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Compare Avios credit cards
Frequent flyer reward schemes like Avios can be a little, well, flighty, when you try to pin them down. Different cards, different ways to earn points, and different values for points. So we've done the hard work to help you work out which card is best for you.
Depending on which Avios card you pick, you might get opening bonus points, or a range of options for redeeming your points, or complimentary extras, if you meet some requirements.
This guide explains what you should consider with an Avios card, and what the change might mean for how you use your points.
Recent changes to the Avios programme
The Avios Travel Rewards Programme closed at the end of July 2018. Avios as a currency is carrying on but with all members transferred to a British Airways (BA) Executive Club membership instead. If you already have an Avios account, you’ll be transferred automatically and there is nothing you have to do. The deadline for opting out has passed.
You’ll still be able to redeem points for upgrades, hotel stays, goods etc. and flights to any worldwide destination (subject to availability) with British Airways or its oneworld alliance partners.
Compare credit cards that earn Avios directly
Finder's pick: British Airways American Express Card
- Earn 1 Avios per £1 spent
- 5,000-Avios welcome bonus
- Refer a friend bonus
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
Compare credit cards that earn points which can be exchanged for Avios
Several cards on the market let you exchange their loyalty points for Avios. At the time of writing, American Express Membership Rewards points can be exchanged at a rate of 1:1, for example, and £150 of Tesco Clubcard points can be exchanged for 36,000 Avios. IHG Rewards Club points can be converted too (call 0871 226 1111), but you’ll need at least 10,000 of them first. HSBC has also periodically run promotions allowing Premier customers to exchange reward points for Avios.
What is Avios?
The number of points you need to use per flight depends on which zone you travel in. The zone depends on the distance between your departure airport and your destination, and there are nine zones. Generally, if you’re travelling in Europe, your flight will be within Zones 1 and 3 (up to 2,000 miles away).
You still need to pay taxes and charges on flights. But under Avios’ “Reward Flight Saver” scheme, you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights in Zones 1-3, as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book. You can choose to pay for your flight with Avios points, or a combination of points and money.
The cost of flights in Avios points is fixed – it doesn’t fluctuate as it does if you’re paying in cash. However, availability can be lower, so book early if you want to use your points. Booking generally opens 355 days before a flight.
BA Executive Club
The changes of July 2018 move all Avios members to the BA Executive Club, and promise to bring even more options than before.
You can choose to collect and spend Avios with BA, Iberia, Vueling and Aer Lingus. The changes also mean you can now fly with LATAM, Malaysian, S7, Royal Jordanian, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Finnair, Qatar, and Japan Airlines, Air Italy and Alaska Airlines.
BA flies to Europe only from London, and you used to be charged in Avios points for both sections of each leg of the journey if you had to fly to London first. However, new airlines fly to European destinations from other cities in the UK, such as Manchester or Liverpool. Plus, there are more destinations, hotels and experiences you can spend your money on.
How can I compare cards that offer Avios points?
It’s worth noting that many of these cards have a foreign exchange fee of 3%, so you may wish to get a separate credit card for spending money abroad.
Although the British Airways American Express credit card bonus might seem like a reason to go for it over the American Express Rewards credit card, you could get better value for your money going for the Premium Plus card, which has a fee of £195 per annum. This is because the earn-rate of Avios points on the Premium Plus is 1.5 (rather than 1) for every £1, which would give you 10,000 extra Avios points on a spend of £20,000. You also get an extra year to use your two-for-one voucher.
Although an annual fee can put some people off, it’s always worth weighing this up against the extra benefits that these cards typically entitle you to. Ultimately, whether or not the fee is worth paying will come down to how many points you expect to earn over the year, and how much those points will then go on to save you – you could be surprised.
If you don’t want to pay a fee, there are another couple of notable free cards. The Amex Gold is the best for sign-up bonuses, with an offer of 10,000 membership rewards points, which is the equivalent of 10,000 Avios points. However the annual fee is only waived for the first year.
The free Tesco Clubcard Mastercard is a strong choice for earning Avios, earning you 0.3 Avios per £1 spent. You can also use the points for Virgin miles or different deals such as Uber credit. American Express is not accepted everywhere so this is worth considering as an alternative.
What are the pros and cons of Avios cards?
- You can use your points for long-haul business trips and lounge passes.
- Companion tickets – you can take someone on the same conditions as your flight – so if you fly long-haul in business class, they can join you.
- You can use them like any usual credit cards for your everyday spending – and as long as you pay off in full every month, this could mean more points.
- If your card is a credit card (rather than a charge card), you’re protected by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you buy anything costing between £100 and £30,000, at home or abroad.
- Availability is more limited when booking flights, so it helps to be flexible.
- You still need to pay taxes and charges on flights, so they’re not entirely free.
- Some do come with annual fees.
- You should only use them if you know you will pay them off in full every month, because of high interest fees.
- For some, only high earners are eligible.
Are there any alternatives to Avios credit cards?
There are also cards aimed specifically at hotel stays, such as the IHG Rewards Club credit card, which includes offers for IHG properties like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn.
Do Avios points expire?
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