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31 tricks to boost and max Avios

Incl manipulating credit cards & free ways to gain points

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Sally | Edited by Guy

Updated November 2016

Avios points can be your golden ticket to cheap flights. Plus, if you get really creative, there are a host of ways to boost your points stash so you can watch your savings really take off.

You can earn Avios on flights and when shopping and buying fuel, in a loyalty scheme not dissimilar to Nectar and Tesco Clubcard, but with travel-focused rewards. Here we've pulled together our top tips to earning and spending Avios. Also see our Cheap Flights, Easyjet tricks and Ryanair tricks guides for much more.

Avios, BA Exec & Iberia Plus – join all three for different offers and more availability

There are three schemes that use Avios points: Avios (formerly Airmiles), the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus. To make the most of Avios Points, join all three. Points are usually worth the same, regardless of scheme, and can be freely transferred between them. It just gives you more opportunities to boost and use your points.

For example, you can only book Eurostar using the Avios scheme, and you can only part-pay on bookings with British Airways (BA). There may also be more flight availability on one than another.

You can move or pool Avios between the three at any time, log in to the Avios scheme you want to put the points in, go to your account and click 'combine your Avios'.

The rest of this guide concentrates on earning via and using the Avios and BA schemes, though having an Iberia account also gives you the option to spend via it by transferring points across.

London to Europe is good value but ALWAYS check budget airline prices too

partpay

For ALL return economy flights from London to destination in Avios's zones 1-3, which include all of Europe and parts of North Africa, you pay a flat £35 (£17.50 one way) in taxes and charges, plus the relevant points, as long as you've earned at least one Avios point in the previous year.

If you consider you can sometimes pay £300 for a return flight to Europe, particularly if going to the eastern edges such as Turkey, you can make substantial savings by only using a small number of points.

Where budget airlines beat Avios

Always compare against the cost of paying in cash; see our Cheap Flights, Easyjet tricks and Ryanair tips guides to help. If you can get a £50 return flight, it may be better to pay the extra £15 and keep the points for another time.

A quick search in Nov this year found London-Cologne return flights on Ryanair in early Feb for less than £20 return – less than even the Avios taxes and charges (you'd need 9,000 Avios points). Or to Marrakech, again on Ryanair in early Feb, for less than £50 return (20,000 points).

Do note that Avios bookings come with checked baggage included, so if you need to take a big suitcase, factor that into the cost of buying a flight outright.

Going beyond Europe? Avios can save you £100s but always compare with cash prices first

If you're saving for a particular trip, and you can use Avios points towards the cost, do it – it'll cut the price of the ticket.

But if you're weighing up whether to use Avios now or save them for a later trip, the cash price for the same flight will determine the worth of using points, and this can vary.

In Avios's zones 4-9 (essentially every non-European destination), you pay the same taxes and charges you'd pay when booking with cash, which are typically £200-£500 for a return economy flight.

If you find a flight that doesn't cost much more than the taxes and charges for using Avios points, it may be best to save the points.

To show where it may be best to save Avios points for later, we found (we've chosen direct flights where possible and chosen peak times to travel):

  • London to New York on Air India. Return economy class. Cash price: £375. Avios cost on BA: 40,000 points, £300 taxes. Cash difference: You only save £75 using Avios

  • London to Sydney on Air China. Return economy class. Cash price: £555. Avios cost on BA: 100,000 points, £450 taxes. Cash difference: You only save £105 using Avios.

Yet it can work the other way:

  • London to Dubai on Royal Brunei Airlines. Return economy class. Cash price: £630. Avios cost on BA: 40,000 points, £280 taxes. Cash difference: Avios saves you £350.

  • London to Singapore on British Airways. Return economy class. Cash price: £1,010. Avios cost on BA: 70,000 points, £320 taxes. Cash difference: Avios saves you £690.

The same principle applies for premium cabins, eg, business and first

The examples above are all for economy flights, but the same principle applies to premium economy, business and first class flights, though taxes and charges are high (eg, from £50 for a London to Europe return).

That said, Avios points are good for booking cheap flights in premium cabins.

Avios allows you to fly like a king in business without paying a royal ransom

business

Using your points for long-haul business flights allows you to fly in style (and bag lounge-passes too), which for many is unaffordable booking by cash.

In business, it's generally twice the number of economy class points needed for a European flight, three times for the rest of the world. Taxes and charges are higher in business, but nothing like the enormous jump if paying fully in cash.

Say you're planning a return trip from London to Cape Town. In economy, you'd need 32,500 points off-peak, and 125,000 in business. Taxes and charges are £330 in economy and £570 in business. We found economy tickets in March for £900, soaring to £4,050 in business – four and a half times as much.

Or, let's say you're planning a city break to New York. In economy, you'd need 26,000 points off-peak for a return, and 100,000 in business. Taxes and charges are £370 in economy and £530 in business. We found economy tickets in March for £400, £2,700 in business – almost seven times the price.

Do note that business class within Europe (called Club Europe) is nothing like it is in Club World – you won't get a flat bed, so weigh up if you want to use so many points for a short flight.

Avios is stopping Eurostar redemptions from 1 Jan 2017 – book your tickets ASAP

Swapping Avios points for Eurostar tickets is an excellent value exchange – you don't pay taxes or charges, plus it's difficult to get cheap Eurostar tickets with cash like you can with flights. Unfortunately, though, Avios is cutting the ways you can spend points on 1 Jan 2017 and axing Eurostar redemptions as part of that. So if you want to do it, go fast.

You'll need to book your Eurostar seat before the end of December but can travel after that. Eurostar allows you to book up to six months ahead.

Return tickets to Paris, Lille or Brussels via Avios start from 10,000 Avios points, but this rises as the cheaper deals sell out, going up to 58,200 points.

Check availability for Eurostar by calling 0844 49 333 99. Unlike many of the spending tips in this guide, you can only book Eurostar via the main Avios scheme, not via British Airways Executive or Iberia Plus. Book well ahead for peak times, as Eurostar only releases a maximum of 10,000 returns for each day.

Avios is also cutting a number of other redemption options on 1 Jan 2017, including Disneyland Paris hotel stays, package holidays, cruises and ferry crossings. See the Avios to reduce ways points can be spent MSE News story for more info.

Flying from outside London to Europe? You must stopover and pay twice

noneurope

British Airways only flies to Europe from London, so if you're coming from elsewhere in the UK, you need to connect via London, and you'll be charged in Avios points and taxes for both sectors per leg – from your origin to London, then London to your destination. For a return you pay for four sectors.

If you fly economy from Manchester to Madrid return, peak-time, you pay 24,000 points and £70. It's 9,000 points return to get to London, then 15,000 return from London to Madrid. You pay two lots of £35 in taxes and charges.

So check prices to fly with another airline based on value and convenience (if you prefer direct flights), as others fly direct to Europe – see our Cheap Flights, Easyjet tricks and Ryanair tips guides.

Flights are NOT free – you pay taxes and charges on top

Gone are the Airmiles days when you could redeem miles for a flight without paying a penny. With Avios points you need to pay taxes and fees on flights, wiping some of the gain.

But under its 'Reward Flight Saver' scheme, you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights in zones 1-3 (Europe and parts of North Africa), as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book.

You need fewer Avios points going off-peak

On British Airways, off-peak means outside the longer private school holiday periods. See the BA Avios peak and off-peak calendar – you'll need to click the green 'off-peak calendar' button having opened the web page. The Iberia calendar is similar but with a few tweaks.

So if you don't mind when you go, aim for the cheaper period when you need a typical 10%-35% fewer points in economy, eg, Madrid requires 15,000 points peak, 13,000 off peak. New York is 40,000 to 26,000, Sydney is 100,000 to 65,000.

Going in peak times? Avios can still smash hugely inflated cash prices

While we've said above you need fewer points off-peak, if you have to travel during peak times – say, to take kids of school age on a summer holiday – Avios can be good value, assuming you book early enough to find reward flights.

While you may need a few more Avios points, it may be nothing compared to how cash prices can spiral. Plus, the cost in Avios and the taxes and charges are fixed, giving extra financial security.

Take going to New York. We found return economy flights from London for £700 in the peak Christmas period when we looked earlier this year, but just £400 a month earlier, in November. Going peak can cost you 14,000 more points but taxes, at about £300, are the same year-round, saving you £400.

Got a flight planned? Find the number of points required

The number of Avios points you need depends on where you are flying, the cabin class you fly in and when you fly.

Below we've listed the number of points you need for different flights, but to understand more it is also worth looking at Avios's zone map to know which zone your destination is in, and British Airways' peak and off-peak flight schedule.

Economy points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)
Zone Economy Premium economy
Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak
1 (eg, Paris) 8,000 9,000 11,500 13,500
2 (eg, Madrid) 13,000 15,000 19,000 22,500
3 (eg, Marrakech) 17,000 20,000 25,500 30,000
4 (eg, Kuwait) 20,000 25,000 40,000 50,000
5 (eg, New York) 26,000 40,000 52,000 80,000
6 (eg, Barbados) 32,500 50,000 65,000 100,000
7 (eg, Mauritius) 39,000 60,000 78,000 120,000
8 (eg, Singapore) 45,500 70,000 91,000 140,000
9 (eg, Sydney) 65,000 100,000 130,000 200,000
Business/first points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)
Zone Business First
Off-peak Peak Off-peak Peak
1 (eg, Paris) 15,500 18,000 31,000 36,000
2 (eg, Madrid) 25,500 30,000 51,000 60,000
3 (eg, Marrakech) 34,000 40,000 68,000 80,000
4 (eg, Kuwait) 62,500 75,000 85,000 100,000
5 (eg, New York) 100,000 120,000 136,000 160,000
6 (eg, Barbados) 125,000 150,000 170,000 200,000
7 (eg, Mauritius) 150,000 180,000 204,000 240,000
8 (eg, Singapore) 175,000 210,000 238,000 280,000
9 (eg, Sydney) 250,000 300,000 340,000 400,000

One-way flights on Avios can be good value

partpay

Booking a one-way flight on the likes of British Airways can be expensive. But using Avios points is a good way not to get fleeced.

Unless on a budget airline, when paying cash in full, one-way tickets can be exorbitant – we found a Singapore Airlines one-way direct flight to Singapore for £480 (with BA it was an eye-watering £1,300) – for comparison the cheapest return around the same dates was £470 flying with BA.

How Avios points work on one-ways – great for Europe

When using Avios points to go one-way, you simply halve the number of points required for a return trip.

With taxes and charges, you also halve the return cost for a return trip to zones 1-3 (Europe and parts of North Africa), so you pay £17.50 for a single leg. With longer-haul flights, the amount you pay in taxes and charges is more complicated to work out, as it depends on the distance and airport you're departing from, as some charge more than others.

As you can usually get a decent value one-way ticket to Europe on a budget airline, it may be cheapest to book one leg with Avios, one with a budget airline.

The top way to boost points – everyday spending on specialist credit cards

We've crunched the numbers on the big Avios credit cards to find the best way to earn points while you spend. This can significantly boost your Avios stash, simply for doing everyday spending on one.

Before you begin though, a few things to note:

ALWAYS pay off in full or interest will dwarf the rewards

You NEED a good credit history

Don't borrow on these cards

They're best if you're a regular flyer

Will you need other credit soon?

You'll gain more if you've a companion

The top Avios-earning credit cards

All the cards in the table below are top points boosters, but the highest earning ones usually come with hefty annual fees – eg, up to £195 with British Airways Premium Plus. To make that worthwhile, you'll need to weigh up the benefits it comes with, ie, a companion ticket on a £10,000 annual spend and 1.5 points instead of the normal 1 per £1 spend.

Our top pick is the Amex Preferred Gold card. It's fee-free in the first year, you can earn a big 20,000 intro bonus Avios points and get 1 point per £1. Plus, there's a trick that allows you to earn the intro bonus again and again – see how you can manipulate your Amex below.

The Lloyds card below require a minimum £20,000 household income so beware of that before you apply.

Avios card Avios per £1 spend Sign-up Avios bonus Annual fee Companion flight? Rep APR
(see Official APR Examples)
Amex Preferred Rewards Gold (eligibility calc / apply*) 1 (must convert Member Reward points to Avios at 1:1) 20k (£2k spend in first 3mths) Free in year 1, then £140 No N/A – it's a charge card so must be paid in full each month, or you pay a £12 penalty
BA Amex (eligibility calc / apply*) 1 9k (on £1k spend in first 3mths) N/A On £20,000+ annual spend 22.9%
Lloyds Avios Amex & Mastercard (apply) 1.25 on Amex, 1.25 per £5 on M'card Double Avios for first 6mths on Amex £24 No 23.7% (incl fee)
BA Premium Plus Amex (eligibility calc / apply*) 1.5 25k (£3k spend in first 3mths) £195 On £10,000+ annual spend 76% (incl fee)

Use companion tickets wisely – they can quickly expire

Manipulate credit card offers to boost Avios by 85,000+

As mentioned, specialist credit cards are the top way to boost Avios and at the basic level simply involve doing everyday spending on the card, then paying it off in full every month. But on the Amex Preferred Gold, British Airways Amex and BA Premium Plus Amex cards you can max this even further...

Warning. It's ONLY for those who are debt-free & financially savvy. If not, avoid it, as mistakes can be costly. And if you're close to applying for important credit such as a mortgage, beware that too many applications in a short time can hit your ability to get credit.

Cancel Avios credit cards, wait six months and you're re-eligible for the up-to-20k bonus

On the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card and the BA Amex cards, take them out, hit the trigger spend to get bonus points, then cancel.

Wait six months and re-apply to be eligible for the bonuses again (provided you're accepted again). If you have more than one Avios-earning card you could alternate so when you cancel one, you spend on the other.

Got a trusted partner or spouse? Join forces to boost points

Set them up as a secondary cardholder and do all your household spending on the cards to boost your stash, though the primary cardholder is responsible for the debt.

The 'refer a friend' trick – earn up to 9k bonus points for you, 2k for them

Refer your partner (and any interested friends/family/colleagues) and pick up an extra 9,000 Avios boost for the Amex Preferred Gold card, and an extra 4,000 Avios for the BA Amex.

They'll get boosted bonus points after the trigger spend too – 2,000 extra on the Amex Gold (making the total 22,000), and an extra 1,000 on the BA Amex and BA Premium Plus (10,000 and 26,000 in total).

EXTREME collecting: How to earn 85,000 points/year without paying fees

EXTREME collecting: How to earn 111,500 points/year by paying fees

MSE Dan – the Avios-boosting king

Dan's day job is working behind the scenes on our top tools such as Cheap Energy Club and Credit Club, ensuring everything is running smoothly. But outside of that, he's an ace Avios accruer:

My fiancιe and I have been using tricks like this for around four years, earning around 100,000 Avios a year between us.

I take out the Amex Gold and BA Amex cards, spend the trigger to hit the bonus, refer my fiancιe to them to earn an extra 13,000 Avios points, then cancel.

My fiancιe does the same when she gets the cards, so we alternate who has them with the other one being added as an additional cardholder.

Most of the time, I spend using a credit card. Since contactless came in, this is quicker even for small value items, so hitting the trigger spends is always done via everyday spending.

When it comes to spending my points, I like to use them towards hotel stays. It means I get to stay in nicer places than I'd be prepared to pay cash for. For example, the 48Lex in New York and the Tokyo Hilton.

But even when paying with Avios points I check whether it's a good deal – I always look at the Avios as well as the BA site as sometimes Avios has a wider choice and the number of points needed can vary between the two.

Book way ahead to use Avios points

Availability is much more limited than when paying for flights, so go quick.

bookahead

Tactically, the ideal time to start checking is around a year before – this is when seats start to be released. Though keep checking, as sometimes there are no seats available when a flight's launched, but extra seats are released later.

If you want to fly at peak times such as Christmas or school holidays, booking well in advance is usually essential. Use Avios's zone map to find routes with availability.

Don't automatically buy points if you're short – part-pay is usually cheaper

partpay

If you're set on using Avios points to book a flight, you don't always need the full number of points for booking a British Airways flight – you're always offered the chance to part-pay in Avios and part in cash.

From our research, we found it cheaper to part-pay in Avios points on the BA or Avios flight-booking pages than buying extra points, especially as points can only be bought in 1,000 increments. However, Avios occasionally holds offers where it will add bonus points to any you buy, so check if one of these deals is on first.

While you should always compare first before booking in case things change or you choose a route where part-pay is pricey, the table below highlights how part-pay is better than buying extra points. Also, see how much it costs to buy points.

Part-pay Avios plus cash vs buying points
Off-peak return flight
Avios needed + taxes Points shortfall (1) Cost to buy extra points (2) Extra cash required for part-pay (plus taxes)
Amsterdam 8,000 + £35 3,600 £79 (4,000 pts) £50
Rome 13,000 + £35 2,600 £63 (3,000 pts) £30
Athens 17,000 + £35 5,900 £111 (6,000 pts) £60
New York 26,000 + £370 13,000 £223 (13,000 pts) £100
Sydney 100,000 + £550 20,000 £335 (20,000 pts) £160
(1) We've used different points per example as you cannot choose to only use a certain number of points if short. BA fixes this in the payment option, and it's what we were given when trying ourselves. (2) You can only buy points in 1,000 increments.

You may only earn 25% of the miles flown following the Avios schemes' overhaul

If you have a British Airways Executive Club or Avios account, and you fly on British Airways or its partner airlines, you usually earn points to add to your Avios stash. You'll need to register your Executive Club or Avios account number on the flight booking, which you can do when booking or via the online 'manage your booking' section afterwards.

You earn points based on the distance flown, the cabin class and type of ticket you've bought – flexible or non-flexible.

But the overhaul of the Avios schemes in April 2015 means you now earn fewer points flying on a cheap economy-class ticket than you used to. Before, you often got 100% of the miles flown on any economy ticket, so if you flew 2,000 miles, you got 2,000 points.

Now, a cheap economy ticket gets you just 25% or 50% of the miles flown. To get the full 100% you'll have to buy an expensive, flexible ticket which will rarely be worth it.

Quick points

Avios earning rates for the BA Exec Club & Avios schemes by flying on BA

Taken a flight and not had the points? How to claim them

You can earn points on non-BA flights

The rates we've mentioned apply to British Airways flights, but you can earn points flying on airlines that, like BA, are part of the OneWorld airlines alliance, or other airlines it has chosen to partner with – the full list is below.

Economy earning rates are generally the same, but you usually earn fewer points in premium cabins. See British Airways partner airlines points for what you can earn.

Note that when flying to Europe on a non-BA flight, taxes and charges will be more than the usual £35 return.

OneWorld and other partner airlines include:

You can also spend points on BA partner airlines

Avios points can be spent on flights with more than just British Airways – reward flights are available on partner airlines too, but there are no set 'zones'. How many points you need depends on the route, travel dates and the airline or airlines you'll be travelling with.

For example, when we looked for a reward flight to Sydney, a return with Qantas was 100,000 Avios plus taxes, the same as BA. But a return to Kuala Lumpur cost 90,000 Avios plus taxes with Malaysia Airlines/Qatar, 20,000 more points than you'd need for BA.

To check, use BA's Reward Flight Calculator – the results show you the airlines flying to your choice of destination, and the points you'll need.

Play with zones if you don't care where you're going

zones

Avios divides the world into nine geographical zones with each costing a specific number of points (see its zone map).

Within these zones, some destinations are better value than others. Zone 1 covers Paris, but stretches as far as Prague – both cost 9,000 Avios points peak time (plus £35). Zone 2 includes popular summer holiday destinations such as Barcelona and Rome, but also Finland's capital Helsinki – all cost 15,000 Avios in peak times (plus £35).

Upgrades have lost their shine

You can only upgrade expensive, fully flexible economy tickets on British Airways, Iberia or American Airlines, so if you've bagged a cheap flight you often won't be able to. You'll need to check the 'fare class' of your ticket, which is printed on the booking confirmation, with each class assigned a letter. BA excludes upgrades from economy to premium economy on fare classes Q, O and G.

You can only upgrade one cabin level up – so premium economy to business, not economy to business, and only if there's availability. You can upgrade all BA fares in premium economy (World Traveller Plus) and business (Club World) using Avios points.

On London to Madrid you can upgrade from fully flexible economy to business for 25,000 Avios. On a London to Singapore return, you can upgrade from fully flexible economy to premium economy for 45,500 points, and premium economy to business class for 77,000 Avios points – see full details on upgrading with Avios.

You can also check if a flight's eligible for an upgrade by searching the 'book and upgrade' tab on the Avios flight search tool on BA.

There's no one best way to use Avios points – it depends what you'd normally pay for that flight or hotel

We'd love to be able to tell you exactly what each point is worth or what type of reward gives you the best value. However, it's not that simple as it all depends on the equivalent cash price to buy whatever it is you use Avios points for, and these prices can fluctuate wildly.

If you use points on a £400 return flight to New York, you get nowhere near the same value as you would if the flight cost £600, given you pay £300 in taxes anyway.

To get you at least part of the way there, we've looked at the average price of popular flights, hotels and Eurostar travel (though this is ending on 1 Jan 2017), and compared them with the Avios points' cost to show you examples of what they can be worth.

How much are Avios points worth?
Action Points (1) Taxes How much to buy direct How much are 1,000 points worth?
Three star hotel in Paris 17,000 Zero (2) £100
£6
Eurostar return to Paris (3) 10,000 Zero £70
£7
BA economy return to Amsterdam 9,000 £35 (4) £95
£7
BA economy return to Prague 9,000 £35 (4) £145 £12
BA economy return to NYC 40,000 £300 £400
£2.50
BA biz-class return to NYC 120,000 £450 £2,500
£17
2x business class rtns to Singapore (with 2for1 BA card voucher) 180,000 £1,000 £5,500
£25
(1) Peak miles needed for flights. (2) City tax may apply on arrival. (3) Eurostar redemptions won't be available after 1 Jan 2017. You'll need to book using points before then to take advantage - see point five for more. (4)To pay the £35 fixed Reward Flight Saver fee, you need to have collected at least one point in the last year – otherwise you'll pay full taxes.

Earn points online shopping via Avios or BA Avios

aviosonline

Avios's eStore and Gate 365 via British Airways (you'll need to log in to your Executive Club account to access it) work like cashback sites – you sign up, then click through to buy something. The site gets paid for sending traffic and gives some of this cash to you in the form of Avios points.

Sounds great, but check cashback sites as well – rates for some retailers can easily be beaten.

If you're buying something small and haven't collected an Avios point in the last year, this is an easy way to ensure you earn the points you need to qualify for Reward Flight Saver or bonus points offers.

Want to know more about cashback sites? Full info's in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Reward flight bookings are flexible: you can change them for £35 per person, per flight

It's worth noting changes or cancellations can be made for £35, up to 24 hours before a flight, regardless of where you're going. So if you change your mind about a flight, you won't lose your points, even if you want to cancel it. You'll be refunded the Avios points and taxes and charges, minus the £35 per person, per ticket fee.

In comparison, if you'd booked a Ryanair flight, it would cost you up to £60 (£90 at the airport) as a fee to change + the price difference of a new flight if changing. You can't cancel, you'd simply have to forfeit what you'd paid.

Booking a non-Reward British Airways flight would cost £15 to £40 to change or cancel if it's flexible, though some are non-refundable (other than some taxes and charges).

Keep your eyes open for sales

sale

Avios sometimes holds points sales that temporarily cut the number of points needed to fly to certain destinations, or reduces the flat-rate Reward Flight Saver fee charged on short-haul flights – one of the last flight sales gave 40% off the number of Avios needed for long-haul flights.

They're always short-lived – the one in October 2015 only ran for two weeks – so be ready to pounce when they happen.

BA tier points – how they work and how to earn them

Tier points allow you to move up the four British Airways Executive Club levels. You start on blue then can move to bronze, silver and gold if you earn enough tier points in a membership year (each membership year ends on the anniversary of you joining the BA Executive Club).

Each level up gives you more perks, such as lounge access and larger baggage allowances. See what each level gives you.

Being frank, only seasoned travellers are likely to earn enough points flying to move up a tier, usually business travellers. For example, moving from blue to bronze requires 300 tier points.

A flight from London to Barcelona earns you 10 tier points in the cheapest economy return (40 for a flexible economy, 80 in business) so you'd need to do it 30 times in a year. Alternatively, you can move from blue to bronze if you fly 25 times a year – in other words, more than twice a month.

You can't buy, sell or share tier points. The only way to earn them is on flights with BA and its partner airlines including Iberia, American Airlines and Qantas.

You can only earn tier points via a BA Exec account, not an Avios account.

Quick points

Tier point earning rates

Partner airlines you can earn tier points on

Earn Avios points for your opinion but beware spam

spam

Two survey schemes allow you to earn Avios for your opinion – e-Rewards and Rewards for Thoughts. Join both to bag an easy 1,350 Avios just for signing up and doing one survey each.

Rewards for Thoughts – 600+ points

e-Rewards – 750+ points

Word of warning though – you'll be sent a fair few emails about new surveys for both sites. If you'd rather not have to deal with them, unsubscribe after you've got the bonus, or sign up using an email account you don't regularly use. For more ways to earn with online survey sites and focus groups, see our Top 25 Online Survey Sites guide.

Earn at least one point every three years or lose them

Points on all Avios schemes expire if you don't collect or redeem at least one point in three years. If you're nearing expiry, consider signing up to its survey sites, or going via the Avios shopping portal to boost.

Plus, earning at least one point the year before you book means you're eligible for its Reward Flight Saver. This means you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights.

You can use points on more than flights – experience days, wine and car hire are all options

We think the best-value use for your Avios points is on flights, but just so you've got all the information, we've put details below about some of the other spending options.

The full list of what you can use points for can be found on the Avios site and includes things like theatre tickets and cases of wine to days out at theme parks – it's a bit like other major loyalty schemes such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar in that way. The details in brief...

Worldwide hotel stays

Car hire

Wine, prosecco or champagne cases

Experience days and days out

You can combine points to create a household account

You can combine Avios points with up to six Avios or British Airways members living at the same address as you by creating a household account. The only criteria is you must live at the same address; you don't have to be related to each other.

It also allows children to earn points for travel – something they can't otherwise do until they're 18 and have their own account – meaning your collective Avios points stash can be boosted further (though children on the account can't spend Avios points until they're at least 18).

Household accounts allow eligible members – those over 18 – to spend the collective Avios points in the account. However, once you've created a household account, you can't transfer points between the various schemes (eg, BA Executive Club to Avios). You can only do that with individual accounts.

The BA and Avios household accounts do work slightly differently in the way points are treated when you use them to spend. In general the BA account is more flexible as it still acknowledges individual earnings and tier points unlike Avios, so consider this before signing up.

Quick points

Avios household account

BA Executive Club Avios household account

Extra ways to boost on fuel at Shell, shopping at Tesco & more

While credit cards are the best way to boost your Avios, there are a few quick other ways to do so, which may work for some, depending on your shopping habits:

10 Avios per 20L of Shell diesel or unleaded (20 Avios with Shell's V-Power Nitro fuel)

600 Avios for £2.50 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers

Boost points on hotel bookings via specialist hotel comparison sites

Reward flights in Europe include hold luggage, saving approx £30/return

handluggage

When you book a flight to Europe using your Avios points, you get more than just the basic hand-luggage-only fare with British Airways – you get to take a checked bag too. If you were paying cash for flights, return fares with checked luggage can cost around £30 more per return flight.

This makes the £35 Reward Saver flights better value – especially for those who can't comprehend packing light. For long-haul, checked luggage is often included as standard and factored into the cost already for both Avios and cash fares.