for economy, and 150 per cent for business.
A return flight from London Heathrow to Madrid on Iberia would net you 197 Avios points in economy and 1179 in business class.
You can work out exactly how many Avios points you would get from a prospective BA flight by checking the airline’s flight calculator on its website.
Watch out for: If you’re using a high interest credit card like the Amex Gold Card, the HSBC World Elite Mastercard, or the British Airways Premium Amex Card to pay for your flights, make sure you pay off your balance every month, or it’ll wipe out any points you’ve earned.
Also make sure you shop around for flights – you may be able to use a budget airline for a cheaper price, so forfeiting the points would be wise.
How do you spend yours?
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2. Travel money
While those after their travel money might be wary of using Travelex after it was hacked on New Year’s Eve, which caused problems for some customers looking to pick up money they’d ordered beforehand, you can earn Avios points for using it.
Provided you follow the link on BA’s own Executive Club website to the Travelex checkout, and enter your membership number, you can get one point for every £1 you spend above £300 and one point for every £2 you spend below this.
For example, ordering £1,000 worth of euros would get you €1,160, while £1,000 worth of dollars would get you $1,263.60.
You can choose to have the money delivered to your home provided you’ve purchased £600 or more in foreign currency, or arrange to pick it up at a Travelex bureau de change, including one at the airport you’re flying from.
You will get your Avios points credited to your Executive Club account within 14 days of collection or delivery.
Provided you follow the link through British Airways’ website and enter your Executive Club membership number, you’ll earn air miles on what you spend
Watch out for: While you can book flights with an Avios-earning credit card, do not make a Travelex purchase this way.
According to Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website Head for Points, ‘purchases at Travelex need to be made with a debit card or cash.
‘If you use a credit card it goes through as a cash withdrawal and you get hit with the 3 per cent card fee and you get no points.’
Also, make sure you bring the card you used to make the payment when you come to collect your order, as well as any paperwork they have emailed you.
You should also shop around for a better currency rate – Travelex, via BA, might not offering the top deal.
If you are picking up money at the airport with Travelex to earn some Avios points on your spending, make sure you bring the card you purchased your holiday money with
3. Car hire
BA also has tie-up deals with two of the largest car hire companies around; Avis and Budget.
You can earn three Avios points with every £1 you spend at Avis, for a minimum of 500 on a one or two-day rental or 700 on a three or more day rental, and two Avios points for every £1 spent at Budget, for a minimum of 250 points per rental.
As a nice bonus, paying for an Avis rental with a British Airways credit card, be it the free card or the one with the £195 annual fee, will net you a bonus 250 Avios points.
Those renting a car with either Avis or Budget can earn Avios points for every £1 they spend, provided they include their membership number
This is on top of the fact that because this is credit card spending, you will earn Avios points for the booking purchase anyway.
You’ll earn even more points on some credit cards, like Amex’s Gold Card, which give you twice as many points when you use them to pay for a hire car.
For both bonuses, you must include the British Airways Executive Club membership number of the renter at the time of the reservation, and you must show your card when you collect the card.
You will get your Avios points credited to your account up to eight weeks from the date of the rental.
Watch out for: Make sure you leave plenty of time for your booking. Research from TravelSupermarket found drivers save an average of 59 per cent booking their car rental online ahead of their holiday, as opposed to booking it at the airport when you arrive on holiday.
Also, it is vital to shop around. Avis and Budget might not offer the best deal at your destination.
4. Pre-holiday shopping
When ticking off your holiday to-do list, you might need to pick up anything from sun cream to a new hat; a whole new holiday wardrobe or a suitcase to carry it all in.
Regardless of what you’re buying, there’s a high chance you’ll be able to turn the spending on those holiday essentials into more air miles.
British Airways has a huge number of partner retailers on its website, and provided you log in through its website you can earn Avios points on what you spend.
For example, you can earn one point for every £1 spent at Debenhams, two for every £1 spent at Superdrug if you’re looking to pick up anything from suncream to mosquito spray, three for every £1 spent at Asos, up to four Avios points for every £1 you spend at M&S, five for every £1 spent at TK Maxx, and a whopping 10 for every £1 you spend at H&M.
BA also has a separate tie-up with Tesco which means you can earn 600 Avios points for every £2.50 you earn in Tesco Clubcard vouchers.
Watch out for: Again, make sure you shop around, there’s no point getting two Avios points for every £1 you spend if you’re spending twice or three times as much than you would want to. And always make sure you check the terms and conditions.
And while BA has tie-ups with over 800 retailers, there may be a shop you use a lot that it doesn’t, for example Boots.
What to do with your overseas spending
While you may need to bring your points-earning card with you on holiday if you’ve used it to pay for a hire car or a flight, you’re better of keeping it in your wallet when you arrive at your destination.
None of them come with fee-free overseas spending as a benefit, with the BA, BA Premium and Amex Gold cards all coming with 2.99 per cent non-sterling transaction fees. While the Amex Gold Card does give you a point for every £1 you spend abroad, the fees involved mean it’s unlikely to be worth it.
Instead, consider taking a card which doesn’t charge foreign purchase fees.
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