31 tricks to boost and max Avios

Incl manipulating credit cards & free ways to gain points

tricks to boost & max Avios points
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.

Here we've pulled together our top tips to earning and spending Avios. Also see our Cheap FlightsEasyjet tricks and Ryanair tricks guides for much more.

31 ways to boost and max Avios, including...

  1. How Avios points work - the basics

    Avios is a rewards scheme, similar to Nectar and Tesco Clubcard, but with travel-focused rewards. Four frequent flyer schemes use Avios points: the British Airways Executive ClubIberia Plus, Vueling Club and the Aer Lingus AerClub, and your points will sit within these schemes. 

    To keep it simple, this guide concentrates on earning via and using the British Airways scheme, though it's worth signing up to all of them.

    Here are some of the basic need-to-knows: 

    • How do you collect Avios points? Avios points are most commonly associated with flights, but you can also collect them when you spend on hotels, car hire and shopping.
    • How do you spend points and how much are they worth? As well as flights and upgrades, you can spend your points on hotels, car hire, experience days and wine. However, the value of your points can vary wildly, depending on what you're spending them on and how much it would cost in cash.

      Eg, we calculated 1,000 points can be worth as much as £20 if you spend them on business class returns, but as little as £2 on certain economy returns. See below for a comparison of different ways of spending your points.

    • Other key need-to-knows. Availability is limited so you'll need to book way ahead to use your Avios points. It's worth checking budget airline costs before you book, as it can work out cheaper. And you must earn at least one point every three years or your stash expires.

    What happened to the original Avios programme?

    The UK Avios Rewards Programme (formerly Airmiles) closed in July 2018 and members were transferred to the BA Executive Club, which continues to use Avios points as its currency. See our MSE News story for more info.

  2. Flights are NOT free – you pay taxes and charges

    Gone are the old days of 'Airmiles' 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. Eg, in peak times you'll pay £505 in taxes (plus 40,000 points) for a return flight from London to New York.

    But under the 'Reward Flight Saver' scheme, you instead pay a fixed £35 fee (£17.50 one way) on most short-haul economy flights to Europe, as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book. Eg, an off-peak return from London to Paris costs £35, plus 8,000 points.

  3. Join all Avios schemes for more offers and availability

    There are four frequent flyer schemes that use Avios points as their currency: the British Airways Executive ClubIberia PlusVueling Club and the Aer Lingus AerClub

    You can spend and collect Avios points with all these schemes, so join all four to access more offers and availability of flights. 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.

    You can move or pool Avios between them 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'.

  4. You need fewer Avios points going off-peak

    On British Airways, off-peak means outside the longer private school holiday periods. Enter a route on the BA reward flight calculator, and then click 'view off-peak dates' to see the full off-peak fare calendar.

    If you don't mind when you go, aim for the cheaper period when you need a typical 10%-35% fewer points in economy, for example:

    • Madrid return: 15,000 peak, 13,000 off-peak. 
    • New York return: 40,000 peak, 26,000 off-peak. 
    • Sydney return: 100,000 peak, 65,000 off-peak.
  5. 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 Avios can be good value, assuming you book early enough to find the offers.

    While you may need more Avios points, it can be nothing compared to how cash prices can spiral.

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

    With Reward Flight Saver, you can get a flight to Europe, for a flat £35 fee (£17.50 one way) 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, 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 FlightsEasyjet 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.

    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.

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

    If you're saving for a particular trip, you can use Avios points towards the cost and 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 whether it's worth using the points.

    For flights that don't qualify for the Reward Flight Saver fee, you pay the same taxes and charges you'd pay when booking with cash, which are typically £200-£580 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.

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

    Using your points for long-haul business flights allows you to fly in style (and bag lounge-passes), 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 also higher, but nothing like the enormous jump if paying fully in cash.

    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.

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

    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 journeys. For a return you'll pay for four journeys.

    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 FlightsEasyjet tricks and Ryanair tips guides.

  10. Play with destinations if you don't mind where you go

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

    The old Avios scheme divided the world into geographical zones – these determined the number of points you'd pay. While these zones no longer exist, the number of points needed for each destination doesn't appear to have changed. Here are some examples:

    • Zone 1 covered Paris, but stretched as far as Prague – both still cost 9,000 Avios points peak time (plus £35).
    • Zone 2 included popular summer holiday destinations such as Barcelona and Rome, but also Finland's capital Helsinki – all still cost 15,000 Avios in peak times (plus £35).

    So some destinations are still better value than others in terms of distance flown, and the cost of paying the cash price for your flight. So play around with destinations to see how much you can save.

    • We've listed some popular destinations below to show the range of points needed when flying from London. See BA's Reward Flight calculator for more.

      Economy points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)

      DESTINATION ECONOMY PREMIUM ECONOMY
      OFF PEAK PEAK OFF PEAK PEAK
      Paris 8,000 9,000 n/a n/a
      Madrid 13,000 15,000 n/a n/a
      Marrakech 17,000 20,000 n/a n/a
      Kuwait 20,000 25,000 40,000 50,000
      New York 26,000 40,000 52,000 80,000
      Barbados 32,500 50,000 65,000 100,000
      Mauritius 39,000 60,000 78,000 120,000
      Singapore 45,500 70,000 91,000 140,000
      Sydney 65,000 100,000 130,000 200,000

      Business/first points needed per return (+ taxes & charges)

      DESTINATION BUSINESS FIRST
      OFF-PEAK PEAK OFF-PEAK PEAK
      Paris 15,500 18,000 n/a n/a
      Madrid 25,500 30,000 n/a n/a
      Marrakech 34,000 40,000 n/a n/a
      Kuwait 62,500 75,000 85,000 100,000
      New York 100,000 120,000 136,000 160,000
      Barbados 125,000 150,000 170,000 200,000
      Mauritius 150,000 180,000 204,000 240,000
      Singapore 175,000 210,000 238,000 280,000
      Sydney 250,000 300,000 340,000 400,000
  11. One-way flights on Avios can be good value

    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.

    Eg, we found a Singapore Airlines one-way direct flight to Singapore for £600 (with BA it was an eye-watering £2,670). For comparison, the cheapest BA return around the same dates was £680.

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

    Unlike when you pay cash, the cost of using Avios points to go one-way is simply half the number of points required for a return trip.

    Taxes can vary however. For trips to Europe, it's simply half the cost of a return trip. But with longer-haul flights, the amount you pay in taxes and charges is more complicated to work out - 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.

  12. 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:

    • Just do normal spending on the credit card, instead of your debit card, and set up a direct debit to repay in full so you never forget.

      If you fail to pay in full you're charged the standard APR which is likely to kibosh the points gain.

    • These are credit cards, so you'll need to pass a credit check to get them. You can check your eligibility of these cards using our Rewards Card Eligibility Calc. Also see the Credit Rating guide for how to boost your score.

    • These cards are a tool to get you rewards and we rate them based on that. If you need to borrow too, you're far better off focusing on getting the lowest interest rates – that'll save you much more money. See 0% Spending Cards and Best Balance Transfers for more info.

    • Don't think you can use your frequent flyer miles for any flight, any time. There's far less availability using miles than paying in cash so your destination may be booked up when you need it.

      If you're a regular flyer and that happens, just hold the points for next time. But if you're not, they may go to waste and you'd be better off with a Cashback Credit Card.

    • Multiple searches on your credit file can damage future applications, so if you think you'll need to apply for important credit soon – such as a mortgage – consider holding off applying for one of these cards to spread out your applications.

    • A number of the cards include 'companion tickets' if you spend over a certain amount.

      These usually allow you to take someone with you, in the same cabin as you, for no extra points, though they'll have to pay taxes and charges. If you go long-haul business-class, so do they.

      Eligible flights are those booked via BA with a flight number starting 'BA' (BA1234 for example).

    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 one point per £1 spend. 

    Our top pick is the Amex Preferred Gold card. It's fee-free in the first year (£140 thereafter), you can earn a big 20,000 intro bonus Avios points and get one point per £1.

    While we've included the top Avios cards below, if you're a Virgin flyer, it's worth looking at the Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ cards in our Airline Credit Cards guide.

    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 calcapply*) 1 (must convert Member Reward points to Avios at 1:1) 10,000 (£3k spend in first 3mths) Free for first year, then £140 No 57.6% (incl fee)
    BA Amex (eligibility calc / apply*) 1 5,000 (on £1k spend in first 3mths) N/A On £20,000+ annual spend 22.9%
    BA Premium Plus Amex (eligibility calc / apply*) 1.5 25,000 (£3k spend in first 3mths) £195 On £10,000+ annual spend 76% (incl fee)
  13. Refer a friend to earn up to 6,000 bonus points for you, 2,000 for them

    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.

    Refer your partner (and any interested friends/family/colleagues) and pick up an extra 6,000 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 12,000), and an extra 1,000 on the BA Amex and BA Premium Plus (6,000 and 26,000 in total). This is on top of the usual points you'd earn for everyday spending.

    For the Amex Preferred Gold card, your bonus Membership Rewards points will appear in your Amex account, and you'll need to convert them to Avios points before cancelling your card, otherwise you'll lose them.

    For the BA card, your bonus Avios points will appear in your BA Executive Club account (so they won't expire as long as you keep the account open and collect, spend, purchase or share at least one Avios point every 36 months).

  14. Companion tickets let you take a friend without using any extra points

    Some Avios credit cards give you a companion ticket when you spend over a certain amount, so you get to take someone else with you under exactly the same conditions for no extra points, though like you, they still pay taxes and charges.

    So if you're flying business class to Sydney using your Avios, they can go too and all they'll pay is taxes and charges (around £900 for a return). While this does work on short-haul flights too, savings on long haul run into the £1,000s, rather than the much smaller sums you'll save on a return to Europe.

    Use companion tickets wisely – they can quickly expire

    If you have a card that offers a companion ticket, it's worth waiting until you have the companion voucher before spending your points, as you get much better value from them. Though do note the expiry limits – for the fee-free BA Amex, it's one year from issue, and for the Premium Plus BA Amex, it's two years.

    Two years is a decent amount of time, but with one-year companion tickets, you'll need to be more flexible and ready to pounce when reward seats are released, usually a year in advance.

  15. Book way ahead to use Avios points

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

    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.

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

    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's generally 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.

    • Here are some examples of how much you'd pay if you didn't have the full amount of Avios points for a flight. Though watch out for sales, as they can mean you get more points for your money, eg, a 15% bonus on points purchased.

      Part-pay vs buying points

      OFF-PEAK RETURN FLIGHT AVIOS NEEDED + TAXES
      POINTS SHORTFALL
      PART-PAY COST (PLUS TAXES) COST TO BUY EXTRA POINTS (1)
      Amsterdam
      8,000 + £35
      3,600
      £50
      £79 (4,000 pts)
      Rome
      13,000 + £35
      2,600
      £30
      £63 (3,000 pts)
      Athens
      17,000 + £35
      5,900
      £60
      £111 (6,000 pts)
      New York
      26,000 + £370
      13,000
      £100
      £238 (13,000 pts)
      Sydney
      65,000 + £580
      22,700
      £190 £398 (23,000 pts)
      (1) You can only buy points in 1,000 increments.
  17. You may only earn 25% of the miles flown

    If you have a British Airways Executive Club 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 account number on the flight booking, which you can do when booking or online via 'manage your booking' afterwards.

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

    In the old days of the Avios scheme, 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 – that's 500 or 1,000 points for flying 2,000 miles. To get 100% you'd have to buy an expensive, flexible ticket which will rarely be worth it.

    Quick points

    • Earning on BA – points earned per miles flown

      CABIN CLASS
      TICKET TYPE POINTS EARNED BASED ON MILES FLOWN
      First  Flexible 300%
      Non-flexible
      250%
      Business
      Flexible 250%
      Non-flexible 150%
      Premium economy

      Flexible 150%
      Non-flexible 100%
      Economy
      Flexible 100%
      Non-flexible 25% or 50%
    • You've six months from the date of travel to claim points via the BA site. If you've only just joined Avios, you can claim back flights from the previous three months before the date you joined.

      You'll need to fill in the ticket number printed on your paper ticket. If you've got an e-ticket, it's the code labelled 'document number'. If you're claiming via the BA app, it's the 'ticket number' (if in doubt, it's a number that follows the format: 125 – 1234789534).

      These rules also apply to points earned on partner airlines.

  18. 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.

      • Aer Lingus 
      • Air Italy (formerly Meridiana) 
      • Alaska Airlines 
      • American Airlines
      • Cathay Pacific
      • Finnair
      • Iberia
      • Japan Airlines
      • LATAM (formerly LAN and TAM)
      • Malaysia Airlines
      • Qantas
      • Qatar Airways
      • Royal Jordanian
      • S7 Airlines
      • US Airways
      • Sri Lankan Airlines
  19. 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. How many points you need depends on the route, travel dates and the airline or airlines you'll be travelling with.

    To check, use BA's Reward Flight Calculator – the results show you the points you'll need to fly with a partner airline.

  20. 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.

    How many points do you need to upgrade?

    The number of points you need to upgrade is simply the difference between the points needed for each class.

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

  21. 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 either way.

    To get you at least part of the way there, we've looked at the average price of popular flights and hotels, and compared them with the Avios points' cost to show you examples of what they can be worth.

    How much are Avios points worth?

    REWARD POINTS (1) TAXES HOW MUCH TO BUY DIRECT HOW MUCH ARE 1,000 POINTS WORTH?
    Three star hotel in Paris 7,600 Zero (2) £46
    £6
    BA economy return to Amsterdam 9,000 £35 (3) £70
    £4
    BA economy return to Prague 9,000 £35 (3) £100 £7
    BA economy return to NYC 40,000 £505 £600
    £2
    BA business class return to NYC 120,000 £840 £1,500
    £6
    2x business class returns to Singapore with companion voucher (4) 210,000 £1,510 £5,700
    £20
    (1) Peak miles needed for flights. (2) City tax may apply on arrival. (3) 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. (4) Available with certain BA credit cards.
  22. Earn points online shopping via BA

    British Airways' Executive Club e-Store works like a cashback site – you sign in, 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.

    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.

    Sounds great, but check cashback sites as well – rates for some retailers can easily be beaten. Plus you can choose to convert cashback via Topcashback* into Avios, once the cash is payable from your online account.

    You get one Avios point per 1p of cashback, but you'll need at least 20p of cashback to convert into Avios points. The Avios points will be credited to your BA Avios account within 10 days.

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

  23. Avios 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 £65 (£95 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-Avios British Airways flight would cost up to £40 to change or cancel if it's flexible, though some are non-refundable (other than some taxes and charges).

  24. Keep your eyes open for sales

    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. In the past we've seen sales offering 40% off the number of Avios needed for long-haul flights.

    They're always short-lived so be ready to pounce when they happen.

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

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

    The different levels give you more perks, such as lounge access and larger baggage allowances. See what each level gives you.

    Being frank, only frequent 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.

    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.

    Quick points

    • To see how many tier points you have, you'll need to log in to your BA Executive account. There you can also see how many you need to move up to the next level.

      You'll get at least five tier points per flight based on the cheapest economy short-haul tickets, up to around 360 tier points for a first class ticket to long-haul destinations such as Sydney. To see how many points you'll get for a flight you're planning, use the Avios Flight Calculator.
       

      • To reach Bronze, you need to fly BA at least twice and earn 300 tier points or take a total of 25 BA flights.
      • For Silver, you need to fly BA at least four times and earn 600 tier points or take a total of 50 BA flights.
      • To get to Gold, you'll need to fly BA at least four times and earn 1,500 tier points.
      • Aer Lingus 
      • Air Italy (formerly Meridiana) 
      • Alaska Airlines 
      • American Airlines
      • Cathay Pacific
      • Finnair
      • Iberia
      • Japan Airlines
      • LATAM (formerly LAN and TAM)
      • Malaysia Airlines
      • Qantas
      • Qatar Airways
      • Royal Jordanian
      • S7 Airlines
      • Sri Lankan Airlines
  26. Earn Avios points for your opinion but beware spam

    Rewards for Thoughts allows you to earn Avios for your opinion. Join it to bag an easy 600 Avios just for signing up and doing one survey.

    Anyone can sign up and you'll get the bonus points after you complete your first survey. Subsequent surveys will get you up to 50 points. Points are automatically added to your BA account.

    A word of warning though – you'll be sent a fair few emails about new surveys. 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.

  27. 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 a survey site, or going via the Executive Club e-store 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.

  28. 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...

    • Using Avios points for hotels isn't a bad decision – MSE Dan likes to spend his points on hotels because he's happy to shell out points but not cash for nicer places. Points vary, so whether it's a good deal depends on the hotel and other offers at the time. Always check cash prices before booking with points.

      See our Cheap Hotels guide for full tips and tricks to cutting costs.

    • BA partners with big-name car-hire firm Avis, allowing you to book and pay in Avios points, a mixture of points and cash, or just in cash, while earning Avios points on the booking. However, we found it was easily beatable – you'd be better to use points on other things.

      A week's car hire in August for a small car in Malaga, Spain, starts at about 34,000 Avios points. To compare we checked the price using comparison sites and found a similar car for around £90 in total, making 1,000 points worth just £2.65.

      Even paying in cash and earning Avios may not be worth doing – paying cash for the same car hire in Malaga via the BA site was more than double the price, at £194, only adding about 970 points to your stash.

    • You can buy a variety of Laithwaite's wine cases via BA using Avios points. But our champagne and wine deals often beat these.

      When we checked, mixed cases started at about 9,500 points. Via Laithwaites, similar cases are around £42, meaning 1,000 points are worth around £4.40.

      There are sometimes special offers giving you glasses as part of a case via Avios, which boosts the value of your points slightly. But weigh up the offers on at the time, and (if you know anything about wine) the wines on offer.

    • These include major UK theme parks such as Chessington and Legoland, as well as days out such as the Eden Project and Kew Gardens.

      Points here are worth about £5 per 1,000, so again, decent value but check to see if there's a discount voucher or two-for-one offer on at the time you want to go – that could be a better option. See our Cheap Days Out guide for more.

  29. You can combine points to create a household account

    You can combine Avios points with up to six other BA Executive Club 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.

    It also allows children to earn points for travel – something they can't otherwise do until they're 18 and have their own account. This means 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 members over 18 to spend the collective 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 Iberia). You can only do that with individual accounts.

    • To create an account, sign up via BA Executive Club. You'll need to nominate a 'head of the household' – basically a lead name on the account who can add and remove members.

      The household balance will show both individual Avios, and the collective pooled Avios. Any member of the household account can spend Avios points in the account – when they do, a proportion of the total spent will be taken from each individual, based on the number of Avios they have stashed.

      You can also redeem points for five nominated family or friends. They don't have to live at the same address, but points redeemed will be taken in the same way – as a proportion of the number of Avios points held by individuals.

  30. Extra ways to boost via shopping at Tesco, fuel at Shell & 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:

    • This means when £37.50 of Tesco vouchers are converted into Avios, they're enough for some Eurostar returns to Paris or an economy return to Prague or Milan (plus a £35 fee).

      To make it easier, you can opt to auto-convert your Clubcard points into Avios – just log in to your Clubcard account and change your settings under 'Options & Benefits' on the left hand side.

      See Boost Tesco Points for more on getting max value for Clubcard vouchers.

    • If you regularly buy fuel at a Shell garage, this is an easy way to boost points, otherwise it's not worth going out of your way to do it.

      To sign up, pick up a card at your nearest Shell, then register it online and swipe it each time you spend. You earn 50 bonus points when you opt into Avios within 28 days of signing up. Every 20 Shell Drivers' points equals 10 Avios points.

    • Kaligo and Rocketmiles are hotel-booking websites linked to a number of frequent-flyer and loyalty schemes, including Avios. They work almost like a cashback site but instead of cashback, you get points for the scheme you've chosen every time you book.

      You can earn from 1,000 points per booking usually, and it can be as high as 70,000 Avios, depending on the class of hotel and the price you're paying – the more expensive, luxury stays earn the most points.

      The rates you pay for the hotel are competitive but not necessarily the cheapest – weigh up the cost using tips in our Cheap Hotels guide.

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

    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.

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