Avios and British Airways frequent flyer points collectors could earn just a quarter of what they currently do on BA flights after an April overhaul of the sister schemes.

For economy flights, that value earned is currently linked to the miles flown – so 1,000 miles gets 1,000 points – but the overhaul means members who buy non-flexible tickets could soon earn as little as 25% of a point per mile flown.

Other losers are non-London flyers, who will have to pay more to buy flights to Europe with points.

However, there are winners from the changes, with those collecting in business and first class earning more points. There was also some good news for economy flyers, as it will now usually take fewer points to redeem economy flights at off-peak times.

One nugget from the announcement is all Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be classed as off-peak. It means you will need fewer points to book flights for those days, even during peak periods such as the summer holidays. They tend to be the cheapest days to fly when paying outright for flights.

The British Airways frequent flyer scheme is called the Executive Club, and members earn what are called Avios points. The Avios scheme, formerly Air Miles, also allows members to earn Avios points. Points can be transferred freely between the two and have the same value with both.

Here are the key changes to the Avios and BA schemes, which come into effect on 28 April:

Earning points

  • Economy bookers worse off. An economy flight currently earns you the same number of points as miles flown. After the changes, you'll only earn all those points if you buy an expensive flexible ticket. Non-flexible tickets, which are the ones most MoneySaving flyers end up buying, only qualify for 50% or 25% of the points depending how cheap it is. In premium economy you currently earn 125% of the miles flown – this will fall to 100% for non-flexible tickets but rise to 150% for flexible tickets.

  • Business and first class bookers better off. Business class stays at 150% of the points for non-flexible fares, but rises to 250% for flexible. First is currently 200% on all flights, rising to 250% for non-flexible, and 300% for flexible.

For a full analysis of what you'll earn in each cabin class, see the table at the bottom of this story.

Spending points

  • BA will begin classifying flights into peak and off-peak in all cabins. Now there's no distinction, but from 28 April peak times will be around the summer, Easter and Christmas holidays, and half terms. The remainder of the year is classed as off-peak, as are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at any time of the year. For the full calendar see the BA website (go to the 'spending Avios' section, click on 'changes to reward prices' then the calendar link below the table).

  • Economy bookers (sometimes) better off. Peak-time booking redemption rates stay the same regardless of flight, eg, a return flight to zone 1 from London (eg, to Paris) stays at 9,000 points + taxes and charges. But off-peak, the points required will fall to all zones. The number will drop from 9,000 to 8,000 to zone 1, from 15,000 to 13,000 to zone 2 (eg, Barcelona), and from 100,000 to 65,000 to zone 9 (eg, Sydney).

  • Premium cabin bookers worse off. Most premium economy, business and first class tickets will cost more in points. From London to Zone 4 (eg, Kuwait) you will need 50,000 in peak and 40,000 in off-peak to fly return in premium economy rather than the current 37,500. In first, the same trip rises from 75,000 to 100,000 (peak) or 85,000 (off-peak). You pay taxes and charges on all current and future bookings.

  • Non-London flights will cost more to Europe. Most of these reward flights require a connection in London but you don't pay for the connecting flight now. You will do from 28 April if going to Europe. For example, if you fly from Manchester to Paris return, at present you only pay for the London to Paris flights if you use your points (9,000 points + £35 in taxes and charges). As you will also pay for the connection from 28 April, this will double to 18,000 points + £70 in charges. You will still get a free connection for long-haul.

  • What about earning/spending Avios points on Iberia flights? Iberia will introduce peak and off-peak pricing. The points earned per mile differ to BA, but in general those on non-flexible, economy flights will be worse off, while those flying business class will be better off. On spending points on economy flights, both off-peak short haul fares and peak long haul fares will cost the same. But short haul peak fares will be 10%-11% more, while long haul off peak flights will be 12%-15% less.
  • What about using Avios points on non-BA/Iberia flights? If you use points to redeem flights on other airlines such as American Airlines and Malaysia Airlines via the BA scheme, these will be charged at BA's peak prices year-round, putting up the cost in some premium cabins.

For a full analysis of how many points you need for a flight to each zone and in each cabin class, see the table at the bottom of this story.

You will continue to earn and spend at the current rates on bookings made before 28 April, even if you fly after that date.

MoneySavingExpert.com senior consumer writer Sally Francis says: "It's usually cheaper to buy flights as early as possible and this message is even more pertinent for anyone affected by these changes who wants to book an economy ticket and earn points, given the earning rates will drop for most people from April.

"Even the winners from the scheme shouldn't wait to make a booking. While some will earn more points or pay less to buy a flight following the changes, delaying could push up the price of a ticket bought with cash. Meanwhile, the number of seats available to those buying with points is limited anyway so any delay could mean they're gone." 

Avios adds that it is making half a million more British Airways seats available throughout the year to redeem for points, taking the total to more than nine million. There will be a minimum of four reward seats in every BA economy cabin and a minimum of two in every business class cabin. Also see the Avios website for more info on the changes.

Full comparison of the changes to the Avios and BA schemes

Here are tables outlining current earning and spending rates, and how they will change from 28 April.

Earning on BA - points earned per miles flown

Cabin class Ticket type Current rate New rate
First Flexible 200% 300%
Non-flexible 200% 250%
Business Flexible 150% 250%
Non-flexible 150% 150%
Premium economy Flexible 125% 150%
Non-flexible 125% 100%
Economy Flexible 100% 100%
Non-flexible 100% 25% or 50%
100% means 100% of the miles flown so fly 2,000 miles, get 2,000 points. New rates on bookings from 28 April or later

Spending on BA - economy points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)

Zone Economy Premium economy
Current New off-peak New peak Current New off-peak New peak
1 (eg, Paris) 9,000 8,000 9,000 13,500 11,500 13,500
2 (eg, Madrid) 15,000 13,000 15,000 22,500 19,000 22,500
3 (eg, Marrakech) 20,000 17,000 20,000 30,000 25,500 30,000
4 (eg, Kuwait) 25,000 20,000 25,000 37,500 40,000 50,000
5 (eg, New York) 40,000 26,000 40,000 60,000 52,000 80,000
6 (eg, Barbados) 50,000 32,500 50,000 75,000 64,000 100,000
7 (eg, Mauritius) 60,000 39,000 60,000 90,000 78,000 120,000
8 (eg, Singapore) 70,000 45,500 70,000 105,000 91,000 140,000
9 (eg, Sydney) 100,000 65,000 100,000 150,000 130,000 200,000
New rates on bookings from 28 April or later

Spending on BA - business/first points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)

Zone Business First
Current New off-peak New peak Current New off-peak New peak
1 (eg, Paris) 18,000 15,500 18,000 27,000 31,000 36,000
2 (eg, Madrid) 30,000 25,500 30,000 45,000 51,000 60,000
3 (eg, Marrakech) 40,000 34,000 40,000 60,000 68,000 80,000
4 (eg, Kuwait) 50,000 62,500 75,000 75,000 85,000 100,000
5 (eg, New York) 80,000 100,000 120,000 120,000 136,000 160,000
6 (eg, Barbados) 100,000 125,000 150,000 150,000 170,000 200,000
7 (eg, Mauritius) 120,000 150,000 180,000 180,000 204,000 240,000
8 (eg, Singapore) 140,000 175,000 210,000 210,000 238,000 280,000
9 (eg, Sydney) 200,000 250,000 300,000 300,000 340,000 400,000
New rates on bookings from 28 April or later