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 points directly
Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Updated April 10th, 2020
Approval for any credit card will depend on your status. The APR shown represents the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow.
Compare credit cards that earn points which can be exchanged for Avios points
Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
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.
Updated April 10th, 2020
What is Avios?
Avios is a frequent flyer scheme, where you earn points towards the cost of a flight as you spend. You can earn points through flying, spending with Avios partner brands or converting points from other programmes (such as Tesco Clubcard points (at the time of writing, you get 600 Avios points for every £2.50 in Clubcard points you exchange). The amount you can collect from flights you buy depends on which airline you fly with, how far you fly, and which cabin you fly in – whether you’re going in economy, business or first class.
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?
There are different factors you should consider when choosing a card. These include:
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 points 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.
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).
There are other frequent flyer cards, including the Virgin Atlantic Reward card , which offers double points on Virgin flights, as well as offers from Virgin Experience Days, Virgin Trains and Virgin Wines, which can help you earn miles. Other schemes include Emirate Skywards Miles, Iberia Plus, and Miles and More.
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?
You’ll need to spend or collect 1 Avios point on your credit card every 36-months period to avoid losing any points.
Frequently asked questions
There are some good deals out there to be had. But the best deals are only worthwhile if you’re going to spend a lot of money on your card every month. It is also crucial you are able to pay off your balance in full every month, to avoid getting hit by high interest.
The most common use for Avios is for flights, but you can use it for other rewards, such as hotels, car hire, travel insurance, experiences while abroad and wine and spirits.
A network of 15 of the largest airlines in the world, including Qantas, British Airways, American Airlines, AirBerlin and Cathay Pacific.
Lloyds previously teamed up with American Express to offer a dual-network, Avios-earning credit card, however this has been discontinued and replaced with a Lloyds-only card which earns Avios. Sadly, the new card is not available to new customers.
Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.
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